CRM and Technological Solutions: Be the Customer
"Be the bagel." It was a refrain I heard often in a metalworking shop
class I took in one of my engineering classes back in college. The purpose
of the class was for the students to both design and build an original
device of their own creation, with the purpose of helping them understand
that engineers can't work in a vacuum, and they need to understand the
implications of their design decisions when they send their blueprints
down the line to the shop for prototyping and, ultimately, production.
the bagel" was the phrase that my coach used to get me to focus on what
was most important about my creation - an automated bagel cutter. His
point was that I needed to put myself in the shoes of the object around
which I was developing my project; namely, the bagel. It was a running
joke among my non-techie friends. But its point and implications carry
forward, even to this day, as I write about CRM, or, Customer Relationship
Management: "Be the customer" as you design your CRM landscape.
When we think about implementing a CRM application, we tend to think about
automating processes within Sales, Marketing, Customer Support, Field
Force, and even Partner Relationships. But really, we should be focused
on the essence of CRM and its real reason for being part of the IT arsenal:
Its ability to make the entire customer experience easier, less painful,
and maybe even enjoyable, so that we can attract and retain customers
and improve and maintain corporate profitability over the long run. Listen
as the customer says:
me what kinds of products or services you have to offer, and why I might
want to buy them at the price points you've established (Information).
Once I've quickly located the right product/service, let me easily place
an order for it, track my order, and maybe even cancel the order if I
change my mind (Transaction). Once I receive the product (Fulfillment),
if I have questions or problems, give me easy and direct access to information
or other resources to help me solve my problem (Support). If you
do all of those things, you've won me as a Customer For Life."
are the four steps at the heart of any CRM implementation. Constantly
bring yourself back to these questions: By adding this bit of functionality
through my CRM implementation, am I:
it easier for the customer to access the information about our products
or services that they need?
it simple for the customer to transact and track their order with us?
the customer transaction in a timely fashion?
the customer make the best use of the product or service?
and simplistic, but if you don't focus your CRM implementation on these
four requirements, and all four, you and your company proceed at your
about your company's web site?
A recent study by Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., showed that
45 percent of companies surveyed are considering CRM projects, either
full-blown or pilots, and 37 percent have installations under way or complete.
"These are Global 3500 firms," says Bob Chatham, an analyst at Forrester.
"Our study also shows a typical firm in this category will spend $15 million
to $30 million per year on software and services to enhance the customer
conversation." These are dramatic numbers. If you're your company's CIO,
you just better get it right.
it part of your plan to provide your customers with the tools to not only
view information about your products, but truly interact with your company
about the products, through product configurators, some form of interactive,
guided selling, or online help via live chat, to get customers to the
right products, quickly? If they can't find the products they want, they
won't place the order.
it part of your plan to have a streamlined electronic shopping process
defined and enabled, so your customers can place and pay for the order
directly? Do you plan on linking information about your shipments back
to the customer, so they know exactly when to expect the goods? Experience
in the early days of the Web showed us some ugly statistics about poorly-designed
shopping cart processes that were too difficult for the customer to navigate:
some 80% of customers who began filling their online shopping carts abandoned
them somewhere in the process. Things have since dramatically improved
as businesses learned the lesson.
you plan on having electronic support tools in place, such as FAQs, searchable
knowledge bases, and user communities, and technical support staff available
through a variety of means (live chat, phone, fax, email) to answers questions
and solve problems? Giving your customers what they want, but not being
readily available to give them answers, means returned product, and probably
losing a customer for life.
Technology doesn't exist for technology's sake. In CRM, or in e-CRM, lead
with core requirements, specifically, those of the customer, or expect