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The Big Match-up

Back in the 90’s a lot of my clients were into customer segmentation, particularly the consumer banking folks. Thanks to analytics software becoming more available to more business, segmentation is all the rage again.

Today, the big deal is focusing on an optimized match between customer segment and coverage channel. Do you want to send one of your sales reps on a 300 mile trip to get a customer order that comes up a few dollars short of covering the cost of the travel, or would that customer complete the same order with a less costly telesales rep? If that were a smaller account, would it be more efficiently served through a distributor? Once that customer becomes a regular buyer, can you keep them regular with e-mail offers directing them to an e-commerce site? Would an e-mail offer be the best way to soften up a new prospect prior to a visit from a field rep?

Breaking down your customer base into segments based on criteria for differentiation is the best way to answer the questions above. Building a channel strategy for best coverage of each segment is the new CRM Holy Grail, and for most companies the use of analytics is the path there.

Scary Monsters

However, there is a big caveat to all this. The use of analytics software to create segments and model the best channel for coverage requires a couple of key components of a CRM program to be in place. First, CRM needs to be integrated with order data, usually residing in the back-end. And, it also will likely require sales call activity history – across all channels.

When these two critical factors are not in place, most Business Intelligence programs never get off the ground. Integration with order data can usually be accomplished, although it may require some effort to get the data in order. Getting sales activity data in the mix can be a taller challenge. This requires the cooperation of the different sales teams, introducing those nasty variables of user adoption and data quality.

I am always amazed how these two factors never go away. So, the moral of the story is, yes, it is possible to get to the end state of having an effective channel / segment match. But the path goes through the mundane land of getting sales people to enter data correctly into your CRM system. The new match-up requires an old match-up. Good luck.

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