In his 1987 work, Changing the Game, Larry Wilson coined the acronym TASTE. It stands for:
- Truthfulness, and
The work was aimed at salespeople and called out the need to "change the game" in multiple contexts of sales as the world was changing. That message was vibrant in those days but resonates with even more clarity in today's "flat-world" that is defined in many ways by the web and the speed of light.
In 1996, Adrian Slywotzky, who wrote Value Migration -- perhaps one of the 10 most important business books of the decade -- examined the destructive force of change. In his book, Slywotzky demonstrated that one reason why market leaders had lost that lead and with it their market valuation was that they had failed to manage the ever-changing nature of value. "Value," of course, is a customer-defined concept, and one that changes virtually with each transaction a customer, or client, has with your firm. It was the failure of the automotives, companies such as DEC, US Steel, and so many others that failed to monitor the change in value and as a result found themselves 180 degrees from their heights and in some cases out of business all together. The value-delivery management "contract" failed in the customer contact efforts, in the efforts to create accurate single profiles of customers, prospects and in the sales effort. It is time again to change the game in CRM.
In the overall context of Changing the Game, Wilson was talking about the interaction between teams, leadership, and their followers and by extension between "us" and our clients or customers. The theme for Wilson, however, was how the game is changing for salespeople and organizations that are trying to stay abreast of, and (to the extent they can) anticipate what their customers will need, want and expect: in other words, value
To Wilson, TASTE requires 100 percent reciprocity between both parties. When applied successfully there would be 100 percent trust, 100 percent accountability, 100 percent support, 100 percent truth, and 100 percent effort from both parties. In the context of account management or professional services, the value of this approach both for the team assigned to create and deliver the work, and for clients, is obvious, especially in today's world. In a customer-based, customer-focused business model, one that effectively uses CRM as its underlying strategy, shouldn't TASTE be a primary principle and guarantee?
My simple answer is a resounding "yes!" In other words, in a successful creation and implementation of CRM, the TASTE acronym has a firm place as a prime operating principle. And, I submit that nowhere does TASTE have as necessary a place than in CRM in the retail-banking world.
At the opposite end of the operational spectrum, however, if a bank were to implement CRM incorrectly -- especially without the foundation of TASTE -- wrongly or in reverse (let's call it "anti-CRM"), can we see in that failure to be customer focused and customer based some of the root causes of the financial meltdown and freezing of credit markets?
CRM is a strategy based on customer focus, on customer knowledge, and on delighting the customer. CRM includes customer experience management, customer knowledge management as well as a portfolio management approach to customers. Additionally, effective CRM provides value as defined by the customer -- at each point in the customer's lifecycle and allows multichannel interaction (Web, phone, in-person, social networking, and so forth).
CRM's strategy defines how a company delivers value to its customers and profits and growth to the firm as it practices customer-based, customer-focused delivery of its products and services. Tied back to the strategy are issues such as business practices, training, communications, data, capture and use, business process, operations, compensation, and more (viz., people, process, and data).
The benefits of successful CRM implementations are well documented. They include:
- Increased sales
- Increased profitability
- Increased product penetration
- Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty
- Increased employee satisfaction
- Decreased cost-to-serve
- Increased customer retention during times of economic uncertainty.
- Increased likelihood of acquisition of new customers
TASTE, I would submit, inherently lives in successful CRM practice.
Unfortunately, in today's world of failed financial systems, TASTE does not thrive as the motivating principle in banking's CRM initiatives, whereas greed does. I believe that we can glimpse this failure in the operations of CRM in the home equity marketplace.
In the next installment, I'll look at the critical role of the client interview in developing successful CRM practices and carrying through the TASTE message.
[Editors' Note: Part 2 of this series can be found here.]
About the Author
Nicholas Poulos is managing director of Chrysalis Marketing, and has 30 years of experience in the sales, marketing, and call center aspects of CRM. Poulos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 1-414-324-2559.
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