Relationship Management (CRM) is a vital modern marketing tool. But
how are you going to
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Customer relationship management in the digital world
by Rod Brooks
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a vital modern marketing tool. But how are you going to manage customer relationships in the digital world?
Business today relies on customer relationships. Products or services can often be rapidly copied or superseded, and there very often is a competitor somewhere prepared to offer a similar product for a lower price.
Don Peppers and Martha Rogers concluded in their book, "The One-to-One Future":
There are many ways to develop relationships on-line. Email is probably the most widely used. Email your customers regular newsletters, advance notices, special offers, personalised news or links and articles that you think might be of interest to them. There are also software programs that allow you to personalise email (eg www.digital-impact.com, www.guesttrack.com).(Ed.: at Marketing Magic we use WorldMerge from ColoradoSoft).
you got an email response policy?
This means that 38% did not respond at all! One leading Australian car insurance company took seven days to respond to a request for a car insurance quote. It would have been better if this company would not accept email quote requests but simply gave a telephone number. If you are not prepared to treat email seriously then it is better not to provide an email address.
Automated email responses
If you do provide an email address then determine who is to answer them (including back ups for when the nominated person is away), in what time frame they are to be answered, and if appropriate, how responses are to be authorised. Companies can consider having autoresponders to acknowledge all queries, standard responses to frequently asked questions, and even work flow processes that notify senior managers if a response has not been sent within the agreed time frame. A good, FREE autoresponder is provided by My Reply (Ed.: we have used this service on our site until it fell over one day.. a drawback to 'free' services)
rooms - not just for the 'anoraks'!
Discussion groups can not only create and maintain relationships between you and your customers, but also help customers get in touch with each other. These can be unmoderated in which case they have more credibility, or moderated if you prefer more control. Discussion groups can be self hosted or you can utilise the increasingly powerful services provided by the free communities at Dejanews or clubs at Yahoo. These latter services can be links from your home page and allow messages to be sent to members, new members can be personally invited and a number of relevant forums created.
To create an on-line community can be an extremely powerful marketing tool. Arthur Armstrong and John Hagel in their book "Net Gain" divide these communities into four categories (which can overlap):
If you are not going to create an on-line community (ie it may be too expensive or not appropriate) then you may want to consider existing communities which you can sponsor or place advertisements or advertorial on to draw customers to your site.
'em to talk - and complain
Also make it easy for customers to complain. When someone complains they are presenting you with an opportunity to collaborate in solving a problem. You can then build loyalty and referrals. Just make sure you have a good process for handling complaints with some agreed service levels so you can monitor your performance. Consider a prize or some reward for the best feedback or improvement suggestion.
- a way to get returning web visitors
Personalisation can vary from having good navigation allowing people to easily find what they want, password protected private areas, cookies to allow the site to remember the user on repeat visits, personalised start pages (similar to many portals), databases producing personalised content on the fly, different entry pages for separate categories of users, or personalisation software (eg www.firefly.com, www.broadvision.com, www.guesttrack.com) for larger companies.
now in control of relationships
whilst there is a danger that human relationships can be neglected on
the Internet, this does not have to be the case. In fact, if you are
clever you can even provide as good, and for some people, better customer
service on-line. So the challenge for all of us is to use the Internet
to enhance our customer relationships!