Magazine article CRM Magazine

Trust Trumps Technology: What Does the Customer Want? versus What Does It Cost?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Trust Trumps Technology: What Does the Customer Want? versus What Does It Cost?

Article excerpt

WHEN I GOT my first job as an adult, the boss was fond of saying that everyone sells. He didn't mean that everyone carried a quota or got commissions; we all were responsible, to the extent possible, for advancing the company's objectives for such things as revenue and customer satisfaction.

Looking back, my boss had a sound idea that was implemented poorly, if at all, at a small company lacking in much of the technology we take for granted today. Let's just say a lot fell through the floorboards. When we spoke of technology, we often meant the terminals on our desks and the company's prized fax machine. There were no marketing databases, routers, switches, Web sites, or software for building Web sites and campaigns. Consequently, helping a customer often meant taking a call and then literally going the extra mile by walking up to the third floor to straighten out a billing issue or heading downstairs to check with the VP of software development about a bug or the development schedule.


Within my company, I was able to accomplish a lot for my customers largely because I was able to get into the faces of people like the CFO and the CTO (who happened to be the founder, too). That's because I developed a degree of trust through repeated face-to-face contacts with the upper echelon of the company.

But that's not typical, especially in a large company where people still manage in a hierarchical, top-down, by-the-balance-sheet manner. We talk about flattening hierarchies, but there's a difference between removing layers of management and giving responsibility to the workers and simply replacing that management with automation.

Automation is great, but, at least in some cases, we've substituted it for real business change. We've got CRM in place in most organizations and we're building out social infrastructures to capture and use information from customers and employees to advance the cause. We're finally at that point where everyone could more or less sell, and my old boss would approve.

The thing that's lacking, though, and I don't see technology as a driving force to provide it, is the trust needed within the organization to let the employee act on best instincts (backed up by data) to serve the customer. …

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