Executives think that because CRM means Customer Relationship Management that it was created to help the customer get more personalized service; quite the contrary. CRM is a system used primarily for managing a company’s interactions with current and future patrons. Wikipedia defines CRM as technology that organizes, automates, and synchronizes sales, marketing, customer service and technical support.
CRM and the impact on personalized service
Our friend, Bonnie, was complaining that her corporation recently installed a CRM system and to her disappointment instead of improving the business model it was a detractor. She quickly realized that the CRM system was designed to allow management to keep track of her contacts and actually removed the option for her to provide personalized service to her customers. Bonnie sells a line of accessories, replicating the Tupperware concept. Prospective buyers come to her home or other designated locations because she sent them an invitation in the mail, by email or making the old-fashioned phone call. Her prospects are people she knows well, or friends of friends who recommend her line. There is rarely the need to advertise and people are always attracted in large numbers to her events.
One of the ways that she continues to build relationships and generate repeat business is to send each person who attended one of her “parties” a personalized email. She not only details what was purchased and that she hopes they enjoy whatever was bought, but to have a great time on the trip that’s in the offing or good luck with that college application. Bonnie can mention these things and deliver personalized service because she has had a conversation with the individual and a relationship was created. The follow-up communication further builds upon an already established foundation.
Unfortunately, the new CRM system generates an automated email thanking the people for attending, signed with Bonnie’s name and itemizing all of the items that were purchased. In effect, her company has removed the word customer and taken it out of the equation. They have replaced personalized service with automation. That doesn’t make sense.
Bonnie is one of the most successful sales associates in the history of the company. She is now afraid that her customers and prospects will slowly diminish over time because what was once “up close and personal” has become another run of the mill communication that makes her no different than anyone else.
Yes, it is true that the CRM allows Bonnie and other reps to have a clear and accurate record of each customer and their purchasing history. However, technology has its limitations. Repeat business does not happen automatically but is created over time. Treating the customer as a person first and customer second with the primary motivation being the person’s state of mind rather than their method of payment will clearly differentiate your organization from your competitor. Relationship is person to person. Don’t allow technology to steal your thunder and replace personalized service with robotic.