Let’s redefine CRM and put customers first

customer service CRM

The benefits of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system are well known in business, but Customer Relationship Management today is often misunderstood as being first and foremost about the CRM system – even worse – all about email marketing software.

Practically every article or Internet search will return technology companies, email marketing tips or the latest buzzword ‘big data’ and how you should manage it to gain maximum value out of your customers.

Somewhere along the way we have lost touch with what CRM is all about. The clue is in the first word – customer.

CRM should mean that the organisation pays attention to what the customer needs at any point in their ‘relationship’, and provides it. Relationship management can equally mean picking up the phone for a courtesy call, inviting key clients to training or hospitality days or any other action that allows the customer to feel valued by an organisation.

CRM is not all about technology

CRM SystemUnfortunately due to the ‘CRM equals IT’ identity crisis the other methods of building a relationship fall by the wayside. Agreed, when you have a large volume of prospects or customers, then picking up the phone is not always practical, which is why organisations turn to CRM systems such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Salesforce, Hubspot, Sugar CRM, Zoho and others – all of which are popular in the UK.

Sadly our dependence on technology for CRM all too often results in errors being made. Customers get emails addressed to the wrong person, promoting something not aligned to their interests, or receive multiple emails or phone calls.

What’s often missing in these occasions when technology-driven mistakes happen is the all-important human element. Who checked the data selection before the email was sent? Was the email sent to a seed list before it was mass mailed out? Was the customer’s record updated correctly? Who sense-checked the CRM strategy?

Let’s redefine CRM

We need to stop thinking about CRM purely in terms of technologies and redefine it to put the customer at the heart of the business. We may need to use technology to keep track of every interaction with each customer – via phone, email, promotional offers, customer service messages – but the technology should always come as secondary to the strategy and intent.

What does your customer want?

CRM Strategy

What frequency and type of contact does your customer want to receive from you? What are their interests, and their contact preferences? From your perspective what is a reasonable up-sell or cross-sell? When can you contact your customers with news, a service message or an offer?

Let’s build CRM strategies around the customer and your business objectives, not the technology.

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Roisin Kirby is an experienced Marketing Consultant based in Nottingham (UK), specialising in education and services marketing. A Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.

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