Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Truth About Customer Relationship Management

It is always tricky for CRM professionals to aboard the term of “Customer relationship management”. Indeed, the trade is vast, and encompasses several different activities, which are most of the time managed by different entity:
Data base management: It requires IT knowledge and engineering skills. Data base management is very important as a clean data base allow data mining which ultimately leads to improving return on investment on marketing campaigns.
Communication: Communication is very important. As a customer oriented company, you must explain the steps you take in order to insure high customer service. Also, while developing complex loyalty reward program, it is essential to communicate on it to make it simple and understood by the customer. Moreover it is important to be consistent in the brand messages and to have a powerful communication.
Call centers: Call centers is the human voice of the brand. They need to deal with customer service and complaints, and they have a very important role in the CRM process. A complaining customer which you satisfy is much likely to become your ambassador afterward. Hence, it is very important to deal properly with those complains. Also, with an appropriate CRM software, call centers can provide you very interesting data to complete your existent data base.
Community managent: It is the new bee in the loop. But its importance is going to increase the next few years. Community managers are in charge of the company’s conversation with customers. It can of course be online, on social networks such as Facebook, Hi 5, or My Space, but also on social media like blogs, Youtube among others. Also, community management can expand its work far away the web. We always consider community management online, because it is the hype, but it could also be outside the web. The best example is Harley Davidson which organizes events among customers. Community management has an important role, but it is far apart what a data base manager would do, or a communication expert would.
Sales force: The sales force has a clear impact on CRM. Nevertheless, it is most of the time the department which is neglected by customer relationship management strategy. As CRM project are either conducted by IT or marketing department, the sales force is most of the time forgotten. However, sales force is also most of the time reluctant in adopting CRM solutions, as they see it as taking a part of their job away. CRM and, especially sales force automation is a tool to help them being more efficient.

As you can see, the customer relationship management effort of one company implies different departments, skills, and know how, which makes it difficult to catch. This is the reason why a lot of CRM professionals are reluctant in using the term “CRM”. I understand why.