Where does good CRM begin and end?

Posted by on March 18, 2010 in Blog | 0 comments

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I’m speaking at the Oracle Apps Day in Johannesburg next week – presenting my new presentation 2nd Acts, but with a focus on CRM. So I’ve been looking at the world around me with my customer service and customer management glasses on for the last couple of days as I prepare.

As luck would have it, I’ve had some interesting customer experiences recently. Some good, but most of them bad.

Let’s start with the gym group I’m a member of. The gym is great – really! But the problem comes with some of the associations they have made, like the biokineticists who did a fitness and health assessment for my wife and I a few months ago. We do these assessments every 6 months because they give us a good benchmark, and we score “points” with our insurance company that translate into savings on our membership fees etc.

The biokineticist told that there would be a charge, we agreed and told them to invoice us. End of story. Until this week when we received a nasty letter from their attorney and debt-collector. They want to collect the outstanding debt for which we were never invoiced, and never even received a phone call asking about our lack of payment. If they had phoned the answer would have been simple – invoice my company (as I asked originally) and we’ll gladly pay you. But we heard nothing. No invoice. No mail. No reminder. No phone call. Nothing. Our Lifestyle account has not even been credited with the points we should have received for completing the assessment.

There is only one word for this – BAD CRM. We were only their customer once and I con no unreservedly say that we will never be their customers again. It’s not my fault that they weren’t paid. Their admin is clearly up the pole. So why should it become my problem? They’ve probably incurred more costs to these attorneys than the value of the original invoice. More importantly, they’ve created bad will.

Not just with me mind you. This is the era of social media remember. An additional 2000 people instantly knew about this when I micro-blogged on Twitter and on my Facebook profile which attract just over 2000 people combined, including the Marketing Manager of the gym group.

What do we learn from this? Most importantly that CRM is changing faster than we can say Social Media. With Joe Public now literally having access to the platform at Hyde Park Corner, anyone can post anything about you or your company in a public forum. Who cares about the legal ramifications? Even if they’re wrong, and if it is slanderous, it’s still out in the open. This is exactly what a fellow speaker discovered a couple of years ago.

He lambasted the company responsible for the audio-visual component at a conference he was a guest speaker at – and he did from the platform. However, the tech-savvy sound engineer posted on a blog that, as a result of this unprofessional public outburst, the speaker is a w@$%&r. Of course this post popped up on Google, after which the speaker engaged the author of the blog online, thereby only driving more traffic to the blog, thereby increasing its visibility. To make a long story short, it went legal, the blogger had to pay some “damages”, but Google the guy’s name and the content is still there.

CRM, more now than ever, is about the relationship – with your good customers, but particularly with your bad ones. Here are some hints:

1. Your brand had better start monitoring Social Media. DSTv are masters at it.
2. The more high-tech the world gets, the more high-touch our CRM has to be. Stop hiding behind software and computers. Get out there. Make contact. Truly connect!
3. See your CRM software as a catalyst and not as an end in itself.
4. Stop employing the lowest common denominator in the “contact centre”. Call centers are fantastic opportunities provided you get people in there who can connect with customers, who aren’t script bound, and who actually have an ounce of common sense. Then again, common sense would also dictate that you employ people here who have even a faintest idea what your business is really about.
5. Realise, and LIVE, the fact that you get only one chance at great CRM – seriously – ONLY 1. Anything you do afterwards to try and restore the relationship will always be seen as a cover-up.

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