By: Walter Ohlmann, President
Customer relationship management (CRM) is a phrase heard more and more in the marketing departments and boardrooms of large and not-so-large companies. In the eye to eye contact between salesperson and customer, one sees little of all that talk being put into practice. Of course, the name Nordstrom is at the top of those companies that live and breathe great CRM. And their diligence in the pursuit of excellence is all the more apparent because there are so few who make a science out of the practice.
It’s not brain surgery. It can be learned. It can become part of a company’s culture and when it does … your whole world will change. Improved ROI, better customer retention, increased referrals and happier employees.
There are no guarantees of success, but here are six rules that should help you in initiating a program that provides great promise.
Rule # 1: Know your customer
An effective strategy must be based on a thorough knowledge of your customers – your best and most valuable customers. You must anticipate their needs, determine their preferences, understand their purchasing decisions and exceed their expectations. This knowledge becomes the basis of effective programs focused on that all-important person – the customer.
Rule # 2: Execute to perfection
No matter how good the strategy, superb execution is the one ingredient without which nothing can happen. The right plan, executed by the right players, who project accurate costs and communicate often will quickly identify issues and establish proper responses. Recognize those who provide success with rewards in line with their efforts.
Rule # 3: High touch better than high tech
Although the use of some technology will be required to manage the large volume of customer and transactional data, the one-on-one interaction is what the customer remembers and passes on to numerous friends, family members and neighbors.
Rule # 4: Mistakes can improve performance
Not every strategy will result in success. But mistakes can often be the best teacher. Be flexible and capitalize on new found knowledge. Be sure that information is funneled to those who need to change a course or deploy necessary resources.
Rule # 5: Employees are your goodwill ambassadors
Not only will employee morale greatly improve, but happy, smiling employees drive home the message that this is a wonderful company, with caring management whose only objective is to make each and every customer satisfied.
Rule # 6: Ask your customer
Sam Walton was once asked his opinion of a new company policy affecting customers. His response is still being quoted today. “If you have questions about our business, ask our customers. They have all the answers and they also happen to have all the money.” Pretty good advice.
Remember, above all, no CRM program can survive without the commitment of both management and employees.