With the era of data collection in the 1980’s and 1990’s, businesses started to automate customer data in order to maximize a return on time, energy and resources. They called it Customer Relationship Management (CRM).
Using CRM, companies tried to create an advantage where they could find data that developed a picture of their customers. What’s right with this picture? With more data, companies were able to know their customer’s unique needs.
Question: Do you use this data in order to customize and serve your customers?
You’ve asked for their birthday, but do you do something for them to create an experience on their birthday? Are you really advancing the relationship for them or only for yourselves?
How many times have you contacted a call centre or medical centre only to be asked your address, phone number, etc. before you can ask your question? Who benefits here? Is a customer relationship for the customer’s benefit?
Traditionally, the definition of management is the process of handling data, schedules, and people. Ideally, we need to change our concept of customer relationship management into a concept of Customer Relationship Leadership (CRL), where leadership is about people.
With this knowledge, you need to ask yourself a new question: “what are we doing to build and lead strong relationships with our customers?”
Here are the top 5 Customer Relationship Leadership qualities our customers want from us:
- Honesty: People do not want to be handled, managed or controlled. Instead they want freedom and support. They want to know the truth. If you’ve made a mistake, then admit it, recover, and make up for it by giving something extra that the customer wants. Strangely enough, the truth is so seldom given, that when it is, it can build increased trust and loyalty; providing you recover well.
- Empathy: Customers make mistakes too – they are late, miss payments, have problems, etc. Showing concern for ‘their world’ not only supports them but it is exactly what they want. If you can be the one to empathize with them in that way, they will feel cared for. When you display empathy to them first, instead of putting your business first, they will feel like they are #1 and important – something we all want, but so seldom get.
- Timely Response: Long gone are the days to write a letter; send it by mail, and await a response. Have mechanisms in place to not only respond promptly but also to anticipate needs. What could you do so that your customers do not ever wait? Part of Customer Relationship Management’s vision is to collect customer data in order to serve the customer better. Timeliness is key to achieving goals in today’s busy society. What data could you collect in order to speed up service?
- Customized Service: Here is where the opportunity exists. My dentist gives me headphones with my favorite radio station playing – then the drilling seems (well, almost) painless! What other complimentary data could you gain in order to create an overall experience? Do you play the music that you like, or that your customers like?
- Quality: If you’ve gotten this far and mastered the first four tips, then a “zero defections” approach to what you’re offering will secure more loyalty from your customers. Focus on the quality of your service using a developed and standard system for each customer – relationship management questions work much better on a satisfied client. Is the quality of your service going to give you that positive response on a questionnaire?
And then…once you’ve served them well, they may not mind answering a few Customer Relationship Management questions – and the cycle of Customer Relationship Leadership can begin again!