• July 1, 2004
  • By Lior Arussy, founder and president, Strativity Group

Other People's Customers

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For years we have been searching for the right formula for customer relationship success. We've heard the gurus and bought the books. We were inspired by the Ritz-Carlton's commitment to outstanding service. We were jealous of Southwest for the fun environment in which its employees work. We craved Starbucks' customer commitment and rushed to buy a Venti Caramel Macchiato to get a taste of that fabulous relationship-building style. We were ready to turn the world upside down for customers. But, we didn't. What went wrong? Why is it that we marvel at others' success strategies, yet don't formulate our own? We have plenty of financial and qualitative evidence to justify a better commitment to customers. Still, nothing happens. We did not act for many reasons--and none of them is due to lack of ideas, knowledge, or examples. Other companies took the risk and jumped into the cold water before us. These pioneering companies made the mistakes and fine-tuned their approach to CRM, which can help prevent us from many pitfalls. These companies also reaped the benefits in a big way. I argue that underneath the surface there are at least five major issues that prevent us from execution. Acting requires recognizing and addressing them. Fear of change Many of us are comfortable enough to keep the system operating the way it is. Change is often intimidating, and causes internal resistance. We have not gathered enough strength to actually turn our ideas into action, despite the inspiration. Our perceived internal obstacles seem more powerful than our perceived ability to execute. Immediate dismissal
We do not want to give change a real chance in our own organization, fearing failure and ridicule. We have been there before, and have seen others being dismissed for bringing new ideas. "This is not how we do things here," was the response. So, we convince ourselves that CRM will not work in our workplace. In a sense we become the immediate dismissal we so fear. Size matters We often perceive the challenge to be too large an undertaking with too substantial a risk. "I am too low/small in the organization to do it. This is the CEO's job," we say to comfort ourselves. In reality, we are as small as we allow ourselves to be. Fake humility "No one listens to me anyway," we often tell ourselves. In an amazing acceptance of the virtue of humility, we drive the message to ourselves that we are just not the type for such a challenge. Too big/too bureaucratic/too...whatever Our organizations, we convince ourselves, are not made for such a thing. Customer individuality is for small and nimble companies, we want to believe, as we again spin our refusal to drive change in large companies. There is some truth to each of these arguments. However, it does not negate the fact that these are all excuses. Individuals with courage and conviction drive change. Stop admiring others' CRM successes, and start acting to create your own. Choose to make the right impact on your company. Lior Arussy is president of Strativity Group and the author of The Experience! How to Wow Your Customers and Create a Passionate Workplace. Contact him at lior@strativitygroup.com
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