Customer relationship management has historically failed to deliver on the ‘relationship’ piece. But ‘Neo CRM’ could be about to rectify this.
If there’s a fundamental flaw in customer relationship management (CRM), it’s that historically there has been little – if any – focus on relationships. Even the emergence of CRM 2.0 (social CRM), some eight years ago, failed to resolve this serious shortcoming.
However, a new take on the discipline is being hailed as the solution – ‘Neo CRM’.
“The concept of building a relationship with the customer is an old one,” says Steven Walden, managing director UK at Strativity. “CRM itself had this intent but has been reduced to more of a customer acquisition model, even with the application of AI. Most of CRM is about the sales module and the acquisition of more and more data (customer as a resource to mine).
“This is all hogwash. A relationship is about give and take, it is about asking the question ‘where can we go to together?’ (SiR Meta Intelligence, Dr Olaf Hermans). This is why, in the new Relationship Economy – where we move from systems of record through engagement to systems of intelligence and use sense-making, dialogue and co-creation platforms – we are in a unique position to get closer to the customer and rebuild the R in CRM.”
Traditional product- and marketing-oriented business models are becoming outmoded, as digitization, cloud-based API technology and mobility herald a new environment. This is the Relationship Economy, something described by David Rattray, David Pinder and Steven Walden as “a multi-stakeholder environment in which businesses, their employees, suppliers and partners, and – crucially – the customers, all have direct contact.”
Rattray, Pinder and Walden insist that this concept is not just “pouring old wine into new bottles” but is radically different from previous models. The trio point to several trends as evidence of the new environment emerging.
What is driving the Relationship Economy?
Just as CRM became a commoditised database in the hands of IT vendors and management consultants, so customer experience management is also now becoming commoditised, suggest the authors. They propose that organisations are actually less concerned for their customers’ experience than they are for managing the rising levels of digital interconnectedness across the customer journey, assuming the customer is only concerned with the frictionless acquisition of their product.
However, Rattray, Pinder and Walden argue that customer experience management was supposed to be a subjective concern, “where value accrued to a customer is returned to the supplying enterprise through increased lifetime spend, loyalty, innovation and market differentiation”.
This divergence in the interpretation of the nature of customer experience management has, however, led to the search for new sources of value.