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How to build your CRM strategy

How to build your CRM strategy

By Edmund Smiley-Jones, managing director, Fuel

Creating or developing a CRM programme is a huge commitment by a business and a marketing department. This commitment will take money and staff resources to make it function correctly. Therefore, here are some top tips on how to approach or recalibrate your CRM programme.

Planning your CRM

During the strategic planning stage, it’s important to ask yourself the hard questions to determine the nature of your CRM and what you hope to gain from it:

  • Do we need a customer relationship marketing programme?
  • What data do we require to drive the programme and the business?
  • This question could determine the outcome of what type of programme is required

If the answer is ‘not much’ then a simple but affective promotional loyalty programme could be used (e.g. a Costa coffee card or similar)

However, if it is felt that the richer data could be more powerful than a different type of programme should be created like the Wickes MyCard programme, where they collect intelligence on everything from basket spend to time of shop, which channel etc.  

This information gives the business individual customer insight, and segment and customer headroom opportunity.

  • Do we have the frequency of relationship and basket spends to get robust data? (i.e. a supermarket retailer generally does but a low footfall retailer doesn’t)
  • Does the data need to be used in real time?
  • Can we create an off line single customer view (SCV) or does it need to be a fully connected / transactional SCV?
  • What is the right amount of data to run the programme and the business? (It is very easy to get data over load)
  • Would a retention or nurture programme do the same job at a percentage of the cost?
  • How committed would the business be to a long term initiative with IT infrastructure investments?

Committing to your CRM

Once you have worked this out, it is imperative to get management to buy in to the programme as this project will require budget and time to see the ROI.  Always take the management team on the journey, providing them with progress reports and opportunities to reflect, adjust and question the programme.  

Ensure that a full CRM business plan is created so the management team can see:

  • When they will see the return on their investment
  • The positive impact it will have on their customers’ behaviour and relationships
  • How much they will need to invest into IT from EPOS to web
  • What sales and customer data you are collecting and how this will benefit the business - from changing product mix in store to sales channel and segment propositions

You will also need to work out the ‘exit strategy’ and the cost of exit. If the programme involves the use of points as a currency (e.g. 1point = £1) then make sure there is a provision on the balance sheet as non redeemed point will be regarded as a liability.

Before any CRM programme is created, tested or launched ensure a full Measurement and Evaluation strategy is in place.  Agree with the management team on how they measure success. This will provide valuable information to the success of the programme and whether the business should invest more money into it.

Finally, you need to decide if you should create your own bespoke programme or buy into an off-the-shelf programme (e.g. Nectar).
Engaging the customer

Now is the point to create a visible customer contract with simple rules of engagement. For example, if you buy this product from us we will give you X and we would like to communicate with you regarding Y.  Tesco’s Clubcard is a perfect example of this.

If you aren’t compelling in your customer engagement then the programme that links in with your CRM just won’t get the traction with the main body of your customers.  You’ll discover the only customers who participate in the programme will be your advocates, which will result in you rewarding customer for doing what comes naturally.

In summary

The main concept of the CRM programme is to use the customer data to change behaviour to the advantage of the business with the least amount of investment.

To discover how best to tailor a CRM programme to your requirements, you’re best off discussing plans with a marketing biased CRM consultant who would have gone through this process before. Such experience in building and delivering results will mean that, as per the CRM system itself, time and money are spent wisely and equate to an increase in customer loyalty and company revenue.

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