Is CRM a Misnomer?

For several decades CRM has stood for Customer Relationship Manager. Yet sales organizations are seeing the customer can no longer be managed at all. Managing the data about customers must be done, but the customer is driving the ship these days. They refuse to be managed.

CRM is managing customer relationships

Business Model Shifting

Customers empowered by technology are forcing sales organizations, heck entire businesses, to change the way they do business. Evidence of their power can be seen everywhere. Market disruptions are turning all sorts of standardized services on their heads. An easy example is Uber, the app-based car service who has partnered with such companies as Starbucks, United Airlines and Hyatt Hotels to give a value-add to their service.

Instead of providing a product or service and marketing to the consumer about the marvelous features available, new companies learn about their customers first. The more they know about their niche of customers, the better they can serve them. When a technologically empowered customer gets what they want, they become loyal. Sometimes they even become a cheerleader telling social media about what they have found.

CRM’s New Value

All the data in your CRM software is waiting to be mined. Develop the ability to see your company through your customer’s experience. See well beyond your own organization to learn about the other expectations in their lives. Have a goal of becoming truly personalized in the way you approach communications from initial acquisition to loyal customer. The only way to accomplish this goal is to obtain rich insights from the CRM software you already use.

Some call this type of adaptation the Third Platform (1st platform – mainframe; 2nd platform – client/server; 3rd platform – social, mobile, cloud and data). Big outfits are scrambling to find ways to tap into the demand for transparent, customer-centric, agile operations. Although they have the resources to talk about it and try to make changes, it may be easier if you are a small company.

Customer Relationship

In the early days of CRMs, they were first embraced by the bean counters and sales managers. Keeping an eagle-eye on sales people and holding them accountable for following the “right” procedures was the most important aspect of “managing” the customer relationship.

These big companies will never match the agility of a small to mid-size business. Customers expect a response to their needs. Beyond recognizing things like their hobbies so a salesperson can look like they remembered the personal data, the customer really wants you to know what makes them tick. They expect anyone who provides a product or service to have a clear idea about what keeps them up at night.

The really small businesses can outline all the facts about their customers without CRM software. However, if they want to grow it is required they use a digital data bank to experience growth. If the personal relationship with the customer deteriorates as you grow, there is really no reason to stay with you rather than taking their business to the big, impersonal companies.

The new goal for CRM software is to develop dashboards to learn what triggers a response from the most customers and adapt to those responses. Remember, the more your email marketing list is segmented, the more intimate you can become with your customer.

This may sound corny – but we may need to think about a new definition of CRM. How about Customer Response Method?