The recent eCRM Conference and Exposition in Los Angeles presented an intriguing juxtaposition of CRM and Internet technologies. The show (sponsored by CRM and our sister publications at Freedom Technology Media Group) was co-located with the Spring Internet World Expo.
Naturally, attendees to the eCRM show crossed over in droves to the Internet side of the exhibit hall to scope out the latest Web technologies and services. What I found more interesting was the number of Internet World attendees who wandered to our end of the hall. The first comment, in many cases, was "What the heck is CRM?" The second was, "I need this stuff."
Recent surveys reveal that the mostly young, technology-hip consumers who are the biggest users of online shopping and the targets of most online marketing, are also the least satisfied with the level of service they receive. Brick-and-mortar retailers can rely on good, old-fashioned human customer service, in person or by phone; it may be inefficient, but it gets the job done. But to retain their fickle online audience, e-tailers have no choice but to turn to CRM tools.
For example, the retail banking industry--as described in this month's cover story--has learned to its chagrin that ATMs, voice-response systems and online banking may offer convenience for consumers and cost efficiencies for the banks, but they're hell on customer loyalty. When "the bank" is a screen and a keypad, who cares whose logo is on the screen? Now banks are scrambling to mine customer data and leverage the information to cement customer relationships. As other businesses find more and more of their transactions taking place electronically, they'll need to do the same--and most of them are far behind the banks in building customer information data stores.
Does your organization have a plan in place to retain customers as your relationships with them transition from face-to-face, to keyboard-to-keyboard? If not, it's time to catch up while you still can.