It is a tough slog to read any of the journals or magazines that deal with customer excellence. We see vendors and pundits casting as atavistic mentions of CRM, that tarnished avatar. The new deity of hype is CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. It’s become the metalanguage used to describe the underlying object language: CRM. Except that it is lacking in concrete axioms that would be necessary to surface any truths. What the heck am I on about, eh?
CRM, though not a term invented or originally promoted at Gartner, has always been about the business strategy to create processes that will bind the customer to the business in ways that are mutually satisfying. For the business that means profit and growth, and for the customer that means the satisfaction of a need. Gartner has built a CRM framework over the past decade that assists clients in finding their own way to excellence. It includes eight building blocks, from Strategy down to Business Applications, with collaboration, change management, customer experience, process design, metrics, and technologies in between. Each building block has a set of disciplines. There are causal relationships that yield an effect – happy, satisfied customers and shareholders (or citizens or students..). Solutions are not cookie cutter, but wrapped around the DNA of the individual company.
Experience? Absolutely critical. Multi-disciplinary processes? These are the sine qua non of success. We have focused on customer experience as one of the critical components – specifically on the ‘before, during and after’ of an interaction – was there a flaw in billing or inventory, or a mismatch between promise and product? Did a partner mess up? Was service poor? Did we fail to spot an emerging need or fail to grasp the customer’s true intent?
There is a pent up anxiety about ‘relationship.’ Organizations that want the customer to have a great ‘experience’ without any context of ‘relationship’ would also have failed to grasp Woodstock. Experiences are contextual, and context is intentional even when the underlying reasons for the context are not all well understood by the customer. Does the customer know, exactly, why they are drawn to Facebook or Twitter? Or to Hollister and Sephora? Or to Carrefour or Tesco? Maybe not – but you need to. It is what makes the great great. Most magic is practice and discipline – AKA a lot of hard work. That is what our research helps with – from all levels, beginning with strategy and down into the most granular of tactics. And… thanks for your thousands of insights that inform our direction every year.