Yo! It's MRC, Not CRM!
me get this straight. The latest buzz suggests I should
spend my time and money on web-ized Customer Relations
Management (CRM) strategies? Talk about putting the cart
before the horse! Oh, the idea is pointed in the right
direction, all right - but don’t you think first you need
a satisfied customer base to manage? And unless you've been
away visiting the hot spots on Mars, you know that
prognostications for “e-business as usual” are
gloom-and-doom. Studies prove most people are totally
willing to spend online, but then they go there, find
themselves confronted with Online Shopping Heck (this is a
family friendly publication) and most of them don’t spend
goal, of course, is lots of satisfied customers - nice,
happy ones who become loyal, repeat buyers as well as
active referrers. But the fact they bought from you once
doesn’t mean you have a relationship with them - yet.
In fact, for all you know, they’re not coming back,
and maybe for very good reason. First, you have to
create an online shopping experience that plants the
seeds of a real relationship. Then you have to nurture
those seeds tenderly with outstanding fulfillment and
customer service. How would you feel if you bought
something at an offline store and immediately the
manager came over and started talking to you like a
long-lost drinking buddy? Building a relationship takes
time. Shoving some tech-heavy CRM application at your
customer is more likely to push them away than draw them
in. If you want to get it right, you need to follow MRC,
not CRM: Manage your e-business correctly so you
can establish a Relationship from which you can
develop a delighted and loyal Customer. Only then
can all the other stuff you do have the impact you want.
e-enterprises out there have the software to facilitate
CRM, and lots of software vendors would love to sell you
some. But just like the scuba dude who puts out big bucks
for gear when he's still 500 miles from the water, these
same businesses don’t have the in-depth customer
knowledge they need to use the technology effectively.
They wind up getting carried away with trying to manage
what they don't actually have.
to David Sims, smart and common-sense Customer Relations
who profits from CRM has their own definition of what
it is, but they're agreed as to what it is not: CRM
isn't about technology any more than hospitality
is about throwing a welcome mat on your front porch.
understood, CRM is ‘a philosophy that puts the
customer at the design point, it's getting intimate
with the customer,’ [in the words of Liz Shahnam,
CRM analyst with the META Group]. Mike Littell,
president of the CRM Division of EDS, agrees: ‘We
view CRM more as a strategy than a process.
It's designed to understand and anticipate the needs
of the current and potential customer base a company
has.’ Once you nail that, Littell says, there's ‘a
plethora of technology out there that helps capture
customer data and external sources, and consolidate it
in a central warehouse to add intelligence to the
overall CRM strategy.’"1 (bold
emphasis courtesy of …me.)
short, get the happy customer base first and then you've
got something to manage. It all begins with how you
treat your customers, from the moment they land on your
site through their purchase and beyond. The first-time
buyer plunks down his money for a product, but if he
runs into hassles, he very likely will never come back
again. To put it bluntly, poor customer service has lost
you a customer and left you with nothing to manage.
some examples of how customer service failed in its
efforts to establish a relationship? Here are some from
the annals of the folks right here at Future Now
(avid online shoppers, all).
Future Now guy placed an order with BlueLight.com
and sat back, fully expecting to receive his merchandise.
He waited. It didn't come. He made an inquiry. BlueLight's
Customer Care Team responded, in a very chipper and
clearly canned email, that his order regrettably had been
cancelled and then proceeded to thank him for providing
input that helped them achieve their goal: "the
complete satisfaction of each of our customers." More
than a little dissatisfied and annoyed that his order had
been cancelled and he had not been notified, he wrote
again. He got another response. This time, the Customer
Care Team informed him the item was out of stock, thanked
him for shopping with BlueLight and suggested, blithely,
that he should continue to keep checking out those
BlueLight.com specials. Right! Don't think so.
Future Now guy ordered from CircuitCity.com.
He handed over his credit card information on a $200
purchase, then learned later in the checkout procedure
that the software couldn't handle the fact that his shipping,
billing and actual addresses were all different. He
couldn't complete the purchase online. Stalwart and still
wanting to make the purchase, he called the
prominently-displayed Customer Service number. The
representative informed him their order screen was the
same one that was online, they were only able to do what
the website would allow, and, further, that t hey didn't have
authority to process his order and credit card information
over the phone. Needless to say, our friend made his
purchase elsewhere. Circuit City forfeited a $200 sale,
and they definitely don't have a customer, simply because
their system was not able to accommodate the customer's
needs. They can fire at him all the CRM guns they have; he
won’t be back.
cutie here spent an evening assembling her Amazon.com
wish list for Christmas, then sending it around to family
and friends. She kept getting letters from folks saying it
was a nice idea, but they couldn't access her list. Amazon
provided no information for resolving this problem, so she
independently e-mailed the url of her wish list. Come
Christmas, she received two of the same coffee pot from
her wish list and two of the same book. Something in
Amazon's system forgot to note when a purchase from the
wish list had been made, so she got duplicates. After a
flurry of e-mail exchanges trying to sort out the return
of the duplicates, she finally was told to box and return
them, and a gift certificate would be issued - not to her,
but to the original purchaser of the gift! Having no
choice, that’s what she did. Both she and the original
purchaser are still waiting for resolution.
also came in for further drubbing in these offices because
it took TWENTY DAYS!! for one of our guys to receive an
order in which all items were said to be available for
shipment within 24 hours. Despite the fact Amazon offered
free shipping on orders over $100, he chose to pay for 2nd
Day Air in order to get his order faster. When the order
was slightly overdue, he wrote to ask where his order was.
He was ignored. After waiting almost 3 weeks for the
package, he is still trying to get credit for his 2nd Day
every one of us here has had the following problem: You go
to a site, run into a snag making a purchase and decide to
call Customer Service. But the lines at Customer Service
are all busy. Do they put you "on hold"? No!
They tell you to go to the website! Didn’t you just come
from there? Duh!
are these companies thinking? And these are the big guys
with the big budgets and, supposedly, the big brains
behind their operations. If you work out the statistical
average of problems per person at Future Now and
extrapolate to the greater online shopping population at
large, you gotta know there's massive trouble out there in
Paradise. And no wonder.
their shopping experience a drag, drop the ball on
fulfillment, don’t keep your promises, send them canned
messages that have nothing to do with addressing their
problems or ignore them altogether - and then crank up
your whiz-bang CRM “solution”? Good luck.
before you go spending your money on CRM, spend a little
time, no a LOT of time, considering how effective you are
at MRC. That’s where it all starts, and if you get it
wrong, that’s also where it all ends.