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CRM: Strategy before Technology
December 2, 2018
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The roots of Customer Relationships Management (CRM) extend well beyond its definition as a marketing channel. Originally, more likely executed by your milkman than a marketer, the principle of creating personal, meaningful relationships to drive business revenue, no matter what the scale, is nothing new. However, it is certainly evolving. Here’s what you need to know…

21st Century CRM Glossary:

  • CRM = Consumer Relationship Management.
  • Relationship = Delivering on promises.
  • Good Relationship = Delivering on promises. Consistently.
  • Exceptional Relationship = Over-delivering on promises.

CRM is as old as the wheel. What is new, however, are the technologies and strategies that allow us to achieve it in the most – and often, unfortunately, the least – compelling way.

The CRM concept has come full circle. From an extra bottle of milk on the doorstep whenever your mother came to stay, to the ‘spray and pray’ email and direct mail approach of the 00s. And right through to the hyper-personalised, data-driven experiences, which allow businesses with millions of consumers to have a view of each and every one, today.

Yet, one truth remains the same, exceptional CRM is rooted in outstanding customer experience. And if executed correctly, it can drive remarkable value for both the business and the consumer.

CRM is about people. And how we make them feel.

Customer relationships and the subsequent loyalty and resonance they deliver, extend way beyond tactical activations such as discount codes and loyalty cards. True CRM is about the total consumer experience and an enduring commitment to an on-going, mutually beneficial relationship with our consumers.

CRM strategy should be woven into the very fibre of your business, permeating every consumer touchpoint to enrich the customer experience and business performance.

But, for a minute, let’s think more laterally about relationships...

What makes us care about other people? What makes us express loyalty and commitment beyond reason? What makes us forgive shortfalls and slip ups?

When talking in such terms, we often see trust, delight and a value-based exchange as key drivers.

So there we have it. The secret to successful CRM. Our job here is done…

Well maybe not quite yet.

Simply said, but much more complex to execute, CRM can be your worst or best ally in the fight for survival and growth in the digital age. Remember this: CRM is, and should always remain, about people. Technology is simply the facilitator to enrich and enable excellent relationships.

CRM is a strategy first.  

Before technology is implemented, we need to establish a strong foundation. That’s why, CRM is primarily driven by strategy. A strong strategic process will define the experience that we want our consumers to have.

However, tech can step change your CRM

As we’ve established, CRM is all about people. It’s about the people your business serves. Yet, the people – and the technology – behind the ‘serving’ are important factors when executing an effective CRM strategy.  Implementing the right technology, and the people that execute it can totally transform your CRM.

It’s time to hire a data person

Remarkable data talent is in short supply (particularly when paired with business finesse). And it doesn’t come cheap. But finding the right people for the job is a critical success factor. It’s time to hire a data person to support you on your journey.

Team structure will vary depending on the size of your business, but you’ll need someone with the strategic credentials to bring data to the boardroom table. Someone who can weave data processes into the fibre of business and marketing operations. Someone who can crunch the data to produce actionable insight for the business.

Data regulations are complex. And they’re moving up the political agenda. So engaging expert legal counsel on this matter is also imperative for compliance.

Your first date with data.

Technology and data have become a key facilitator in the quest to create total brand experiences which foster loyalty and drive business performance. With customer expectations consistently growing, to deliver value effectively, CRM must be omni-channel – creating a consistent experience, on and offline.

Luckily, technology can help the magic happen.

Data jargon explained

DMP (Data Management Platform): The backbone of your CRM. It allows the integration of multiple data points into one place and is the cornerstone of omni-channel customer experiences.
ELT: the data pipe which feeds the warehouse, makes the suitable checks and prepares it for use.
OLAP cubes: data structures which translate relational data sources into multidimensional ones to allow for easy reporting and analysis.

The DMP is a relational database, designed for effective storage, querying and analysis of data rather than processing. With the help of the ELT and the OLAP cubes, the DMP can provide one single view of the truth. And it can streamline all manner of consumer-related tasks, beyond simply marketing.

Using data to enhance CRM performance

So, a DMP can give you access to a tonne of data in a centralized and compliant manner. Great news. The next question is how can we use this data to enhance the performance of our Marketing and CRM?

A Campaign Management tool is a great place to start. It allows you to distribute your marketing messages across a multitude of channels, segment your consumers and gain easy access to analytics on the fly.

There are a whole host of solutions fit for start-ups to large enterprise businesses with a multitude of features – including marketing automation, segmentation and analysis, both on and offline. However, be careful you don’t buy a Ferrari when what you need is a Fiesta. Ensuring ‘fitness for purpose’ is the most important aspect when investing in any technical infrastructure.

CRM, beyond email

How you mobilise your data to support your business objectives will totally depend on your business. However one thing’s for sure, CRM goes way beyond just email. And it can be utilised in some super-smart ways to engage, surprise and delight internal and external customers alike.

Here’s some inspirational snippets of what CRM tech can make possible:

  • Surprise and delight – an internal scoring system which assigns consumers a simple level, based on consolidated value of RFM and social influence, is useful for marketing teams and sales alike. Empower staff to surprise these customers with treats and experiences, rather than purely transactional promotions.
  • Support online conversion – customers hanging out on your product page but not converting? For products with high online barriers to purchase (fragrances for example) link online data to an automated direct mail sampling campaign, allowing them to try before they buy.
  • Support in-store experiences – got an app? Use in-store beacon technology to let sales advisors know a customer is nearby. In the luxury sector, this allows for additional special service touches and an in-depth knowledge of consumer preferences and tastes – very useful for high-value clients.
  • Create personal email on-boarding – automated email on-boarding will allow you to serve a programme of messages to new subscribers, use the DMP and CRM to enrich these emails with contextual information, such as product/brand and content interests and customize contact information with their nearest store.

And the exciting part… this is just the beginning.

With the advent of machine learning and AI, the show has just begun.

6 ways we can help you build a more effective CRM strategy

1.    Embed our multidisciplinary CRM strategy expertise deep into your business.
2.    Gain real insights through Data Science into the people that buy and consume your products.
3.    Understand the nuances of managing a remarkable consumer relationship internally and externally.
4.    Create detailed single customer views and increase your understanding of their behaviour.
5.    Use data to engage, surprise and delight your customers in ways they didn’t even know was possible.
6.    Enable the processes, capabilities and platforms that will transform your customer relationship management and deliver super-personalised experiences across channels.

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