From High Task to High Touch
Use your CRM technology to exceed expectations and build trust.
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Your company has invested in the latest CRM software and you're busy populating it with as much relevant customer data as possible. You are confident that these new customer insights are going to give your company a competitive advantage for years to come. It definitely will give you great insight, but will it help you exceed expectations and build a relationship of trust?

Self-proclaimed sales gurus (myself included) and modern neuroscience teach us that people buy first for emotional reasons and then justify their purchase with logical ones. So we need to ask, "How are we selling and servicing our customers, emotionally or logically?"

In today's marketplace, it's easy to get sucked into the logic vortex, usually because of the vast amount of data involved with our transactions. On one side of the relationship coin, we have what I call high task. This is about your core competencies, what you do well, how you generate revenue. It's about your products or services and meeting customers' expectations.

On the other side of the coin is what I call high touch. This is about exceeding customer expectations.

Many companies that I work with use their CRM technology to help them deliver their high task or core products and services to their customers. This helps establish a seamless customer experience, but rarely does it make the customer say, "Wow." In today's world, this level of service is expected.

How can we use our CRM technology to exceed customers' expectations and build a relationship of trust?

We live in a new time, a new era. We started in the agricultural age, moved to the industrial age, then evolved into the technological age. Today, most would agree that we are well entrenched in the information age. We need to ask ourselves, "How are we using our CRM technology to distribute our knowledge, wisdom, insights, etc., to our customers?"

Your company is probably excellent at sending out information about your products or services, but this only satisfies your high task strategy. It's about your company and what's in it for your company. Some would call this spam. But what about your high touch strategy?

One of the first questions we should ask customers is "What is your stress?" When you first ask that question, your customers will always answer in context to you, because that's why they think you are asking. Good information, wrong answer. After you get that initial response out of the way, simply ask your customers what's driving them crazy or what key challenges they are dealing with. Now they will give you the good stuff.

The next question is "What knowledge, wisdom, or insights can we provide to make that stress go away?" You are not going to ask every customer what their stress is. But you could survey your market or segments to find out what the collective stress is. You might be surprised to find out that in most cases, it has nothing to do with your company or its products.

Let's assume you are an insurance company with thousands of customers. You see that a hurricane is headed for the East Coast. What if you sent an email blast to your customers that had storm preparation suggestions, strategies to protect life and property, or ways to expedite their claim once the storm has settled? What if you simply assured your customers that your thoughts are with them and that you will be there once the dust settles to help them rebuild their lives? How many customers do you think received this kind of communication prior to Sandy reaching our shores?

You don't need a major catastrophe to reach out to your customers. One of my clients sends out the free activities schedule the Parks and Recreation department offers for the summer to its customers. This has nothing to do with my client's core competency or high task, but everything to do with the customer. That is how you will know that you are building trust and exceeding customer expectations—when your communication has nothing to do with your company's products or services and everything to do with your customer.

Michael Vickers is the executive director of Summit Learning Systems and the author of Becoming Preferred: How to Outsell Your Competition.

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