How you can highlight the ‘R’ in CRM

Customer relationship management may be a highly technical sector, but it has a touchy-feely core. Four experts share how CRM can help you connect organically with customers.


Ron Swift
VP, cross-industry business solutions, Teradata


Building the economic value of customer relationships is the essen­tial objective of CRM. Customer transaction behavior data delivers understanding — when combined with detailed profitability analysis — which is useful in predicting opportunities and growing customer equity. We’ve learned from experience that an enterprise-data, warehouse-driven, customer profitability model, combined with analytics, pro­vides the most accurate understanding of customer value contributions; both how much and why.


Customer interaction-driven profit­ability measurement is most realistic and actionable with detailed data from across the entire enterprise — consoli­dated into a single, integrated view. This approach provides a level of detailed data to document each customer’s asso­ciated revenues and costs, along with a comprehensive view of the customer’s relationship with the company, so that the true, holistic contribution or cost is understood. The approach also offers a consistent view over time, so that chang­es can be properly understood. In addi­tion, companies using this tactic can get timely information to seize opportunities while risk is minimal; credible results that reflect the company’s unique prac­tices, costs and revenues; and flexibility so that as the environment changes, the measurement process can adapt.


Once you have a picture of customer value, leverage the economic intelli­gence. Ask: “What should our company be doing in order to maximize customer equity or value? What is the customer lifetime value, and the ROI for each cus­tomer?” Also, devise and implement a customer equity optimization strategy. Analytical solutions drive fact-based, rational decisions for more effective execution of corporate strategy. It all starts with an executive commitment to increasing the value of each customer relationship to the business with every interaction — while also increasing the value of your products and services — to specific customers.


Use information from the entire enter­prise in order to make the best decisions


Salim Ali
VP, ecosystem and community marketing, SAP


By infusing existing CRM strategies with Web 2.0 tools, marketers have an opportunity to better align brand and marketing strategies to meet customer needs, as well as influence product and service developments.


The Web 2.0 revolution is playing an important role in redefining customer touchpoints such as product evalua­tion and feedback sites that customers use in deciding what to purchase. Hence, it is now becoming increasingly impor­tant for companies to understand, lever­age and even orchestrate the ideas being expressed by engaging in an authentic dialogue with customers through the strategic use of Web 2.0 tools.


At SAP, for example, we’ve estab­lished the Business Process Expert (BPX) community, which is an online forum that allows our product managers to engage customers, prospects, part­ners and individuals in a dialogue using crowd sourcing, viral networking and video blogging to get a better feel for the for the features, benefits and business objectives customers are seeking.


Our product marketing managers use the BPX in a “push and pull” model to post product information, tips and tricks for success, best practices for product use, and provide customers with a place to communicate with peers for unbiased advice, contribute actionable feedback on current, future and early-stage products and share best practices for implementations. This approach makes it a trusted information source for SAP users, inspiring a sense of community and brand loyalty.


In the Web 2.0 world, marketing professionals expect to be presented with a single view of all the relevant data for decision-making. This could include the product ratings and feedback that is posted on community forums and social networking sites. Effective CRM applications can bridge this gap, as well as provide the necessary analytics to facilitate decision making on marketing strategies.


Using CRM strategies with Web 2.0 tools, companies can get closer to customers



Jason McNamara
CMO, Alterian


CRM applications have been built to help marketers identify everything from profitable customers to repeat customers to affiliate customers to high-risk customers. Unfortunately, the most important customer today may not even be a customer at all.


If your CRM strategy does not identify and engage the influencers in your respective markets, you are miss­ing your new target audience. It won’t be easy; your current CRM system probably doesn’t have models for this audience because they haven’t bought anything from you. But analysis tools do exist that can complement your existing CRM investment and allow marketers to identify and engage those who influence the purchase decisions of your potential buyers.


The fact is that all of us have always relied on friends or peers to help influ­ence our buying decisions. Whether we are considering the purchase of a home theater system, Alaskan cruise, cell phone or business software, the recom­mendations of those closest to us have and always will outweigh any product brochure and the best sales pitch. Lever­aging these peer-to-peer relationships is essential to building meaningful mar­keter-to-consumer relationships.


Marketers have embraced peer influ­ence for years. Remember the Pepsi challenge? And the terms “word of mouth,” “tell-a-friend” and “viral” are all about using peer influence. Now social media is the new black. However, social media is taking on a much bigger role than all previous attempts in peer-influenced buying decisions.


One of the first people to predict how the Web could significantly empower consumers to disrupt the traditional buying process was Michael Moon. In his 2000 book, Firebrands: Building Brand Loyalty in the Internet Age, Moon intro­duced the concept of “trusted networks” which basically predicted social media impact in future business strategy. Well, the future is here.


Complement your CRM strategy by engaging influencers



Sarah Hoddinott
Fundraising product manager, Advanced Solutions International


Today, organizations’ online pres­ences and peer-to-peer technologies are making it possible for businesses to get personal with their customers. The “R” in CRM may stand for relationship, but in order to connect with customers in organic, meaningful ways, “R” should also mean relevance.


There are three effective methods to help build the right customer rela­tionships. First, use your Web site to its fullest. Today’s CRM systems are enabling businesses to tailor online content to their customers based on individual interests. Organizations’ Web sites can offer a great deal of relevance, helping to understand who’s interested in what and maintain information on customer preferences. Businesses can also encourage new forms of customer participation through the Web.


Next, explore the potential of integrated social media marketing. Conduct a CRM data screening of the organization’s CRM system, and dis­cover who is active on different social networking sites. All of this information can be used to support and grow your organization’s own social networking program, such as creating a Facebook or MySpace group for different areas of interest and participation within your organization.


Lastly, take advantage of all the tools your CRM system offers. Inves­tigate these tools to make sure that the organization’s system meets the needs of the business it supports. Customers have a network of like minds beyond their own ZIP code. Make sure that the organization has the means to tap into this group — not just those that are familiar with your organization — and to keep your customers involved by quickly sending them personalized auto­mated e-mails that provide tips, solicita­tion reminders and your gratitude. With new CRM tools emerging every day, like peer-to-peer tools, each participant and network will unite as a commu­nity sharing your message and successes – because these are also their messages and successes.


Use what you know about your custom­ers to encourage their participation


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