I read an interesting article in Marketing Week on 3rd December referring to the latest Marketing Trends Survey by the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Specifically this feature concerns the investment that brand owners need to make (both in terms of their time when it comes to training and their money relating to technology) in order to meet their customer relationship management goals.
Keeping on top of CRM is no picnic: you might be a huge multinational with an entire department dedicated to tracking the ever-changing habits and needs of your customer base or a small agency relying on a package like ACT, but the quality of the data you get out will only ever be as good as the quality of data that gets captured in the first place – and this takes a lot of time and effort. It’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge, although even that has an ending in sight now.
Let’s relate this issue to small to medium size agencies: you’ve got finite resources so it’s not always practical to have a data research team. Sure, you can buy data from numerous providers; but how often have you opened your data package expectantly, only to feel somewhat underwhelmed when you start using it? It’s a bit like an excitable child opening a present at Christmas only to find that the box contains an old Sega Master System rather than the latest Playstation 3.
Then there’s the whole issue of how to get your data working for you, as opposed to you working for it. There are plenty of contact management systems out there but if you don’t have the expertise to fully utilise them it’s fairly likely that you’ll be missing opportunities and therefore potentially losing money.
One of the key contributions to our own success as a company (and obviously this has come off the back of delivering results for our clients) has been the continued investment, maintenance and development of our CRM database. As a tool it is invaluable in helping to identify genuine opportunities for our clients and helping to win new business for ourselves.
Let’s be realistic – on any sizeable database you will never achieve 100% accuracy. There will always be a certain proportion of the information that has changed and not yet been recaptured. But if you have a whole group of business development professionals collectively updating the system from the information they are gathering with each call they make (somewhere in the region of 1000 calls each day between them) and this information is specifically focussed on gleaning new business opportunities above anything else, you soon start to separate the wheat from the chaff. Of course, it helps to have a tip-top system built specifically for your requirements – but if you’ve got it, why not flaunt it?
What are your views on the opportunity cost of CRM?