By Andrew Champion, Head of Client Partnership, Blue Sheep
Building customer loyalty and retaining share of wallet are frequently important strategic imperatives for businesses. Equally the vast majority of marketers know the value of ensuring that their marketing communications are highly targeted and relevant.
However this can only be achieved if you have a true and full picture of your customers across all their touch points with your organisation. And that can frequently require the collation of vast amounts of data from disparate operational systems.
Customer Relationship Management programmes were introduced back in the 1990’s as marketers sought to answer the challenges that they faced in managing vastly increased customer communications and ever expanding customer data.
Frequently organisations perceived that the answer lay in the implementation of technology; that a new CRM platform was the panacea. Sadly only a few understood that technology is just an enabler and that a wider programme of organisational change was necessary to realise the full potential.
Unlike some I believe that companies exist to create customers; happy customers who in turn deliver profit. Not the other way around. And in order to cultivate happy, loyal and profitable customers businesses need to look beyond CRM to an approach that we refer to as ‘customer information management’ (CIM). Unlike CRM, CIM delivers an ability to treat different customers differently in a way that is achievable, and not reliant on huge technological investment.
For many, CIM is the next step on from their investment in CRM technologies, a way to truly leverage the insight delivered by a Single Customer View (SCV). Furthermore CIM ensures that businesses make the most of their marketing data assets, leveraging them more effectively to ensure that value is delivered during each engagement.
Ultimately CIM can be thought of as a company’s ability to identify and respond in a timely manner to customer needs and an ability to segment customers and build deep understanding. But of course in the excitement we can’t forget that data is the foundation on which we build our foundations. Companies must develop and communicate to all stakeholders a clear and robust data strategy.
They must then engage with customers and prospects to illicit this data in a sensitive manner that builds mutual loyalty, respect and trust. And when businesses achieve this they grow. Exponentially a central principle of CIM is that a company’s profitability depends largely on how well it allocates capital and resources across its most profitable and least profitable customers.
However to achieve this, businesses must move beyond collecting transactional, demographic, or for B2B marketers, firmaographic information, in order to implement CIM effectively.
Instead, organisations must make concerted efforts to collect additional behavioural, predictive and preference-oriented information about their customers in order to build more robust and dynamic customer profiles; those that view each interaction with a customer as an opportunity to collect additional data will at last begin to gather the missing pieces of the data puzzle.
No longer can marketers rely on a uniform campaign and hope for positive results. Customers have wised up and all marketers should follow suit; put simply, customers will respond to personalised marketing activity which is timely and right for their specific requirements.
CIM can ensure businesses see a true picture of their customer pool and can interact with each and every customer accordingly. In a crowded marketplace to stand out brands have to ensure their marketing is working harder than ever before. Delivering strategic messaging which fundamentally ensures you are making a strong and continuous return on investment moving which is a pre-requisite.
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