Is Your CRM a Pass or Fail System?

Filed Under (OP News & Views, OP Sales Training) by Don on 10-07-2008

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Most of us know that CRM stands for “Customer Relationship Management”. This is most commonly achieved in a technology/software program that is used for that purpose. The technology can be either in-house or an off-site hosted service and there are many to choose from. Products such as, Sage CRM and SugarCRM offer highly advanced and customizable packages that may require deep financial pockets to have the product programmed to fit your business. While these providers are well suited to large corporations that have deep pockets my personal preference has always been the Goldmine product that has been designed to fit our industry as offered by the professionals at Longbow Consulting. But the purpose of this post isn’t to offer advertising for Goldmine, it is to ask you how you plan on integrating this into your business strategy or if you have it already in place is it performing to your expectations.

The overall purpose of CRM is an emphasis on trying to win more sales and account penetration rather than delivering any kind of value to customers. CEM which is “Customer Experience Management” is primarily focused on the experience the customers receive or the ‘branding’ and/or value added to each touch point. While the efficiency of CRM is important CEM requires that your business treat each customer touch as an important part of building brand and creating a customer advocate.  This is a critical step necessary in order for a CRM technology to work and requires careful planning and implementation before any CRM technology will ever meet your goals.

Expenditures on CRM technologies increased from $20 billion in 2001 to $46 billion of 2003 yet one study found that 55 percent of CRM installations drove customers away and earnings were lost. Another study by Oracle found that ineffective CRM systems were a primary cause of poor service experienced by customers. The exact opposite of what CRM is intended to do.

There are four components of a successful experience with your customers.

1. Consistent
2. Intentional
3. Differentiated
4. Valuable

These are achieved by voice, email, web and fax. The role of CRM technology is to support the delivery of these components. Every touch you have with your customers whether inbound or outbound represents a unique opportunity to strengthen your customer relationship. Your sales and CSR staff must be prepared to respond quickly and accurately to the demands of each customer. By utilizing an effective CEM first, you will create a vital channel for delivering an effective way to strengthen your customer relationships via your CRM.

Before you begin installing a CRM system implement a customer strategy. Woo your customers, don’t stalk them. Don’t install a CRM system until you have created a customer focused organization and do not assume that more CRM is better. Clearly identify what you want your CRM system to accomplish and align your goals to meet your objectives. CEM comes first and to succeed in your CRM goals everyone from the front office to the back office needs to be on-board with your goals and strategies to make it work.

The last word: “When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves. ” – William A. Ward 

Customer Service is Not a Department

Filed Under (OP Sales Training) by Don on 14-04-2008

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It’s an ATTITUDE! A customer centered attitude that takes humility, tact, passion, kindness, understanding and empathy.  I always loved the phrase “customer care” because it depicts the “care” that is required to sincerely understand the wants and needs of the customer.  To truly have good customer service and support you must genuinely care about people and you must have a subservient attitude.  Look at it this way, do you go to the doctor for “service”? No, you go for “care”.  Your car gets serviced but people get care.  When you call an company with a product or service issue you hope that you get someone on the phone who will care about you and solve your problem. 

I’m sure you remember the “Golden Rule” of your childhood.  Some people say it sould be re-written to reflect our culture.  That’s a load of bull-bleep.  It says what it says for a good reason. You treat others with the same care and respect that you want in return, plain and simple.  But don’t make the mistake of disconnecting your customer care people with your managements goals and principals.  To often we read and hear advertising about how much a company’s people care about their customers but when you shop in their store you discover that their people are rude, they ignore calls for assistance and often have a lack of product knowledge.

Use your CRM system to it’s fullest capacity.  A great CRM package lets you log as much information about the customer as your fingers are willing to type.  It’s more than just a contact database, it’s a customer care database.  An effectively managed CRM system gives you insight to the customers needs.  But the system is only as valuable as the information you enter into it.  The Goldmine product integrates very well into many of the backend systems that independent dealers use but to fully recognize the true value of this product it needs information.  This information pipeline is a valuable tool for sales and customer service people and when used to its fullest can become a valuable marketing/sales tool.  But the need to use this product or anything else has to be a culture and directive that comes from upper management.  Staples has been very successful using their CRM system and recognized early on the value of CRM.  So can you!

Customer care comes from customer champions like you and I. If we don’t care about the customer, who will? And when the rude customer calls with more issues and problems that Webster’s has words just remember to “kill” them with kindness. A little love goes a long way.

The last word, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people.” -Colossians 3:23