Returning CRM to its Roots

A new age of CRM has dawned--it is now possible to know the customer on the other end of the interaction, even when there is no data (e.g., demographics, past transactions) available. This was achieved by supplementing CRM implementations with analytics tools that generate a dynamic set of questions for each customer, and constructs from the answers a real-time model of her motivations within the interaction, which is far more detailed than any customer can verbalize unprompted. Beyond improved customer satisfaction, this analytics tool allows an enterprise to build a forward-thinking business model that makes strategic decisions knowing why customers choose what they do, instead of using a rear-view mirror business model that analyzes what happened historically. This new age returns CRM to its roots, and facilitates win-win business. Win-win CRM transactions meticulously match the full value propositions of products or services to each customer's complete collection of preferences. This builds lasting relationships that drive the long-term success of companies and provide the real ROI that CRM has long promised. But these fundamentals for growing long-term customer relationships are frequently held secret in day-to-day interactions. They are not visible on CRM dashboards. These secrets are given form only in a collaborative customer conversation that challenges each individual to actively consider the range of possibilities available and be self-convinced of the value of each. Only then can customers be confident that the choices they are making will be right--providing the motivation to continue business with a particular enterprise, to purchase new offerings, and to stay loyal to that specific brand. Yes, customers and sales/service representatives keep secrets from each other, but not because it is in their best interests. It is only because traditional CRM systems are not equipped to discover and share these secrets at the scale, complexity, and velocity required in today's globally wired business environment. In this new age of CRM effectiveness, the technology exists for enterprises to mathematically model each customer's preferences from the answers to a few simple questions and automatically assemble these preference models into a global map of how their solutions and organization are being perceived. This will increasingly support and optimize strategic sales and marketing, product development, and customer service for a rapidly changing consumer-base. It will also create larger and larger "virtual focus groups" that can be consulted 24x7 to simulate the market pull for new products, validity of marketing segmentations, and advertising messages without incurring cost beyond this one-time enhancement to the CRM infrastructure. About the Author Bradley Forham, Ph.D., is CTO of Online Insight. Previously, he held several key leadership positions in advanced technology and product development with Oracle, NIST, AT&T, and GE. He is a lecturer and advisor to U.S. government agencies and global technology companies. Fordham received a BS and BA from Furman University, and an MA and Ph.D. from The University of Maryland. Contact him at Bradley.Fordham@OnlineInsight.com.
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