CRM’s Achilles Heel
Now, more than ever, companies are keenly aware of the tremendous benefits associated with
understanding current and prospective customers from an economic, attitudinal, and behavioral
perspective. Seeing through the 'lens of the customer' has emerged as a requirement rather than a
'nice-to-have'. Strategy and management gurus lament the 'lack' of customers in such a
consumer-rich world. Competitors abound, information is in abundance (but quickly becomes
useless), and consumers seem to have less and less time to make informed purchasing decisions:
these are but a few of the reasons for this paradoxical situation.
In an attempt to address this complex issue, many companies have embraced customer
relationship management (CRM) as an important element of their corporate strategy. To help
enable these CRM strategies, investments in customer-facing software applications have
occurred with the fervent hope that better service and more efficient interaction with customers
would occur - at every conceivable touch point. To achieve that objective, however, requires a
thorough strategy development process that takes into account numerous variables in order to
optimize the fit between organizational and customer needs; that is, it is not just a technological
exercise. To date, most companies have just not taken the time to completely:
Develop the strategic role for CRM;
Build the information foundation;
Develop and prioritize tailored and customized offerings;
Implement and execute at the 'front line', directly with the customer.
This has resulted in 'choke points' that clog the effectiveness potentials of the system .At the
most fundamental level, companies have rolled out CRM applications as independent,
nonintegrated solutions and generally only from an IT vantage point. The result, all too well
documented, is that most organizations that have implemented CRM technology have not
achieved the competitive advantage they expected. The primary reason is that most investment in
CRM has been in developing the essential IT structure and technical architecture - not on
focusing on understanding and relating to the customer as a means to improve customer
satisfaction, loyalty, and profit
What has clearly emerged is a strong need to focus on the customer - the customer-centric
imperative - and a wide array of companies that say they do just that. But the reality and the
vision are clearly not aligned. It would be safe to say that few companies have employed the
extensive research and analytical processes presented in the diagram that could maximize and
optimize the CRM solution.
CRM brought the compelling promise that businesses could personalize, please, and profit by
most of their customers nearly all the time by deploying a software solution. By focusing on the
satisfaction of customers, organizational efficiency and effectiveness would increase, and more
importantly, profits would rise. However you can only fool some of the people some of the time.
While rare success stories have emerged, CRM has not yet delivered on its ultimate promise - the
transformed and improved customer experience. Why not? The answer is buried in a complex
mixture of naive and somewhat misleading attempts to embed CRM as a 'silver bullet' solution.
While generally improving the organization and efficiency of sales and service through sales
force automation and call-centre productivity systems, companies have largely missed the boat to
the destination called 'business success'. Absent is the piece that allows companies to best
understand and utilize their customer information in order to approach a more personalized,
long-term relationship. This is the piece that is strongly connected to better customer care,
potentially deeper loyalty, and improved return on investment (ROI). Indeed, missing is
marketing and marketing research, primarily in the measurement and study of customer
CRM began as a solution for providing more efficient customer transactions, but has not evolved
into a process by which companies can foster more meaningful customer interactions. Today, the
challenge is on to take the next step - to focus on building lasting and profitable customer
experiences at all interaction and transaction points to increase the probability that customer and
brand value can be maximized.
In hindsight it is evident that many companies assumed that just 'adding on' new technology
would enhance customer relationships. The fallout of this assumption is all too clear today. To
make matters worse, many companies now face the unsettling situation of having too much data,
analytic techniques that quickly outpace the ability of the company to use them, and no guidance
in optimizing this new-found customer 'intelligence'. In many cases, businesses are left with
sophisticated tools that offer little real value. The bottom line is that few companies today are
optimizing CRM to create lasting customer relationships and build superior brand value. Thus,
many companies are not realizing any returns on their CRM investments. The emphasis on
harnessing customer insights at all customer interaction points and - more importantly translating those insights into better customer experiences has emerged. This situation, while
holding much potential, is hampered by a proliferation of fragmented contact points and a lack of
conviction that a problem exists. Thus, the more creative and analytical aspects of marketing and
research, which can make better use of rich customer insights to create improved experiences
across customer channels, have yet to blossom.
Yet companies sense at some level that marketing and research contributes most when it
converges completely with operational CRM applications. Marketing insights and analysis can
be used to develop data-driven business decisions, among other things. Improved marketing
campaigns, relying on enriched customer insights drawn from behavioral and attitudinal
databases, can be targeted to increase brand value and potentially boost profits. In short,
marketing is waiting to be revitalized, through extracting the maximum value through research
and analytic thinking to understand customers and by using this understanding to guide actions.
When integrated fully with sales and service efforts, market research completes the CRM
Some exciting observations about Egypt Makeover- Today People are part of Revolutions,
Completely remote yet to closely connected to the people on the group. Facebook has made history
as the most powerful new IT tool of the century, but it chooses to stand on the sideline of these
historic events. That makes sense. Based on the movie account of Mark Zuckerberg’s invention of
Facebook it seems almost certain that he did not imagine his IT tool would be the principal weapon
of a political revolution in Egypt — or the networking vehicle that might yet remake the Middle
East. His motivation then seemed a good deal more hormonal.
The truth is that tools take on a life of their own once put in the hands of human beings, who, by
nature, are innovative. People are hard-wired to adapt tools in ways the toolmaker never intended
— sometimes for the good and sometimes for the bad.