Tag Archives: Customer Relationship Management

CRM for the Holidays… don’t try this at home!

In the spastic miasma of acrimony that is apparently the new normal, one looks back fondly to Holidays past, the one time during the year where it would be possible to unplug, have a holiday movie on the TV in the background, and read cards with personal greetings from friends, with updates on what happened over the last year.

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Holiday Card

More ambitious senders might include a copy of a family portrait, often taken at a tool and lingerie retailer called Sears.  If particularly well-organized, they would manage to get the cards to arrive by Christmas, maybe even a week early.

Sears Holiday

It was exciting to find these hand-addressed, slightly plump cards in the mail, and display them together as a visual totem of amity.  Yes, those were the good old ancient pre-Netflix days.

Addressed CardCards displayed

As holiday activity and accompanying stress levels continued to increase, some people turned to electronic greetings or stopped altogether, but cards remained for many an annual tradition they just couldn’t bear to discontinue.
Over time, the holiday card seemingly lost its soul, with a personal message replaced by an enclosed dossier of achievements of truly exceptional people (“Timmy was accepted into the ultra-selective XYZ Day Camp…”).
Cards became less reaching out to you, more about ‘let’s talk about me’.

Obnoxious letter

Finalist in Most Obnoxious Holiday Letter Competition

Ultimately, obligation overwhelmed the pleasure of friendships as the driving force behind the sending of holiday cards.

Pretentious Card 1

Today, if you can actually find any holiday cards hidden within an endless swamp of catalogs, what you’ll see has become quite different.  These cards, often custom-made for the occasion, are on high quality stock, with stunning retouched photography of a perfect family and a printed identifying caption, maybe addressed with printed labels or even faux calligraphy.  They are beautiful.  And they are coming in hot, ahead of schedule.

Business Holiday Card

Accountants.  Not grammarians.

(Businesses, on the other hand, have kept the same printed card M.O. for decades – often using the exact same printed cards).

There is a name for this perfection:  it’s called Customer Relationship Management.  CRM is an automated way for businesses to keep in touch with their customers, in the interest of maintaining relationships.  CRM uses something called Mass Customization – – the automatic inclusion of your name in a mass mailing – – you get these all the time and are no doubt moved near tears by the thoughtfulness of Credit Card Company X to think of you and include your very own name!

People are now basically adapting CRM for their personal cards.  (“It’s Holiday Card time – – grab the ‘friend’ spreadsheet, upload a photo and let’s check that box and go to Cancun!”)

The problem is that CRM is great for businesses, not so much for actual friends.
While the gesture is admirable, spectacular production values are just no match for a heartfelt greeting – – a personal touch lets the recipient instantly know that they’re not just on your holiday contact list.

Handwriting

If the message is business focused, perhaps to let a coworker or client know you’re thinking of them (in an appropriate way of course), some nice holiday greetings can be found here.

And if you still appreciate the spirit of sending personal cards to friends, we salute you.  And for those fellow scramblers whose cards are not yet out the door, try these humble curmudgeonly tips to help bring back some of the joyful connections of the Holidays (adding these steps will of course put even more pressure on you, but isn’t stress what the holidays are about?):

  • For the friends you actually care about, consider putting some actual ink on the cards – – even if just to write your name.  Typeset names on cards look a lot like “From the offices of…”
  • Deflate the humble-brag notes. Facebook built a multi-billion-dollar business by creating a platform for family highlight reels.  We’ve known for years that your Timmy is special and we naturally extend our deep admiration to you.  But that turf is now taken and your news is old!

Most importantly, above everything else, please please please – no glitter!

JFK signature

1958 – guess who?

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Is This Any Way to Treat a High Value Customer? Ask My Mother.

Posted on

Do You Know Your Most Valuable Customers?  Do they know that you love them?

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It’s 10 times harder to get a new customer than to keep an existing one.  Loyal customers are more profitable and have the highest Lifetime Customer Value. They love your company already.  They have already been acquired, qualified and taken through the funnel – – you have them where you want them!

So why, with today’s sophisticated customer management systems, are loyal repeat customers too often just an afterthought?  Or missed entirely?

In today’s post we will try to demonstrate that marketers must make extra effort to identify and appreciate these great customers.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) data-based systems have given marketers the illusion that they not only know everything about their customers, but that their email outreach perfectly motivates everyone.  This is not always the case.  They don’t always get it right.  Customer targeting algorithms written too narrowly can miss the bigger picture.

Case in point: my very own Mom.

  • Mom’s primary indulgence is periodically taking her 5 kids and their families (20-25 people total) to an all-inclusive resort. Club Med has been the most frequent (but not exclusive) beneficiary. (Yes, I chose my mother extremely well). Her aggregate investment is well into 6 figures over the past 20+ years she’s been doing this.

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In the case of Club Med, the algorithm failed.  They were focused on the last 3 years only.  And they completely missed the fact that she’s a long-time customer who brings a group. Mom turns out to be a mere Turquoise!  A rookie in their eyes!

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  • Mom selects the location, makes the reservations and all expenses go through her. She has 99% of the decision-making power on where we go. She should be a Big Kahuna to Club Med. They should make sure she’s happy, show their appreciation, and make every effort to acknowledge her loyalty.

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  • Yet Club Med scores loyalty on a per-person visit basis over the last 3 years. So despite influencing a lot of spending, Mom is classified as entry-level Turquoise, with the same status as a 10-year old who goes along with her parents. There is no acknowledgement at the corporate level, and none at the local Club level – – no one has told them who this is. No bottle of wine or fruit in the room. No upgrade. No ‘thank you for your continued loyalty’. Nothing.

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  • Small victory!  But it took a lot of effort.  Shouldn’t have to.
  • What defines your best customers? Longevity? Frequency? Cumulative $ spent?  Early adopters of new products?  This is really important to figure out.

Club Med of course doesn’t want to ignore their best customers. It’s just that their system isn’t set up to recognize them all the time.  To their credit, they handled my email rant with grace – – and came through in the end.

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So figure out who your best customers are and take care of them!

Right after you take care of your mother.