CRM – The Long View


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I’m in CRM for the long haul, are you? Have you been here for awhile? Do you plan to be around for awhile? Are you just starting out? Are you trying to make the leap from another discipline like Social Media? Me, I’ve been a CRM guy for quite awhile and plan to be around for awhile yet. That’s why I feel compelled to share my long view of things.

I have never been about getting rich quick. Unfortunately, we’ve all been programmed, to one degree or another, to do silly things like play the lottery and run up huge debts on credit cards. Basically, it’s the “I deserve this now” mentality, if I’m being perfectly honest. If that were the way to great success, I think we can all agree that everyone, people or businesses, would be wildly successful. The reason it is not is simple, you have to factor in risk. Risk is the great equalizer and balancing risk and reward is the game of champions.

A long time ago, I used to be in banking. This is where I learned about risk. In fact, my job was all about making sure lenders were protecting shareholder interests by properly underwriting risk. In a nutshell, the more risk there was in a deal, the more they had to charge and more controls needed to be in place. I think we can all relate to this right now because once again, the banking industry got caught trying to get rich quick. Or should I say, the individual personalities that make these banks up were out of control.

Back in my early days as as bank examiner, I had the good fortune of meeting an extremely old school banker. This gentleman was the President, Chairman, CEO, COO (whatever) of a very small bank in Kinderhook, NY. The banks charter number was 9, I think – which means it was the 9th bank to receive a charter. That’s old. So was he. I think he was about 80 when I met him. This place just reeked of being backwards. They were near a toll both on the New York turnpike so the processed a lot of coin. In fact, we were in there doing an exam and there must have been 30 large bags of coins sitting on the floor of the lobby. They may have had Barney Fife protecting it, I don’t recall.

So we did our examination with a team of eager young wannabe bank examiners. Oh, they did everything wrong! So we were all excited to get to the day where would sit in the boardroom and tell them how bad they were. By the way, the boardroom was the basement and it had a really long and sturdy table – enough for the board members and 6 bank examiners to sit around comfortably. The President, Chairman, CEO, COO had an ashtray and 4 cigars sitting in front of him. What? A closed in stuffy basement and this guy was gonna light a cigar? You betcha! But not until the moment was right.

Our fearless leader began reciting this and that from a long list of exceptions that we found. Didn’t these people know anything about consumer compliance? Sheesh! As we moved on from these tedious topics the focust shifted to the financial stability of this 85 year old bank. This was in 1987 and things were still riding high in this part of the country. Yet, this bank was only generating like a 7-10% net profit – something like that. The examiner in charge had been apoplectic about this all week. “How could they stay in business when everyone else has got like 35% net profit margins?”

The tension mounted as issue after issue was discussed. The President, Chairman, CEO, COO (whatever) began trimming his first cigar. Oh yea, he was ready for the long haul today. But somehow I didn’t think he was going to need all those cigars. So he snipped the tip and admired his handiwork. It looked so good I wanted one too! Maybe that’s why he had them all. So, the moment came. The examiner in charge asked “How can you expect to stay in business if you aren’t making 35% profit margins like everyone else these days?” Oh boy. Silence.

The 80 year old President, Chairman, CEO, COO (whatever) struck a match, applied it to the end of his cigar and began puffing until it was just right. He puffed, and puffed and puffed one last time. He then leaned over and blew smoke right in the face of the examiner in charge and said…

Sonny, we’ve been in business for 85 years. What makes you think we won’t be in business another 85?

This was the first underpinning in my business foundation. This bank provided it’s community a service they valued. Yes, they knew their customers – and these people were conservative with their money. They just wanted it to grow with as little risk as possible. This bank delivered. The next underpinning came the following year as we, the government, began closing bank after bank and then the S&L crisis hit too. This little bank in Kinderhook? Still going, with that really horrible return of 7-10% year after year after year. BTW, how’s your retirement portfolio doing these days?

Getting back to the long view of CRM. There’s always something new to contend with. New terminology, new tools that are supposed to bring paradigm shifts. But what’s not new is the personalities that get behind them. Let’s get rich quick and hope no one notices that we haven’t really solved any problems – let alone identified anything really new. My view may be too traditional for some of you. I like to find a problem and fix it. That’s it. Nothing too risky and delivering good value in the process. Who’s going to fault you for that? If some new major problem rears it’s ugly head, well, I’m watching out for it and I will fix that too. Things really can be very very simple, if you just let them be simple.

So, are you focused on the long view of CRM – maybe working through the labyrinth of spaghetti process you’ve designed around the last short view solution? Or are you just going to distract yourself once again with a shiny new toy?

Republished with author's permission from original post.


  1. While it’s still early days, the relationship between between social media and CRM is becoming increasingly more intense. For social media users, CRM is a way to manage engagement more efficiently and effectively. For CRM users, social media can’t be ignored given the number of conversations happening.

    At Sysomos, we took a first step by integrating into our Heartbeat social media monitoring service, while giving users the ability to access Heartbeat. We’re looking to add more enterprise services in the future.

    cheers, Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.


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