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Connecting the e with CRM

So, why do I keep running into client organizations that, for some reason, believe that e-business is something separate from their other customer interaction requirements represented within their CRM programs?

Working with customers on the web is just one form of CRM, albeit a relatively new one. You should use the web to attract customers and generate leads. If appropriate, you should look at selling products or services over the web. And, whereever possible, you should be using the web to manage service interactions. These are all normal CRM related activities, but performed with the internet as the channel rather than human contact.

Golden Eye

However, many of the organizations that I meet with feel they need to have a separate strategy for managing these interactions – a strategy built and managed outside of the CRM program.

The problem with keeping it separated is that it can be sub-optimized if left un-integrated. The web is often the first point of contact from a search. It typically serves as a key point for self service. A landing page typically serves as a platform for e-mail marketing. Monitoring web activity is a fundamental mechanism for lead nurturing. E-commerce sites can serve as a primary order entry source. And, increasingly, the web is becoming the preferred partner communication medium. How could these be separate from your other CRM activities and function optimally?

CRM strategy should encompass every channel of customer contact, whether for acquisition or retention, including partner relations. The web is simply one of the channels that should be within that strategic framework. The web channel can serve as an ability to both extend reach out to the long tail, but also to be the virtual receptionist for your best customer. The million miler wants to have self service access when working late at night from a hotel and wanting to print a boarding pass. Likewise, the once a year flyer should be encouraged to your airline through easy reservation booking on your site.

If you don’t have a web strategy, you need one.

If your web strategy is separate from your CRM strategy, they need to be combined

Most importantly they need to be integrated – not just identifying the preferred channel for each customer segment, but specifying the best combination of channels for all acquisition through retention initiatives. In the old days at Sears & Roebuck the stores were for the city folk while the catalog was for the rest of us. Today, the line is blurred and we must assume that any buyer can demand access to multiple channels for even a single transaction, including your web.

Don’t let that e get separated from the C, R and M.

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