CRM/Know Thy Customer
The concept of CRM – customer relationship management – is one that tends to get a lot of overuse in conversation… but underuse in actual execution. In our industry, wineries and wine retailers are now beginning to focus more and more on selling direct to the consumer, and recognizing the need to manage the customer relationship. The need to manage customer information and data typically initiates the development or use of a CRM “system”, providing a database in which customer orders, service requests, and the like can be managed. And, typically, that CRM is silo’d in distinct purchasing channels; a POS system in the tasting room, an ecommerce platform, a call center management application. Unfortunately, the data typically captured in each of these is unique to its own discipline or need, which therefore makes the data pushed out from these systems just as unique. Customers are certainly able to interact with a brand across multiple channels – purchasing online, then calling customer service with an inquiry, and perhaps visiting a tasting room the next month – so by keeping the various platforms silo’d, we never get a true 360degree view of an individual customers’ behavior.
CRM is typically also considered solely a marketing concern – or it is used to describe the technology platform utilized by marketing to manage customer data. However when managed holistically within a company or for a brand, its application can and should provide critical input into sales & outreach efforts, customer service, product development and so much more.
- To acquire new customers
- To nurture current customers | move them “up the ladder” towards loyalty
- To retain current customers | maintain their loyalty
- To bring old customers back | recognize missed needs & encourage them to return
- Reduce the overall costs of all of the above
Step 1: Strategy, implementation & adoption
This step involves the initial concepting for CRM strategies, the construction of technology solutions to support those strategies, the development of processes for executing CRM, “buy in” from both critical stakeholders and top management, and the commitment to an ongoing discipline of customer management. It’s important at this step to define the list of questions you’d like to ask and customer behaviors that you’d like to better understand in order to improve your relationship. By defining both of these in advance, you can then define the types of data you will need to capture.
For instance, if you want to know if customers are responding to certain marketing efforts you’re undertaking, it will be important to assign the marketing execution information to the customer record; Jim White received a direct mailer on July 2nd. He made a purchase through the website on July 8th, buying the product that was promoted in the mailer He called the contact center on July 10th and placed a second order of the item on promotion as a gift . Data fields critical to capture for the above scenario include: all customer information, shipping information (identifying a different recipient), marketing source code (the mailer), order information (what was purchased, at what price point/promotion, date/s purchased), and channels purchased through (contact center, ecommerce).
Step 2: Data Capture
It is at this critical step that most CRM efforts fail. And sadly, this is typically the step at which most wineries are stuck. Knowing which data points to capture (per the above) is critical, but getting staff to ask customers where they heard about a promotion, or if they would like to provide an email address during a busy day can be a challenge. Establishing “buy in” and a discipline for data capture is mandatory. Some wineries are incentivizing their staff to capture complete data – pizza parties at the end of the day for meeting email name capture goals, bottles of wine for exceeding goals. Do you know where your data capture discipline stands?
- Consider your data capture rates – do you know what percent of your tasting room traffic is joining your email list? Or what percent of your contact center calls are being tracked by individual customer?
- Consider your existing data – how complete is it? Take a look at your email list. What information do you have about those customers – likely only the email address. Do you have first and last name? How about address – or a Zip Code to allow for geo-graphical targeting?
Step 3: Learn
At this step, the rubber hits the road. With the now complete information that you have captured, it’s time to start asking questions. Consistent evaluation and reporting on customer behavior across all channels, in response to all marketing initiatives, and through defined time frames will allow you to learn about both general and individual customer behaviors – and most importantly – respond to their needs and reward desired behaviors (step 4). Take a look at the regular reports that your teams are generating regarding customer behavior. What else could you ask. Is there cross over behavior between different purchasing channels? Are there improvements you can make?
Step 4: Apply
With robust customer behavior data and the knowledge of which behaviors you want to reward, smart marketers can now segment and target their customer in marketing initiatives and refine customer support strategies based on those identified behaviors; all the way down to the personalized level. In addition, by profiling “best customers” or desired customer segments, you should now be able to inform and develop new products and programs to better meet the needs of customers. At this step, you can begin to test assumptions and new strategies, learn from the results, and refine your overall efforts.
Step 5: Predict
Another step which is often missed is the use of these customer and purchase behavior insights to find trends across demographic, psycho-graphic, geographic, purchasing (RFM) and other data profiling baselines. Once recognized, the information can be used to “predict” potential new customer profiles and behaviors and better inform the tasks necessary to bring those customers in; whether purchasing consumer lists, deciding which publications to use to reach your audience, identifying appropriate events to participate in, or simply to find new potential customers in your own database.
The benefits to implementing a true CRM discipline are plenty:
- Improved service, loyalty, and retention
- Higher sales productivity
- Increased market share
- Added cross-selling and up-selling opportunities
- Streamlined sales and marketing processes
- Increased call center efficiency
- Higher close rates
- Better profiling and targeting
- Reduced expenses
- Higher overall profitability
Wine Business Monthly recently published an article (July 2010) evaluating several of the available systems which wine suppliers are using to perform CRM strategies. A consistent themes throughout the article – coming directly from those who are either responsible for their own CRM or for helping clients implement CRM – is the idea that CRM is a discipline – not just a set of software tools or basic marketing executions. That said, however, there are several who provide CRM-based tools. While each of these providers may serve the basic needs of the winery direct marketplace in one form or another, as an industry overall there is still limited customer segmentation being done, limited reporting and sharing of information internally, and (perhaps most importantly) limited adoption of the critical CRM discipline throughout organizations
So what can you, as a business seeking to create a deeper and more meaningful engagement with your customers, do? Here are a few starting points:
1) Consider your customer management discipline. Take a look at your channel management processes. At the most basic level, I bet the opportunity exists to simply integrate all direct sales channel data (POS, ecommerce, wine clubs, call centers, etc.).
2) Review the data that you are actively or have potential to capture. Think ahead to the questions you’d like to ask about your customers. Does the data captured in your system/s allow you to find that answer? If not, how can you adapt your processes or systems to allow you to capture that information? Do you know what percent of your database is “actionable”? Meaning, is the data complete enough to use? For more information on keeping your data clean, see How Clean is Your Data.
3) Monitor your data capture processes. Are staff members aware of the need or benefit to capturing complete information? Are they actively asking customers for complete information? Are they entering the data into the system/s on a timely basis? Monitor your customer information capture rates. At the most basic level, define what percent of your customers are joining your mailing list after visiting the tasting room and work with your team to increase that percentage!
4) From a customer perspective – are you still mass marketing to both aquire and retain your customers? Try a few segmentations based on whatever parameters you currently have access to. Monitor how they respond. Segment. Test. Apply. Repeat.
5) How about your truly loyal customers. Do you know who they are? How much they spend per year? How much you might spend annually to retain them – or keep them interested and purchasing? How frequently they buy? What they buy?
6) And what about those customers in the second tier – what does their profile look like compared to your top tier? Are you spending more or less to retain this segment? What can you learn about your top tier of customers to inform strategies to move the second tier up?
For CRM to be truly effective, an organization must understand not only how CRM can benefit it, but also how its discipline must be adopted and championed throughout – not just within a marketing or technology department.