The four barriers to customer relationship success in a social world (part 1 of 2)
From the invention of the printing press, which first enabled mass sharing of knowledge, technology has always generated new ways to communicate, changed what people do and shifted the nature of relationships. Today, social networks and other channels of communication are changing the commercial landscape and accelerating a power shift between customers and the companies that serve them.
What was once a simple buyer-supplier relationship has become a complex network where customers, suppliers, partners, commentators and anyone else with access to the internet can shape a buyer’s decision and a supplier’s success or failure. Customers needing support are as likely to ask their friends on Facebook as they are to contact your help desk. It’s a strange phenomenon, but people inside your company are no longer the only experts on your products and services.
From a transactional standpoint, the norm is now interactions across five or more channels with the expectation that what is shared via one channel is immediately available to staff/systems using other channels. Time has also shrunk; customers demand instant answers and responses.
THE FOUR BARRIERS
To assume that these changes can be accommodated by tweaking a business as usual model is mistaken. Here are four of the internal issues companies have got to grasp.
- Many managers just don’t get it. Tutored in a company-centric world, too many managers have failed to grasp the power shift that is underway. Suffering from legacy mindsets, they continue to manage inside-out, looking at structures, processes, and systems from a company not a customer perspective. Customers have to fill in the gaps between company structures and processes that are departmentally aligned and have no relevance to how customers interact with the company. As Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
- CRM systems are implemented on the wrong foundation. Many companies don’t buy CRM; they buy sales force automation, marketing automation, or contact center systems, reinforcing their internal structure and fragmented view. This is aggravated by implementation methodologies that focus on process. Wrong. wrong, wrong! The clue is in the acronym: CUSTOMER Relationship Management systems and processes must be built around the customer and the interactions with them. The starting point is not a revised process map; it is a designed customer journey and the goal is not better reporting (a lovely side benefit); it is improved customer experiences.
- Companies suffer from memory loss, big time. Corporate amnesia annoys the heck out of customers. They post something on your Facebook page and then you ask them again in an online chat session. You should never ask a customer for something you already know: it’s lazy and disrespectful. Unfortunately, that does not stop many from continuing to silo information and force repeat experiences on their customers.
- Marketing is still a monologue. Many of us are fed up with being bombarded by messages that lack relevance and don’t encourage two-way communication. Driven by inadequate knowledge of the customer, even when that information has been shared, companies revert to a broad push-marketing method, rather than targeting messages and engaging in conversations.
From our view, those are the main roadblocks to success in building great customer relationships today. Ask yourself if your company has crashed into any of them recently. Then, check back soon because in my next post, I will give you tips for how to overcome these blocks. We would never bring up a challenge without a solution! Answers coming soon, but in the meantime, share your thoughts?