The New Rules for Relationship Management

by Barbra Gago on August 10, 2010

Last week at CRM Evolution, Ray Wang (among others) gave a great presentation on the new rules of relationship management. As we touched on in our Social CRM post, relationship management is now governed primarily by the customer. By this I mean, the customer does not need the company anymore–to gather information, customer testimonials, recommendations, data sheets, etc. The customer has full control over when they want to learn about what, and from whom. They have set the [new] rules, criteria and environmental situations in which they’d like to be engaged, not us.
Many companies though, have yet to realize that customers have moved on, many just don’t know where they’ve moved to, or if they do, don’t know the language of that land, and therefore have fallen behind. Another point Ray stressed, and what companies really need to understand is that social media is not a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way companies do business.
Before social enabling, trust in brands was founded on the quality of the product and finical strength of the company, but now people are more concerned with the conscience of the company–how good it is. This is critical to understand, and in the end it’s essential for success.
Another thought leader at last weeks event, Denis Pombriant, brought up the importance of leveraging your customers as a renewable resource. This doesn’t mean you just up-sell them more and more, it means you build relationships with them to the point that they are advocating your brand, sharing their experiences and recommending your products or services, not because you ask them too, but because they want to, because they love what you do, and they believe in your brand.
This kind of relationship does not happen through targeted marketing, it happens through genuine understanding and devotion to your customer’s success. If that sounds like too much, good luck. The future of business will be in sustainability, and this will only come through not just being relevant, but providing value.
In his presentation, Ray also said that traditional CRM has failed because companies can’t keep up with the growing demand for better customer experiences and because real time isn’t fast enough, but I don’t think it’s necessarily “failed” it’s more a matter of evolution.
Traditional CRM is still needed to gather and organize data, but social media (or the ideology of) now is going to be a major part of that evolving system, and as the consumer evolves so shall the system. I do agree however, that CRM undisputedly needs social media to fill the engagement void.
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