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Trying to do business without also having a modern CRM system is like walking around naked. You can do it, at least for a little while, but people will begin to think you’re weird — and the trouble is, those people are all potential customers.
CRM is essential today because, despite our reverence for the free market, it’s really more like free markets — plural — and we need to be relevant, to treat people the way they expect to be treated, in each venue we decide to play in.
Shortly before he died, Steve Jobs observed that the marketplace had bifurcated, and the traditional Bell curve we used to represent it actually had become two humps, sort of like a Dromedary camel becoming a Bactrian.
Jobs saw one market for good-enough products and the other for luxury items. His insight was that with modern technology goods and customer-facing systems, the merchandise in each group was essentially the same. In other words, much of the difference today comes from how products are sold and serviced.
Good-enough products had to be easy to use and intuitive in Jobs’ scheme, and luxury goods had to come with hands on service throughout the purchase and ownership process.
Splitting the Difference
That wasn’t so long ago. Wittingly or not, the observation drove CRM’s evolution to the point that today the suite is dripping with artificial intelligence and machine learning for insights into what to do for a customer next.
CRM is also over the top with journey maps, as well as chatbots that do a pretty good job of interfacing with customers. They will only get better too.
Still, nobody who gets the good-enough product, it turns out, likes being reminded that they didn’t spend big on the luxury item and all that service. We all like getting more than our fair share of service, especially if it’s free.
So modern CRM splits the difference and provides affordable service and support without quibbling, through technology. Now, I would love to say that our work is done here, but we both know better.
Here comes the rub. The other day I was reading an article from last year in Inc. magazine that brought home how disparate our markets are and, by implication, how much vendors need high-quality CRM today.