CRM – Is It Dollars Down the Drain?

“Back to basics” is the prophecy that market pundits are dispensing these days. Enterprises are fighting tooth and nail to come up with new strategies to success. But is it really that difficult? I don’t think so. All we need to do is stop in our tracks and listen to what our customers have to say.

Our modern-day business dealings are fraught with complexities of different information collecting systems and data analytics. In such a milieu we have ignored the most important aspect of our business – customer opinion. Our customers are talking and we need to pay attention.

Michael Maoz, an analyst with Gartner, in one of his blogs mentioned how over the past 10 years we have invested $75 million in customer relationship management (CRM) software but achieved a miniscule 3% to 5% improvement in customer satisfaction. What went so horribly wrong in our CRM strategy? Let’s take a step back and analyze.

CRM – Not Just All About Customers

We have a misconception that CRM is all about customers only. The truth is that CRM begins with employees and ends with customers. Your front-end employees are a goldmine of information about your customer preferences. They are your customers’ first touch-point. They know what works in the market and what doesn’t. Moreover, since they handle customer disappointments day in and day out, they are a rich source of information on what customers are looking for. If the top management taps them and gets them to share their thoughts, it would do them a whole lot of good.

CRM –Not Designed for Reps

The current outsourcing culture is again a black sheep for customer service. We have call centre workers serving our disgruntled customers with the sole aim of getting off the call as soon as possible and taking up the next one, to achieve their targets. But that’s not all, here comes an absolute kicker. We have call centre workers, who are merely representing us and not working for us, trying to upsell to our customers. How do we take these representatives into the loop of CRM?

Social CRM Can Backfire

We further have companies jumping onto the social CRM bandwagon and promoting themselves blatantly on the social platforms. But we are only digging a hole for ourselves if we do not back this aggressive promotion with actual execution. Once we start a conversation or promotion, we need to go ahead and act on it to finish it. Mind you, the present day customers are more likely to share a negative experience with your brand on a social platform than a positive experience.

Embracing Technology

We also have the misconception that building customer relationships is a three step process – buying CRM software, installing it and using it. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as that. In fact, technology is not a fairy godmother that can make all your wishes come true by waving a magic wand. We need to understand and embrace technology rather than merely adopt it to draw out desired results.

So, let’s not write off CRM yet because of the dismal turnaround in customer service. There are a whole lot of things that go into making CRM a success. We need to rethink and put the different pieces of the puzzle in the right place to unleash the true potential of CRM. At the same time, we need to focus back on the four basic canons of good customer service – price, quality, convenience and fairness – to set the forums buzzing!

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