What Does A Business Relationship Guru Say About CRM?
Nowadays, effective customer relationship management (CRM) is recognized as a core to every business and organization’ success, for the customers themselves are the blood running in these bodies’ veins and ‘keep them alive’. As a result, the ultimate objectives needed for these guys to focus on are how to keep their customers happy, which can contribute to organizational success by shortening the distance one has with the customers (Nguyen, Sherif & Newby 2007). Good CRM enables a business to stand out from its competitors and helps “add value for both the customer and the company” (Chen & Popovich 2003).
Based in London, Progressive Media International is a British leading global publisher of international magazines and luxury titles targeting the affluent, with offices in New York, Singapore, Hongkong, Australia, etc…,. For 8 years working there, former publishing director of the Wealth Division (a subsidiary of the organization), Steven John Aylward ran a collection of more than 20 different wealth and luxury related magazines, covering Superachts, wealth & finance, travel, politics & culture, luxury, private aviation, etc…
Having got the experiences working with both agencies and directly with the clients, Steven highly regarded CRM in his business during his interview with me. His job was all about dealing with the clients from advertising agencies, PR companies and creative agencies. The main thing that he surprised me as far as when approaching a client was “80% of the actual deal itself is a general conversation, getting to know them, the majority of the conversation was very much personal, the rest of it which is the 20% left over is down to the proper business discussion”.
When asked about why he had such a strong faith in CRM, Steven claimed that it was his relationship with the clients and the abilities to interact with them well was the most essential part in securing any deal from them. This response is relevant to how Anderson (2006) who believes that CRM “enhances the rapid response to customers’ needs”.
CRM in The Era of Digitalization
Technology these days even makes CRM more effective, one big example of this is Salesforce, which is an app/tool that Steven and his entire company used from the bottom to the very top to monitor and forecast sales, manage clients’ relationship, where every conversation, contract, personal detail and interaction with the clients is stored in the cloud Saleforce global system across computers and its mobile app allowing anywhere and anytime access. This makes it so much easier for companies to keep track of their clients’ “interactions with the firms and allow the firms’ employees to quickly retrieve all information about the customers” (Nguyen, Sherif & Newby 2007).
But why should companies be required to remember and know about their clients’ preferences, behaviours or even their personal stories?
There was this client whose name was Emily, I used to call her up and just ask how things were going, and how her son was, because I knew her son was sick the last time I heard about him. So you take little bits of information of your clients, I’d have them stored on Saleforce.com, and the next time when you talk to this particular client, you’ve got records of their their birthday, their family members, or any personal information that they’ve told you, and when you say it to them, they’ll have the impression that “Oh, you remember! That’s really good! You must be busy, but you remember my personal stuff”.
According to Steven, it is also about breaking barriers with the clients where making them feel like they could treat you as a friend when you’re business partners is massively important. Again, it’s all about making the clients happy and, more importantly, making them like us. Steven said being in a publishing firm, he was dependent on both the clients and agencies, so there was always a “large budget to make sure that these guys are well looked after”, where he would even pay and send them on a holiday if they seemed like they’re “stressed out”.
How a good CRM can create more jobs and business revenues?
Nguyen, Sherif & Newby (2007) claim that effective CRM “can enhance an organization’s ability to improve customer service, which in turn can generate revenue”. Steven also backed this up saying that the product itself “does become irrelevant in some way, but its more about whether they like you or not and choose you over the other guys with the same expertise”.
He managed to close a £200,000 deal with one of his agencies, whose client called The Mayor Clinic, who came into his company and offered the budget asking what he could do for them. He and his team put together an offer, gave it to them and they just took it right away. It was a £200,000 deal “done within matter of hours”! He stressed that “wouldn’t have happened if the relationship between [them] and this agency wasn’t as strong as it was”. Steven’s company spent a lot of time “schmoozing” this particular person who worked for that agency, he added that “it was really about that individual who’s working for the agency, if they like us, then we’re in, it’s about making that individual really happy with you and with your company”.
Tips for good CRM:
Steven summed up the interview with some good tips for good CRM.
- Always be friendly, patient, and on top of that, try to mimic the way that the client is, if they’re in a bad mood, don’t go and talk to them chirpy, they won’t appreciate it.
- Similarly, limit the contact with them, don’t think that you have to be in contact with them all the time, because the space between us and the clients is very valuable, if you call them constantly every day, they’re not going to be impressed.
- If you’ve got nothing to go to them for, give them a call once a week and just say hi, how are you and so forth, there’s nothing wrong with that,
- Get your relationship with the clients at an ‘appropriate’ personal level, be careful however, if it’s something that has been discussed and they’re fine with discussing, then there’s not an issue of going on and talk about that.
Interviewed by Nguyen Huu Thien An
Word Count: 1036
Anderson, S. (2006), “Sanity check”, Destination CRM, Viewpoint, available at: http://www.destinationcrm.com
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