When CRM works, it’s all about aligning Marketing, Sales and Service, in other words, the customer lifecycle. But is it about the customer?


I was busy preparing for a conversation with a client about the importance of building a solid strategy around how to get business value out of an upcoming CRM technology deployment when I ran across a couple of good articles from William Band at Forrester Research.  In his piece entitled, “The Right CRM Metrics For Your Organization,” published last October, two key points are made; 1) “metrics enforce the discipline needed for CRM success and 2) Link CRM strategy, Tactics and metrics to business goals.”

Neither of these points are radical, new or very complicated.  But what surprised me about them was that they were almost the same key learnings I walked away with from a global CRM initiative I was a part of back in the 90s.  Does that mean we haven’t learned anything in the last decade or does it mean we were looking at the wrong metrics back then and did we understand what the business goals really were?

Over the years, I have talked about campaign metrics, customer lifecycle metrics, lifetime customer value, recency, frequency, RFM and of course the ubiquitous ROI.  More recently I’ve looked at aligning sales and marketing as a goal of CRM in itself and that raises another whole list of metrics; lead score, lead conversion, entering pipeline stage, time to conversion, order value….  And if that wasn’t enough, add in the Customer Service metrics like issue resolution, customer satisfaction, churn….  Not to mention the call center’s own internal performance metrics like time on call, pick up rate, drop rate….  In the end it appears that there are almost countless metrics that need to be considered and as Mr. Band suggests, it should be done before the technology purchase.

So what’s my point?  What was my aha moment when getting ready for my client.  It was simply this.  We have moved from tactical marketing, sales or service goals and raised them to business goals.  But in the process what about customer goals?  We have moved even more company centric at a time when the market is becoming more customer centric whether we like it or not.

Customer Relationship Management really refers to how companies can manage their customers.  It is a very one-sided and natural way, to track the relationship between company and customer.  In a Web2.0 or 3.0 or whatever .0 world we live in, our customers are taking control of the relationship itself and we need to establishing a new set of metrics that represent what is important for them.

We can start with customer rankings and ratings.  Which one of us are tracking how our products are being rated on 1) our own Web site if we allow it 2) commerce sites like Amazon.com 3) the big black blogosphere and 4) and perhaps most importantly in communities, both online and offline?  And if we do track this information, how many of us are using it alongside other metrics in our business dashboards?

We do countless surveys and research to see what is important for our customers.  Let’s start measuring it as well.  And not by the good old fashioned customer satisfaction surveys or even by net promoter scores.  No let’s get down to the individual level not the aggregate and add key metric fields right into the CRM system so we can report on, analyze and perhaps even optimize our customer experience from their point of view, not ours.  When we do, I think we may find some surprises

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One thought on “When CRM works, it’s all about aligning Marketing, Sales and Service, in other words, the customer lifecycle. But is it about the customer?

  1. Great article – its true that not much has changed in the theory of customer management, but that the application of it has changed dramatically.

    I think the opportunity for CRM vendors in the future is to gather, consolidate, and then provide context and value to the information that is available through websites and online communities.

    Great post!

    - Scott

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