Business is about managing employees, customers and suppliers. In the next set of columns, we will explore how the Internet is changing relationships in this eco-system, starting with customers.
A Forrester Research survey of 60 global companies showed up some astounding facts:
- Only 48% of firms know about a problem before the customer does
- Only 43% offer better service to profitable customers
- Only 37% know if they share a customer with another division
- Only 20% know if a customer has visited the website
Every customer is not equal. Some are more profitable than others. Do you know which ones are? Are you in a position to offer these customers something different, something special? When a customer calls, do you spend 30 seconds or 30 minutes with the customer? What is the life-time value of your profitable customers? Can you create different marketing messages for the various customer segments? Can you monitor the effectiveness of these strategies? Which of your customers are likely to defect to a competitor? Which of them can you trial your new product with? Welcome to the world of CRM.
“Customer relationship management (CRM) is a strategic business and process issue, not a technology solution”, writes Rod Newing of the Financial Times.
CRM is defined by the Gartner Group as “a business strategy designed to optimize profitability, revenue and customer satisfaction.” At the end of day, business is about acquiring new customers and retaining existing customers, and treating each customer as an individual. The Internet is a very powerful tool to help your enterprise do just that.
Writes Scott Phillips of Merrill Lynch:
As companies embrace the e-commerce business model, they are forced to offer their products and services through multiple channels. The natural result is that customers are empowered. Customers now dictate the channel and medium through which they’ll buyThe challenge of making the sale is outweighed by the complexity of keeping the customer.
An enterprise has various customer “touch points” – telephone, letters, fax, email, website, relationship managers, sales persons, help desk, call centres, interactive voice response systems, kiosks. Customers are now in a position to decide how they want to interact with the enterprise. It is therefore critical to consolidate all the customer information across the organisation, and make it available to the front-office so that the enterprise sees a unified view of the customer. Similarly, the customer also needs to see a single view of the enterprise. For example, a customer may place an order on the website and then call up on the phone to check or make some changes – at that “moment of truth” asking the customer to give all the order details again is a sure way of not building loyalty! The best customers are those who are money-rich but time-poor, and they want consistency.