CRM Association in Japan Awards Leaders in Customer-Centric Relationship Management


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CRM is alive and well in Japan, I was happy to learn after attending the CRM Association Japan Executive Forum in Tokyo on July 8. Kudos to Jack Fujieda, Founder/CEO of ReGIS Inc., who launched this association some nine years ago and now has organized five annual conferences.

The Japanese economy is struggling, just like here in the U.S., except perhaps a bit worse. Even superbly managed companies like Toyota are losing money. So CRM enthusiasm has been tempered by the spending cuts.

I was there to deliver a keynote address on Customer-Centric Business Management (CBM) trends and best practices. Fujieda also gave a trends speech, and CRM best practice award winners presented their cases.

The types of winning organizations and projects were quite diverse:

  • am/pm Japan Co. Ltd Anshin Center—Claim Management Practice Model
  • Taiyo Life Insurance Company—Customer Oriented Sales Innovation Model
  • Nikko Cordial Securities Inc.—Call Blending Model
  • Newtel LLC—CRM & TQM Integration Model
  • Nojima Corporation—Mobile Relationship Model
  • The Fukui Chamber of Commerce and Industry—Commercializing Complaints/Claims Model
  • The Fuji Fire and Marine Insurance—Lead Customer Center Integration Model
  • Benesse Corporation—Women’s Community Model
  • Meiko Construction Co., Ltd.—General Contractor Sale Innovation Model
  • Rakuten Securities, Inc.—Net Value Type Model

The overall winner, and most interesting case in my opinion, was the Fukui Chamber of Commerce’s program “We buy complaints.” They created a system to encourage the online submission of complaints and they put those problems out to bid for companies to solve. Very creative!

Over the past four years CRMA-Japan has given out 54 awards. Each year it publishes case studies from the winners in a best practices document.

Again, great job by Jack Fujieda for his CRM leadership in Japan over nearly a decade, and for this year’s excellent forum. It was my privilege to be a part of the program.

Five Stars to JAL

One highlight for me was the great service that Japan Airlines provide to/from Tokyo. Attentive service, good food, nice seatback entertainment center… a pleasant overall experience that leads me to say I’ll definitely fly JAL again.

It didn’t hurt that I got a free upgrade to Premium economy on the flight back. A few extra inches of leg room really makes a difference. The upgrade was offered during my check-in via an automated kiosk.

But why I was picked? Was this CRM at work — because I’m a frequent flyer (on American Air, which code-shares with JAL)? Or did JAL’s system decide somehow that I was a valuable customer? Or was it just luck because I checked in very early?

And then I was one of a few selected to fill out a survey at the end of the flight. I happily did so (one way to pass the time on a 10 hour flight), and aside from the lack of space for write in comments, the survey was pretty well designed. But was this survey invite linked to the upgrade in some way?

One nice thing: there was no pressure whatsoever to give a good score. The car companies could learn from this.

Maybe there was something going on behind the scenes and maybe not, but JAL gets my “five star” rating for a great flying experience.


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