• September 1, 2005
  • By Marshall Lager, founder and managing principal, Third Idea Consulting; contributor, CRM magazine

What Would Genghis Do?

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This past April BBC News ran an article that noted several traits of 13th-century Mongol warlord Genghis Khan, pointing out that the conqueror had several qualities that would have made him a top-notch manager or executive today. (Really. You can't make this stuff up, folks.) I decided it was time to see just how the ole Khan-man would stack up in terms of CRM (Conquest Ransacking Management), referencing some of our recently published--and soon-to-be-award-winning--100 proven ideas in CRM.
Good Modern CRM:
Create agents of change. Call center agents should be able to capture customer complaints or suggestions electronically, which can then be reviewed and passed on to an executive who can implement change. Good Mongol CRM: Capture agents and change them. Genghis embraced new technology by forcing Chinese engineers to join his army and quickly adapted his tactics to suit the advancements. Good Modern CRM: Reward team players. Provide bonuses or team player rewards for referring customers to the right internal sales agent or business partner. Good Mongol CRM: Profit sharing. Genghis realized that the spoils of victory (think commissions, but torn from the cold, dead hands of the previous owners) were a huge part of his soldiers' livelihoods, and he felt that they should be recognized for hard work. A happy, rich army is a loyal army. Good Modern CRM: Spy on the competition. Don't shy away from auditing the best processes of your rivals. Looking at your competitors' practices can give you a competitive edge. Trying to reinvent the wheel is counterproductive. Instead, enhance the wheel that's already in motion. Good Mongol CRM: Genghis was keen on knowing what his enemies were up to. "It's all about knowing what your competition is doing," says military historian Dan Snow, "and Genghis Khan was absolutely scrupulous about sorting out all the intelligence he could. Although 200,000 men and horses would go stampeding across a border, it was months after it had first been proposed." Good Modern CRM: Step out of the ivory tower. CSRs are often the best link between a company and its customers. Have the boss don an agent cap for a day-- it will expose him to paramount issues facing CSRs, the contact center, and customers. Good Mongol CRM: Genghis had a tough life as the son of peasants, so he recognized talent in all classes of society. Illiterate himself, the Khan laid hold of some clever people to design the government institutions that turned his horde into an empire. His officers, too, were promoted on merit and not politics. Good Modern CRM: Know when to back off. Especially in brick-and-mortar companies, don't attack people the moment they walk in the door. They may get intimidated; even friendly dogs can be scary. Good Mongol CRM: Know when to back off and pepper the customer with arrows. Mongols, while famous for striking fast and fighting hard, preferred mounted archers to hand-to-hand combat, and they happily let their composite bows do all the hard selling. Good Modern CRM: Almost every business goes through rough periods, either individually or when the economy sags, and they lose customers as a result. When business picks up again, be sure to attempt to restart your relationships with lapsed customers--they're easier to sell to than new ones. Good Mongol CRM: When Khan and the crew of the Botany Bay were stranded on Ceti Alpha V, he bided his time for 15 years until he had access to a ship and the Genesis torpedo so he could take revenge on James T. Kirk...oops...wrong Khan. Of course, not every modern initiative would have worked back in the Dark Ages: Premiums and "free gifts" may win over customers today, but tossing some raw meat you'd been keeping warm under your saddle to a peasant whose village you'd just burned is not going to instill much loyalty. Companies that get customer complaints about how horrific it is to do business with them can role-play the typical customer experience to find the pain points. For this to work with Mongol Horde LLC, our boy would have to lie down and try to understand the point of view of being trodden upon by half a million wild-eyed nomad riders. Ouchie. Contact Senior Writer Marshall Lager at mlager@destinationCRM.com
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