What does the “M” in CRM stand for? Is it customer relationship marketing or management? Traditionally it meant Management, as in Customer Relationship Management. I hate this. It’s an anachronism from the CRM boom in the ’90s. Big software companies like Oracle, ePiphany, IBM, sold CRM software to companies that wanted to manage customers.
There are two big problems with this:
- The big software companies made more money selling big solutions, to Chief Technology Officers in big companies, so big solutions are what they sold.
- Customers weren’t keen on being managed.
Oops. Many, many millions of dollars were spent by companies on bloated customer management systems that either never worked or worked so badly that the ROI wasn’t there. Plus, many millions more were spent on the consultants required to install the systems and get them working. The customers got many emails and phone calls from eager sales staff that added little or no value. How bad was it? A former client, she worked at the large telco I had as a client, told me they spent north of $80 million on CRM systems that never worked.
A better approach is to have CRM mean customer relationship marketing, as in marketing to build the customer relationship. Semantics you might say but none the less important. Creating a relationship with customers build value for all parties. Customers don’t mind marketing that’s relevant. They understand that it’s a commercial relationship.
This seemingly small shift in meaning can pay huge dividents to you and your company. Think about it. As a customer, woud you rather be managed by the companies you do business with or have them use their marketing to tell you about interesting new products and featurs relevant to your needs.
- AdAge reports that CRM is making a comeback. If it’s true, I hope “Marketing” can replace “Management.” Then the potential of CRM to be a growth driver might be realized.