CRM was here… before you even knew it
What do successful businesses such as Amazon, Zappos, Zara and Wegmans have in common? They all apply Customer Relationship Management (CRM) concepts. The difference lies at the extent and effectiveness this brings to their particular business model. Different business concepts, methods, and “marketing fads” always come and go in a business world — but CRM is here to stay. In fact, it was here before you knew it. In business, the CRM addresses our core human need: relationships. There are numerous examples of great “relationships” and cult like behaviors of customers with employees, products, services, brands and companies. The question is why CRM is such an important strategy and yet so difficult to implement and scale: Because CRM is not simply about technology, nor just about processes and tools, or culture alone, instead, it is all-in-one.
In fact, even a bakery store in my neighborhood “implements” some of CRM principles. You have probably heard about the big companies mentioned above, but then again who hasn’t? Needles to say, you definitely have not heard about the small bakery store in my neighborhood. The owner of this bakery is a very kind person. He works there every day and knows almost everybody in the neighborhood since he has been working there for over 20 years. He calls his clients by their names every time he welcomes them. He shows sincere sympathy and is always eager to know how his clients’ families are doing, yet does not overdo it to the point of becoming ‘nosy’, or annoying. He occasionally gives them a cookie or a baked gift for either a birthday or another special event. Very often you see him asking them what kind of a cookie they prefer and how they prefer it. How do you like this one or that one? He is always willing to learn from them and get feedback. As a result, his bakery always gives a vibe of a “vibrant and positive” atmosphere, despite being the still small profitable family business.
The owner is fully aware that his bakery is genuinely liked by his clients; nevertheless, he is just as aware that he cannot expand the business too much. Not only is there a lot of a hassle and challenges, but on top of all, he also knows that he cannot replicate his bakery culture anywhere else! Or can he? Can the bakery owner replicate and scale his business? What kind of culture, tools and methods must he apply? Is it possible that all his employees will have the same great willpower, memory and charisma?
Now, to be honest, the bakery story is hypothetical. Nonetheless, it depicts some of the major problems and challenges I have read and heard from small and large businesses during my professional work. In fact, some of these issues were brought up by a real bakery owner whom I had a discussion with. As you can see, some of the CRM principles have always been amongst us. But as companies grow they tend to lose their original taste, look and smell. A proper Customer Relationship Management is a business strategy that gives the customer the feeling of a small bakery store, even when they walk in a large distributed bakery business. The key point here is that CRM has been here since the time of old trade, yet we have failed to effectively adapt it to the modern era where growth and scale are important.