CRM in the UK and Europe: Showdown at the Customer Corral

CRM technology must leverage the context of each interaction.

Businesses in Britain and Europe must feel like they are living in the Wild West when it comes to engaging with today’s consumers. It’s not like it used to be, with a few communication channels and the ability to carefully control the relationship. Armed with digital technologies, customers are now in control, expecting each engagement to be tailored to their specific needs. Woe betide the company that gets it wrong – customer dissatisfaction can be flashed around the globe in seconds.

Can Traditional CRM Work for the Digital Consumer?

Easy answer here: No. CRM’s roots lie in the belief that a 360° customer view will enable a company to “manage” customers. This is an inward-facing, data-dump approach that fails to provide any insight into what’s relevant or how to conduct an engagement.

CRM technology must leverage the context of each interaction. You can do this by combining analytics that use data to intelligently suggest likely customer behaviors with real-time decisioning that recommends the next best action as each customer engagement unfolds. Treatments can change dynamically based on such factors as the customer’s response to an offer. Imagine a bank or an insurance company that discovers a customer has just had a child. With the ability to act on this new information in real time, relevant offers can be generated instantly suggesting a college savings account or life insurance policy.

Another problem is that traditional CRM focuses only on the front office. This creates a customer experience akin to a black hole with no insight into how a request is progressing once it ends up in the back office. The lack of front-to-back integration and transparency also drives up costs because handoffs are clumsy and manual, and the systems needed to fulfill a request are fragmented and isolated. Companies require lots of people, systems and time to fulfill customers’ needs, which negatively impacts cost/income ratios.

Expand your view of CRM as a way to connect every part of the customer’s journey from the moment they touch your business to fulfillment and on-going service. Digitizing operations with technologies such as dynamic case management, analytics and standards-based integration enables connections that hide underlying complexity, facilitate transparency and automate as much as possible. This creates a continuous cycle of improvement: Customers buy more from a responsive company, increasing revenue and market share, while automation frees up capital by reducing the number of people and systems needed to fulfill each request.

What Would I Do If I Were You

One thing I would not do is just start throwing money at digital channels and front-end systems without thinking about an overall CRM strategy. I see lots of companies doing just this, ending up with stovepipe or shadow IT projects that exacerbate isolation.

What I would do is take the time to design a sustainable approach to CRM. Get all your stakeholders in a room – executives, business people, IT people – to discuss what you want the end-to-end customer experience to be. Then look for agile technology that will support this vision, now and in the future. It’s impossible to know every channel and device that will be used five years from now or what new products will exist. But with a sustainable CRM strategy built on an agile foundation that makes it easy to plug in new channels, create and reuse automated business processes and build connections, you can accommodate inevitable change, meet and impress your customers and earn the benefit of their satisfaction which will no doubt have a very positive impact benefit on the bottom line!