I have often had the opportunity to write on the topic of customer relations.
I truly believe that customer relations brings up several complicated issues :
- Cultural : in France, the customer is wrong by default.
- Point of view : customer relations are viewed as an expense rather than an asset.
- Strategy : the main purpose of customer relations is to sell or upsell – in other words, to generate turnover.
If the truth be told, I don’t see anything changing anytime soon.
I used to work in the customer relations team for Noos TV Cable in 2002/2003 and sadly, the script was always the same.
Of course, there have been many technical improvements since then.
Customer relations software has improved and now integrates, when it can, social media. It can handle petaoctets of information and we now refer to “Big Data”.
In fact today, the consumer leaves his prints (data) just about everywhere. The machines can identify, file and stock them.
But the concern is for the potential analysis, not the technology.
Marketers only use these costly data bases to send out emails (spam?) focused on upsell, referral… in short, it’s all about selling and conquering. (Although I will admit that upsell can sometimes consolidate a customer’s loyalty as long as you don’t try to sell him everything by the kitchen sink!)
For this issue to move forward, a paradigm change needs to take place. we need to bring in people who are capable of analysing the data and converting it into marketing/communications campaigns tailored to the intelligent people that we are.
I had written a while back on the arrival of statisticians in the business environment; this is a work in progress but it won’t be enough.
It’s high time to fully embrace the idea that the customer is disloyal by definition. Each company should be taking very good care of their current customers before setting off on the conquest of new ones.
In the end, it’s an ego issue. It’s much sexier to conquer then to maintain an existing relationship, even if this is counterproductive to the business…