Teamwork makes CRM run
Posted on April 15, 2011 by Dale Wolf
The breakdown of the customer relationship is driven by diminishing customer profitability. Sales fail due to the lack of a clear grasp of true customer needs, emerging customer segments are not effectively addressed by legacy processes, new customer service expectations are stimulated by aggressive and ongoing competitive marketing efforts. The magnitude of these failings is often first revealed when in a kind of desperation, the company finally turns to Marketing Automation (MAS) and Sales Relationship (CRM) technologies which, in addition to providing solutions, also dramatize shortcomings.
These breakdowns commonly flow from operational inefficiency. Chief among them is the “silo” effect in which departments or groups within the organization develop a proprietary attitude about the customer data and information in their possession. It is often not so much an unwillingness to share this information as a failure to realize its corporate value.
This results in marketing becoming idiosyncratic, marketing campaigns produced as isolated events developed from scratch to meet the narrow needs of their owners. Not surprisingly, the customer service associated with this siloed corporate universe tends to be inconsistent across the organization and often compares unfavorably with competitive efforts.
Customer dissatisfaction is inevitable. Aggravating these missteps is, even in these computerized times, any number of processes still carrying the dilatory baggage of manual, paper-based workflows.
The view from above
It is necessary to rise above the maze to see the way out. Essentially, the solution must come not from a myopic confrontation with processes, but from a clear understanding of the customer, the customer’s needs and priorities, the emotional drivers that push them to make one buying decision over another. The tools to accomplish this are these days bundled together under the rubric of MAS and CRM.
We begin by examining the relevant aspects of CRM. At our conclusion, however, at the end we will focus on the second critical element that turns idealism and theory into profitable actions: a powerful and dedicated management group at the center.
Customer Supporting Directions
Many companies are now measuring customer value. This enables them to differentiate a customer’s treatment according to value to the company and to present a consistent experience to customers regardless of the channel of communication used, the business unit contacted, or the day and time of the contact.
At the same time, many technology initiatives have failed because companies did not address the related process, infrastructure and cultural issues – or, because the sales and marketing staff refused to use the systems in a consistent manner.
Marketing and sales technologies can be considered the blueprint for achieving the ideal customer base. They are a way of looking, not at a company’s customer strategy, but at the enabling capabilities that make the strategy viable. Such a top-level roadmap should be written into the MAS and CRM strategy but the two shouldn’t be confused.
The customer support technology environment “consists of the systems processes and values in which people get work done. The real job is to create an infrastructure for how work gets done. Collaboration leverages multiple skills and insights of a wider range of participants who can take advantage of the knowledge previously available to limited groups.”
This calls for the realization that marketing, sales and customer service are simply points along the same line. When these functions fail to collaborate, the customer’s experience goes out the door. Everyone in this critical continuum must work together for the benefit of the customer and to meet corporate goals.