Most B2B marketing teams spend an awful lot of their time implementing some sort of Customer Relationship Management Programme (CRM) looking to sell more to their customers and for longer. Some of them are incredibly simple while others are very sophisticated based on expensive platforms costings millions.
But here is the issue, very few of them take time to consider what type of relationship they should actually be having with their customers, the presumption is often the closer you are to your customers the better it is. However that simply isn’t the case. If you invited your new neighbours around for dinner, that would probably be considered pretty normal, if you invited them round to share your new hot tub, that might be too much too soon. Closer isn’t always better.
The Harvard Business Review examined this issue recently and suggested customers wanted very different relationships with companies depending on a wide range of factors and looked at a set of 6 basic customer expectations:
- · Basic Exchange
- · Business partners
- · Fling
- · Best Friends
- · Buddies
- · Master-Slave
Essentially CRM programmes organised around a clearly researched and segmented set of customer needs and expectations proves much more successful than a programme that looks to achieve ever closer ties with every customer. Possibly this is the most appropriate starting point for CRM planning rather than “which platform are we going to sit it on?”