Now, before you go off making an acronym and plastering it all over the place, consider this. Do customers want to have their “lifecycle” “planned”?
I say no. After all, you have many types of customers, and while some may want a lot of attention and service. Many may just wish to purchase, or browse, and be left alone.
The important thing of this exercise is to consider just what different types of customers want, and expect, from your company.
I feel that this type of analysis should drive your selection of a CRM or business system. Not doing the work to figure out what customers actually want will drive you in the wrong direction in marketing, sales, and service delivery. Essentially you need to map out just what is expected in the relationship between you and your customer, and then figure out how to manage that relationship.
Lets assume for a moment that we’ve taken care of customer segmentation. We are focused on a particular group with common interests and desires. Now consider the following categories and the questions therein.
What types of things are people looking for? Map how this changes over time, before they are a customer, after, and way after etc.
Wait, Stop. It’s not what you want them to know. Erase the whiteboard and write on it what they actually want. If you don’t know. Go figure it out.
Do they want features, use cases, testimonials? What about pricing? Options available? Comparisons with competitive products. If it’s comparisons you’d better know where those conversations are happening online.
Maybe they are looking for downloads? Updates? Oh, and if you just decided to put up a FAQ. Make it good. 99% of the FAQ’s out there are really quite useless.
Knowing what information your consumer needs over time, combined with how they consume that information should direct a lot of your CRM/Businses system strategy. You simply need to be organized enough to put the right information in their hands at the right time.
Your CRM strategy should be determined, in part, by what your customer could possibly buy from you. Depending on complexity, product and pricing management could be key. If you sell 400 different items that are often bundled together in different ways, are fairly pricey, or can be confusing then you may want to ensure that you have a great quoting system in place as opposed to a generic webstore.
A nice question to ask yourself is; “How hard is it to buy from us?” Pro Tip: It shouldn’t be hard.
What kind of service do people expect before and after the sale? Have you asked them?
What kind of service are people willing to pay for?
Do you need some ability to manage the delivery of those services?
If you customer is my wife then she doesn’t want to talk to you. Just send the product. But if your customer is me then you’ll want to call me up and chat pre and post sale. Regularly. But you don’t want to sell to me because I’m cheap.
Do your customers expect meetings and visits? Calls? Regular email?
Do they want a dedicated sales rep?
Do they expect you to have an online presence beyond your website? Live chat? Service via Twitter?
The level of engagement your customers want should drive you to a CRM tool that can manage and automate, if required, the appropriate level of interaction.
In my personal opinion, handling customer issues is where you build customer advocacy. If your CRM system handles support in isolation from the rest of the customer information you’ll see a disconnect between sales and tech support.
But, how much support does your customer need?
Is it involved and detailed? Or simple questions?
Does your customer expect you to track issues?
Do they expect to be able to manage their cases and submit new ones online, via email, phone, in store?
Here’s where we ask, what do you want customers to learn?
Just what is that information?
Where is the value in that information for the consumer?
How do they want to consume that information? Have you asked? Do you have metrics?
Do your systems allow you to segment your customer base to provide the right information at the right time to the right person?
Just how often do customers want to be bombarded?
Should you be pursuing an opt in strategy? (There is only one answer to this question)
Does previous purchasing history predict future purchases? Really?
How often to customers actually repeat purchase? Do you really know?
Should your CRM system be able to give you this information?
Do you actively market to existing and prospective customers differently?
Does your customer grow with you?
How long, normally, does this relationship last?
How far back in the relationship do you need to look to have a meaningful conversation should one be required?
Just how do you go about defining the customer? Is it a company? A person? Who do you actually sell to?
Your CRM system selection should ensure that you can, with reasonable accuracy, capture the reality of your customer. Sometimes you don’t need much, and just need a name, email, and credit card, but you might need to track multiple divisions, different currencies, many contacts, and other relationships.
As you answer these questions and think about your business, you should ask yourself, would it be useful to have a system that can track all this in one place? The answer may in fact be no. Seriously. But in some cases it will be yes, in which case, you’re at the right blog.