Opportunity Lost

February 28, 2008

A recent post by Marketing Guru Ron Shevlin is titled “Debunking Marketing Myths: Single View Of A Customer”. Mr. Shevlin seems to paint a pretty accurate picture of the “CRM” universe as not supplying the desired bang for the buck in “knowing your customer”. I find that a lot of the issues he identifies can be classed under “information overload”. How much data do you collect, and in what areas of contact does it have any real value. Lack of this this information makes it just too burdensome and risky.

I can agree with the “macro” points, however in my humble opinion, the “basic” business specific data that you have collected about your relationship with your customers should be used as a method of driving new sales, and increasing customer satisfaction.

You will notice my emphasis on “basic” – I don’t want my credit card number on your call centre rep’s, or receptionists desktop.

Here is an experience I had recently, an opportunity to gain incremental revenue from me was lost by a vendor in my local region. Losing a revenue opportunity by losing a customer is bad enough – but giving it away by not even trying? Before going further with this opportunity lost, lets look back in time.

Twenty five to thirty years ago, there was some real brand loyalty.This loyalty was, if not written in stone, then was at least a fairly consistent and desired end. Brand loyalty, whether it was for large products such as automobiles, and down to small ones such as toasters or stereos, the product was often purchased because it was made by a particular manufacturer. Brands were almost as sticky as our voting habits on election day.

We all should know that those days are gone, I am just as “guilty” of that as anyone else. I have owned cars manufactured by at least 7 companies, My home entertainment system is a mix and match of another half dozen brands, and I haven’t even a clue what brand the toaster is wearing.

We don’t have that luxury of sitting on brand identification any more. Some large organizations try to maintain some of this brand stickiness by improving the customer experience through enhanced customer communications management. Using previous history and recommendations we get those targeted mailings that try to spin products and keep our “mind share” of the brand. Granted, 1 to 1 Media has a great comment on how not to do these targeted (or mis targeted) communications

Mistakes like the above notwithstanding, we must make better use of the information that we do have to drive revenue – particularly in the durable goods, IT and other channel based industries. While margins on many goods and services purchases are shrinking, more top line revenue is coming from servicing those purchases. Not to mention good service keeps your brand top of mind.

You should be capturing that sales information, you should be using it to market after-sales parts, service, accessories – whatever fits your product. Don’t leave those dollars to someone else. I guarantee that the “someone else” is out there looking.

Now we can return to my opportunity lost, Approximately 2 years ago I purchased a new vehicle, but at that time I chose not to purchase the extra service warranty or other financial products that the dealer was offering.

So now we fast forward almost 2 years, and I have the car in the service shop for an oil change and maintenance with just about 5 thousand Kilometers (approx. 3100 Miles) before the default service warranty expired.

Being in the Technology field, and with a strong interest in marketing, I was wondering to myself how long it would be before I received something in the mail (or email) plugging the extended warranty and other finance products.

I never got it. They don’t know me.

I mean the sales guy knows me, he greets me by name whenever I am in the dealership. The service guy also knows me, when I call for service, or arrive for service, they greet me. However the “organization” that they work for does not know me. If they did, what the sales staff knows (no extended warranty products were purchased) and what the service staff knows (warranty almost expired) would have been an open invitation to initiate a dialogue on the extended service warranty opportunities.

As an IT Manager, I can quote a dozen jargon words on customer relationship technology, but at the end of the day, the job could have been done with cue cards and post-it notes. The process is more important than the technology.

“if you get the product, price, and location right, service is the most important variable” Larry Stevenson – founding CEO Chapters -Canadian Business magazine February 18 2008

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