Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Customer Relationship Management is NOT the technology!


Ok, yeah, that sure seems like a funny statement coming from a CRM technology consultant and sales guy, but hang with me a moment…

As I insinuated somewhat in my automated mess posting, a CRM solution must be about the business much more than just the technology and we must give our business processes a very serious evaluation. Just capturing names, addresses, and their favorite color is very likely NOT going to accomplish any of your goals!

Very often, my customers get stuck focusing on the “Management” part of CRM, and some even make it to the “Customer” part.  But, I would challenge that many struggle with the “Relationship” part. In all our focus on the technology, and even on our business process changes, we sometimes end up taking our customers for granted!

Recently, however, I experienced a company that shone in full color with their focus on “Relationship”.

I was out in Los Angeles for a demo presentation and chose to stay at the Marriot Courtyard in Century City/Beverly Hills[1].  Marriott, as a whole, tends to be strong in the customer relationship business already, but the Century City Courtyard was well above average!

It started immediately when I pulled into the parking area.  The parking valet immediately came to my vehicle and explained the parking options to me.  Note, he came TO ME.  Very often, I have to get out and go to them.

Checking in was the usual, always pleasant experience.

Then, I get to my room.  As a Marriott Platinum Premier member, I frequently get a few goodies left for me in my room when I check in.  But this time, accompanying my few goodies was a very nice letter from the General Manager thanking me for selecting them for my stay and ensuring that I knew all the contact information to anyone and everyone at the hotel should I have any needs.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such a letter with my premier gifts before.  The letter was very personable and I was fairly impressed.

The next morning, as is usual, my receipt was slipped under my door ready for me to grab on my way out.  But this was not an ordinary receipt!  On the back side was yet another letter from the management thanking me for my stay, again encouraging me to contact them should I have any comments or concerns, wishing me well on my travels, and inviting me to stay with them again the next time I’m in the area again. The letter was once again very personable. Obviously, they give the same letter to everyone, but I really felt like they meant every word!

Quite frankly, I’ve stayed at many full-service hotels, including some Marriott’s, that did not make me feel so appreciated.

All in all, it was a great reminder that in the end, CRM technology is just a tool. Relationships are about people and  between people.  Just as a hammer can’t drive a nail if we don’t pick it up and swing it, we can’t build our customer relationships if we don’t actually reach out to them, talk to them, engage them, and make them know that we really do care!  No amount of technology is going to do the work for us, we have to reach out ourselves!

Is your CRM hammer just sitting on the workbench hoping to somehow reach customers via osmosis? Or are you picking it up, and actually engaging your customers, face-to-face (or at least letter-to-face as in this case)!

I challenge you to write a couple letters, pick up the phone, get out from behind the desk, or anything that you can do to get back in direct contact with your customers again!

Now, I need to go write a couple of those letters myself…

- One is pleased to be of service

[1]  Courtyard Los Angeles Century City/Beverly Hills; 10320 West Olympic Boulevard · Los Angeles, California 90064 USA


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