• February 1, 2009
  • By David Myron, Editorial Director, CRM and Speech Technology magazines and SmartCustomerService.com

Focus on What Matters Most

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The global economic chaos has been severe enough to shake even veteran executives to the core. Shortly after the holiday season, Adolf Merckle, a 74-year-old German billionaire—ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's 94th-richest person in 2008—took his own life in the wake of what his family described as "distress...caused by the financial crisis...along with the helplessness of no longer being able to handle the situation."

It's no surprise that the economic climate has raised anxiety levels. In December, Americans were finally given the official word that they had been in a recession for nearly a full year. Not long after, the media began to characterize the situation as the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. It's a trying and unsettling time for many, which is why we're dedicating this entire issue to helping companies not feel helpless.

Due to the financial realities of this downturn, the feature package (which starts here) focuses on low-cost or no-cost CRM strategies. The features draw on experts' advice from the previous recession as well as on recent customer successes. The stories also have some suggestions for the companies still fortunate enough to make smart investments.

In a recession it's foolish to suggest that companies spend money that they don't have. But it may be equally foolish to make sweeping budgetary cuts and expect everyone to bear the burden equally. A dollar may go further in different areas of your company, so be selective and cut wisely. One feature, "Make Marketing Your Megaphone!", by Assistant Editor Jessica Tsai, suggests this and other salient points—such as the need for innovation and customer communication.

Unfortunately, during a tough economy, layoffs may be a necessary evil for some companies. But executives must take care to prevent the process from negatively affecting the morale of the remaining employees. Left unchecked, bad feelings may lead top performers to leave of their own volition. So it's important to keep overall employee sentiment as high as possible.

Assistant Editor Christopher Musico suggests in his feature, "Hold Onto Your Customers!", that retaining top employees should be seen as part of any effort to retain customers. As one industry veteran in his story says, "One of the best things you can do is sit down with groups of agents and explain why the company is making any changes that bring fear to employees." The story also notes that "finding out what is sticking in agents' craws can cost very little, but reap great benefits."

The final feature, "Spend Your Way Out!", by Editorial Assistant Lauren McKay, confirms what Intel Chairman Craig Barrett once said: "You can't save your way out of a recession." The feature suggests that executives focus on projects that work and table those that don't.

In a difficult economy, you're not helpless—you don't have to sit idly by. Do something, but be sure it has a payoff.

David Myron
Editorial Director


Every month, CRM magazine covers the customer relationship management industry and beyond. To subscribe, please visit http://www.destinationcrm.com/subscribe/.

Here's a quick link to more of this month's special coverage — The Recession Issue.

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