Relationship management in a changing world
To what extent is CRM still viable when more and more purchases are made online and salespeople often seem to be sidelined? The good - and logical - news: relationship management continues to play an important role. The not-so-good news: it takes a lot of adaptability to cope with all the changes.
Relationship management (or CRM) for online customers isn't very different from relationship management for offline customers. They both want to be waited on hand and foot. In both cases, CRM is about facilitating the relationship between a company and its (potential) customers. The only difference is that actual physical contact with the company sometimes doesn't take place, or only takes place at a very late stage. By contrast, your company's touch points have only become more wide-ranging: people can get in contact with your organization online in numerous ways, via reviews, online advertising, social media and websites. Sometimes through avenues that the company itself is barely aware of.
Customer experience - a new meaning
In this digital world in which the Ubers are beating traditional businesses, the concept of ‘customer experience’ has taken on a new meaning. Good products or services alone are no longer good enough. The point is that customers want to trust you, want to have a good feeling about your organization, and want to be addressed in a personal way. Both online and offline. Those many touch points not only make it more important, but also more complicated to optimize the customer experience. On the one hand, you can track your customer reasonably well during his customer journey, and customization seems easier. On the other hand, customer behavior is so variable that you'd have to be an accomplished psychologist in order to understand it, let alone know how you can take advantage of it.
What drives the customer?
What demand does that place on CRM? Traditional CRM is less able to deal with all of these developments. Simply collecting data and presenting it to the seller provides insufficient added value for the customer. It doesn't tell you anything about customers' intentions; the question behind the question, the need behind the need. CRM software - combined with marketing automation - should help an organization understand what drives its customers, now and in the future. In short, CRM should adapt to a new generation of customers. More than that, CRM must be able to adapt continuously. Because what applies today may already be over tomorrow.
Seeing CRM as a strategy
CRM will need to adapt in three basic areas. The first thing that's needed is a CRM strategy that understands the needs of future customers. As an organization, how do you want to interact with your customer throughout the entire customer journey? So the first step is to understand that CRM is more than software; CRM is a strategy.
Integrating CRM throughout the entire organization
CRM will also need to be a part of the entire organization. Precisely because the touch points are innumerable and customers get in contact with your organization via different paths. From the first marketing efforts and sales to service and relationship management. Make sure customers get straight in touch with the employee who can give them what they ask for.
A flexible CRM system
Finally, there is a need for a CRM system that can adapt to a changing environment, and not the other way around: the organization conforming to the CRM system. That means you want a system that does not have to be reprogrammed for each change, but a system that can easily be linked to new processes. This calls for a CRM system that simplifies processes, rather than making them more difficult than they need to be.