Customer Relationship Management Fail (or Success)

thumb_CRM-ButtonI’ve been thinking a lot about CRM lately. About how some organization seem to get it and some simply don’t. And those who get it appear to be fantastically better than than the ones who don’t get it. I don’t understand why some organizations aren’t better at this(or don’t seem to be trying) when I perceive the return to be huge.

I have season tickets with two nearby sports teams. One gets it and ones doesn’t.

In the one case, I needed an extra ticket at a certain level to get a visiting family member into the club space. I called my contact there and asked if I could buy another ticket (they don’t sell single game tickets) and the reply was that ‘he would take care of it and there would be a ticket at Will Call under my name.’  No questions. No hassle. No charge. The same organization has done other great things for us that were not needed or even expected.

The other team, despite much more expensive tickets, barely knows my name. I once asked about getting a guest’s birthday posted on the screen at half time and I was told they would take care of it. Didn’t happen. Wasn’t there. Never heard back from my contact afterwards either. They also seem to take better care of their business customers better than their individual/family customers.

Another organization that I interact with bends over backwards to help me get things done. If I need help, they just take care of it. Even things that they shouldn’t have to do for me, they take care of it because they are great service providers to me. Yes, they make money selling me services but they bend over backwards to help me be successful.

I will routinely have sales executives come to visit me and I find that some know a lot about me and some know nothing. Some have read this latest post here which is funny and interesting to me. They comment on it. That is almost creepy, but it means they are doing some research and they are trying to better understand their customer.

Someone sent me an email recently commenting on my LinkedIn profile in a funny manner. They made the attempt to connect with me from that description. Another person a few years ago noticed my ‘donkey handler’ skill on LinkedIn.

Related, there was an article a few months ago which said the following about sales,

By providing personal, determined, and honest service instead of the hard sell, it’s possible to build long-term relationships instead of quick, one-time sales

Much to think about here. I think I could do sales (but I don’t want the travel).


Back in June, I was interviewed by Peter High of Metis Strategy about IT where I work.  The resulting interview was posted this week on the Metis site as a podcast. It was also posted on the Forbes property here.

Take a look or listen. And I recommend you follow Peter’s other interviews. Fun experience.

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Built to Last

Events around me have caused me to be thinking about how an organization can thrive across long periods of time. Not just points in time, but across decades. How does an organization continue to move forward into the future, accomplishing its mission without getting distracted, lost or even disappearing?

There are so many examples of really great companies that just went away. Kodak and Polaroid are examples of well respected companies that were at the top of their game at one point and now they are gone. The same happens with non-profits, churches, organizations, etc.

Jim Collins wrote the book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Harper Business Essentials) which tells the story of companies that have lasted a long time and seemed to prosper over the years. I’ve not read the book but I might. I did scan the Blinkist post on that book and it doesn’t quite seem to hit what I’m looking for right now. The summary does state that these organizations seem to have a higher purpose and that they relentlessly pursue progress.

It seems to me that it is about the people. The leadership and the culture.

I’ve seen companies and organizations lose their way and it is heart breaking. It seems that it is due to the people more than external factors.

How do you build an organization that moves forward successfully across decades of time pursuing worthy goals?

Your thoughts are welcome.

Look for the Broken

A case in point. I bought a new car this weekend. Talk about a process this is broken, awful, sad, wasteful, slow, inefficient, irritating, and ripe for a re-imagining (can anyone say Tesla?).

They have millions of dollars of inventory sitting out in the sun, snow, sleet, hail, rain just sitting.

You have to play a game with them to agree on a price. You know that whatever price they quote you is not the real price. They might tell you that you are getting a discount for some reason, but they can likely make that back up somewhere else with another variable (trade-in).

They low ball you on trade-in and act like they will have a hard time with that model, feature, color, type, etc. When you already know the trade-in value from looking it up online.

You agree on a price, but then there is another $199 in documentation fees.

If you decide you are going to leave, the manager needs to meet you and wants to know what he can do.

If you accept a deal, then you spend another hour doing paperwork. In our case, they had information from a prior car we had bought at the dealer that was wrong (address, email and phone) and no matter how many times we corrected it, the wrong data continued to show up on forms. They loaded a new email address into a system but they loaded it incorrectly and there is no way to edit it. The business manager lacks the mileage on our trade-in so she runs out to get it and it takes her 20 minutes while we sit waiting.

Throughout the whole process they keep telling us to rate them a 10 on the survey.

If Tesla, Uber, Airbnb and others can overcome entry barriers, they will crush these business models.

Look for the broken. And here is an article about doing it inside your own operations.


Getting Better?

I usually don’t pay much attention to IT futurists who like to tell us how IT will look in a few years. I mostly think those articles are written by people who are looking to increase their following or subscribers and are not likely based on real insights. One group I followed years ago wrote about Future IT and while some of the points where great, I thought others were absurd.

But, as I think about IT and where it is going, I think corporate IT is getting smarter and has more options than it has had in the past.

  • We can host applications internally or in public clouds or in a blend.
  • We can use open source solutions for some parts of the stack.
  • We can virtualize services and avoid more and more hardware.
  • We can use SaS solutions in some cases.
  • We can outsource parts of our service in areas where we don’t want to operate.

And we have new IT visibility tools that can give us deeper insights into our own operations than ever before. ServiceNow, Apptio, and xMatters give us more options than ever before.

I’m not sure we are getting smarter and I’m not sure if we are getting more respect from our business partners, but I do think we have more options than ever before.

What do you think?