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The pen is mightier than the sword when it comes to changing the way things are done. So why splatter wooden words all over the place when trying to convince organisations to change the way they manage customers. Here is the hot list of jargon terms to declare war on if you want to really influence others. If others use them to you - clarify:
If you fall into the following categories then this list is especially for you:
- A supplier of services or technology
- A manager responsible for getting approval and agreement to customer related initiatives
- A trainer, educator or advisor in customer relationship management (note to self)
"Best Practice" – Avoid
There is no such thing as 'best practice'. There are good practices, but no practice is best for everyone all of the time. What people mean when they 'benchmark themselves against best practice', is average practice. Just because everyone else has a similar practice does that mean it's the one your key customers will value the most? Is it the customers who say it's the best? And what about differentiation, if everyone adopts 'best practice' then aren't we all back to a world of commodity pricing? 'Best' is the enemy of curiosity and growth.
"Collaboration" – Use with care
Collaboration is a word that slides off the pen easily and it's an important aim for companies who want to pool their customer information and present a united front. But, collaboration is more than co-operative teamitis. Real collaboration means getting over two big hurdles:
1) willingly sharing knowledge with others, instead of taking the ‘knowledge is power stance’ and;
2) uniting goals and objectives – still a dream for many.
The majority of companies are a long way from collaboration, so don't fool others into underestimating what it takes to get there – help them understand the hurdles.
"Customer Strategy" – Use with care
This really is an over used, tired and misunderstood term –yet rarely do you find a company that has this vital piece of the CRM puzzle. A customer strategy is the plan for turning company 'capabilities', its skills and resources, into value propositions for the customer segments that offer potential value. It is not just a plan to build capabilities – although that is important - it's a plan to use them. And yes, it's part of the marketing strategy - if there is one!!!
"End to End Processes" - Avoid
A wonderful, all encompassing term; but just what is an end to end process and how do you know when you have got both ends? In customer terms this phrase is completely wrong in its imagery. Many customer processes tend not to be a linear set of tasks that follow one after the other, but networks of interlinked tasks that are used at the appropriate time. That's how personal service is defined and delivered and why six sigma is not robust enough for customer process quality control.
"Single Customer View/360 Degree View" – Avoid
Two popular shorthand terms for amalgamating customer information. Yet can a single view be the same as a 360 degree view? A single view is misleading; it suggests that everyone in the organisation wants the same type of customer data - they don't. Take an address for example – the mortgage department will want the property address, whilst the marketing department may want the correspondence address, not by any means always the same. As for a 360 degree view, this could mean data from all angles (is that even possible?), or data that includes customer feedback on the company.
"Customer Satisfaction" – Use with care
This makes the list because it's wrongly used to gauge customer commitment to an organization – not the same thing at all. Commitment is about emotional links, how customers feel about services, rather than how satisfied they are with what is delivered. In customer satisfaction you ask about using the service again, with commitment research you want to know about recommendations and price elasticity. After all people can be perfectly satisfied but never use your service again because their commitment is elsewhere - another one night stand!!
"Customer Experience" – Use with care
A 'hot' term of the moment in great danger of being hijacked by suppliers in the same way that CRM was. Customer experience is the operational part of customer relationship management. It is
- planned as part of the customer strategy e.g. when we answer an enquiry we want to create a feeling of confidence;
- delivered in each customer interaction
- monitored through feedback and complaints.
It is an extremely useful concept that links customer strategy to business process management. But is not the whole scope of what companies need to do to manager their customers better.
"Customer Journey" - Avoid
Somewhere there will be 'a roadmap of the customer journey'! It's a seductive term that is very vague in meaning. Does it mean the stages a customer goes through from awareness, to sale, to development, to winback? Or does it mean the stages of an interaction eg a car purchase, or a railway journey. Or is it the journey from non-customer to advocate. Beware its impreciseness for it will cause confusion; define what the journey is if you want to use it.
"Segmentation" – Use with care
Segmentation, like customer journey, covers a myriad of different types used for different purposes – but too many people have hung their hat on a single segmentation because that's the way the term is used. Segmentation sounds like a science, well you need statistics to do it properly, but is actually an art as well. It's the clever mix of needs, attitude, value, and valuable segmentations that finds the profitable gaps in the markets.
"Sales, Service and Marketing" – Avoid
This is not and never was the whole scope of customer relationship management. Everyone in the company is involved.
"Partners" – Use with Care
In real life there is a growing and annoying tendency to call everyone from a girlfriend to a long term spouse a "partner". So too in the business world. It's much better for clarity to divide supply chain relationships into the different types e.g. supplier, alliance, partner and treat accordingly.
It is quite refreshing to hear the different names companies call their customer relationship management initiatives – it means they have taken the concept and made it their own. The same should be done with these terms to really get the right ideas across and accepted.
But what is your view and what other terms would you add to the list?
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Strategy & Business Analyst, CMC
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