Build the Path to End State CRM

Many executives and managers prematurely conclude that CRM is too complex to provide a meaningful, understandable, measurable snapshot of their enterprise's customer relationship management. But to center the organization around customers' needs, preferences, and values, every company needs to clearly depict each department's, system's, function's, partner's, and product's role in delivering the customer experience. This is the purpose of The Customer Experience Matrix*. The matrix puts the multichannel, multisystem, multiparty/resource, multimessage, and multisystem integration issues front and center as the CRM challenge. Plot your company's customers and operations in the matrix and you immediately see what you have always suspected--that your customers are already in the multieverything experience and it's time for your company to enter the matrix or risk losing them. The matrix provides a customer-level view of business. The grid shows all the possible interaction points a customer has with a brand, product, and service providing the customer's 360-degree view of your company and partners. Every product and service exposure, interaction, and transaction is classified and placed in the context of a customer's experience. A rollup of a single customer's experiences can be used to depict the customer brand experience and customer lifetime relationship.
The matrix design matches 14 customer-life cycle stages to six customer channel categories depicting every possible customer relationship scenario into some combination of the 84 customer interaction points. A customer may have multiple-channel interactions in the same channel category, i.e., online chatting while on the phone with a CSR. He can also span multiple-channel categories in the same customer stage, i.e., negotiating price online, negotiating price on the phone with sales rep, negotiating the price with partner/reseller, and negotiating the price in the store. Major Finding, Simple Application CRM effectiveness can then be measured as your company's ability to move the most customers from left to right through The Customer Experience Matrix at the least cost over a specified period of time. Note that each interaction/transaction has a discrete cost and an actual and factored revenue contribution. To determine your current CRM effectiveness, populate each cell with the number of prospects and customers that are currently at each stage, and then observe customers' migration from stage to stage periodically: daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally. (This exercise is even more valuable using customer segmentation in each stage, i.e., "first time customers," "repeat customers, "anonymous customers.") Use this method to determine ROI contribution for any CRM investment decision as measured by the cost reduction per interaction/stage and revenue enhancement per interaction/stage. Revenue enhancement is typically measured by the number of customers that successfully move from left to right through to the collection stage. Continuous and Automatic Selling The Customer Experience Matrix promotes the concept of continuous and automatic selling by setting a revenue objective in every interaction through cross-selling, upselling, gathering referrals, and referring third-party products either directly, through partners, or selling prospect and customer names. Simply put, use The Customer Experience Matrix to make it easier for customers to buy from you by leveraging every interaction and resource. The Big-Aha CRM Moment The big-aha CRM moment came when I had to conduct four meetings in one week with four Fortune 100 companies, a telecommunications company, a software company, a packaged foods company, and a financial services firm. Each company had CRM issues. The software company was enormous and simply wanted "to be easier to do business with." The telecommunications firm and the packaged goods company were tremendously dissatisfied with the outcome of their multiyear CRM projects, even though the companies had spent more than $200 million combined. The financial services firm wanted to create a market- and enterprisewide view of their business for market simulation scenarios and advanced BI applications. And, of course, each company wanted to grow sales and reduce expenses. The big moment came when our team of relationship managers and technology, customer service, sales, marketing, and operations-domain experts looked at our "project stakeholder list" and asked "What was the CRM's intended effect on the customer?" The simple line of questioning went something like this:
  • What would the customer notice was different in a phone call made the day after the CRM project was completed?
  • What would be different when a customer was on the Web site?
  • What would be different when a customer walked into a branch office or store?
  • What will be different when a customer receives a delivery?
  • What if this is all the same customer?--and that was the big-aha moment. From this point forward we used the matrix as a template to coordinate each client's initiatives from a customer point of view. *The Customer Experience Matrix is a registered trademark. About the Author Michael Hoffman is president and CEO of Client X Client, a CRM advisory and CRM execution services company. Client X Client helps companies optimize yield per customer. He has worked on customer-centric and database marketing initiatives over the past 15 years on behalf of hundreds of Fortune 1,000 companies specializing in financial services, diversified services, retail, catalog, and publishing industries. He was a senior executive with Experian, ClientLogic, DoubleClick, and Customer Analytics. He can be reached at
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