Several months ago I had the good fortune of hearing from Professor David Dobrzykowski who teaches CRM at the College of Business at Eastern Michigan University - university of some 23,000 total students safely ensconced in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dr Dobrzykowski a.k.a. Dave, told me that his class was using the 4th edition of CRM at the Speed of Light as a text and he was wondering if I had any reference materials. But, given that I didn't write it explicitly as a text and I have a lazy bone or two, the answer was no I didn't. So I offered instead, out of gratitude that they were using the book and guilt that I couldn't figure out a way to support it, to speak to the class virtually which I enthusiastically did. I also found a smart, and enthusiastic class who told me of a project they were doing to actually audit a couple of companies when it came down to their CRM programs. I thought, this would be a great thing for them to put out there so I asked them if they would be willing to do a guest blog post on the audit.
They were willing. This is the result. So what you are seeing is what is one of the few field programs I've seen from students in CRM and one that I think merits some real discussion. And kudos to the team who did this. They are the ones mentioned below as authors for the blog post.
Take it away, CRM Eagles. (That's EMU Eagles, not the dreaded Philadelphia variety).
Each group was tasked with conducting a CRM audit for an established company. For the purposes of this discussion, we will call the companies profiled here as "Reliable Packaging" and "Cool Kitchens." As you know, one of the challenges that B-school students face is applying what they learn to the "real world." Given their findings, some of the insights these students gained from the fascinating world of CRM surprised them!
Division A's (for Affordable) products are made to be sold strictly through contractors and are not sold in any retail distributors. These are affordable high quality cabinets that are sold in large quantities and offer a variety of different colors and styles. Division B's and C's products are sold through distributors such as Lowes and Home Depot and people can also order them directly from the company. Division B (for Big Box) concentrates mostly on selling innovative and new ideas where Division C (for Custom) looks to offer "build to order" custom cabinetry.
Unfortunately, due to the economy their sales have taken a bit of a dive, but on the plus side; between the three divisions the company still holds the largest market share in their industry.
In their marketing, they pursue other large companies in the distribution & manufacturing industries with over $250,000 in sales of items that require corrugated packaging. Also, they differentiate themselves from the competition by offering high-quality packaging materials at premium prices.
Division B and C take different approaches to their customers since their customers are usually regular people looking to remodel their kitchens. Division B's main customers are younger city people that live in small homes such as condos or apartments. To reach this group of people they have brought on Curtis stone, a famous chef from the Food Network to go around America and advertise their product at tradeshows. Curtis Stone also interacts with the customers and invites them to try out the products while they cook in the kitchen with him. Division B also has a YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook page that they update often.
Division C also markets their products towards people that are looking to remodel their kitchens themselves. To reach their customers Division C chose to put their product on a very popular home makeover show. The kitchens and all of its features are showed off every episode by the television show and all Division C must do is provide the kitchen. They also keep in touch with customers through all the major social networks.
This information not only helps them when dealing with warranties for their products but it also helps them when deciding which retailers are the most effective partners. Whenever a retailer decides they want to sell their product all the information about that area is taken into consideration. Through acquired information from previous orders and surveys they gather information about:
With this information they can determine what products best sell in that area. They also take the opportunity to train all the employees of the retail chains that will be selling their product so the customers get the best service possible.
With all of their social networks available to the public the company has also taken many steps in preventing web terrorism. They have a system in place where every comment that is posted on any of their social networks is responded to within eight hours of being posted. This ensures that everybody is well taken care of and there aren't any negative posts causing trouble on their pages.
Here are the reasons why they get a failing grade for CRM:
Reliable Packaging should consider utilizing SalesForce.com, because it is an effective tool that would allow their staff to store much more extensive information about their customers, including notes from phone calls, company information, and other essential info that would help them to make better financial decisions and serve their customers more efficiently.
You probably guessed it...the company's website! Company B's website is probably not effective for attracting new customers for the following reasons:
-The design is boring. In fact, it looks very "old-schoolish" and does not appeal very well to the customers of this generation. It doesn't grab your attention. When a website doesn't jump out at a customer, what do they often do? That's right...hit the "Back" button.
-The website is written to emphasize the company's credentials. You got it...how long they've been in business, complicated terminology that doesn't relate to your problems, awards, staff & certifications, etc. Doesn't it bother you when a company does not answer the fundamental question, "What's in it for me?" on their website?
-The website could also use a stronger "value proposition." A strong value proposition explains how customers benefit through utilizing a company's products. A good example of a strong value proposition is Fedex's proposition: "On Time Every Day or It's Free" (Duct Tape Marketing, p. 35). Doesn't that grab your attention?
-The website has no testimonials...no case studies...none....zip. Think about what they're missing out on. When you buy a product, you don't want to listen to a sales pitch, do you? You want to see what others are saying about a particular product, so that you can make a wise purchasing decision.
Why not include not only written testimonials, but also audio & video? That would be a compelling way for them to establish credibility online.
The above are a few of the reasons why we give Reliable Packaging an "F" rating for CRM. Obviously, there's a lot of room for improvement.
So that's it. What did you think? Weigh in if you care to. This is a compelling effort by some, young, excited and capable future CRM gurus. I, for one, am glad they did this. Thanks, all.