Thinking about customer relationships

Customer Relationship Management, Social Relation Management, and Customer Experience.

Today, these tterms are being used interchangeably. This brief post will highlight the importance of collaboration among business units, the importance of have a structured approach to capturing information/data, and the importance of qualitative info. (Well, maybe this post will not be so brief? Maybe I should break this out into 3 posts, eh?)

Historically, CRM impacted mainly the marketing part of the organization. That no longer should be the case. In fact, organizational silo’s for this new Web World have to broken down. (OK, we might have heard this before, but how many companies are taking a cross-functional approach to CRM).Customer Service needs to be tied closely to Marketing — and Product Development. Ideally, anyone touching the customer, whether it is at the call center or on a Facebookpage or in a beta testifocus , should be able to share and store their learnings and customer information in one central place. It should be shared with other members of the organization.

Back in the 1900s, companies tried to achieve this by building the uberdata warehouse. When I worked at Silicon Graphics (you remember them), the company hired two data architects to help drive the building of their central data repository. Even though they sat in the customer service group, they partnered with me, a marketing guy, in designing the database. They were interested in working with somone who had a direct marketing experience — building loyalty and retention programs. At the time, I didn’t realize how unique my SGIers were — in that they brought customer service and marketing together. I have worked with a lot of companies since then, and very few of them have gotten Support and Marketing people in one room at the same time.

From a data perspective, there are some real challenges:

  • Extracting the data from Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Ensuring that you own the data (this is an issue on Facebook)
  • Identifying all the different touch points
  • Defining commonality for the data — one data dictionary, consistent data, etc.
  • Deciding what you want to do with the data
  • Packaging the information so that senior manager can understand what it means

And then there are the verbatim. One of the biggest ‘misses’ is that companies don’t look at qualitative data – and closely review and scrutinize what their customers and prospects are actually saying. One of the most important lessons I learned at Intuit was from Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, who asked me questions like ‘what are the jobs people are doing, what are the tasks are they trying to accomplish, how are they talking about the product?

All of this means more than just being able to summarize what people are saying in an executive summary. It requires diggigng in and doing some primary research, and reading comments.

It means understanding the language they use, being able to bucket/categorize the top issues, etc. One big opportunity for this is for social media practiionners who do Sentiment Analysis. When reviewing what people are saying and determining if it is Positive, Neutral and Negative, there’s an opportunity to take each comment, identifying the user with that comment, and adding it to your CRM database.

CRM, SRM and DM is not easy… The key is that while building out your infrastructure, don’t forget about the people! It’s always about the people.


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