The Quest for Great Customers

Most CEOs hope a stronger focus on customers will protect them from eroding profit margins and commoditization. But getting closer to customers is not a matter of installing better CRM systems or simply measuring satisfaction levels.

Companies can take advantage of new, increasingly efficient ways to understand and respond to customer needs and preferences. We now have the ability to connect with buyers in more meaningful ways — connections that can benefit the bottom line by reducing costs and increasing revenues.

Close examination reveals that relationships between companies and consumers are suffering. U.S. satisfaction rates are at an all-time low. Complaints, boycotts and growing unhappiness with big corporations are strong indicators that most CRM isn’t working.

Ironically, the very steps marketers are taking to build relationships with
customers are often responsible for destroying these connections. Companies may delight in learning more about their customers and providing services to please them, but customers are fed up. They’re tired of irrelevant survey questions, overwhelming product choices, features they’ll never use in phone plans and cars, and rebate-driven buyer reward programs.

Perhaps we’re overlooking the fundamental elements of a good customer
relationship program. With the means to connect with customers easily, maybe we’re rushing to cash in on the potential rewards, while forgetting the
essentials of all relationships: intimacy and trust.

Customer relationship marketing is powerful in theory, but troubled in practice. We need to take time to figure out how and why we are undermining our own best efforts. Let’s start by taking a look at what’s wrong with most relationship marketing approaches.

The full 2000-word article discusses the following concepts:

What’s Missing
What’s Wrong
Regaining Customer Trust
The Quest for Customer Focus
Standardization Versus Localization
The New Frontier: Mining the Internet
Overpromise, Overdeliver
The New Social Marketing: Buzz and Word of Mouth

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