Change Your Definition of CRM to mean Customer Retention Marketing
I have long struggled with the concept of Customer Relationship Management (CRM), mostly for the simple reason that I fully understand that customers do not want their relationships with an organization “managed.”
This is why the whole notion and philosophy of CRM as customer relationship management is wrong.
In my keynote speech a few years ago at the Services Marketing Conference in Kuala Lumpur, one of my key messages was that marketers and senior management really need to think of CRM as Customer Retention Marketing.
This is what true CRM is all about – retaining customers, or as I like to call it the art of keeping good customers.™
To implement this definition of CRM in your organization, you will need to inculcate the following 7 Laws of Customer Retention Marketing into your culture, processes, and thinking:
- The conversion of a prospect to a purchaser is the casting of a potential long-term relationship with a possible customer. A purchaser who buys from you the first time is merely a trial user. A customer is not a true customer until the second time they buy from you. Forget the notions that “the relationship starts with a purchase,” or “you are not closing a sale, you are starting a relationship.” As we have pointed out previously, the relationship starts way back in the information seeking stage of the buying cycle, at least from the customer’s perspective.
The art of keeping good customers means that your entire organization should be geared to ensure that every experience received by a customer (including a first-time purchaser) should result in that customer repeating their future purchases from you whenever you have a product or solution that meets their needs or solves a problem for them.
- You do not work for your employer ─ you work for your customers. Sure, someone in the company signs your proverbial paycheck (or authorizes the direct deposit into your account). But those checks and deposits would bounce if it were not for the customers who buy from your organization. When someone asks you “who do you work for?” your reply should be “our customers” or “the customers of (name of organization).”
- You do not sell products or services ─you sell solutions that meet the needs, wants, and desires of your customers. As pithy as this sounds, it is something that way too many organizations and workers these days just do not seem to understand.
- Customers want relationships with people and organizations they trust, that are committed to them, and with whom they have shared goals. All of us can buy products and services from a vast number of suppliers and outlets. But we choose to have continual relationships, and to repeat our business, with those we trust and with those whom we have shared outcomes.
- Employees should be liberated ─ and allowed to be customer champions. Almost all staff want to serve customers well, if only their organizations would let them! Unfortunately many organizations have rules, processes, procedures, and policies that tie the hands of their employees and prevent them from truly serving customers and satisfying their wants, needs, and desires.
- Do not have a commitment to customer service ─ have a commitment to customers (and to customer care). We are definitely in the age of the customer. Customers have many choices and options available to them. But they also all share a deficit of sufficient time. Caring about customers means committing to the things customers place high value on ─ flexibility, sufficient knowledge and information, convenience, ability to choose functions relevant to them, customization, and environmental concerns.
And, of course, good service, which in today’s world is now a prerequisite for repeat business as customers will simply not put up with bad service, inconvenience, inflexible policies and procedures, and a lack of options for customization and personalization.
- Customer Service staff should be fired ─ and replaced with Customer Satisfaction staff. This is not a matter of semantics. Customer service tends to be either reactive (to a situation) or a follow-up activity (to a complaint).
Customer service, which is problem resolution focused, is usually initiated by the customer, when he or she has a problem. On the other hand, customer satisfaction is proactive and is customer focused.
Customer satisfaction is usually initiated by the organization to improve the quality of the relationship with the customer. The corollary of this rule is that customer service scorecards, measurements, and matrixes should be replaced with indices that measure and monitor customer satisfaction.
In the typical CRM thinking found today, the organization is the center of focus, thinking, and planning. And the measurement tools used are indicators that support managerial bonuses.
In my Customer Retention Marketing model, the customer is the focus and occupies the central platform for all thinking, planning, and strategic focus. The result becomes the optimization of customer-first processes and the continued improvement in the quality of customer interactions.
Your organization will accomplish a great deal more, and be more highly successful, by changing your definition of CRM to Customer Retention Marketing.
KEY POINT: change your definition of CRM to mean Customer Retention Marketing.
TAKING ACTION: survey your employees and ask them this open ended question: “what do we sell to customers?” If they give you a long list of products and services it is time to educate them that you are selling solutions, not products and services.
Review the tools and measurements you use to track and monitor customer service. How could these be turned into tools and measurements to track and monitor customer satisfaction?
Prepare an entire issue of your next employee newsletter (or staff memo) on the subject of customer retention marketing, and what the implications are for the organization in terms of customer care, customer satisfaction measurements, liberating of customer contact personnel, changes in policies and procedures, and how you will reward the organization for making the change to customer retention marketing.
This article is excerpted from our book The Best of the Monday Morning Marketing Memo, available at Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.
For more thoughts on customer retention marketing, read our Keeping Good Customers Blog on Tuesdays and Thursdays.