CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is on tip of a lot of tongues these days, of those hoping to break through into a new and better way of doing business. But real strength of this idea isn't new at all. In plain English it simply means putting your customers first. Many successful merchants have utilized this approach for years. They even know it's far better to refer a customer to a competitor who can provide what they need, than to seek to sell something in stock that isn't going to make it in long run. This is not fancy theory. It works. Likely best hardware store in your neighborhood is run with customer support as a primary, interwoven throughout all aspects of business.
Who Will Run The Show? Systems Or People?
What is new about CRM as term is being used today is hope of implementing a technology on a website that emulates interactivity a visitor feels in an offline shop. I'm a bit skeptical about outcome of current efforts. As a professional programmer for many years, I've seen first hand how seldom usability is considered in developing software. Anything theorist or techie types get a hold of tends to be system driven, as opposed to people directed.
To catch a glimpse of what I mean, think of a computer program you use often. Chances are there are some things it does not do in way you want it done. For example, one of my programs uses a spell checker. But every time I start it up, it jumps into middle of text window. This means I can't see misspelled word or context within which it is used. So I have to move window. Every time I run program.
This is nonsense, for consensus is windows moved or adjusted should reopen as they were left. Or at least there should be an option to request this behavior. What do you suppose my chances are of getting a change in this program? Zip. And that's fact. We are all invited to accept what is offered on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.
Will CRM Work?
This is my concern with increased interest in technological side of CRM. My hunch is much of it will be implemented with a similar attitude: We hope you like it because that's it, if you want to play in our sandbox.
To extent technology is implemented in such fashion, it is doomed to fail. How many sites have you abandoned because you couldn't remember some password? Or even worse, how many sites have you encountered that won't let you set up a new one so you can get on with business? Nuts.