Digital sales and service: time to re-think CRM
- Posted on November 16, 2016
Every time I hear the phrase “customer relationship management” (CRM) I cringe. Do you want to be managed by companies you do business with? Does anyone? Of course not. No one wants to “be managed.” People, instead, want to be treated just like that: People. They want to be part of successful teams, and listened to. They want a say.
The Rise of “Co-Creation” In Customer Experience
I’m very impartial to the concept of “co-created” customer experiences. This is an evolved digital sales viewpoint that flips the script: it’s not about the vendor controlling everything regarding the customer’s experience. Instead, it’s about collaboration, and giving the customer a voice in how she or he is served, marketed to, sold to and supported [CLICK TO TWEET].
When you use Spotify, for example, every song you play, every artist you follow, you are improving the app’s ability to serve you new, personalized experiences. It listens to you. Or, when you visit Nike online, you aren’t just buying any old shoe, you are buying your shoe. These companies have deeply understood the idea of letting the customer into the creation process, with much success. So how can you do it?
Any company can foster co-creation quite simply. At root, it’s all about giving your customer options, and opening up (platforms, technologies) to customers in a trusted way, so they can co-create their experience with you. Let them decide how they want to be reached, how and when exactly they want a service delivered. Be as transparent as possible. Stop curating every single step of the experience. For example, why do telco’s still insist on making customers wait at home during four-hour windows for a service agent to show up (or not) to get their Wi-Fi installed!? We have the technology folks, and we have the tools to be much more time-efficient. Let’s open up the control panel and let the customer take over.
Blurring the Lines of Digital Sales and Service
This leads directly to another major sticking point for me in the lingo of sales-days-past: The idea that sales and service are still, to this day, completely separate.
To be frank, we need to start blurring those lines, today, or else we are going to be losing our customers.
Imagine if you’ve been complaining for weeks with your cloud infrastructure provider about login issues. Out of the blue you get a call from the same company, trying to upsell you on a new promotion. You appreciate the sentiment, of course…but the person on the other line has no idea what you have been going through, and when you tell him about your technical issues, it’s news to him.
This doesn’t make any sense. And it’s extremely frustrating for the buyer. They know companies have access to the tools, and know-how, to seamlessly blend the way we serve them, all the way from committing to repeat sales and support. They know we can have single-pane views of them, no matter what channel they come in, no matter what product they have purchased, no matter when. So if we don’t offer that unified service, and equip our sales and support workers with one and the same “all around view”, the customers rightly get peeved. It’s time we stopped insanity. We need to begin cooperating with customers, not controlling them. And we need to do this at every step, no matter what department they are talking to, sales, service or otherwise.