Why your CRM is better than a hot air balloon ride

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If you’ve ever driven a super car around a race circuit, rode a zip wire through a remote forest or sampled wine in a fine vineyard, chances are you’ll be familiar with a gift experience.

Gift experiences or Red Letter Days are sold as a spectacular out of the ordinary day to remember – something you’ll cherish forever, treasure in your memory and look back on with great fondness. It’s (usually) something people can’t wait to do, brag about to their friends and tag themselves into pics on social media commemorating the event.

Maybe they’re onto something. Perhaps an experience is actually a more valuable gift than something tangible. After all, it’s not something you can go back to and play with until you tire of it or lose some of the parts down the back of the sofa.

As a businessperson, you’re probably wondering what on earth this has to do with CRM. Well, stay with me. If you’ve been sticking strictly to your CRM system and are still scratching your head wondering where all this guaranteed engagement got to, you need to dig deeper and start connecting the idea of an experience with the tools you’re already equipped with in your CRM.

Think about it – if your CRM could offer an experience that stays with your customer, as they move through the consumer lifecycle and develops along with them, isn’t that better than a 25% off discount voucher or some tangible free gift that they’ll discard when a competitor comes along offering something better?

Your experience is your offering. This is how you will differentiate yourself in the congested marketplace. This is how you will stand out and win customer loyalty that sticks.

How to make your CRM less me, me, me

CRM is meant to be about the customer. Yet somehow, people get so lost in the tools and processes – the chasing up leads and scheduling responses that it becomes more about them and their duties that need to be completed before they clock off for the day.

Switch your focus back to the customer and reposition yourself from offering a ‘relationship’ to an ‘experience’ and you’ll reap the rewards. Oracle’s Steve Fearon believes it’s the only way to achieve. He comments:

‘Customer relationship management is the corner stone of a customer-centric approach, but as the brand needs to be able to address the customer expectations during cross channel processes, we are seeing the evolution of CRM to customer experience management’

Customer experience is all about lifelong promises and lifelong revenue. If it takes you a year to persuade a customer that you are an essential brand that they simply can’t live without, that beats winning their hearts for 10 minutes with a quick-win. At the end of the day, everything has to relate back to the customer. Absolutely everything.

Customer experience management (or CEM for short) is all about using the data in your CRM to deliver more consistent, compelling customer interactions and engagements across all channels and touch points of business. Ultimately, CEM has not been brought in to replace CRM but to build on it. If we’re talking metaphors, CRM would be the foundations of a house and CEM would be the furniture and decorations. It’s the final touches on a long drawn out process that aims to properly make it established and successful.

Remember, your CRM is still the treasure chest where you’ll find all those golden nuggets of data on your customers – you’ll know who to keep contacting and who perhaps you wouldn’t mind moving on from, what to push and what to hold back on and when the perfect time would be to launch a new product or service.
With CEM, you can monitor all that by emotional responses. Gartner have nailed the definition:

‘CEM is the practice of designing and reacting to customer interactions to meet or exceed customer expectations and, thus, increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. It is a strategy that requires process change and many technologies to accomplish’

Ultimately, CEM is about getting to know your customers well by collecting data from all channels, analysing that data and using it to deliver personalised engagement back through those original channels. That, in essence, should increase brand loyalty and result in increased revenues.

Typical CEM models include:

• Multi-channel automation
• Big Data that connects all data sources
• Data visualisation
• Algorithms that analyse and score customer content preferences on various channels

So remember, CRM and CEM are not two separate entities but in fact, can work together as complimentary strategies. Expanding the conventional CRM approach across your business by combining it with CEM can set the foundations to achieve the best possible customer loyalty. It might sound a bit up in the air right now because it’s a relatively new concept but when actioned properly, it’s so much better than a one-off hot air balloon ride.

Gareth Cartman
Gareth Cartman is Director of Digital Marketing at Clever Little Design, and blogs frequently on tech, marketing, customer service and Human Resources.

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