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Ouch. The title of this post is one of the things I hear most often when I am ‘reaching out’ to sell my services.

Is it true? Are relationships all you need?

Relationships are amazing but they are not enough to keep your customer happy.

B2B organisations need structured customer relationship processes just as much as consumer-facing businesses. What’s more each of those processes must work across organisational silos, taking the Voice of the Customer all the way through to your supply chain.

Such processes are difficult to manage and when we think about making them easier, we turn to CRM. But it has become a synonym for sales and marketing tools. Search the internet for CRM and you will find a lot of information about technology. While the providers of such systems have noticed an opportunity for cross-sales by adding customer service functions, their core remains customer acquisition. On the other hand, Wikipedia has a nice definition of CRM.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is an approach to manage a company’s interaction with current and potential customers. It uses data analysis about customers’ history with a company to improve business relationships with customers, specifically focusing on customer retention and ultimately driving sales growth.

Wikipedia

What is the difference between issues and poor performance?

It is a little grey in places, so don’t get hung up on it. Instead, tackle both.

But for the record, issues are incidents that have compromised your performance – a box of broken bottles, or a website crash. Poor performance is more about the ongoing – every box contains a broken bottle, or a perpetually slow website.

As I say, don’t get fret about it as they need similar responses.

How do delivery and service fit into CRM?

Should we look after our customers’ experience assuming a happy customer is a repeat customer?

IMHO that is only part of the reason for tying delivery and service into CRM. I would say

We serve our customers to carry on getting to know them, understand their needs and aspirations, and grow with them.

The thing is B2B relationships tend to focus on the immediate and points of contact are rarely structured. How often do you put aside time to ask your B2B customers these three important questions?

  1. Can you quantify our performance?
  2. How do we need to be better?
  3. What are your plans for the future and where do we fit? (that might look like two questions because it is; no-one likes lists with four questions.)

You might do this already and be ready for the next stage. If you don’t, get cracking and be honest about your relationships. Ask yourself who are the best people to answer these questions and be ready to answer the obvious question – “What are you going to do with that information?”.

The next stage

Here’s the answer to that awkward question: You are going to take action to improve your performance and you will align your business development with your customers’.

To succeed, you need accountability and communications. Throughout the organisation, you need people who will take action to fix issues, drive performance improvements and influence your strategy. And you need to tell them what the customer is saying, the priorities for fixing and what to start developing. BTW you also need governance to prevent a tsunami of instructions sweeping away your internal teams.

Going further you need to help your customers achieve their goals by showing them how to make the most of your goods and services and by adapting your offer to meet their current and future needs.

This blog examines customer experience and its relationship to business performance.

If you would like to share your thoughts, please comment or head over to my contact page and to get in touch.

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