The Beginning of Customer Relationship Management

It was the 80’s. Hair was big, rock was loud, and something funky and new was being born. It was called Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and it was freakin rad. Rather than waiting for customers to come you, you could get them to come to you. Moreover, with these hella wicked computers you could conceivably form a relationship with customers and prospects one at a time.

In practice, this evolved largely into the adoption of marketing automation approaches as well as sales-based CRM tools that eventually led to such mega software solutions such as, Microsoft Dynamics, and the thousands of other CRM software now available.

Unlike traditional marketing, which was still awesome, it focused more on the individual. You could run campaigns and figure what worked and what didn’t and with whom. While the true promise of “relationship management” really never materialized, it was a more efficient way of matching customers’ needs with solutions.

While CRM never really spent much time looking at systematic issues in marketing, it was super-efficient at conversion. It was (and is) a great tactical marketing tool and is used extensively to this day. It was an important new tool in the marketing arsenal.

Best of all it could provide individual level ROI metrics that traditional peanut butter marketing campaigns struggled to supply. However, a world ruled only by tactical marketing will run out of runway quickly. You need to have a strategy; which is where strategic marketing continues to have an esteemed seat at the table.

Meanwhile, while you were contemplating buying that synth keyboard-guitar, something else was happening in operational areas of large organizations.

In the early 1980’s JD Power and MaritzCX set up shop and started sending surveys to new car buyers. Someone somewhere said, “Wow, we can put incentives on these to motivate good behavior from dealerships,” and the world of CSAT (now CX) was born.

This new world confused traditional market researchers. In their view, you determined your sample frame, found a sampling source, sent out questions, got answers, and then made changes to the product, promotion, placement, or price. That’s how it worked.

Using individual’s data to do something was something not only foreign, it was deemed unethical by CASRO (now Insights Association) and downright verboten by many countries in Europe without expressed consent. This stranger-in-a-strange land situation continues with researchers wandering into CX land to this day.

The Four Fundamental Use Cases in CX

Nowadays the four worlds of marketing research, CRM, CX, and experiential design have collided. The race is to do all four well, which I would contend are the fundamental use cases of modern Customer Experience Management. To my knowledge, no one does it all well, as they are constrained by their pedigree and associated areas (the much maligned ‘silos’ of yore).

The four use cases can be thought of in a two by two table (of course!). Problems can be solved strategically or tactically (individual). They can also be solved before customers “officially” become customers (prospects) and after they bought a product or service. Let’s take them one by one.

1. Tactical Marketing

This is the domain of CRM and marketing automation. Did our database help us predict you are moving soon? Well then, how about some moving boxes, tape, and perhaps even a truck coupon and some labor options? This is finding out individual needs and matching individual products and services with that need. It’s great at matching needs and product/services. It just isn’t that great at helping out why your service and products are so much better than everyone else. That where strategic marketing comes in…

2. Strategic Marketing

What do you customers want? Why are your products and services so much better/different? Who are your customers and what do they want in the first place? How do we communicate with them once that is defined? These are the fundamental questions of strategic marketing. It is a place full of Ps and some very good and some very bad business books. It is also the domain of philosophers, visionaries, and creatives. Those folks need good data to make decisions though. Good ole consumer research helps in this area. It is only one ingredient, but an important one not to forget.

3. Tactical CX

Did a prep tech forget to put floor mats in the second row of your bitchin’ new canary yellow Camaro SS? No problem, we will get that fix toot sweet. Billing on your statement doesn’t look quite right? Ok, let’s figure it out. Many early CX companies made millions just identifying and remediating problems…One. Problem. At. A. Time. They reach out to those ‘silent suffers’ and fixed problems. This is the role of traditional CX that makes traditional market researchers reach for their paper bags to breath into.

However, It’s a legit undertaking. You have a bunch of folks out there who are annoyed, but too lazy or too busy to pick up the phone and complain about it. Go out proactively and fix them. That’s what Tactical CX is all about.

4. Experiential Design

But what if we had a process that prevented all that nonsense from happening in the first place. Big consulting companies called this approach ‘outer loop’ and the tactical remediation ‘inner loop’. The basic idea is this; you can resolve one problem at a time through tactical CX, but you can resolve thousands of problems by redesigning the experience to be more customer centric.

What policies, procedures, and constraints does your company do that is mucking up the customer experience? Let’s go beyond that and figure out how you can make the experience of buying a tuna like spending the day at Disneyland. This is the province of experiential design. Tattooed and black wire-framed glass wearing dudes from companies like IDEO define this part of the market. It is the most fun, but least explored in the industry.

Auditing Your CX System

What is your organization doing? Is it more focused on one area vs. another? A good CX system should be competent in all four of these areas.

There are great software tools to make it happen, but ultimately, it requires a multi-disciplinary approach to really harmonize these use cases into one tool that will be applied across the enterprise.

Software are only tools, you need people (for now) to create and implement solutions. Those people should be from all customer facing areas of the organization (marketing, customer service, sales, etc). Executing to all 4 use cases requires good coordination within and outside the organization. Using these for use cases, you can rock it for your customers.

Always keep in mind these four fundamental use cases as you build and evolve your CX program:

  1. Customer Relationship Management and Marketing Automation
  2. Traditional CX or Customer Satisfaction
  3. Marketing Research & Shopper Marketing
  4. Experiential Design

Thinking inside the box.

This is an edited except from Dave’s upcoming book, “The CX Field Guide: A practical handbook for getting results.”