BTR 09.14.08

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.Wikipedia

Much has been written over the last few years about this engaging topic. Most of it from a marketing perspective. After all, it’s origin is in marketing. But is there more? Can CRM play an important part in relationships outside of the marketing sphere?

On this day’s journey I encountered some interesting elements dealing with CRM.

The CRM FORUM … I will state up-front that I am NOT a fan if either Microsoft, nor Oracle. But that does not preclude me from visiting sites that do promote their products, propaganda and persuasion. In this case the CRM Forum is a very interesting read because it is a very active community. Thus the content is wide, varied and fresh. So, the CRM Forum ends up being a very good source for ‘listening’ to the needs, wants and frustrations of the business world in the hot-topic areas on – learning about, configuring and implementing a CRM installation.

After reading the comments in CRM Forum, even I, with a long history in reading about, evangelizing and initiating CRM, wanted to get back to a clear definition of the term. In my early days of CRM evangelizing, I was constantly messing up the acronym. I was forever calling it Consumer Retention Management. Which, BTW – though it is NOT the correct iteration of CRM – it is a good definition!

In an effort to find that clear definition I Googled the term: CRM. Several returns came up [roughly 55M to be roughly-exact!! Would seem it’s a bit popular, eh? ]. One of those megabitic returns [yes, I get to create words, too: cool one though, eh?] was Wikipedia [imagine that!] so, I ventured over to Wikipedia to read what they had to say about CRM. Part of the Wikipedia revelation was my lead in; in case you hadn’t caught it.

In another of the Google-returns, I found a link to What struck me about this site was it offered me a British point-of-view on their CRM efforts. I’m fairly well versed on the US posture, but thought a visit to the neighbors across the ‘big pond’ might be fun. Well, I was right. It was quite fun. The Brits are all quite enthused (well those involved in marketing technology at least!) with the whole CRM idea.

I also noticed that Neil Davey was a member of the ‘Head of Editorial’ for the site. I’ve read Neil’s commentaries for a few years and have rather enjoyed his perspective. So I continued on.

  • But WHY did I continue on?

This poses a good question and a fine segue into how I break into and reveal the guts of a site.

The first thing I look for is an ‘About Us’ page; which BTW, every site should have one!!. The About US page gives you the ‘lay of the land’, so-to-speak, of a site. A reveal of the character behind the site, it’s mission and WHO is involved. I’m both a fan of history and a student.

It is my firm belief that we can avoid a lot of pain and wasted effort through attentive detail to historical actions and their results. So, the history of a site – reveals much about the value – or waste – in continued exposure.

If I find information that compels me to be interested, I will forge on to find out more. I believe, this is one of the top five most important issues for site construction:

  • #2. Build your site, regardless of platform or architecture, so that people are given a reason beyond ‘data’ or ‘documentation’ to be there. Give them INFORMATION that is relevant to their quest, or highly compelling to find out more about you.

Yes, this is all relevant to today’s BTR topic because this is the essence of CRM.

  1. A visitor to your web presence is a CUSTOMER.
  2. The experience that Customer feels on your site is the start of a RELATIONSHIP.
  3. The conversation between you and the Customer is MANAGED by your actions – or lack of – communication.

What? you ask. You’re not selling a product or a service.

Oh, you’re not? Then what do you call posting all those opinions – and maybe a few facts – on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Ning, assorted Forums… or other Social Network – aka, Personal Journalism – efforts? !!!

You’re selling your ideas and opinions with the hopes that someone will INVEST their TIME [aka, BUYING YOUR LINE with the most precious commodity in anyone’s life!!] to read your publication. That my friend [aka: Customer!] is SALES!  Your readers are therefore CUSTOMERS with whom you build RELATIONSHIPS and all contact is the method – good, bad or ugly – in which you MANAGE it all.

So in answer to my question above:  Can CRM play an important part in relationships outside of the marketing sphere?  I believe the answer is a resounding YES IT MUST!

My father was an insurance salesman and a very successful one.  He was successful on all levels.  He led, or was in the top 5, in his company, year-in-and-year-out in sales volume.  He also led the company – in 5 states! – in customer service.  And in what I believe to be his greatest honor, when he died from a tragic wood-cutting accident, my mother continued to receive monthly checks at the maximum allowed rate- based upon the renewals of his insurance policy sales – for a full 8 years AFTER he sold those policies.  That is not only unheard of, it has never – nor likely to happen – again in that company.  Entire communities bonded together; some with nothing more in-common than the insurance policy sold by my father; to keep their insurance and not allowing any other agent or company to replace it.  Solely so that my mother; my father’s widow; would be taken care of.

What else would you call that but, a great reward for extremely high quality – CRM.  And he did it with no technology any more sophisticated than a smile, a handshake and the assurance that with one phone call, he was in motion to help his customers. And would see that promise through with the utmost of human capability.  A point many in business could learn from today.  History.  We won’t last – long – without remebering and learning from it.  Remember well the words of George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

NMATC … New Media Arts Training Centers, Inc.
If you are looking for a top-of-the-line certification source for the more popular and used! tools for New Media creation and deployment, then NMATC is sure to be included in the top of your choice list.  Located in Madison, Wisconsin, NMATC is easily accessible to many NM artists in the US and Canada. The courses are not cheap, but neither is the instruction.  A quick read of the people who make up the trainers should give any potential student a buzz for the quality of education and experience that awaits them.

My readers will remember that the byline of BTR is, “… an eclectic journey….”.  This said, you know the topics covered in this blog are wide, varied and often time have little relationship to one another, except – they came through my mouse clicks.  To me – and I hope to my readers as well – that’s part of the fun in this.  Just like Forest Gump‘s mamma said, “Life was like a box of chocholates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

With this in mind…

Milwaukee Public Television (MPTV) …
51years ago, the citizens of Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin, and quite frankly the entire country, were given their own ‘eye on the world’, when Milwaukee Public Television began broadcasting. Visionaries from all walks of life and professions lobbied long and hard to get the license and finally their efforts paid off when on October 28, 1957 MPTV began flowing into the homes of its viewers.  Over a glorious career of bringing the finest of Public Television programming to its viewers MPTV has itself been a pioneer in Public Television.  Being one of the first PBS stations to offer regular programs in color. MPTV offered its own in-house prodcution in 1960 with, The Inquiring Mind.  In 1984, Outdoor Wisconsin, now in it’s 27th year, first appeared.  The host then – and now – is Dan Small.  Dan and I are personal friends, colleagues (outdoor communicators and members of OWAA) and he’s a client.

While doing some research for a newsletter I do for Dan’s Outdoor Radio show (Dan Small Outdoors Radio) I came to the MPTV site for one of the shows he did there.  That search started my look inside MPTV.   Because of one of the shows on that search spoke about Lead Shot and its effect on wildlife and the environment,  I followed up with a Google on <lead shot> which took me to this Wikipedia page on … Lead Shot

And with that, Beyond The Ripples closes the book on another days, “serendipitous encounters from eclectic online journeys”.  Until the next time … enjoy the chance luck of the draw. You just never know what you’re gonna get.