If You Are Not in the Customer Relationship Business, You Are in the Wrong Business. : ThyBlackMan

Monday, November 20, 2017


If You Are Not in the Customer Relationship Business, You Are in the Wrong Business.

October 27, 2017 by  
Filed under Business, Money, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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(ThyBlackMan.com) It is common for businesses of all sizes to misunderstand what business they are in. Even businesses that have been around for decades suffer the same problem. Auto manufacturers frequently mistake selling cars as their business. They don’t sell cars. They sell freedom. The same happens to smartphone makers and manufacturers of toothpaste.

The problem is money. We tend to think the real business is whatever it is that is closest to the money. If a customer or employer gives us money for a thing, we want to elevate that thing to the most important place in the process.

But the real business is seldom the thing closest to the money. It is far enough away from the money that it can be hard to see. And if you are only camping out at the cash register, you are likely to miss it. Every business is customer relations. Here is how to realign your efforts with your real business:

CRM Software

It is a given that you will need to start with customer relationship management software. The only real variable is whether to go with cloud or on-prem solutions. Cloud solutions tend to be better for smaller businesses. Setup and maintenance is simpler, as it is all handled by the company from which you are licensing the service. You will also be able to access customer data from anywhere. It tends to work well for mobile deployment.

On-prem deployment may be the only option for security restricted applications. Businesses that handle medical or legal data should use a customer relationship option that can only be accessed on-site by authorized personnel. This company will manage its own equipment through its own IT staff. And it will manage its own customization and upgrade cycle.

Starting with the right software gives you the best chance of having the right kind of relationship with your clients. That relationship includes a lot of information, including every transaction and encounter from the first contact to service after the sale. That is a lot of touch points for a lot of prospects. The customer relationship does not start when they buy. It starts when they become aware of you. The right CRM system is crucial for helping you convert awareness into loyal patronage.

The Real Customer

Another barrier to making customer relationship your business is confusion about who your real customer is. This can be very challenging when there are lots of parties involved in the process.

A company might even have a lot of different types of customers, thus intensifying the confusion. If you are Apple, your customer is the end-user of your products. But if you are Google, your customer is the advertiser. That is because Google’s main revenue generator is advertising. They offer free or subsidized products in service of advertising. Their customer might also be other Android manufacturers. As a seller of smartphones, the carriers are their customer. And because they do sell their own hardware, the end user is sometimes their customer.

When you have that many customers that are sometimes at odds with one another, it can be difficult to keep track. Apple simplifies by declaring the end user the customer, and everyone else secondary. But business is not that simple. And you have to know who it is you are trying to please. Get that wrong, and your bottom line will suffer.

The Real Relationship

Once you know your real business and identify the real customer, you have to understand the real relationship. A travel agency does not sell plane tickets and hotel rooms. They deliver life-long dreams. The relationship is all about seeing the client’s vacation dreams fulfilled all the way through.

Once they are back home rested and relaxed, you sell them the reality that the one-time dream can be a lifestyle option. The relationship grows and changes with the individual. You cannot drive your business forward without driving the relationships with your clients forward.

Know your real business. Serve your real customer. And understand the real relationship. Build great business relationships, and you will build more than a business. You will build an empire.

Staff Writer; Greg Carter


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