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Customer Inter@ction Solutions
March 2007 - Volume 25 / Number 10
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CRM Solutions: The Eyebrow Tweezers Or Flamethrower?

By David Sims
Contributing Editor, TMCnet

Let’s take the ever-popular Five-Question Quiz To Determine If You Need CRM!

One, do you like having customers for your business’s products or services? Answer “yes” or “no.”
Two, do you think that if you took better care of your customers and learned what kinds of things they’d like to buy that, maybe, they’d buy more stuff from you more often? Again, answer either “yes” or “no.”

Three, do you think it’s a good idea to listen to and learn about your customers to know what kinds of things they want to buy? “Yes” or “no.”

Four, would you like to do what it takes to increase revenue or lower costs when it comes to your customers? “Yes” or “no.”
And five, can you explain how you’ll do that without using a single product name?

Customer relationship management is the idea that if you go out of your way a little bit to treat customers better, and understand more about them and the kinds of things they want to buy, and remember what you know about them and put it where your call center and sales people can see it whenever they need to, the end result is that you’ll improve your customer loyalty, customer quality and customer purchases.

And we all know what po$itive effect$ that $hould have.

So yes, every business needs a CRM solution. But not every business needs the same CRM solutions.
First off, technology is not CRM. I’ll repeat that: Technology is not CRM. Buying stuff before you can explain to a reasonably intelligent 14-year-old exactly — exactly — how it will provide a return on the investment is not doing CRM. We CRM pros, in our rather abstruse technical industry jargon, call that “feeding your money to the birds.”

Determine what you want to do, why you want to do it and how you plan to do it and THEN and ONLY THEN do you call product vendors, learn the difference between “on demand” and “installed,” talk budget and IT and such fun stuff.
To wit: Some businesses need better contact management. Customers call in, there’s no way to keep track of who calls when or what they said or what was said to them. That same customer calls back a week later wondering what the Sam Hill happened to his stuff, and nobody knows he called last week. Or that the customer is having a Very Bad Day. That’s one tool.
Some businesses need better intelligence and analysis. They’ve got gigabyte upon gigabyte of customer point-of-purchase information, marketing and sales stats, survey results, and they have absolutely no clue how to spin all that straw into bottom-line gold. They rely on someone at a meeting to say “Well, my gut feeling is…”

Some businesses need to get those gigs of info in the right place. Data entered at one point of the company get as lost as a sock in the laundry. Not everyone in the company who needs information can access it when they need to — even though it’s in there! We know it is! We just put it in last week! We can hear it breathing!

So first ask yourself why. Why do you need CRM? Pretend you’re going to a doctor — “Where does it hurt?” Are your revenues too low? Costs too high? Can you tell what kind of customer you want to encourage and which you’d be happy to foist off on your competition? Is your important customer information evaporating? Wondering why you get so little repeat business? That’s your pain, and you’re feeling it. If you’re thinking “Hey, let’s get [insert name of current CRM fad], things will really pop around here,” you’re not ready to start signing checks to vendors.

Then ask yourself, “What can I do to solve aforesaid pain?” Lower the per transaction cost? Improve how often and fully you communicate with those who have bought from you? Remember your good customers and do nice things to get them to come back again? Make it so once information is entered into the company’s system it gets to the right people at the right time?
Now — this is the crucial part — get a number you would be comfortable with as a return for an investment in a tool to solve your problem. If you figure you’ll save a good $5,000 a year correctly entering point-of-purchase information, you’re probably not in the market for a $50,000 system. Want to raise your customer satisfaction survey results five percentage points? That’s perfectly acceptable. Get at least one repeat order every six months from at least twenty percent of your clientele? Fine. You have a number, a target, a goal. A way of telling if your tool is working or not.

Now figure out how you’ll do that. (Notice you haven’t had to buy anything yet? That’s good, you’re paying attention.) Eliminate data silos by ______. Get better customer satisfaction feedback earlier by ______. Figure out who our best customers are by knowing ______ and ____ Spend less per sales call by _____.

Now you should have a pretty clear picture of the tool you’re looking for, whether it looks more like eyebrow tweezers or a flamethrower. Because...you’d sure hate to need one and have the other, wouldn’t you? CIS

David Sims is a contributing editor for TMCnet.

By David Sims
Contributing Editor, TMCnet

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