Odds Are, Your CRM Is Failing Your Business

By David Trice, Engage.CX

In today's retail world, customers are firmly in control. They decide how to interact with a business; they decide when they interact with a business.

And when a customer engages with a brand, no matter the platform, he or she expects and demands a consistent experience. The company's left hand must know what the right hand is doing. The fact is, customers could care less about departmental divisions, disparate software platforms or layers of management. How well an organization manages these touchpoints in order to create one singular, positive experience for the consumer is what is driving brand loyalty today.

Meeting Omnichannel Expectations

Discover what consumers expect and how retailers can make it happen in this infographic at wsm.co/omniexp

Largely responsible for orchestrating all of these touchpoints, customer relationship management (CRM) technology has greatly failed at this task. In fact, Forrester Research finds that only 10 percent of CRM implementations have been successful. The reason for the high level of failure is simple: The "relationship" has been missing from CRM.

Marketing now pivots on managing customers' experiences each and every time they "touch" a brand. CRM technology is finally trying to catch up, allowing companies to more effectively center activities around customer experience, but here are three steps brand can take today to refocus on putting the customer first:

Recognize Customers Across Every Channel of Your Business

Today, most companies cannot say exactly how many times a customer touches their brand. To begin to understand how to satisfy the customer, an organization needs to know each and every time a customer engages with it.

Once a customer has engaged with a brand, its system should let it know exactly who the customer is and why they are engaging with its business. This process of identifying touchpoints is essential for survival. Only by recognizing when and how customers engage with it, can a business begin to learn the customers' wants and needs.

Understand that Customer Lifecycles are the New Sales Pipeline

The traditional sales funnel is outdated and antiquated. Today, understanding the customer lifecycle, or the journey customers take with a business, matters most in driving financial performance. Customer lifecycles fall into well-defined stages: interest, inquiry, consideration, engagement, purchase, using the product and maintaining the product. By knowing when and how a customer engages with a brand, marketers can learn more about the customer, such as her likes and dislikes. Accumulating this knowledge allows companies to build profiles about the preferences and habits of each customer. This activity is far more advanced than assigning the customer a "profile" and hoping they're like everyone else in that "set."

Once the process is orchestrated and data on each interaction is collected, brands can track the customer's unique relationship using three vital pieces of engagement information:

Frequency: How many times did a customer touch the business over the course of a period of time?

Value: What is the value and frequency of purchases a customer makes with a product?

Feeling: The company's performance on each interaction as measured by a customer's sentiment from each event.

This relationship index, referred to as the Customer Value Index (CVI), becomes the number one tool to understanding how an organization is performing with a customer, product category or in a region.

Employees Will Be Empowered For the Moment of Truth

Once a CVI has been created for each customer, brands must enable its employees to utilize the information. It's simply not enough to collect the customer data for the use of the CEO, founder or team of sales associates. The key is making the information available to employees so they can use it to delight and awe the customer at the moment of truth: right when the customer engages with the business.

This is the Holy Grail for today's companies. Undergoing this process of mapping the customer lifecycle will create new opportunities for a brand to improve how it executes by illuminating areas where a business may want to evolve to meet its customers' needs. Better yet, focusing on the customer experience across the customer lifecycle helps brands understand how they are performing from the customer's point of view.

In today's world, customers engage with brands across a growing universe of touchpoints, often inhibiting great customer experience. It's critical to create a consistent customer experience that builds brand loyalty. By recognizing the customer across the entire lifecycle, and transforming business practices so that they result in positive experiences every time a customer touches the brand, brands will create lasting value.

David Trice is co-founder and CEO of Engage.CX, the leading experience-driven CRM for enterprise. Prior to launching Engage.CX, Trice was VP of CRM at Oracle.