What can The Beatles teach us about CRM?

30th Jun 2010

Could your organisation provide a better customer experience if it was more like The Beatles? 'Yeah yeah yeah' says David Winch.

Speaking recently at the European Customer Experience World, Alfred Lin, COO of celebrated customer-focused firm, revealed some of the secrets to the company’s remarkable success. And top of the list was ensuring that the company employed the right staff to operate within the right culture to ensure they delivered a great experience to customers. certainly knows a thing or two about satisfying its customers – after all, an incredible 75% of its business is generated through repeat purchases. But perhaps there was another team from decades ago that we could also learn from – a team that had millions of passionate, devoted fans all over the world. The Beatles.
Now, I'd claim the Beatles weren’t a pop group. But before you lynch me for pop blasphemy, the difference is this: John, Paul, George and Ringo weren’t a group – they were a team. Whilst one characteristic of both a team and a group is that they all share the same manager, the following three criteria are as good a test as any for identifying a group:
  • No member depends on any other member.
  • Each member can achieve their goals without reference to or help from any other member.
  • Group achievement is the sum of all the individual achievements.

This hardly applies to The Beatles! In business (particularly in sales, but also in marketing and customer service), problems arise when the 'team' gets treated like a group. Sure, the management pays lip service to the customer service 'team', but in reality they are often a customer service group. They are generally given 'group building' incentives, and not team building ones, and then people wonder why 'team building' exercises don't deliver the performance gains expected. There are several important areas of difference. 

Team building

  • Get the right team – (The Beatles drafted in Ringo Starr to replace Pete Best)
  • Fitting in is more important than virtuosity - but that helps too – (again, the Ringo example holds true here!)
  • Help each other out – (The Beatles had to practise at Paul's house because John’s aunt Mimi wouldn’t let them practice at her house)
  • Collaborate and share good ideas (Lennon and McCartney wrote the songs together)
  • Seek and accept help, especially when you're starting out (in The Beatles’ case it was manager Brian Epstein and produce George Martin that cultivated the band as we know them)
  • Coach each other (Paul taught John some chords at their first meeting)
  • Listen to what the customers are saying about you, and act on it (choose your own Beatles analogy for this one - for business people it’s a must!)

Group building

  • Getting the right individuals is still important, however mavericks and loose cannons are acceptable if they achieve their individual goals.
  • Be as good as you can be so you'll keep your place.
  • Be selfish - don't waste time on other team members if they don’t help you achieve your ultimate goal.
  • Provide individual incentives.
  • Reward individual success.
  • If you find a 'magic formula', keep it to yourself.
  • If you're good, why would you need help or advice?
  • If you achieve your goals, what does it matter what customers think and say about you?

I’m sure you can see where I’m heading. Businesses need to have a sales team and not a sales group. It’s essential that firms realise the difference and structure their workforce from a team perspective. So, what do great teams do?

  • Celebrate team success as a team.
  • Share mistakes and learn from them, as a team.
  • Spread good ideas amongst the team.
  • Look out for each other.
  • When needed, have clearly defined roles and responsibilities – (every good team needs its lead guitars, rhythm, bass and drums).
  • At other times share the load.
  • Embrace creativity and experimentation.
  • Have of a shared view of what success looks like.
  • Support each other.
  • Share the load of leading.
  • Encourage each other.
  • Stand by each other.
  • Allow occasional 'dropping out' just to demonstrate the huge difference 'team support' actually makes.

Which category do your staff fall under: group or team? And would your customer experience be improved by a team approach? These are important questions to ask yourself!

David Winch is an independent marketing and sales consultant and runs The Professional Adviser. See for more information.


Replies (2)

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By derek_scott
01st Jul 2010 20:44

The Beatles' team-building started long before Ringo for Pete in August 1962, with John accepting Paul after July 1957 in fact.  It took a savvy leader to realise the group was better with better talent in some respects than even he had as leader.

Collaboration did not last long, probably only from 1957 through 1964 at most.

The Beatles served a long apprenticeship between 1957/58 and 1962/63.  I doubt if many teams today would have the same patience and ability to play a long game.

Clearly defined roles etc. are from textbooks.  Paul was arguably a better drummer than Ringo, and George played bass on several recordings, while Paul usurped George's lead guitar role on others.  John led from the front, but also knew when to stand aside (letting Paul sing the first single, both sides).

The point you miss is that the whole exceeds the sum of the parts ....

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By Neil Davey
02nd Jul 2010 08:51 certainly know your Beatles!  ;-)

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