Only marketing can engage customers across the entire spectrum of CRM - report

25th Feb 2015

A study from Act-On Software and Gleanster Research has analysed the customer lifecycle and CRM approach of over 750 organisations, to ascertain how well marketing departments are positioned to oversee the end-to-end customer experience.

The research was conducted in Q4 2014 and Q1 2015, and analysed the allocation of marketing resources and budget, application of tactics, and the results obtained at each stage of the customer relationship: awareness, acquisition, retention, and expansion, to gauge a company’s effectiveness at managing the end-to-end customer lifecycle.

It found that most businesses have no department overseeing the stewardship of the entire customer relationship – but that 62% of respondents felt that marketers were best positioned to orchestrate this function.

And despite the corresponding research, 85% of respondents felt sales and support functions were currently in charge of customer experience, and that marketing currently has a peripheral role in the customer relationship.

CRM’s evolution

Perhaps the most insightful element of the research, however, was the current view marketers have about the purpose of CRM: 57% agreed that CRM was a strategy to interact with customers, with 45% also viewing it as a process for monitoring and analysing data, 42% as a technology to automate salesforces, and 34% as a department that manages the relationship between customer and brand. In other words: CRM was seen by many as an all-encompassing customer management proces.

And this viewpoint was best determined by the ‘top performers’ within the survey – the 2% of respondents that stated they had beaten 2013 revenue plans, estimated that 90% of their customers were happy and consider themselves effective at managing the end-to-end customer lifecycle.

Of this small demographic, respondents were said to have spent more time and resources on customer retention initiatives, and, as a result, seen an equal split of revenue between new and existing customers. In comparison, average performers spent a majority of their effort and resources on acquisition initiatives, generating 70% of revenues from new customers and only 30% of revenue from their existing customer base.   

The top performing 2% were also twice as likely to tie marketing objectives to milestones along the entire lifecycle, spend 41% more time on customer communication and employ techniques like segmentation and personalisation.

“Too many B2B organisations treat the customer lifecycle as a series of handoffs between departments – marketing to sales to service,” says Ian Michiels, principal at Gleanster Research.   “Marketing is the only function positioned to engage customers across the entire spectrum of customer relationship management and it’s no surprise that the most successful firms take this approach.” 

Results also showed that the top performers approached the customer lifecycle holistically, and were 20% more likely to use marketing automation technologies than average performers.

“Bottom line, the survey data revealed most B2B firms care about the customer experience, but nobody (marketing, sales, or service) really manages or owns it,” Michiels adds. “It’s time we re-think the concept of CRM – and it’s time for marketing to step up to own and orchestrate it.”

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