I just read an interesting article suggesting that even small companies need to use ‘CRM’ (Customer Relationship Management) to profile, understand and market to their customers. Having spent many years in big companies trying to do this, I question whether this is the new world or the old one.
A few considerations:
I spent 4 years at Porsche Cars GB as Head of Marketing. We wanted to get closer to our customers and tried various initiatives. Ultimately, what most enthusiasts wanted was to drive the cars in a safe environment on a track. Others didn’t want any regular contact other than new car info.
Every company wants to ‘profile’ its customers. However, you and I do not want to be profiled. It is nowadays about engaging with customers. It is about relevance, timeliness and about doing it on their terms. It’s about finding where they go on and offline and entering into dialogue.
This starts from understanding what customers want. That doesn’t mean asking your account managers or sales staff. In many cases that doesn’t even mean asking customer service teams. It means asking customers. And doing it openly, independently and acting on feedback. That’s what customers want most. They don’t want gimmicks or offers that mean they have to spend more. They want you to market to them in a manner that is convenient and relevant to them.
So, even the smallest customer survey or mini focus group is better than nothing. Ask them what you’re doing that is good and where you could improve. Ask them if they would recommend you.
Customer service and CRM is first and foremost about listening and acting. Listening is becoming easier, if a little time consuming. There are innumerable blogs, forums and dialogues going on over the web. Find out where they are and engage! Use the information to learn. And above all else, adapt and be flexible to customer needs. That’s what CRM is really about. Remember, customers that experience a problem and complain will be more loyal if you resolve their complaint well than before the problem occured.
So think less about profiling and more about listening and learning.
We have conducted many successful surveys that help our customers understand their business and customers better.