Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lack Of Customer Relationship Flexibility

I was reading Seth Godin's blog and especially his article called "sorry, you can't be our customer". The marketing guru explains the issue he had while trying to get a specific DVD in a British Blockbuster. As he is an US citizen, the retail did not allow him to get the DVD, probably to avoid any kind of steals.

Seth uses this problem to expose that sometimes, companies should not try to please any customers at all prices, but to focus on their core customers, and not be afraid to refuse to service some customers. I am not totally agree about this fact.

Customer Relationship Management Is About Discriminating Customers
There is no doubt about that. A company should focus on their main customers. Therefore, a company doesn't need to provide a great service to customers with low potential, nor some customers that might even cost more money than what they are purchasing, because for example they would use every day the customer service and send complains every week. This is an actual fact, but nevertheless, forbidding sales personnel to take initiatives in order to please customer, because of too strict company's policies, could have very bad effect on customer relationship, especially because most of the time that creates customer's frustration or the feeling that the company has dumb processes.

Lack Of Customer Relationship Management Flexibility
However, in Seth Godin's case, I am wondering if the company should act as they did. I believe that one of the main problems of customer relationship management strategies is their lack of flexibility. Call center employees are driven by some very strict scripts that avoid any kind of personnal initiative. Same thing for sales persons at retails: their policy is so big that there is no room for improvisation.

Personal Initiative As Motor Of Innovation
Employees ideas and knowledge of customer is very valuable. I actualy believe that customer relationship (CRM) programs should leave some room for personal initiative in its process. By having too standardized process, some customers' interactions seem dumb because it hasn't been thought through a customer mind, but because of corporate issues. CRM should be able to leverage employees initiative and knowledge of customer to build its strategy.
If one customer need to buy a DVD and that it is profitable for the company, maybe it could become an opportunity to create an added value service, and extend the business model of the company.

I think this example shows out well that big companies don't leave enough room for customization of service because of strict corporate businesses. This lack of customer relationship flexibility are I believe one of the main reasons of customer's disatisfaction, as they most of the time appeared during conflicts.