Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Are you struggling to create and keep profitable customers? Columns for Sales and Marketing Management who wants to build business relationships.
Webster, Kristine Kirby. Trust Is a Two-Way Street (MarketingProfs.com, 22 July 2003)
Kristine Kirby Webster's article on the mutual relationship necessary to build trust with your customer base is a great read. Here is the article in abstract with commentary.
Key points to remember:
- Trust is a product of a positive association with your company, that not only will your products do what you say they will, but what the customer expects them to do. Inherently customers don't trust companies that sell, the majority of their experiences are negative.
- Successful brands engender strong two-way communications in relationship development. This communications includes information sharing, and listening for customer concerns. I'll add that positive communications contribute more to the relationship than negative ones.
- Brand represents your customers understanding of your product, how they want to see it based on the information they have. Brand is how they recognize your product and the associated feelings that contribute to a buy action. Think of a brand as a psychological trigger that induces a desire to purchase or favorable opinion of an offering.
- Webster establishes a brand relationship prior a direct customer relationships. This really depends on the type of offer you have for a specific audience. It can be said just knowing who your customer is represents a passive relationship that contributes to a purchase.
- Your brand relationship contributes to the appeal of your offer. How a customer feels about your product significantly contributes to their decision to purchase. You will not establish positive feelings about your product without a strong relationship with the buyer.
- Webster talks about serving customer "needs" properly. While this might be a linguistically issue, I prefer the service of "wants" over "needs" -- your customers need a lot of things, but make purchase decisions based on wants. Understanding a customers specific want will outline exactly what they desire as a result of receiving a solution.
- Relationship strength can translate into purchases or referrals. Do not overlook customers referring buyers to your product based on their own experience. I cover this area in more depth for Applying Strategic Relations subscribers. The key your investment in one relationship is transfered to the referral, referrals come with a stamp of approval.
- Every buying relationship is a long-term investment. According to a Jupiter Media Metrix 2001 study, "companies considering viral marketing and customers' satisfaction when identifying loyal customers can reduce customer acquisition costs by 27% and increase order size by up to 60%" You never want to do business with a customer just once, even if you have a one-shot sale, invest in customers for life.
- Relationships are built over time on interaction at a time. While Webster didn't specifically point this out, I could tell she understands the power. Take building customer relationships one day at a time, incrementally adding to the value of your offer with each communication with the prospect or existing customer.
Kristine Kirby Webster is a Principal at the Canterbury Group, a direct-marketing consultancy specializing in branding and relationship-marketing.
See also: Differentiating Factors between 'Normal' And 'Profitable' Customers, 14 Strategies to Retain Key Accounts in Recessionary Times, Improving Communications with Your Customers While Creating Sustainable Profits
Justin Hitt helps executive build stronger relationships that can increase profits and create loyal customers. For more information visit Inside Strategic Relations or call +1 (877) 207-3798
How Can I Build a Case for CRM Today? Five strategies that will empower managers to maintain and revitalize senior management and organizational support for CRM. [Moreover - CRM news]
Well, Kamran Hasanain's article is only partially right. In 27 Ways to CRM Return on Investment I provide a complete guide to CRM implementation, so I won't rehash that here again. While the title of this article alludes to reasons why a company should have CRM, in body it talks mainly about CRM implementation.
A few things about Mr. Hasanain's article could be improved:
- It's what the customer wants, not what the customer needs. Customers don't buy what they need as often as they purchase what they want. Survey customer desires prior to taking efforts to improve your customer relationships, address those top concerns of your customer that also produce the greatest return for your organization. This focus improves your return on investment.
- Internal promotion isn't as important if you start with end-user requirements. Involve employees who will use the CRM solution long before you select a product or start an implementation. Earn buy-in from these individuals by focusing on those areas that improve their productivity while reducing their overall work load. (Simplify their tasks, without backfilling new work in the slack space.)
- You don't need a separate implementation team for CRM. Customer relationships should be a part of everything you do, not some special function you had to install a bunch of software. Make the building and tracking of customer relationships a part of your daily business, training people in their current roles how to do more through software.
- All business actions are aligned with corporate objectives. A point is made to use metrics to align the CRM implementation with "strategic corporate goals." Let me just say, if you do anything in your business, you must align it with corporate objectives from day one. Have a defined period that you expect to generate a return on investment and the specific actions you intend to produce it.
- Segmentation is for customers, phased based application is for implementation. A CRM strategy should integrate cleanly across your organization in short measurable phases. Segmentation alludes to separation, and while each department has different needs, all CRM efforts move toward the same business objectives. Again, improving customer relationships is a part of everything you do.
What is right about this article:
- An incremental progress is key to a successful CRM implementation. "A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step." Break your CRM implementation down into a series of steps (or phases), each that bring the company closer to its objectives. Follow a cycle of perform, measure, adjust, and advance.
- Clear metrics significantly contributor to CRM success. I was distracted by how this article suggests using metrics in CRM, but the underlying message of defining measures that map results against business objectives is important to point out. Actually measuring your progress helps you adjust strategy as integration progresses.
- Communications is key to any software implementation. While there is more to communications in the integration process than was discussed in this article, understand that two-way communications with end-users can reduce delays. Often end-users know how to improve the customers experience, solicit this feedback and incorporate it in your implementation from day one.
Perhaps Mr. Hasanain was trying to cover a larger body of materials in this short article. I visited his website at K|Sciences, Hasanain is the CEO of this CRM integration firm, and they offer a variety of services, so don't write them off without giving them the once-over. It's only this article I have objections with.
See also: Role Based CRM Training Strategies That Improve Buy-In Among Users, 27 Ways to CRM Return on Investment, A Process Oriented Approach to CRM Implementation
Justin Hitt helps executives build profitable relationships with customer, employees, and strategic partners. He can be reached by phone at +1 (877) 207-3798 or on-line at https://iunctura.com/
Last update: 04/18/2004; 3:05:31 AM.