The acronym CRM has come to mean different things to different people. It is typically considered a business strategy that allows companies to gain insights and understanding with their customers so that they can provide the products and services that customers want, upsell and cross-sell more effectively, win new business, leverage customer data to enhance relationships and insulate existing customers against competitive erosion.
Most CRM strategies and solutions adequately store and track key information such as contact information, sales and service logs, purchasing history, along with customer communication records, etc. All in the name of Customer Relationship Management. How do we define the word relationship? Just because I might track your purchasing history, communication interactions and so on, doesn’t mean we have a relationship. From my experience, a relationship is defined by our understanding of the customer and what matters most to them. Once we have a thorough understanding of our customer, their values and their stresses, then we can build a real relationship and our CRM solution is the enabler that helps us leverage that information.
Steven Covey sets out the ultimate strategy for any CRM solution. “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.” Seeking to understand means before we can recommend a solution to our customer we need an in-depth understanding of them. Purchasing history and communication records are important but it’s the answer to some well thought-out questions that will really give you the insights necessary to influence your customer.
The answers to these questions may come from many different sources such as personal assistants, receptionists, suppliers, newspapers, trade publications and of course, the customer themselves. Learn all you can about your customer personally and professionally and you will be capturing the right kind of information to build a true relationship. Now don’t try to capture all this information on the first visit, but over time you should have an understanding of the following.
Starting to get the picture? The bottom line is if you really want to build a relationship of trust with your customer, you are going to need a lot more information than the typical CRM strategies require. Over time, find out as much as you can in these categories and you will have greater insights to attract new customers and insulate your existing ones, than any of your competition.
© 2014 Copyright Michael Vickers