I've worked with a number of corporate marketing departments in the past across a wide range of industries. I can't think of a single example where the company was happy with the way they managed and monitored customer and prospect relations.
I’ve worked with a number of corporate marketing departments in the past across a wide range of industries. I can’t think of a single example where the company was happy with the way they managed and monitored customer and prospect relations.
The issue was rarely the CRM software, though this was often the excuse, whether it was ‘overpowered’ or ‘underpowered’. It often wasn’t the processes either: these were usually pretty well established, and if not liked by everyone then at least accepted. The issue was very much a human one.
People are just not very good at updating customer and prospect records. For a start it’s a boring, repetitive task that rarely feels urgent. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve heard marketing people nag sales teams to update the database with notes from their meetings at trade shows. I see it as a consumer as well: sales calls from companies whose product I had bought on the previous call (you expect the ones you refuse to call again).
But more importantly people don’t think the same: even in companies with the most rigidly laid down rules and well designed user interfaces for CRM, records tend to be hopelessly non-standard because people just naturally think a bit differently. I’ve seen all sorts of evidence for this. Records with text notes in telephone fields about when to call people. Notes about a complaint crammed into address fields. Company records appended to individuals and vice versa. And companies calling me multiple times for copies of the same document, which others have assured me has been appended to my records.
So what’s the takeaway from all this? Humans are better at analysing and using data as individuals than they are at collecting and storing it as a group. The more we can automate the collection of data about our prospects, the more completely it will be gathered and the more standard the fashion in which it will be recorded. That means it will be more usable, by sales and marketing people, and by automated systems that can use the data to improve targeting and enhance customer service.