By Sharla SikesIt may seem like we’ve talked about Web 2.0 ad nauseum, but that’s because it’s a hot topic in the world of customer relationship
management. And there are a lot of ways it can benefit businesses of all sizes, too. Today’s question: Should you add a customer module to your CRM system? First of all, what is a customer module? Denis Pombriant at DestinationCRM.com calls it a â€œsingle place within the CRM system to capture and analyze relevant customer data.â€
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If you don’t have a method of doing this, consider the advantages. With CRM 2.0, social networking and media have built a relationship that becomes closer every day. Pombriant says we’re seeing the â€œleading edge of a movement to shift the focus from the transaction to the customer.â€
Data is the key to success for such a movement. And finding out who the customers are is the key to building that data. To date, analytics have been superficial and spotty, making the available data less than outstanding.
â€œThe fact that CRM has been rather successful despite this deficiency says more about the market lifecycle than it does about our ability to know the customer,â€ says Pombriant.
far, most data is generated by early-lifecycle companies, or new companies working to get started. Market share was the top priority. However, as both markets and competition grow, it’s wise to offer the customer something others aren’t that goes beyond mere products: customer intimacy.
Sounds a little naughty, I know, but think of your own buying habits. When you’re shopping, don’t the intangibles become just as important as the products themselves? Service is the name of the game today, and that holds true for online sellers as well as brick-and-mortar companies. Most consumers want to be more than a dollar sign or a faceless transaction. My favorite sellers both online and in â€œreal lifeâ€ are those who make a little extra effort to acknowledge me, and even the tiniest gesture can make all the difference.
It’s been well-documented that it costs more to attract new customers than it does to keep existing ones returning. Thus, to make sure your customers return, a way to understand customers’ â€œneeds, biases and desiresâ€ becomes imperative, and a customer module is key to building that understanding. A fully functional module should include the following, according to Pombriant: â€œ- A database for tracking customer demographic information that can be maintained by the customer as well as the vendor–much like a social networking site. – A community interface through which the company could ask its customer base about product innovation, messaging, and anything else relevant to how the customer consumes its products and services. This interface, a kind of customer laboratory, would support typical bidirectional interactions with customers as well as one-to-many interactions. For example, a company could collect data while individuals interact to trade information about their use of that company’s products and services. – Analytics to slice and dice the data generated by the community. – A mechanism for rewarding good customer behavior (repeat
purchases or contributions in the community).â€ A customer module will perform these functions smoothly, rather than the haphazard manner in which each is done separately by many companies. Pombriant cites statistics to justify the cost of such a module: â€œIn 2005, 36,000 new products hit the market and, by early 2006, 80 percent of them were projected to fail. I doubt it’s much different today,â€ he says. Implementing a customer module helps ensure your product or service won’t fail, or at least has every chance of succeeding. Social marketing dominates most industries, and when properly researched
and installed, a customer module can pay â€œbig dividends.â€