If the answer is Electronic Customer Relationship Management then it probably doesn’t stand for much.
In today’s highly connected society, your CRM program should involve more than just emailing your customers, it needs to consider every single point of contact that you have with them; whether it’s a TV ad, a mobile app or a mere tweet. Everything that you do plays a part in building your brand image and engaging your consumers.
Customers are obviously the main focus of any ECRM, but in addition to managing your customer relations it is vital to build relationships with bloggers, key influencers in your field/demographic, employees and associates, even critics of your brand, in order to maximise the engagement you could have with your customers and develop your authenticity.
Relationships. It seems that everyone is obsessed with building deep, meaningful relationships between consumers and brands, so much money is dedicated to these elusive relationships that it’s surprising that Interflora haven’t yet invented an annual ‘I heart brand X’ day. However, it’s important to remember that whilst a relationship may exist, the level of this relationship will vary greatly depending on both the brand and the consumer.
As an example, Andrex may well be the best selling toilet tissue, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that a relationship exists with the brand or that consumers want or need one. After all, it’s just toilet tissue. Andrex are no doubt aware of this and their decision to focus their official Facebook page on the puppy mascot allows them to engage with a much higher number of consumers than if they attempted to engage consumers with more product-centric discussion. With just under half a million Facebook fans it seems to be working for them, although whether these fans actually make the link between the cute and soft puppy and the product is another story.
What we really need to consider when engaging with consumers is our relevance to them rather than the relationships we imagine exist.
Brands that seek to ‘manage’ their relationships with consumers are never going to succeed; social media has changed the landscape to the extent that it is now the consumers that manage us. The days when brands had virtually full control of their image are long gone; our consumers write our most trusted reviews, they can stain our image with a single tweet and have more influence in their networks than most brands could ever hope for. Instead of attempting to manage what our consumers do and say, we need to listen to them and respond, sometimes even adapt, rather than dreaming of the days when stating in a press ad that our product is the best because it’s toasted or because we try harder was enough to make consumers believe us.
At my agency we pride ourselves on our ability to build engaged communities for our clients’ brands, and that’s because for us ECRM stands for more than just Electronic Customer Relationship Management, it stands for everything.
Everything our brands do across all touchpoints, and not just with their customers, but everyone else that the brand reaches, it stands for relevancy rather than perceived relationships and understanding rather than just managing.