It’s All About People
by Joan Donogh
Acquiring new customers, and keeping the customers you already have, are major issues for business leaders today. Businesses offering goods and services are likely to consider implementing some kind of a customer loyalty program to address these issues. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a hot topic these days, as technology has advanced to the point of making one-to-one marketing viable. So, you’ve decided to invest in a customer loyalty program for your business – great! But hang on, before you go out and order the latest and greatest in database technology, it is important to understand that CRM is about more than technology – it’s about people. Here we explore the people required to make CRM a successful reality in any organization.
You need to have a leader who understands this, buys in to it, and champions it. If your program is not championed by a strong executive leader, DON’T EVEN START! If our company is run by accountants (very sadly, many are – great retailers this does not make), DON’T EVEN START. Your program will be seen as a cost center, as an expense. If your program does not have strong leadership buy-in, it will be killed before the short term costs lead to the long term rewards. I am not kidding here – CRM MUST start at the top.
There is a lot to know, a lot that is unfamiliar – so it is well worth your time and money to get the advice of expert consultants in designing your program and in setting up your database.
Technicians and Visionaries
Depending on your resources and your budget, you may outsource your database administration – there are lots of companies who are database specialists and can do this for you. Or you may purchase and install a CRM software package internally to capture and maintain your data. Financially, you may need to start out with a third party managing your database. However, it is certainly preferable to have the database in-house. If I could not “play around” with my database and find out what was happening, I would be at a distinct disadvantage. Which brings us to….the visionary part of the equation.
The visionary is the person that understands enough about the data to know what is there, and can use that data in conjunction with their other knowledge and experience to say “lets take this segment of the database and mail them this offer”. This is the heart of the CRM program. You can amass all of the data in the world – if you do not know what to do with it, or how to use it to your advantage, you have nothing. You must have a database visionary – much more difficult to find than a database technician.
If your program is successful, it has the potential to change the way you run your business, in many different departments of the organization. It can only do this if all departments have access to, and understanding of, the information. In order to ensure this, it is highly recommended to create an implementation team with representatives from all departments concerned, not just Marketing and IT, but also Operations, Buying, Human Resources, Customer Service, etc.
It is not our objective to spend considerable money on a program, only to have the customer behave the same way she would have without the program. It is our objective to give her something she values, something she can’t get elsewhere, so that she will bring her repeat business to us instead of taking it elsewhere. So….ask her. Whatever vehicle you have available for customer communication will be valuable – focus group, telephone survey, on-line survey, etc.
It’s All About People
Joan Donogh is the President of In-Formation Design and has extensive experience in marketing communications and the design and development of customer relationship management and loyalty programs. Contact Joan by e-mail: email@example.com and visit www.donogh.com .
Many more articles in Customer Relationship Management in The CEO Refresher Archives