Monday, 14 February 2011

Solid Foundations, Cool Innovations – the importance of CRM to SCRM

I went to a Gartner CRM conference in London a few years ago where the theme was “Solid Foundations, Cool Innovations”. The theme stuck with me and I think it is even more relevant today given the rapid rise of Social Media, powerful real time Analytics and Mobile.

Those three topics combined put enormous power into the hands of Marketers. They can segment customers at an extremely granular level, send offers to their mobile devices as they walk into a store, enable customers to share those offers with their social networks…

But of course, powerful tools are dangerous in primitive hands. A fantastic personalized offer to one customer is irrelevant spam and an invasion of privacy to another. I often tell clients that 95% of Social CRM is in fact plain old CRM. That statistic is not supposed to be scientific – whether it’s 70% or 99% is really not relevant - the key point is that it’s easy to get caught up with flashy front ends and whizz-bang features and functions. It’s easy to marvel at just how easy it is to send out location-based offers and just how fast those can go viral. But the challenging part is building your house on solid foundations rather than on quicksand.

As an example, I shop regularly at a major high street retailer in the UK. Every time I visit the store I present my loyalty card at the check-out counter, collect my loyalty points and watch an embarrassed store assistant give me vouchers for women’s make-up. The retailer has over 5 years of loyalty information about me and yet still cannot determine whether I am male or female, or whether I have ever bought make up from any of their stores (I haven’t btw!). Data and the insight that you can extract from it is the cornerstone of your foundation.

Equally important is organizational structure, culture and mindset. I’ve written previously about the challenge of making the shift from “inside-out” to outside-in”; thinking from the customer’s perspective about the jobs they are trying to do and way they perceive value in a relationship. For most large organizations with years of built up silos and “inside-out” incentive mechanisms, this is the toughest of challenges.

Integrated customer facing business processes are the third pillar. Yes – good old-fashioned CRM processes like order-to-cash. The need to process customer complaints, orders, enquiries, leads etc. accurately doesn’t go away just because your customers start talking about you on social networks. In fact the pressure to integrate gets even greater as speed of response and transparency become even more crucial to gaining and maintaining customer trust.

Social Media, Analytics and Mobile without question provide huge opportunity and most organizations are under pressure to capitalize on the opportunity faster and with less budget. But success is much more likely when you build from a solid foundation.

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The Customer Revolution Blog by Laurence Buchanan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.
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