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5 CRM misnomers and personal prejudices…

Posted on by Alan Gilmour

Prejudice - websize

A lot of guff is often talked about CRM, or Customer Relationship Management to give it its Sunday name. Don’t get me wrong I am a huge fan of what others call CRM. I have been doing it for more than 20 years.

But if we are going to talk about it, going to do it, let’s do it right.

And so to give the lie to much of what is written and spoken about, here are my top 5 prejudices or misnomers about much of what is written and said.

#1 We shouldn’t even call it CRM

Relationships - websize

I wish I knew who came up with the term, Customer Relationship Management.

But in my experience across many businesses practising CRM, most customers do not want a relationship. And I know of no customer who would willingly consent to or admit to liking being ‘managed’.

Instead of calling it CRM why not call it a Next Best Action or NBA programme.

#2 CRM is NOT about loyalty

Dog with slippers - websize

Most consumers in most categories do not buy out of loyalty. And no CRM programme is going to change that. Consumers buy what they buy from habit, from inertia, from top of mind, from accessibility, or because they have been bribed to buy.

I buy a lot of Diet Coke. To Coke I am no doubt seen as loyal Coke drinker. Assuming of course they know what I buy. And they don’t. But if Coke is not available in the supermarket, bar or restaurant I will switch. And I won’t feel I am at all being disloyal.

In my book if you want loyalty, buy a dog.

#3 eCRM is an oxymoron

Media channels websize

CRM is and must be channel neutral. And the choice of channel should be driven, if we are doing CRM properly, by a real understanding of consumer behaviour, their channel usage and preference.

To start out with the thought that the programme will only be electronic or digital or ‘e’ runs counter to the idea of selecting channels that are most relevant to reach any particular consumer.

And in any event CRM is about the data and the insight and the decisioning. Not the channel. It is CRM. With no added ‘e’. The ‘e’ is superfluous.

#4 True CRM is an illusion

Illusion websize

Because very very few businesses are doing it. Globally. Just about every business I know never gets much further than designing and executing a competent database marketing programme. End of.

With true CRM every channel, including its customer service channels, should work seamlessly together to offer a truly integrated, brilliantly informed, holistic, totally joined up customer experience.

Inbound and outbound channels bound in communion. Marketing, sales and customer operations working together. Left hand and right hand operating in unison. Collecting data, updating the transaction history, refreshing the customer record, renewing the data decisioning and delivering the most appropriate Next Best Action.

Too often CRM programmes are all about just the outbound. The channels the marketing team can control.

#5 If you can’t see the data in the database, you can’t use it

Family treadmill websize

Businesses often want to fuse the results from some attitudinal segmentation study with the data on their database. This study will have created segments, usually six, and given them creative names like Enterprising Explorers or Family Treadmill, built by asking a random sample of a tiny proportion of their customer base a series of random attitudinal questions.

And they will want to fuse this data with the demographic, transactional, profitability, behavioural data held on the database. This cannot be done with any degree of acceptable accuracy.

My rule of CRM-if you can’t see the data in the database, don’t touch it.


And there you have it, my top 5 CRM prejudices.

Prejudices born from experience. That have forged my CRM philosophy. That have shaped my approach to CRM.

Please feel free to add to the list in the comments.


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