By: Chuck Wallin
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is all about paying more attention to customers. By now even businesses that never pay attention to “buzz words” or Catch phrases will not argue that CRM has real value.
Then why is it, that so few businesses make an effort to get closer to customers in general and best customers specifically?
While the answers may be varied, some common reasons can be offered that may shed some light on the customer business relationship process.
– Some companies fear their best customers will reject their attempts to get closer.
This is a common problem (especially with many smaller businesses). Some companies’ fear their attempts will seem like a bother to their customers to the point that the customer will tell them to take a hike.
However, if a company does not abuse the relationship (and not try to push every product on every customer at every touch point) there is a good chance they will not be rejected.
The secret is to keep the communication relevant and valuable to the customer. A good start could be forwarding some information that may be of interest to the customer without trying to sell anything to them. Customers will feel better about a communication that centers on their needs rather then about a product or service that is of no interest to them.
– Too busy putting out fires
This can happen with any size business. The owners or managers have to constantly “Pull a rabbit out of their hat” (at least in their own minds) in order to keep things going and avert disaster.
While every business has emergencies, often the severity of a situation is overblown. Sometimes key decision makers must delegate responsibility to subordinates so they can take time for what is important – Customers.
– Falling in love with the product
This is the worst reason to neglect customers and usually happens when a company has experienced success with a product or service. Either the product or service was truly creative or the timing was perfect. As a result, the company feels that the product is so good that it will sell itself, and people will continue to beat a path to their door.
Nothing is perfect or cannot be improved. Often a competitor will take a successful concept, make a small change a steal a market.
The best thing about a successful product or service is that customers will want to talk to you about improvements.
– Do not have time to find out who their best customers are
This is the second worst reason. Every business should know who their best customers are. This should be done immediately in any business, and A-list should be accessible to anyone who may talk to a customer.
There are horror stories about customer service blunders where a top customer is forced to unnecessarily wait for an answer to an inquiry or make a purchase. Sometimes the result can be disastrous! Know everything you can about your top customers and when they make contact treat them as if they are important to you.
– Loss of focus
Businesses change over time. Sometimes products are dropped, businesses change hands, upper management is replaced or online services replace face-to-face contact.
Unfortunately, growth can often squelch the passion that existed in the early days of an organization. Many times a certain level of success is reached and then the business is put on automatic pilot and people work very hard to keep the status quo.
This is never a good thing and cannot succeed long term. “New Blood” must be transfused to keep a business relevant and enthusiastic to its customers. Once customers become secondary, the end will not be far off.
About the Author
Chuck Wallin is a 20 year IT and business consultant with an MBA. He has done work with such companies as Barnes and Noble, CHASE, Arrow Electronics, and First Data Merchant Services. His web site http://www.thecustomerconcern.com deals with issues of Customer Relationship Management.