Magazine article CRM Magazine

Using CRM to Create Real Relationships: Understand to Be Understood

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Using CRM to Create Real Relationships: Understand to Be Understood

Article excerpt

THE ACRONYM CRM has come to mean different things to different people. It is typically considered a business strategy that allows companies to gain insight and an understanding of their customers so that they can provide the products and services that customers want, upsell and cross-sell more effectively, win new business, leverage customer data to enhance relationships, and insulate existing customers against competitive erosion.

Most CRM strategies and solutions store and track contact information, sales and service logs, purchasing history, and customer communication records, all in the name of customer relationship management. How do we define the word relationship? Let me preface this by saying that just because I track your purchasing history, communication interactions, and so on doesn't mean we have a relationship. From my experience, a relationship is defined by our understanding of our customers and what matters most to them. Once we have a thorough understanding, we can build real relationships, and our CRM solution is the enabler that helps us leverage that information.

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Steven Covey writes, "Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood." Before we can recommend a solution to our customers, we need to understand them. Purchasing history and communication records are important, but it's the answers to some well-thought-out questions that will really give you the insights necessary to influence your customers.

The answers to these questions may come from many sources--assistants, receptionists, suppliers, newspapers, trade publications, and the customers themselves. Learn all you can about your customers and you will capture the right kind of information to build a true relationship with them. Don't try to uncover all this information on the first visit, but over time, you should have an understanding of the following.

Education: Where did they go to high school? Where did they go to college? What year did they graduate? What honors did they receive? What sports did they participate in? What extracurricular activities were they involved with? Were they in the military? Do they plan to continue their education?

Family Information: What is their spouse's name and occupation? What is their education? What are their spouse's interests and hobbies? Do they have children? …

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