DRAYTON BIRD is an internationally-applauded author, copywriter, teacher, lecturer and consultant.
The Chartered Institute of Marketing named Drayton, with others such as Tom Peters, Ted Levitt and Philip Kotler, as one of the 50 individuals who have shaped modern marketing.
The following piece has been reproduced from Drayton’s book The Missing 51 Helpful Marketing Ideas with his kind permission.
CRM systems can help or hurt you.
Don’t fall for marketing automation mania. Many have lost a fortune trying to make computers do all the work. But computers can only do what you tell them. Not the opposite. And no system can think for you.
DO YOU BELIEVE in magic?
Marketers tend to. They are suckers for miracle cures – and here’s why.
We all know our customers are lazy.
That’s why the words “quick” and “easy” always increase readership of any headline.
Show them how they can do something – lose weight, learn a language – with less effort, and you probably have a winning proposition.
You must package it well, though – preferably with an impressive name.
So it’s not listening to and repeating words and phrases; it’s “programmed learning”. That makes you feel you’re doing something important, doesn’t it?
Why smart people do dumb things
Guess what? Marketers are just as lazy as customers – hardly surprising, as they are customers every day. Most (as I learned from asking them to define it in many countries) are too lazy to even learn what marketing is – let alone what “direct marketing” means.
Anyhow, that word “direct” … doesn’t it sound distressingly close to direct mail? And we all know what that means, don’t we? Junk. Ugh. That certainly doesn’t sound very flattering, does it?
CRM sounds much better. People love it. Though I cannot for the life of me see how it differs from what I’ve always done. Mind you, it took me about nine years to get any good at what I do, whereas a few years ago Oracle’s ads said: “Start today and have global customer relationship management in 60 days.” Sounds a lot better than hard work, doesn’t it? Mr. Super CRM would whiz into your office and take care of everything for you! No wonder it took off.
Many firms started CRM divisions before even knowing what the heck it really was – or meant to their business. No wonder that a few years after it first came into fashion, the US magazine Advertising Age reported that over 70% of firms who tried it said it didn’t work. I shall discuss why in a moment, with some good, practical advice you can act on from somebody who has specialised in this field.
The word ‘loyalty’ is often used about CRM. But as a former chairman of Marks & Spencer observed, “Customers are not loyal nor should they be. We have to earn their loyalty every day”. His firm forgot that and it nearly ruined them.
Sober people know the obvious: nobody sane wants a relationship with their bank or supermarket. They have enough trouble getting on with their families. And a “programme” won’t cure any dodgy relationship.
CRM schemes fail above all because your business lives or dies on its attitude to customers. And a quick fix doesn’t change attitudes.
So here is check list for you. It was put together by my associate Peter Hardingham, who worked with me on and off for 20 years, and revised by me because I interfere with everything that leaves my office.
Is CRM right for you? A 15-minute quiz
Unless you have answered these four questions, there is absolutely NO point in boarding the good ship CRM.
Do you really know what your customers want?
Do you know what they think you promise them? Are they the same things?
Can you clearly identify these desires and beliefs, before and after they have become customers?
How will you find out? Do so before anything else!
Set realistic expectations, and deliver what you promise or you can end up worse off than if you never started.
Can you deliver what your customers want – and, just as important, what they think you promise?
If not, what can you deliver now, and in the future?
If it is in the future, how quickly? And how will you keep them happy in the interim?
A customer in the dark is an angry customer. A customer in the know can end up buying more.
At what points in the buying process will you tell your customers what they want to know?
About their order?
To reassure them?
Can you identify the points from step 3 in every customer transaction?
Are you sure your IT team can deliver?
If you have retail outlets, can the staff get this information – quickly and easily?
Many firms still have separate databases for customer and transactional information. If your marketing database can’t access both, you’re in trouble.
Can you record what happens at all every point in the transaction?
On a database all those who may need to know can access?
The moment of truth.
Did you answer the first 5 steps mostly ‘yes’? If so, you stand a chance of CRM working for you. If you said mostly ‘no’, stop right now and get it right.
If you’re talking to CRM consultants politely ask them to leave. Their time is expensive, and you’ll lose your shirt.
Step 6 – start the ball rolling
Tell your customers what you plan to do
Manage their expectations
Involve, motivate and train all your staff
Make sure everyone – particularly retail staff – gets the same respect
Step 7 – attend to detail
Remind yourself what you’ve promised, and deliver it. Often, essential processes are not part of firms’ structures. They don’t appreciate what skills and structures you need.
If this is an incentivised scheme, how will points, miles or other benefits be allocated, captured, and communicated to the customer?
How will redemptions be handled?
Most customers won’t tell you they are unhappy. They tell their friends – and walk away.
Set up a monitoring process in your company
Make sure you identify any weak links that appear in the chain
Ask your customers how they think you’re doing
Loyalty can improve just by making it easy for them to tell you what they think
Allow your customers to suggest improvements. It’s the best research you’ll ever get.
Step 10 – it doesn’t stop
Don’t imagine this is something you just “put in place”.
Keep listening to your customers
Keep learning from your customers
Keep refining your system
Keep training and re-training your people
When should you refer to these questions?
When your IT director says, “We’ve got this wonderful CRM software…”
When the board says, “That’s a brave move you’re making there, this CRM stuff…”
Just take out this quiz, and re-read it. You’ll know more than many CRM consultants. You might even keep your job.
P. S. I quoted Ocado earlier. They fail to do one essential, very simple thing with their database. I believe it is costing them millions.
P.P.S. If, like many, you have fallen in love with social media, you might end up making the same mistake as the CRM groupies.
THINGS TO CONSIDER:
CRM is a diary of customer’s life with you – and only useful if you use it to help them.
It is not something you set up overnight.
If you think CRM is right for you, get going.
Drayton Bird is a marketing executive and author. He was born in 1936 near Liverpool, UK. His father ran a pub and he credits this with his lifelong interest in people.