Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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How Managing Customer Relationships Is Like Herding Cats

October 21, 2014

…and what you can do to minimize frustration and maximize customer satisfaction

Was it easier to manage your customer relationships when you worked off of an overflowing rolodex, a file folder stuffed with lunch receipts and invoices and scribbled recaps of phone conversations?

In a way, it was easier. You could probably use that information and your paper calendar and your memory to summarize where things stood with that customer. You had constructed that rather scattered profile by yourself, and you owned it.

But was it faster? No. More thorough? Certainly not. You may be able to easily find your customers’ birthdays and rattle off the names of their children, but did you know that they called tech support three times about a product they bought six months ago? That they’re opening a new location and are stocking up with competitors’ products because they’ve been asking for opinions online and haven’t heard from you?

Software and websites that help you build comprehensive customer profiles (social CRM) track:

  • Each customer’s status in the pipeline
  • Every contact they’ve made with the company, and
  • Their online “buzz.”

But it is truly like herding cats. Your customers are all over the web, and they may be interacting with other employees at your company without you knowing. Which also means that you may be missing opportunities to “touch” them (which, like with cats, requires knowledge of the feline’s history and likes/dislikes, timing, agility, patience, and willingness to be flexible. And a little bit of luck).

Social CRM helps you manage your human relationships by offering:

  • Transparency. Everyone who deals with customers needs a complete, up-to-date history.
  • Consistent messaging. Some companies don’t want to lose control of their messaging. Guess what? They already have. Even if you give your customer service and support reps scripts, they’re human beings, and will – or will have to because of customer responses – veer off the prescribed path. Social CRM helps prevent polar opposite messages — and helps you recover if it happens.
  • Visibility. I give and give and give, and this is the thanks I get?, you may sometimes think. You provide helpful, instructional videos and text on your website and blog. You’ve labored over white papers and ebooks to further inform your prospects. You’re not pushy. Still, here comes a prospect asking a question about something you’ve explained at least a dozen times. Explain it for the 13th, as quickly, thoroughly, and professionally as you can. Your response may be the one thing that matters to your prospect. So be available in as many places as you can.

My point is this: If you haven’t yet implemented – and implemented fully – a social CRM solution, you’re making the cat-herding part of your job harder. It’s tough enough to know which emerging social networks have staying power, and which of the many social CRM platforms will be around next year. So expect chaos and uncertainty, but minimize it with the tools available today.


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