If you’re reading this now, it’s because you know—and care—about the importance of great customer relationship management. Congratulations: that’s the best way to maintain and grow your business in 2013! But a mistake that many marketers make—and that you may be making as well—is in believing that great CRM starts after a customer comes on board.
The reality is that if you’re not putting the same care and attention into managing your relationships with potential customers as you are with current ones, you may be missing out on a lot of significant opportunities. Management expert Peter Drucker has said that the sole purpose of a business is to create a customer. That may be true, but as businesses have understood and acted on the importance of retaining customers, they’ve tended to take the emphasis off Drucker’s customer creation. A balance of both is necessary for companies and brands alike to be healthy and thriving.
Solid customer acquisition requires, first of all, a financial commitment. A study by Buttle Associates found, surprisingly, that only 34% of companies in its survey had dedicated customer-acquisition budgets, and that, contrary to the assumptions companies make, merely putting a process in place and dedicating a person or persons responsible for acquisition was not enough to create a robust customer acquisition management program. Shifting both money and prioritization to the campaigns was what the researchers found worked.
Another study found (as advocates of customer relationship management have always known) that “acquiring a customer depends on how effectively the organization is able to build a comprehensive relationship with that customer.”
Hardly a big surprise. Yet, too often the methods and channels used for new-customer acquisition don’t take any CRM principles into account. Lured in by advertising, pay-per-click search marketing, or co-registration campaigns, new customers too often find themselves either overwhelmed by too much contact, or underwhelmed by too little; given too many choices, or too few; and generally not listened to at all.
Not good CRM. Not good customer acquisition management.
CAM—customer acquisition management—should be a total solution streamlined into your company’s CRM efforts. It starts with the front end of obtaining a lead, and takes you through the process of creating a customer out of that lead, then finally passing the customer on to CRM people so they can move forward with the ongoing customer experience and relationship, just as a runner might pass the baton on to the next person on the team.
It therefore makes absolute sense for CAM and CRM teams to work together to ensure an invisible transition for the new customer, consistency in the way that the company or brand treats that customer, and an overall smooth and positive customer experience. At its best, this experience will engender such loyalty that the customer will eventually become a brand advocate or evangelist, steering other potential customers into the company’s CAM and beginning the cycle over again.
Moreover, all of this makes good financial sense. Customer-acquisition strategies can help determine where you spend your promotional money, but only if you have a CAM solution that affords you excellent metrics so that you can strategize campaigns and tweak them as results come in. Getting well-qualified leads and nurturing those leads into customers cannot happen if you don’t have a way to measure your progress, to see what works and what doesn’t, and to change strategies if one isn’t working.
The results of these metrics will be different for every company, but the most important factor is being sure that the changes and adjustments you make in response to what you learn are on the back-end … not in the customer experience area. That needs to be smooth, clear, positive, and consistent.
Making CAM part of your CRM will tell potential customers a great deal about how they can expect to be treated once they—should they!—become your customers. Don’t you want to make that the best experience possible?