All Roads Lead To CRM ... Or Should

The rate of change and adoption for mobile, social marketing, online reputation management, e-commerce, and other digital solutions is wreaking havoc on many companies’ CRM strategy. What is intended as a central hub for managing all customer relationships may only represent some of them. This is due to the gap between the introduction of new marketing channels (and presumably, increased interaction) and the changes necessary to align them with the existing CRM strategy.

Sure, it’s a luxurious problem to have—“I have too much customer activity to keep up with”—but it’s also one that can lead to decreased momentum and missed opportunities in the long term. CRM should evolve alongside new marketing programs, or in advance of them, as part of its critical role as the central nervous system of customer interaction.

The alternative is a partial CRM that works in tandem with one or more disparate behavioral tracking solutions; in other words, parallel universes that don’t intersect. The goal is not only for them to intersect but to work together to inform future programs.

Keep the following things in mind as you build a CRM strategy that will accomplish exactly this.

1. You can’t measure what you don’t witness.

    The most basic function of CRM is tracking your customers. This simple goal can become increasingly complicated as you introduce new channels, but that’s only if your CRM doesn’t cater to multi-channel tracking…which it should.

    You will want to establish real-time and historical tracking, across all channels, over time. This will give you the full story of their experiences and behaviors relative to your brand(s). Multi-channel tracking will allow you to consolidate CRM data from email, web, mobile, e-commerce and customer service (among others), so that you can analyze it and find areas for improvement—on an individual level and a global one.

    2. Evangelize the total customer experience.

      Be the change agent that helps your company realize that the customers’ experience is now way greater than the literal interactions they have with your brand (shopping, buying, receiving service), and that what they experience/see/hear outside of them is equally related to their overall perspective of your company.

      Your CRM data may give you insight into each of the marketing channels you’re measuring, but applying this insight is difficult without support from those who control them. Get this support by establish a committee with a representative from each channel, with the goal of improving the overall customer experience. This is the best way to leverage interactive channel insights and demonstrate to others the power of customer intelligence, and the realities of your customers’ behaviors.

      3. Don’t outsmart the data.

        When businesses get ramped up on multi-channel CRM and analytics, they should only operate from hypotheses in the beginning. As they begin gathering customer insights, however, they should begin refining their hypotheses into theories that can be applied to different customer segments, across all channels. This requires first segmenting customers into primary groups, according to buyer persona, and documenting their behaviors.

        It’s also wise to compare different campaign results to benchmarks in your industry (for interactive channels such as email, web, mobile, etc.

        Understanding the data you’ve gathered internally and from external benchmarks will help you paint a full picture of the state of your various marketing and sales channels, and identify the efficiencies that will make customers buy more and need less help. All of the above support your mission of improving relationships and sales.

        4. Give up control to gain it.

        No matter how much data you’ve gathered and how carefully you’ve analyzed it, at some point you’ve got to let go of the reigns and let customers take the final step for themselves. Your job is simply to set up the conditions for success. This involves providing the customer with the tools they need to drive and shape their interaction with your brand. A few ways to do this using your CRM data are by:

        • Showing them logical adjacencies and/or similar products/services as others (in their persona group) viewed.
        • Creating access to history, favorites, likes, and other relevant content/products/services they have demonstrated an affinity toward through behaviors (past or real-time) such as viewing, selecting, and purchasing.
        • Simply asking them. Even the best “guessers” in the world pale in comparison to the information you gather from going straight to the source. Ask customers to create preferences for types of products, services and/or content they’d like to see in the future. Or right now.

        Connect the dots.

        Ultimately, the goal of your CRM is to tell the most cohesive and accurate story about all of your channels and the way your customers interact with them. This requires multi-channel CRM that can keep up with new digital channels and seamlessly maintain the fluidity of this story.

        Done right, the story will keep evolving over time, and improve sales and relationships along the way.

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