Today's topic is "Why your business needs CRM." We can dispose of this in short order.
Three reasons: Because your business has not developed The Better Mousetrap, you still need customers, and the Magic Sure-Fire Cust-O-Trometer, with analog or digital dial settings for how many customers will be magnetically drawn to your business today, is still on the drawing board.
Need more reasons? Okay, how about the fact that you're not running a corner grocery in Smalltown, Ohio in 1903?
Think about it: Aforesaid grocer -- let's call him Mr. Olson -- Mr. Olson knows his customers. He remembers their likes and dislikes. He knows who to put the last can of beans on the shelf away for, who can be gently wheedled into pricier cuts of meat, who likes a little chitchat and who just likes to be left alone to get on with the shopping.
He knew to toss the extra apple in the bag for the family of six, he knew who's just had a baby and to order more Wheatena, zwieback or whatever it was babies ate in 1903.
That guy had CRM down to a science. He could've taught it at Wharton. He didn't try to sell the honeyed ham to the town's Jewish family -- "Really, Mrs. Goldstein, it's vunderbar. Here, have a sample… Mrs. Goldstein? You left your groceries here… Mrs. Goldstein?" -- and he didn't suggest the whiskey to the Baptist minister's wife. But he did remember to order a couple boxes of matzo around Passover and keep some kosher staples in stock.
He extended credit to those who could be relied upon to pay it back and was real apologetic and diplomatic but firm on saying sorry, no can do when untrustworthy folks asked for credit.
Mr. Olson knew if he let you think you were getting a deal on the meat you'd buy a lot of the trimmings, on which you manifestly were not getting a deal. Mr. Olson knew that you went home happy and he closed the shop happy after such deals, and that you'd be back to get your great deal on the meat again.
It got to where Mr. Olson could size up new customers walking in the door for the first time and guess pretty accurately what they'd need. A farmer in town for the yearly shop? Ask about the crops, commiserate about the "gubmint," casually let drop the bulk prices for flour, sugar, coffee and bacon and suggest hey, friend, betcha the wife'd like some of this gingham, newest style up from St. Louis, yeah, hey tell you what, you're a hard-working man, I can swing you a deal on needles and thread…
A harried mother with five children in town, first time in the store? Get Burl to carry her groceries home and give the kids a stick of penny candy, she's somebody you want to see back.
As somebody as interested in profits as Mr. Olson, you naturally want that same rapport, that same knowledge, that same level of appropriate service Mr. Olson could give. Of course you can't know your customers that well.
Can you? You know, you'd be amazed how much of that very information Mr. Olson got first hand you can glean with a CRM system. Remembering purchases, suggesting similar items, tracking profitability and making things easier for the good customers and maybe a bit tougher for the not-so-good ones, the ones you wouldn't mind shopping at your competitors, the ones who burn up the call center's time and demand oh, this, that and God knows what else in the way of service.
Put it this way: Mr. Olson didn't get on his back and help fix wagon axles for all his customers.
David Sims is contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles please visit David Sims’ columnist page.