As a smart consumer, you’re probably aware that you’re being “managed,” but what you might not realize is what big business this management has become.
The Customer Relationship Management (CRM) process has evolved to become so intelligent, that your local florist remembers your anniversary before you do, and we could all do with a little help in that department, couldn’t we?
Here’s a breakdown of how businesses keep tabs on you and why it is in your best interest.
What is CRM?
CRM involves the use of software and apps to organize business processes involving the customer and to track all of their interactions with you. These tools can be provided by a third party or they can be developed in-house through rapid application development. Simply it is a process for relationship management of both potential and current customers.
Well, duh. How would a company stay organized if it didn’t have some way to list out its customer interactions? But with such advanced technology, businesses are able to intelligently use the information they hold to target you specifically, and create a win-win situation for you both.
It’s all about insight.
Understanding who you are and what you’re buying is obviously important in big business. Noting personal information about clients in databases allows for targeted marketing (happy birthday, here’s a voucher for your favorite bottle of wine!) and can streamline the purchasing process so that you’re not constantly re-typing your details. But who’s impressed by that anymore?
CRM systems are increasingly becoming integrated with social media. There is software available now that allows a salesperson to view a client’s last 20 tweets or status updates. So if you post that you passed your driving test, you can expect congratulations and relevant links quicker than you can press “send.”
How thoughtful! But this kind of marketing is proven to build loyalty. Nobody likes an inbox full of crap and by tracking when, where and how you shop, businesses can avoid sending you things that you’re not interested in that will only serve to annoy you.
Where you are is just as important as what you’re doing, checking in on Facebook and Foursquare can let a company know you’re in the area and that it’s the perfect time to try and entice you with offers. Chili’s offers Foursquare members free orders of chips and salsa for checking in at their locations. Free stuff for you, revenue AND free advertising for them – what’s not to love?
Brand monitoring – the squeaky wheel gets the grease!
A recent study by MarketingVox and Nielsen BuzzMetrics found that 25% of search results for the world’s top 20 largest brands are links to user-generated content. This means that marketing power is moving into the hands of you, the consumer. Exciting stuff.
Customer reviews are powerful; there’s nothing like an endorsement from someone who has not paid to provide it. Big brands are starting to reach out to consumer advocates by targeting influential customers (bloggers for example) so they can reach potential customers, too. The smart business now needs to monitor the buzz around its brand and respond accordingly, so if you’re tweeting “Netflix sucks,” it should know about it and respond accordingly (N.B. other brands also suck).
Nowadays, companies need to placate disgruntled customers as a form of damage control, and who knows, it might take a free month’s subscription to do just that. It costs a company more to get a new customer than to retain an old one, and in today’s economy they need you more than you need them.
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