Member Since: 31st Mar 2005
General Manager Customer Services and Data Manheim Auctions Ltd
6th May 2005
CRM is a name for a concept that's been around for a long time and will be around for a long time to come. All CRM does, as have other terms before it, is try to define how business can best relate to customers. So it doesn't matter if 'CRM' dies now or in 50 years because the concept will live on under yet another name. So call it whatever you want!!
But what is the concept?
Man has been doing CRM since he first started trading, because it comes naturally when one human being is sat in front of another and begins paying attention to the needs of the person opposite, e.g. the village butcher and the relationships he creates with his customers.
Our problems came when we replaced the village butcher with an organisation. People can't have a relationship with an 'organisation' because it is a concept, an illusion. In reality it is a collection of people organised (hence the term organisation!) by an agreed set of rules, into trying to behave as a cohesive whole. The problem is that the 'organisation' wants the customer to relate to it ('it' being the range of products and services provided under a banner) but customers can't because people can only relate to something real and so the oganisation has to try and behave like a single person when it relates to a customer. Hence the concept of CRM.
CRM systems support CRM thinking and behaviour. For an organisation to benefit from the type of relationship the local butcher has with his customers, the individuals in that organisation need to think and work as a cohesive whole - they need to become the body components of the butcher. A CRM system is nothing more than that part of the butchers brain that stores and shares information collected by the various parts of the body.
In the same way the butcher will never be able to decide what the customer wants before the customer has himself decided, so a CRM system will be limited in the information it can provide and thus the organisation will forever be one step behind the customer. Fact.
CRM is about managing relationships with customers. Its about respecting your customers. Why? In order to give them what they want as best we are able and with the limitations that will forever be with us. Why? Because we want to be around to do it again tomorrow. No customers = no employees = no company (note that share holders aren't in the equation!). CRM reduces the odds of losing the customer, nothing more.
So the rule is, see CRM for what it is and don't make it more than it is. It is a concept based on emulating simple, balanced, natural human behaviour and values. By definition it cannot replace the butcher. The successful CRM implementations will be those where the organisation gets as close as is organisationally possible to behaving like the butcher, i.e. its people in organisations that make or break CRM projects, not the software.
CRM is dead, long live CRM!