When it costs six or seven times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one happy, it’s no wonder that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is creating quite a buzz.
With competition moving in at warp speed, CRM is being touted as an important tool in an era of online business-to-business and business-to-customer transactions.
Recent developments in information technology enable companies to use customer data in order to make better management and marketing decisions.
“Most companies lose half of their customers every five years. And why do people leave? They leave because of perceived indifference,” said Brian Juke, senior account executive for the LGS Group Inc. in Calgary.
“Customers are demanding that organizations service them in their media of their choice. We all want the high-tech, but with the high-touch. You wonder when you e-mail somebody, are they ever going to call you back?”
Along with Al Stjernegaard, Vancouver-based western Canadian regional manager for Cognos Incorporated, Juke discussed the intricacies of CRM to a group at the Calgary Council for Advanced Technology meeting last week.
“Customer relationship management is about transforming the customer experience. How are you treating the person at the other end of the e-mail? . . . We sent an e-mail to the Fortune 100 companies and asked them who their CEO was and how can we contact them. Two-thirds of them did not respond within a month.”
Juke emphasized that CRM is a continuing process with the goal of retaining profitable customers. “You want to know why they buy, what they bought and what you think they will buy next.”
He warned the audience to treat their customers consistently. “You need consistent routing so when a customer calls up, the information goes to the right person the first time . . .”
According to Juke, customers sending an e-mail to a Web site can expect to receive a response within 24 hours only 39 per cent of the time; there is no response 26 per cent of the time.
One remedy is better call-centre management and Juke is adamant that suppliers call their customers back, rather than respond with an e-mail message.
While organizations tend to treat CRM as a technology issue, Juke said that CRM is a human issue, both within an organization and externally.