We all know that CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. But is that what CRM really does? Can it really manage our customer relationships?
Of course not. Most peoples views about CRM seem to fall into two separate camps. They either love it, as it supplies plentiful supplies of data and metrics that they can swoon about and then go and hold their salespeople accountable for. This normally results in an in-depth lecture and a beating over the head for them failing to achieve expected results.
Or, they loathe it and see it as administratively burdensome, decreasing time to be with customers and over complicating the sales process. It tends to divide a company into two camps.
Most salespeople I talk to see CRM systems merely as a data-dumping depositary or a glorified Rolodex to collect all their contact information or anything about their customers. That may explain why there are only about 30-40 million users of CRM systems compared to the 500 million users on LinkedIn, which has the emphasis on relationship management.
Now, don’t get me wrong. CRM is a great tool. The dashboards provide wonderful charts of the sales funnel, leads by source campaign, the origin of sales, key contact details and a host of other things. But it does not provide a framework or structure for building relationships.
So it appears it may have been misnamed and misrepresented and therefore fallen short of expectations for the very people that deal with customers.
It probably should have been named CDM, Customer Data Management because CRM manages the activities around customer engagement, not customer retention itself. In our constant quest to get data to provide solutions for us, it has largely been forgotten that although CRM is a powerful tool, it’s all about the relationships!
What CRMs cannot do is help us understand what our customers think and feel when interactions occur. CRM systems don’t actually measure, evaluate and track relationships as they build and change.
If we can agree that relationships are the key part of obtaining and retaining customers then what we need is a Customer Relationship Plan that utilizes all the good stuff in the CRM, but maps our relationships and provides the basis and framework for whom we should be talking to and about what.
We need a relationship plan that is specific in its Goals and Key Initiatives and can be measured over time.
Building relationships are fundamental to customer retention and growth. As such, we need to be focused more on the “front end” than the “back end” of our customers business.
We need to focus on the customer relationship, not the customer data.
Do you realize that CRM could be getting in the way of building relationships? Do you have a Customer Relationship Plan?
Peter M. Beaumont is the Founder and Principal of ConnXN Consulting. He is also the author of The Relationship Roadmap, a comprehensive guide to building relationships with strategic clients. Find out more at www.ConnXN.net