Forum: Putting a new 'C' into CRM

Communicate is the operative word and might better represent the "C" in CRM

That little old man who sits in a back room somewhere — possibly at Gartner — dreaming up acronyms for the IT industry doesn’t always get it right. Take CRM, for example: customer relationship management.

Most large organisations subscribe to CRM but whether they get it right is very much a moot point. At the most basic level, CRM is very often driven from a top-down view, a management view of what they think customers need.

It’s much more likely that the customer wants to communicate at a more fundamental level and, most preferably, with an individual within the organisation who understands the customer’s direct needs.

Communicate is the operative word and might better represent the “C” in CRM.

Guy Cranswick is a veteran media analyst with Australasian research company IBRS who was in New Zealand last week.

Organisations have a view, he says, that because they have a website they don’t need a communications strategy.

“The biggest mistake just about all organisations makes is ‘what we know’ rather than how it should be related to the market and how they can convince the other side,” he says.

“Government departments are wonderful at producing ‘education’ on their websites and they’ll quote statistics that they’ve made available, say, 97.7% of what the public needs. But all customer satisfaction surveys show that people are dismayed and confused. It’s an impossible jumble.

“They don’t think about how the information is interpreted and understood”, he says.

Telecom’s disastrous rollout of its new Xtra-Yahoo service is illustrative of this. Not only have there been ongoing technical issues but people have complained that they don’t understand the registration process for the new Bubble service.

People are not robots. They prefer to deal with other people, appropriate people, rather than prescriptive, automated services. Some years ago The Times of London recorded the story of a bank customer being repeatedly told by a callcentre in India that they could answer any inquiry of his and that it was not necessary to put him in touch with his bank branch.

“Good,” he replied. “Can you please return the umbrella I left in the branch the other day.”

Cranswick says all organisations become self-reflective. “They become like a Chinese dynasty — incapable of changing.” He is, he says, “very circumspect” about collaborative tools changing things on the CRM side.

Just by having the technology doesn’t make proper communication happen, he says. A communications strategy is paramount before using the technology.

Cranswick comes from an advertising background. At one time he worked for Initiative Media, Europe’s second-largest agency, and then at Poppy.com, the world’s then largest online advertising agency which, he says, invented online advertising. (Poppy.com is no longer, a victim of the dotcom crash.)

He has also become something of a specialist in broadband. It has, he says, no correlation to productivity.

“The way vendors apply productivity is invariably wrong. For example, they think that people can work all the time if they’re connected wirelessly. But it’s really about ‘I need this to be able to do a better job’. For the input, you get a better output.

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