For years we have relied on CRM software such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics or in our case SCOPE CRM for relationship management. But I believe that with the new regulations, especially the GDPR, the way we manage our relationships with CRM software is going to change. We are now obligated to share all the information we have and store and we have to delete everything when asked. With classic CRM software – which was built before the GDPR – this is an administrative hell. This is why you need a portal, and I’m going to explain you why.
Are the new laws and regulations a distraction from, or a reason to focus on our customers again?
Customer Relationship Management invented in the Netherlands?
Contrary to popular belief, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is not an American invention. Actually, the Americans were pretty slow to enter the CRM market. The company Siebel started in 1993; in the Netherlands the first CRM supplier started in 1983. The only thing the American thing about CRM is the term CRM.
CRM principle; data pollution by default
CRM has always been about Know Your Customer. CRM is not just software, it is a business strategy. The thought behind CRM is a simple sales model: Information => Communication => Sales.
Some CRM authors go even further, and they introduced the model “Know and Recognize Your Customer.” And by Recognize, they mean you should be able to reproduce relevant customer information when you meet, or have contact with the customer. The quickest way to end any relationship is addressing someone with the wrong name every time you encounter each other.
The fact is that a person’s name, how it is spelled, the construction and that person’s unique presence in the database is one of the biggest problems in CRM. Another thing is whether or not somebody is alive. Also, shouldn’t every person be present only once in the CRM database, even when a person has multiple roles in society and various business functions? Funnily enough, a lot of CRM systems cannot handle this.
For this purpose, a whole new IT discipline was introduced, called Data Quality. The quality of data is determined by factors such as accuracy, completeness, reliability, relevance and how up–to–date it is. Data cleansing became a new phrase.
The internet simplified some things, but users also started polluting data with amusing customer names such as Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck etc. The bigger the database, the greater the mess – this was called ‘garbage in, garbage out’.
The (potential) customer knows it all: the business card principle
The fact is that the (potential) customer has all the information the company wants. He or she knows their own name, job title, mobile phone number etc. The best source of information used to be a person’s business card. A single point of truth, as we liked to call it in 1990.
Now you might think of LinkedIn as a good source, but this is not entirely true. A lot of information on social media such as LinkedIn is unchecked and possibly untrue. You need multiple data sources to verify, for example, job information.
However, under normal conditions, the best source of information is the contact person or the household you want information about. They will share their information if there is some type of relationship with your company or an advantage to be gained.
Client portal: a better solution for contact information than a CRM database
A customer portal which also includes basic contact person and household information is a better solution than an internal CRM database.
It gets better when the customer has access to stored data and can modify their own data. This is now also European legislation (General Data Protection Regulation). The client has a right to see, correct and delete the stored data. Even better than that is when it is possible to automatically update the client’s information with data from external data sources such as the Tax Office.
The same client portal can be used to exchange all kinds of information such as documents, reports, communication history, appointments, and visit reports. The customer gets full access to all data stored in the CRM system.
From CRM to a Customer Managed Relationship
A customer managed relationship (we call this CMR) is a relationship in which a company uses a methodology, software, or internet capability to encourage the customer to set up and manage the nature and duration of the relationship he or she wants to have with the business.
In an ideal world, customers would be responsible for their own data within your database. Better yet, if clients had a personal digital vault in which they stored their personal information to be shared with suppliers instead of given. This will be the next step.
A client portal to share information in a secure cloud environment is the best solution for storing customer information. This is far better than a CRM system for internal use and a CRM database filled with polluted client information.
Some may think a combination is also possible, but there is no real advantage in replicating data and a lot of typical CRM functions such as contact management, activity management, workflows, agenda, and task and proposal management will be replaced by new types of apps. We will explain this in the next article.