Companies have spent a lot of time, effort and money on the development of their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems. The objective was to create an information database )which stores customer personal data and any available interactions and/or purchases. The CRM data captured is then used for merchandising and promotional campaigns. Essentially, it’s outbound or ‘push’ messaging.
The problem with CRM systems is that by definition they are company-centric. Not many customers would agree to have their relationship ‘managed’ by their suppliers, which is implied by term ‘customer relationship management’.
We chose to define a new approach to the CRM and that is, a customer-oriented database, CODB.
The CODB will contain some of the same data regarding the customer. But the company will use the data to understand the customer, their preferences and from past activities, their behavior. The difference being that the customer has ‘opted-in’ to providing this data. The change is subtle but critical – the customer knowingly participates on a quid pro quo basis – there’s something of value in it for the customer. The other difference is that a CODB data will be open to the customer to update, modify or even delete, up to opting-out.
It is crucial that there is a customer opt-in process in order for the company to be able to store all this data and to be able to use it for any marketing purposes. This is also why the customer needs to be engaged, likely through a company rewards program. But it is also important that the company gives the customer what they want, and most of all, give them the opportunity to choose what they want in order for company to be regarded as the trusted partner.
Being customer-centric means not spamming them or overloading them with offers or promotions, but rather give them the opportunity to choose for themselves and even ask for new offers that the company, hopefully, will be able to accommodate.
If a company wants to be the customer’s “trusted partner”, the company needs to give people a choice.
It is up to the companies attempting to use this data whether they will be company-centric or customer-centric. It’s CRM or CODB!