All Up in Your Business
Welcome to the back page of CRM magazine, where you'll find my monthly column...er, monthly. My editor, David Myron, knows that one way to channel my abundant personality (read: infuriating clownishness) is to let me poke fun at the inherent silliness of what we cover for a living. My motto is, "If you can't laugh at something, you probably don't understand it well enough."
I dubbed the column Pint of View. Why? Well, my family name is Lager, which is also a style of beer brewing. I'm a beer connoisseur and, while I prefer Belgian ales, there was no way to work that into a column title. Furthermore, I'm fairly short (like a pint mug). Last, this is the end of the issue and it's time to kick back with a refreshing beverage, such as a pint down at the local pub. Hence, "Pint of View." If you don't like it, send me suggestions and I'll mock you in a future installment.
We receive requests for advice from our readers outside the scope of CRM magazine's "Feedback" column. Being a skilled journalist and regular reader of Dear Abby, I feel it's my duty to help those in need. What do you mean, Dear Abby retired?!?
Dear CTO: My CRM vendor and I have been together more than a year, and I feel trapped. He acts like he has a problem with routine maintenance visits, and we never talk anymore. We only spend time together when there's a new feature or add-on he can sell me. I just want some of the little things I don't receive. I've spoken about this with him several times, but nothing ever changes. I want to give him a chance to make things right, but I worry that I'll just end up leaving him to find my own ROI. Should I break up with him? --Stuck in Seattle
DEAR STUCK: When you're in a long-term business relationship, it shouldn't be a struggle to receive those "little things"--that's why they're called "little things." Attention to your needs and a less sale-oriented relationship should be standard. You aren't asking for much beyond the basics, which may be part of the problem; we teach companies how to treat us, and you haven't offered your vendor much reason to treat you as anything more than a revenue source.
As much as you need his services, the vendor needs your business and referrals. Ask yourself what would happen if your vendor came by the office one day, only to find that you'd pulled up stakes and moved on. That might be a fantasy worth having.
Dear CTO: I'm always reading stories about CRM vendors giving their clients customer bliss, with full front- and back-end integrations, sometimes multiple implementations at once. In more than 30 years of business, I've never experienced customer bliss. I've tried suites, SOA methods, IT DIY--I even experimented with hosting instead of installed, vanilla solutions. In the end I'm always frustrated, my needs go unfulfilled, and the CRM vendor wonders what went wrong. This hurts my own customer relationships, because if my CRM needs aren't met I can't meet those of my customers. How do I make a vendor give me CRM satisfaction? --Frigid in Fargo
DEAR FRIGID: Vendors aren't the problem, at least not directly. Bliss isn't a packaged deliverable. You must know what you want and need to begin with, and then communicate that to your CRM implementer--whether suite vendor, host, or your own organization. You don't understand your needs; some other entity can't magically discover them without input from you.
Get to know your processes, get in touch with how all your parts--sales, marketing, and support--interact. Don't be ashamed to seek outside help in exploration; business process restructuring isn't easy, and a trained, sympathetic professional can hear your concerns and suggest changes that wouldn't occur to you alone. Only when you're knowledgeable and comfortable with yourself will you be able to open up to CRM vendors and let them please you. Good luck, may customer bliss be yours.
Contact Senior Writer Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com
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