CRM Can Reach a Higher Consciousness

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Strategic CRM For Dummies

Dick Lee, founder of  High-Yield Methodsdiscusses why CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is out of mind for most CEOs. He partly blames software vendors for positioning CRM as mere software, a tactical tool rather than an enterprise-wide business strategy. But even more fundamental, he believes that the true strategic vision for which CRM was originally intended, is “rooted in a world view that chases strategic CRM right off most radar screens.” What world view is that? One based on achieving customer-centricity.

3 Reasons for Customer-Centricity In The Age of The Consumer

Lee gives 3 compelling reasons why customer-centricity is more than a buzzword.

1. It’s A Buyers’ Market

According to Lee, many business leaders and journals remain stuck in a time warp of internally focused business strategies, rather than customer-centric ones. Lee cites as examples Business Week and The Wall Street Journal as indulging in wishful business thinking, speaking of “regaining pricing power,” for instance. And yet, the business environment has shifted fundamentally. Here are some of the environmental shifts that the market has taken:

Demographics: An aging population means a fundamental shift from accumulation phase buying to retirement spending

Shorter product cycle times and increased productivity are flooding markets with too many goods and services for markets to absorb.

Global market competition and online communities are creating a hyper-competitive environment in which only the toughtest companies can survive.

2. Customers Are Taking Charge

Customers are learning how to leverage their advantage in today’s buyer’s market. Social media allows them to take the microphone away from marketers and demand that marketers listen to them, rather than try to influence them:

Run the proposition that companies have to shut up and listen to their customers up the average corporate flagpole. You’ll get run out of Dodge. After all, how can you make next quarter’s numbers by listening? Gotta squeeze those customers for every nickel they’re worth—every month, every week, every day, every hour—to make this quarter’s goals. Who has time to worry about next quarter and the next and the next?

3.  Companies Have To Offer More To Stay Even

Customers are demanding you offer the best products and  service, or they’ll go elsewhere. This may seem unfair to companies, but, as Lee points out, the side with money to spend are the ones who determine what’s fair:

But CxOs are still fighting “unreasonable customer expectations” and demanding that customers pay them a “reasonable price.” Reasonable enough to support whopping CxO salaries. Wanna stand up in front of a team of your peers and tell them to do more and expect the same, or even less? Duck.

Strategic CRM To the Rescue

Companies are under increased shareholder pressure to perform. But how? Cost-cutting will soon run its course. Endless reorganization, which Lee realistically calls downsizing in disguise, is counter-productive. Hard Selling and marketing no longer work. The only option left is to align with customers.

The above video by Emailvision describes Strategic CRM as “marketing as if you only have only one.” Companies that have heard the message of Stragic CRM, and used it to their benefit include:

  • Promologistics: “We now feel confident about the promises that we make to our customers, who rely on our services to grow their businesses.”
  • Shoplet.com:  “[It] gave us the ability to create highly targeted campaigns, understand their effectiveness and highlight areas for improvement.”
  • Gazzar Wines: “We grew our sales by 20%…Our email marketing now engages customers with tailored product recommendations based on their purchase history and browsing profile.
You can download their success stories from Envision’s site here.

Conclusion

Strategic CRM means reframing CRM back to a strategic initiative that creates value for the company by delivering new value to customers. Customer relationship management isn’t just about data mining. It’s about building relationships with customers at every touchpoint, and that grows out of a central strategy of customer-centricity that permeates the entire enterprise. The companies that dominate in the Age of the Consumer will be the ones who respond to their customers’ beliefs and values.