Google “CRM.”  Go ahead try it.

The reply from Google is a list of CRM products.  Once again, we come face to face with tools as the answer.  Customer Relationship Management has yielded the acronym to an industry of software providers.

The focus isn’t on the customer.  The focus isn’t on the relationship.

CRM in practice is about MANAGEMENT through software.

Salesforce,com, (SFA) Oracle, Zoho and Jason Fried’s star product Highrise are CRM software products.   There are countless other CRM tools available for any industry.  The software comes in various forms of contact manager templates.  The programmers build in all manner of query opportunities and fields for any variable a business owner would need.

The software is placed on a computer (or linked via online) and employees begin the process of learning to enter and retrieve data.  The learning curve for CRM software is sometimes lengthy.  The very best tools are usually the most complicated to use.

Data mining is hard work.

The primary problem with CRM software, presented as a panacea for customer contact, is that a collection of customer information does not constitute a relationship.  Relationships are built and data are collected in the process of time.  CRM software marketing often suggests that “it’s all about the data.”

I certainly advocate customer asset accumulation coupled with leverage marketing.  But I am a bigger proponent of relationship development prior to data mining.

Ask these questions in your company:

  • Do we have a metric to measure relationships with customers?
  • Do we have relationships or data?
  • Do we define relationships in OUR terms or the customer’s?
  • Do we have a marketing plan to grow customer relationships?
  • Do our customers value relationships with our company?  How do we know?

Answers to questions such as those listed above will provide a good radar screen to determine if our company values software more than relationships.

We want lasting, meaningful relationships with customers.  It is our responsibility to care for and feed the relationship exactly as our customers need.

We must do more than Google CRM.

Photo by Rebecca Gunn