It’s easy to get so wrapped up in our customer focused view of corporate life that we forget to look up and see what’s around us. But look up we should, for a ‘view’ is emerging from the mist which needs our attention, as in essence it’s the future of CRM. If we don’t give it attention then organisations are going to waste money and resources, lose out on contracts and forgo desirable investors and customers. The view I speak of is the one angled on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Now anyone who thinks CSR is about saving the whale, giving to charity and not exploiting cocoa farmers in South America, really should rub their eyes and look again. As should companies who think they have covered their CSR obligations with a glossy year end report full of happy, smiling people. (See Implementing CSR Communications for Business Results – CSR Data Networks – free)
CSR is about building valuable, long lasting companies through collaborative relationships and the careful use of resources – land, labour and capital. It may have emerged from an ‘activists’ agenda but its collision with trends in financial management and operational risk has turned it into much more. It is as much to do with building trust with stakeholders through good governance, as it is to do with giving to charity – probably more so. It is no longer acceptable for companies to report profits to shareholders whilst depleting natural and intangible assets and under utilizing human talent. (See www.csrevaluator.com/evaluator/)
CRM needs to gatecrash the CSR party. For the objectives of CSR managers have a strong similarity with those of CRM managers. However, the focus on different stakeholder groups is leading to a disconnect in corporate relationship building activity. Few have a broad enough vision to see the resulting waste of resource and inconsistencies in reputation.
CSR needs the business case which CRM now has and CRM needs the financial clout and emotional empathy which CSR has. So why should we who are focused on CRM look up and see what is looming in front of us.
1. Market Capitilisation
We need to ensure that customer value and risk is important in the assessments financial analysts are making for socially responsible investments (SRI), and the new sustainable asset management (SAM) indexes. Both will increasingly affect investor decisions and the equity risk premium inherent in market capitilisation. (See www.sam-group.com)
2. Brand Alignment
CSR is being used for market differentiation, and built into brand image. It plays well to the emotional needs of customers; investor’s needs for companies who build value rather than just avoiding the unethical; and the recruitment of skilled employees. (see Emerging Employee Concerns – Future Foundation – free - one slide and Emerging Employee Concerns – Future Foundation – chargeable - FULL REPORT.)
Brand promises though, need delivering and that means marketing and relationship strategies and capabilities. (See Why IT Are The New Brand Managers). Glossy CSR reports are already outstripping delivery and capabilities. CRM projects have the wherewithal to fill the gap between promise and delivery, whilst CRM and CSR capability assessments need amalgamating.
3. Risk Management
SAM and SRI requirements dictate that CSR principals (social, economic and environmental) are built into processes in order to manage non-financial risk. Basle II in financial markets also puts emphasis in this area. Processes therefore need redesigning for both customer experience and CSR. However, to avoid confusion and the danger that new processes don’t meet all relevant key performance indicators, CSR and CRM teams should join forces.
4. Cultural Change Programmes
The same goes for cultural redesign. Both CSR and CRM need employee cultural change programmes – no organisation should be running two, but some are!
5. Information Culture
To rate highly as socially responsible, companies need an information culture to encourage innovation and minimises costs and risk. Just as CRM starts with customer and employee needs and includes feedback, CSR encompasses the same information for all stakeholder groups – customers, employees, investors, influencers, partners, community. The wider CSR requirements enhance customer information and turn it outwards on market trends issues, so increasing market adaptiveness.
6. Collaborative Relationships
Like CRM, CSR needs collaborative relationships with all stakeholders to work, yet is in danger of turning inwards on itself in a frenzy of control. Together CRM and CSR initiatives could build effective value based communities and networks that enhance corporate and social assets. (See Advertising to the herd – Mark Earls – free)
The human race has survived this far because of altruism, not through self interest. If organisations are to do the same then they need to learn the same lesson. For those of us in CRM that means lifting our heads from the daily grind of customer propensity models and call centre performance and look at the wider view that CSR provides. For like CRM, CSR is all about the fundamentals of running a value based business - but we don't want to do it twice.
As always we’d like to hear your comments. Make them below or email me at [email protected]
Excellent Customer Service – a BP Case Study – Harrison Assessments (free)
Knowledge Management for CRM success - IDM - chargeable
Leadership, change management and corporate culture - IDM - chargeable
State of the Nation 111: 2003. A global study of how companies manage their customers - Neil Woodcock and Merlin Stone - free
Bond Your Customers Into An Asset - Jennifer Kirkby - free
Forget How the Crow Flies – John Kay FT.com - Free