CRMGuru Is Now CustomerThink


Share on LinkedIn

In case you missed the announcement last week, we have changed the name of to Long-time members may recall that our email newsletter was renamed CustomerThink in 2002 (formerly CRM.Insight) because of confusion about what the term “CRM” means.

“CustomerThink” was created by this community, so it’s your name, not a buzzword that an analyst firm or software vendor invented. Unfortunately, “CRM” has a technology slant that’s proven hard to shake.

I believe we should look at the past 10 years as the beginning of a golden age of customer management. The focus of most companies has been to improve customer information management. Not a bad start. But now it’s become clear that the customer experience is incredibly important to deliver strategic benefits because great experiences build loyalty. Automation doesn’t.

But there’s much more coming! Technology is hardly irrevelant when you consider the rise of Web 2.0, which is empowering customers with blogs, social networking, wikis and more.

I launched in 2000 to create a forum to help business leaders learn how to create better relationships for customers, and profitable growth for the enterprise. Call it CRM, CEM or just plain common sense, that’s still our mission.

I’ve included some member reactions to this change below. Please add your comments, too!


  1. From: Noel Rodrigue, Consultant, Gatineau, QC

    You certainly hit this nail on the head, squarely and just once to sink it to where it needs to be! I’ve been a ‘member’ of this community since 10 Feb 05, and yes I still have all the emails to prove it – and all those I’ve received in the meantime (117) – but, I must admit that apart from a quick scan through of your issues (which I keep !) I have not actively participated. I certainly didn’t have the feeling of ‘community’ … until last night that is.

    You’re absolutely right about buzzwords and automation and systems. I also liked to see the word “Experience” thrown in there. Systems and buzzwords don’t have “Experience”, people do. And you know, even the term ‘Guru’ can take a hike. I don’t say this in a mean or disrespecting way – you’ve shown that this hat does fit – but to me (at least) it’s not such a great ‘attractor’. On the other hand “This time it’s about you” is spot on!!

    I’ve been a professor at Cornell and HBS before starting a consulting company. I just accepted a faculty position at Cornell–the School of Hotel Administration. Have received and read your newsletter for a long time. One of the few that provides objective info, not pitch-laden, self-service blather. You’re an excellent writer with plenty of content.

    Your name change is a sound idea. The name always touched a nerve with me because CRM has become tainted by in the way you describe so well.

    Bob – I agree! Customerthink is a better name – your articles are always wonderful and not always slanted to the technology (yay!) I’d love to be a contributor, I’m still writing and would love to contribute.

    Congratulations on your stellar commitment – I’m quiet but I do follow along! Keep up the inspiring work.

  2. From: Jeff Strehlow, ATS Relationship Marketing

    There’s “turning lemons into lemonade” and then there’s the captain rowing away in a lifeboat BEFORE the ship hits the iceberg.

    Spin it any way you want–and we marketers are whizzes at spin control–but you’re bailing on the main message you’ve been hammering us with for years.

    Way to stick to your core beliefs, dude

    My reply:

    Hi Jeff, and thanks for sharing your thoughts about our name change.
    I certainly understand your feeling about it. I’ve spent nearly 10 years promoting the idea that “CRM” is a customer-centric way of doing business, yet it seems that battle has been lost in the larger market
    outside our community.

    We’re going to continue to write about all things customer, include CRM, CEM, and any new buzzwords to be created along the way. But in the future, I’m betting we’ll have a stronger community without a TLA imbedded in our site name.


    It’s one thing for marketers to simplify their messages so the general public will understand them. Your readers are supposed to be a savvier group who understnads what you’re trying to accomplish with your site. We don’t need the name change.

    And me:

    Well, we *are* trying to attract more people who are not so savvy as our current members, or are turned off by the term “CRM.”

    I encourage you to do your own research. Ask your friends, colleagues and clients what does CRM mean, and do they like the term. I’ve done that many times, and the reactions are unsettling.

  3. Teddy Roosevelt is quoted as having said: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

    IMHO, this was the right thing to do and the right time to do it.


    Michael W. Lowenstein, CMC
    Vice President and Senior Consultant
    Harris Interactive Loyalty
    Office: 609.919.2524
    Mobile: 856.283.1182
    [email protected]

  4. Bob – I’ve received nothing but positive feedback from clients and colleagues. Plus, after three years or so screwing up our courage to take down High-Yield Methods’ “CRM” front door and replace it with “customer-centric alignment,” you’ve inspired us to finally make the move. Our website will change next month.

    Thanks for maintaining your leadership position,
    Dick Lee

  5. Bob

    The name change is obviously the right move for CustomerThink, for its many thousands of members and even for its many vendor advertisers.

    It is not that CRM per se is a bad description of what it purports to do, or that the taint of over-engineered technology still lingers, just that business has moved on. The whole notion of managing customers has been shown to be a house of cards. Customers are people and don’t want to be managed, thank you very much. They are perfectly able to manage their own destiny. And they are increasingly doing so.

    Business today is driven more and more by customers; whether through building experiences that better serve customers, through giving them tools to manage their own relationships or through co-creating the future together with customers.

    And success in business today relies more and more on thinking like customers, on feeling like customers and on behaving as though we were our own customers.

    That is why CustomerThink is the right name.

    Graham Hill
    Customer Value Management Thinker

  6. Paul Greenberg
    Author: CRM at the Speed of Light, 3rd Edition

    Hey Bob,
    Though I’m already one of the converted, I think that this is a mission-critical change that by no means (see above) runs from any message but in fact sends the right message.

    In fact, CRM strategies, in the past were part of corporate strategy, when done right. Now, because the customer has control of the ecosystem (see about every major corporate leader with any savvy), customer strategy IS corporate strategy and how the customers think (their voice actually) and how they participate is more important than the operational and transactional processes and technologies that are in place at a company. We’ve moved to a world where any company worth anything has to recognize the customer’s desire to participate in their own experience with the company.

    CustomerThink doesn’t run from anything. It runs right at and into the contemporary ecosystem and I say, WAY TO GO, DUDE!!

  7. “CRM? Oh yeah, we tried one of those once. Didn’t work”

    “Diet? Yeah, I tried one of those once…”

    This is a philosophical issue. Confusing CRM with technology has been a horrible weight around all of our necks.

    Now – let me tell you about my great, new, fantastic Integrated CustomerThink Software System!

    Ouch! Own! Hey – cut it out!!!
    Ow! OW!

    Jim Sterne

  8. Junkyo “Jack” Fujieda

    Regarding CustomerThink change! Congratulation.

    I also like your middle age spread metaphor. So I made a comparison Matrix model between Intel and Google why that difference but I made it
    Photo copy to attach, did not work.
    Any way,?Intel has 5 years R&D, two years product cycles,?heavy automation ( 80% +) production lines,?multi-billion dollars new generation plant,?yet with physical logistics,?high confidential, legal protected security system inside, no direct end user voice, only batched up for two years, thus Intel needs 1,000 times keener smarter sensors of CRM comparing with Google service oriented almost full automated operation, spontaneous end user feed back, customer experience ,responses for their CRM improvement ( Kaizen like Toyota )can be made every day, free 25% of all employees mind and time be used for innovation other than what he or she has a responsibility, free open minded, comfort centric operation, much science has been used in the better operation improvement ( Kaizen) like TOYOTA win.
    I recall about 10 years ago, Harvard business review pointed GM is strategic leader in the world and Toyota is strong but only operational leader. People forget world famous innovator, inventor’s word.
    Invention is 99% sweat and 1 % of genius talent.
    Yours jack Fujieda.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here