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The Net Takeaway: What happened to CRM?

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What happened to CRM? · 07/05/2005 08:02 PM, Marketing

You know, I remember when CRM stood for Customer Relationship Management. In the beginning, it subsumed all the aspects of customer interaction which mattered:

And so on. Of course, CRM got destroyed by somewhat dreamy companies who believed that technology alone can make human interaction work. As it turns out, technology is a huge enabler, but you still need people to customize how to interact with other people. Sounds obvious to you and me, but back in the boom years, CRM meant “computerized relationship management” as companies tried to automate everything, and failed.

The problem now is that things have swung too far the other way. Almost every CRM article I read is about call centers. Forget the other channels, forget the impact of analytics, forget the power of dynamic and customized messaging and web sites… no, nowadays CRM is about how to reduce the service costs of people who call to complain. Its about sending people to a self-service website, its about complicated phone trees, its about measuring satisfaction with the call center… Its as if people forgot all the power of the tech and rolled back to the 70s.

I loved the original ideas of CRM. I love the ideas of MRM, and I love Analytics. I think that we should quit thinking of CRM as just “customer service” and get back to the good ol’ days when CRM was about how to love your customer, and give them some reasons to love you back. Not everyone can be Harley or Prada… but when you are an honest company which deals fairly and provides value for money spent (or even value for no money), you can actually start to have that type of relationship with your customer, even if you are a b2b company selling ball bearings.

And yes, it will probably take some tech. And some people. Its why I work with one of the few true “full-service” email and database marketing companies in the world. And its this combination that makes modern relationship management work.

So when you see CRM, try to hearken back to the days before it was all tech, or all “service centers”, and think about what it might be like to provide service to people who might like it so much that they pay for it. Those days aren’t so far away, so don’t get stuck in the “CRM” trap, and instead focus on the relationship. You’ll be happier, and so will your customers. And, of course, those people who need ball bearings.

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