Customers are the lifeblood of any organization. In order to capture and track customer information (e.g., demographics, buying habits, satisfaction, and loyalty, etc.), organizations use information systems called Customer Relationship Management (CRM). CRM is utilized by sales, marketing, customer support services, and other organizational functions to capture new and potential customer information from multiple sources (e.g., websites, email, phone calls, chats, customer lists, social media, government data, etc.) into a single source of reference.
CRM provides the organization to have “one voice” when addressing customer-related activities and provide internal organizational consistency. However, a standalone CRM is useless unless it is augmented with the right people, efficient processes and effective technologies. From a people’s perspective, customer relationship development becomes the responsibility of any individual who interacts with the customer at any level. From a process perspective, enhanced customer experiences should be the goal. From a technology perspective, information systems should be able to quickly capture customer information, be easy to use and always be available anytime anywhere.
In order to understand if CRM is helping or hurting your customers, ask the following questions to assess what is happening and what should be happening within your organization:
|Who is responsible for customer relationships?||Who should be responsible for customer relationships?|
|What happens when customer relationships do not pan out?||What should happen when customer relationships do not pan out?|
|Where does customer relationships take place?||Where should customer relationships take place?|
|When are customer relationships developed?||When should customer relationships be developed?|
|Why customer relationships are important?||Why customer relationships should be important?|
When you are asking the above questions across all levels of the organization, take into consideration the direct and indirect (e.g., word of mouth, organizational reputation, (ex) employee feedback, etc.) ways of developing customer relationships. Keep in mind that customers are there to buy into your ideas, products, and services and thus they need to trust you at some level. Customers should be able to:
- Trust that your organization will be transparent about how information is collected, used and distributed
- Trust that your organization will keep information safe
- Trust that your organization will provide the most efficient process for resolving issues
- Trust that your organization will provide customized services
- Trust that your organization will not try to sell them something they don’t need