I often hear people talking about the virtues of “big data” and what this will do from a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) point of view. While I agree that the opportunity to dig deeper into your customer’s habits will be greatly enhanced, I fundamentally disagree with the idea that CRM is just about the data.
It’s all about the relationship
And the sooner organisations realise this, the better. I hear all of the pundits out there, rising in unison and saying that the data will give you the relationship. This is simply not true. Your organisation can only build relationships through active customer engagement. This does not necessarily have to be a one-to-one approach, it does however have to be an engaged approach.
As with your basic product life-cycle process, your customer relationship management has to consider the life stages of your customer. Beyond the data facts that I am in the 40-49 bracket, have two kids, two cars, three dogs (your data does not tell you this), exactly where I am in my life stage; statistically speaking, you could lump me with a lot of other people in similar places based on this data, and spam me with offers you think I may like. Or, you could actually try and form a relationship with me.
People are not ones and zeros
The biggest issue facing customer focused business, is the threat of simply reducing their consumers to ones and zeros. Data, big or otherwise, is simply a combination of ones and zeros and this fact should never be overlooked. If you treat me as a statistic, then I will never fully be able to engage with your brand and will always operate within your statistical limitations. This essentially means, I’ll take from you those items which mean something to me, as opposed to you advising how I can develop, based on what you have to offer.
People buy from people
Many organisations are currently overlooking this fact. I’m not sure whether this is because of the cost of employing people to sell, or whether it’s because they feel their sales resources aren’t delivering? The truth is, as you remove people from the equation, you only enhance the commoditisation process. We all know the dangers of commoditisation. Or do we?
Data can certainly provide insight as to how you could interact with your customer but should never be exclusively relied upon to decide as to how you should be engaging with them. You need to find ways to actively engage your customers to ensure that your business is relevant and that what you have to offer is worthwhile. You may just decide to drop an offering because it’s not making money, when in fact, you could be charging more but only selling to a select few.
Do you have a properly defined CRM approach? Or are your data mining your customers and products to a mere commodity status?