Apparently, “delivering a branded customer experience is still critical in nurturing customer loyalty and driving revenue growth, according to a new book on customer relationship management from Accenture and Montgomery Research Inc.
Overall, it argues that a branded customer experience is the single most important factor in developing and maintaining customer loyalty…”
Well, those of us experiential marketers already know this. But I wonder how long it will take all those other folks, grasping their CRM spreadsheets and data capture forms like a drowning man grasps at a floating tree branch, to finally wake to the new reality that is the experience with the brand that is paramount.
Modern marketing has become a battle for individual customer loyalty, and CRM has become the holy grail of relating to the increasingly fickle consumer. But today’s CRM practices miss the point altogether: an experience happens when there are people involved, not just data management.
Managing customer relationships may have started out as a way to ensure customer loyalty, and the way to ensure that loyalty may have been thought of as a one-on-one relationship practice. In effect, most CRM has been anything but personal or individualized.
Instead, CRM relies on increased capacity to store data and the price associated with storing it. Further technological improvements like data capture at point of sale, bar codes, loyalty cards and the increased reliance on analysis tools and technology have positioned CRM as a number-crunching practice, not a customer-focused paradigm shift.
From the end user’s perspective, CRM and relationship marketing looks more like junk mail than a conversation. Furthermore, this lack of conversation does nothing but exacerbate the relationship between consumer and marketer.
A Marketing Magazine survey concluded that “what is meant to be a dialogue with customers is all too often one-way….Customers were badgered by companies for more personal data, while they saw no return on their investment of time and information, and they complained about the ‘one way’ nature of the so-called relationship.”
The researcher concluded that the consumer’s experience with CRM was characterized by “loss of control, vulnerability, stress and victimization.”
Experiential marketing is a methodology that goes far beyond CRM software and database management. These marketing tools simply record a consumer’s transactional history and the contact that she has had with the company. The contacts are recorded only at certain company touchpoints, like call centers, email exchanges or at point-of-purchase.
CRM software and databases can’t trap and evaluate the non-verbal information that is critical to the customer experience, nor can they capture key insights at other customer interface points that CRM cannot reach.
So, when experts predict a resurgence of CRM practices, I wonder if it’s the same thing all over again, or if the experiential model is taking hold.