Tracking your customers’ habits

I have talked about the importance of knowing your customers in the past. No one is going to disagree with me on the importance of that point. An argument may ensue, though, if the best way to do that is discussed. A large number of companies rely heavily on software and computer-generated statistics. The numbers can not be disputed that way, but you must have the human touch to round out any customer relationship management system.

Customer relationship management (CRM) programs are all the rage this decade. All of the top software companies have a supported platform that you can buy. Some are reasonably priced, while others require the budget of a conglomerate to maintain. SAP, Oracle and Microsoft are all happy to help you out with a CRM. What does a CRM actually do for you? I do not use one, so I was curious. Would these systems put to death the old-school customer contact methods that built most of corporate America?

According to Wikipedia: “Customer relationship management (CRM) consists of the processes a company uses to track and organize its contacts with its current and prospective customers. CRM software is used to support these processes; the software system can be accessed, and information about customers and customer interactions can be entered, stored and accessed by employees in different company departments. Typical CRM goals are to improve services provided to customers and to use customer contact information for targeted marketing.”

It sort of sounds like the old database systems with a fancy new buzz word name, but can these systems replace human contact through print, letters or telephone conversations? Are these systems better at knowing your customers than you?

No. As a matter of fact, most of the software companies that sell these products strongly suggest that you continue to make contact with your customers in print and other media. What? An IT company saying “Use paper!” Has someone spiked their oatmeal? The truth is that human analysis and touch can never be replaced by AI, no matter how advanced it becomes. A CRM will help your company grow, if it is in your budget, but until the cash cow docks, you are going to be better off printing, e-mailing and calling your way to the top of your niche market.

Does your opinion differ from mine? I’d love to hear about it.