Over the last few weeks I have been speaking with a lot of companies about their experience with on-demand vendors and their products for a report I am writing. These customers can tell me anything they want—and they do—but one thing that surprises me is the easy way they have almost universally brought the customer relationship into the discussion. Service is a big part of this but it isn’t the whole story. These customers are happy with they ways they are being treated all down the line.
It’s surprising because customer service is good and customers are going out of their way to say so. In interviews like the ones I am doing, people can talk about themselves, their experiences, how they did an implementation—in short it’s all about them, them, them. I encourage them to speak that way because that’s how I get data.
So when someone pulls up short in the middle of the conversation and says, “And, you know, our vendor is really great. Whenever we call with a problem, they are right there with an answer”, it’s interesting. When many people using many different vendors’ products do the same thing unprompted, it makes my inner researcher take notice.
It appears to me that we, in the CRM business, have drunk a healthy dose of our home brew and it’s working. The whole idea of CRM is not simply to manage transactions but to become integrated into our customers’ lives or at least that part of their lives that involves the use of our products and services.
I know that on-demand vendors are, and need to be, ultra sensitive to the customer. After all, a customer of an on-demand service has more than a theoretical potential to go elsewhere and with monthly billing that clarity is a part of life.
The only point of this posting is the title, we get it—Customer Relationship Management—we really do. It is being noticed and appreciated and, no doubt many of the CRM products and services that we sell are contributing to this finding.
This unscientific survey’s findings are a far cry from where we were just a few years ago with some companies even using CRM as a tool for deflecting customer input. We are not perfect by a long shot but we are getting better and the customers notice and appreciate it.