Know Thy Customer!
by Joanne C. Wilson

What do you know about your customer? Do you accidentally sell or do you sell on purpose. Does your customer contact you or do you contact your customer proactively? Does your HABIT include knowing your customer, being sensitive to their needs and ever changing demands? Is your product about price or solutions for your customer?

Rising competition means that your business needs a solution to build loyalty and increase customer retention. To get customer attention, your company has to more effectively manage relationships in order to win repeat business. What are you doing to manage the relationship you currently have with your customers and what are your plans for the future?

Your Sales, Marketing and Service/Support Departments need to work more closely together to manage customers from one data source. Information accessed at the right time will improve how your departments communicate and work together, ultimately serving your customer in a more pro-active manner. Do your Departments behave like silo run businesses or is your Team accessing a single view of your customer data?

CRM, Customer Relationship Management - what is it and why is this service market up 28% over last year? CRM is a strategy and not just an installed application program, embracing a new technology or committing to a vendor's CRM Suite. Implementation of a new way of doing business and providing better insight into your customer's behaviour is priority. Superior implementation merges the front-office and the back-office, giving employees a complete view of the organization's relationship with its customers. There is a shift away from traditional product - or process-centric models. This cultural shift aligns a company, its employees and its systems toward customers.

The CRM market estimates that Corporations, big and small will budget $50,000 to $2 million for their CRM initiative. The market is to eclipse $24 billion by 2003 which more than double its current figure of about $11 billion.

Research from Accenture indicates that by the year 2002, 83% of companies will implement data warehouses, 70% will revamp their customer process, 53% will aim to use electronic commerce to transform relationships with customers and 49% will organize by customer type.

A second set of findings may be even more useful to executives faced with CRM decisions. If the initial findings make it easier to justify investment in customer relationship management overall, these follow-on findings make it clear which specific investment return the most value, taking the guesswork out of these critical decisions about how best to allocate resources among marketing, sales and service efforts.

The findings identified more than 50 individual marketing, sales and service capabilities, 21 of which have particularly high impact across the industries targeted. 5 capabilities produced the highest impact on financial performance and they were as follows: Customer service, which is tied for highest impact with motivating and rewarding employees; converting customer information into INSIGHT; attracting and retaining personnel; and building, selling and service skills. These factors are most closely associated with high return on sales in every industry studied.

A customer-driven culture is the behaviour that creates a customer-driven enterprise. "The winners will be those who can develop a culture that allows them to move faster, communicate more clearly and involve everyone in a focused effort to serve even more demanding customers", as stated by Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric.

Let's talk about why CRM Solutions Fail. Forrester Research reports that only 2% of businesses have an integrated or single view of their customer data. McKenna Group outlined businesses inability to redefine the vision of a "total customer experience" across all departmental level as well as across all touch points of the organization.

This is where Customer Relationship Management Solutions like GoldMine FrontOffice 2000, designed specifically for small and medium-sized businesses; Sales Logix, Pivotal, and Siebel for large-sized business (to name a few), may assist with an integrated view of your customer's data. Microsoft Outlook is used by many companies but does not achieve the integrated view as experienced by the above-mentioned products.

CRM initiatives must come from the top. CEO involvement can assist a successful CRM initiative. To avoid any other painful surprises, the CRM user should become part of the Implementation Team and invited into the decision-making process. User commitment is essential.

To implement a CRM program as cheaply as possible has been another mistake companies have come to regret. Other mistakes include absent boardroom champions, non-existent cross function processes, lack of budget commitment, slow hardware configuration, and software selected on popularity rather than functionality and growth potential.

A Customer Relationship Management strategy is a process and should not be taken on lightly. Be aware of what you are purchasing from a solutions provider. You need the knowledge to make an informed decision. Ask an Expert before you begin!


Joanne C. Wilson is President of The Trainer's. She has been involved with technology assisted relationship management software for over 8 years. "We may have started with training sales force automation software products to sales people but these days we are busy with the whole CRM process." "We are uniquely different from most providers as we provide training and mentorship through the process. We empower CRM Teams to take care of their own CRM processes, from the beginning." Joanne can be reached by calling (905) 820-1041 or by emailing jwilson@goldtrainers.com .

This article was originally published in Business/Women Canada and is reprinted with permission.

Many more articles in Customer Relationship Management in The CEO Refresher Archives

   


Copyright 2001 by Joanne C. Wilson. All rights reserved.

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