Customer Relationship Management – it’s a phrase we’ve all heard (why else would you be looking at this site if you hadn’t?), yet do we ever stop to consider its construction or true meaning?
For example, which word should take precedence?
Merely by its name it would appear that the ‘Customer‘ is the primary focus, probably due to the doctrine that “The Customer is Key”, ‘Management‘ is the end result of how we store the information about the transactions we have with them and the ‘Relationship‘ is how we connect those records to the customer.
However, if we turn the order of the words on its head and think about Managing the Relationship with our Customers we suddenly get a clearer view of how CRM should perhaps be viewed.
We Manage our data (track communications, schedule calls and meetings) in order to form a Relationship with our prospects in the hope they will become Customers.
But CRM is about more than simply being a metaphoric sales pipeline of getting the fish on to the hook and landed into our corporate net.
Once you have the customer, that’s when the hard work should start. Fishermen don’t call the place they put their caught fish a KEEP net for nothing!
Sure, it’s no easy task for the sales team to get the customer on your books in the first place and that is something that should not be underestimated or under valued. But in comparison to the length of the professional relationship your organisation is hopefully going to have with that customer in the long term, it almost mirrors the effort going into the process of convincing someone that they want to go on a date with you, compared with the hard work and years of commitment on both sides to keep the relationship working for more than just that first night.
Relationships of any type are difficult and take effort. Whether it be the one we have with our siginificant other, or with our children and the understanding that that requires, or in the business environment with our customers, we must never lose focus of the fact that we must strive to be the best we can, to help the other party be the best they can, with our support.
In the same way that a teenager keeps a secret diary containing all their dreams, aspirations and events that have happened to them (good or bad) and gets their friends round on a Saturday night to watch films and drink, so a valuable CRM system should allow you not only to keep a record of those crushes (leads), the ones they had dates with (conversions) and the events that led up to them (history log). It should be an ongoing documentary of what you are still doing with them (activities, calls and meetings); a secret diary, if you will, of what business desires (opportunities)you hope to secure with those leads and customers, as well as a way of putting together those invitations in the form of email campaigns.
It’s true that while teenagers develop, with the right input, over time into (one hopes) a valued member of society, so too your CRM system should develop, with the correct data and use, into a priceless part of your organisational procedures and practices.