Three simple steps to kick start a CRM programme

Nick McConnellWith the cost of CRM technology coming down and an increase in both the flow of consumer data and the number of digital platforms to reach people, it feels like there has never been a better time for brands to engage with their customers through CRM. However, not everyone seems to be jumping at the opportunity.
In fact, many companies are feeling overwhelmed when they realise how complex today’s CRM systems can be, and how much brainpower they need to implement successful CRM. They understand that CRM is key for strengthening customer relationships and building ROI, but find it difficult to know where to start – so they don’t.
What three important steps can these prevaricators take to ease into CRM while also making sure that the solution they get will do what they need it to do?
Execute ‘mini’ CRM campaigns
There is an alternative “no tech” or “low tech” CRM that can be easily adopted as a stopgap, giving companies quick results as they work towards full CRM implementation. This is by creating “mini” CRM campaigns when consumers are in spend mode.
Instead of trying to make sense of all the data all at once, they can take a scaled back approach, combining transactional data with external signals to pinpoint big events in a customer’s life that impact on purchasing behaviour. E.g. moving home, having a baby or retiring. These big events extend over many months, from initial planning, to the ‘event’ itself and beyond, creating distinct customer needs and lifecycles. By understanding what life event someone is going through, it is possible to understand the context and timing of their consumer decisions and respond appropriately. It’s not CRM as we know it, but this approach creates the kind of “marketing in the moment” that CRM provides – albeit for a shorter time period.
Identify the ‘killer’ data that makes a difference
Using the above approach to gain CRM planning time, a company can then give itself the space it needs to analyse data from across all customer touchpoints to identify what attributes actually make a difference in consumer conversations – and which will therefore help a company to achieve its goals. For instance, a brand with a strong focus on Millennials may find that it only needs to implement a mobile centric CRM strategy.
Put CRM on the board
Few boards have anyone appointed to represent the customer, and yet surely this role should be essential for consumer facing organisations? CMOs go part way to filling this position.
However, with research showing that their average tenure is 18 months, they typically direct their time towards short term issues and brand building, rather than long term customer relationship building. CRM is therefore often a footnote rather than a focus.
Yet, to make CRM work across the whole business it needs to become part of a company’s ethos and culture. This requires top level buy-in and investment that only comes from making CRM a board position.

Nick McConnell is commercial director at TwentyCi

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