A New Look at Bad CRM


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I was thinking today about the similarities between bad CRM practices and owning cats. I realize that telling you this and then writing about it may hurt my credibility, but (1) it’s true that I was thinking this and (2) I am really tapped for better ideas today, so here goes.

The dialogue, if you can call it that, between cats and their owners is mostly in one direction. I buy a new toy or type of food for the cats, and then try to interpret their interest—marketing. We don’t speak the same language, just as businesses often don’t think of a successful product in the same way a customer would.

Once I’ve started the marketing campaign, the next step in KRM (Kitty Relationship Management) is trying to close the deal, turning up the pressure in order to sell the cats (their names are Cookie and Dr. Harbl, in case you were wondering) on the wonders of these new rawhide mice, or frozen raw venison burgers, or whatever. Again, the success or failure of my efforts is dependent on factors I can neither predict nor understand. In time I might develop some insight to what these particular cats prefer, but I can’t necessarily communicate that information to somebody else, nor can I apply it to other cats.

Kitty customer service? Again, failure to communicate is the order of the day. I am prepared to respond to certain requests from my cats, so every time they provide input I try to interpret it in light of those expected requests: feed me, pet me, or clean the litter box. It took a while to learn that last request, mainly because my own data told me I was doing an adequate job. If I’m not doing what the cats want, they have limited means for setting me on the right track, and if they don’t lodge some kind of protest, I continue with what I’ve been doing.

Good CRM, especially the social kind, is like speaking cat language. Maybe that doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement, but trust me—it’s huge. If you’ve ever had a cat deposit its “customer feedback” on your laundry bag, you’ll agree.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Marshall Lager
CRM Evangelists
Marshall Lager has been writing about CRM and related topics since 2005, first as a journalist for CRM Magazine and then as an analyst and consultant. He has worked at Informa and G2, and as an independent. Specialties include customer experience, B2C, customer journey mapping, and finding the humor in our sometimes dry and dour field.


  1. Marshall- again, nice article.

    Our clients wonder whether there is a ‘good’ CRM in existence. Your piece about learning requests touches a hot topic we’ve been strategizing on which bridges the interaction and process functions with customers. We haven’t found a CRM yet that captures both sides of this equation.

    Kevin O’Brien
    RiverStar Software
    Chief Marketing Officer
    Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/river_star


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