An essay published in Forbes recently detailed a British CRM industry insider’s efforts to explain to Americans “the role of CRM in protecting your brand.”
As Anthony Leaper of SAP notes, “it’s what happens after the sale that’s of interest to me today.”
He starts with the correct observation that it’s not enough simply to link your CRM system to your supply chain system to see if you can meet customers’ orders on time, your CRM system must also be how you “experience of your brand throughout the life of your relationship with your customer.”
He gives the example of a big-ticket item vendor with integration within the CRM system “so tight that the ordering and fulfillment systems have looked at existing stock levels, made commitments, and coordinated delivery,” and as a result are able to tell a customer “precisely when she can expect the truck to pull up at her house.”
And yes, at the appointed juncture sure enough, on a rainy day in London there is the truck. Only it’s not from the actual vendor, but a company acting for the vendor. All good -- but what if one of the items the person has been waiting for has been damaged somewhere along the line, after it left the Roland factory?
We have a problem. And the worst part of it for the keyboard seller is that they aren’t there to ensure a satisfied customer experience, they must depend on their middlemen, the shippers. As Leaper puts it, the Roland brand is now at the mercy of someone else.
Because if you’re Roland, however your third-party agent handles the affair will be seen as how you handle it. Right or wrong, your brand is at the mercy of the shipping company in such an eventuality.
“Your CRM needs to extend out that far, even if the person shaking your customer’s hand is not an employee of your company,” Leaper concludes. “You need processes and procedures with your vendors that ensure that they know how to interact with customers in ways that are consistent with your brand.”
And it happens. In real life. In Leaper’s case, the delivery team turned up in an unbranded white van, assembled it, tested it, removed all the packing materials and asked for a dustpan and brush to clear up any polystyrene off the rug.
“So do you work for Roland?” Leaper asked, and was told no, “but today we represent Roland. Tomorrow it may be another manufacturer, but today we ensure that we cover all the things Roland expect of us and if you are not happy we can sort it out!”
That is good CRM. On Roland’s part.
David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of David’s articles, please visit his columnist page. He also blogs for TMCnet here.
Edited by Juliana Kenny