Volume I Issue 3
March 15, 2005
“CRM? What is it? Why do I need it?”
Just about everyone is talking about CRM, and they all know that CRM means Customer Relationship
Management. Everyone manages their customer relationships, so what’s the big deal?
In order to really understand CRM you have to peel the onion. It’s enough to make you cry, but MarketIntell can
I remember my first impression of CRM. I thought it was a contact management system with some extra bells
and whistles. Then I thought it was a computer based customer service system. Next, I wondered, what
computer system did we need?
Then I began to get confused. Finally I was getting somewhere.
Customer Relationship Management is everything that you do that touches the customer. Okay, sure. That’s
simple enough. But so what?
Okay, let’s try to peel that onion. First, on the surface level, if you have customers, you need CRM. The good
news is that, if you interact with them at all, you already have CRM.
So far, so good. No crying necessary. Let’s peel it back and get a little deeper.
Are you customer focused? Are you really committed to a customer focused strategy? The immediate
response is usually an indignant “Of course!” But are you really customer focused, and what does it mean? It
doesn’t mean giving the customer everything he or she wants – you’ll go broke doing that. And hold that
thought, we’ll come back to it: you don’t want to go broke.
So, what does customer focus really mean? Only you can determine what it means for you, but this is where the
process gets difficult and requires careful analysis and real insight. Don’t fall into the trap of platitudes and
clichés such as “we go the extra mile” or even “customer service is our number one priority”. If you’re not ready
to do the hard work at this level, throw the onion away and go home.
There are numerous tests to determine if you are really customer focused, but here is a simple one: when you
do new product development, do you start with your capability and look for a market, or do you start with a
market need and find a way to meet that need?
At this level, while you’re peeling the onion, slicing and dicing, someone might ask my favorite question:
Why do you want to be customer focused? Because you don’t want to go broke, that’s why. Almost by
definition, whatever a business does, it does in order to make a profit because without profit business dies.
So, now, what do you want to do? How will you increase or protect your profits? Do you want new customers?
Or do you want to do more business with existing ones? Do you want to increase volume or margin or both? Do
you want new products, or do you want to sell more of your existing products? Do you want to gain share in
existing markets, or do you want to enter new markets?
All of the above? Wrong answer!
Prioritize. What will give you the best results? What information do you need? What tools do you need? A
computer system that ties everything together? Extensive market research? Just a pencil and paper to make
some good notes?
Selecting the tools is the last step. You don’t build a house by starting with a hammer and screwdriver and
asking yourself, what can I build with this. CRM is really no different.
Need help with CRM? Email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2005 MarketIntell. All rights reserved.
Market Intelligence Consulting
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