For years we have spoken about and elevated the concept of CRM; Client Relationship Management. We talked about managing the number and types of touches we have with clients. Birthday cards, reports, calls, and emails were tabulated and prompted. CRM is a model that companies used to manage interactions with present and future clients. Software is frequently the heart of the system each company designed to automate and organize marketing information (like the sales pipeline), client service, and support.
CRM software systems are generally of two types: B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Customer/Client). The difference in the two systems relates to the number of contacts, typically being much fewer in typical B2B systems compared to B2C systems.
Relationship vs. Experience
Relationship is defined as “the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.” CRM focuses on the number and consistency of ways a company is connected to customers or clients. Managing the number and type of touches becomes the primary focus of the CRM activity with the expectation that the number and consistency of connections to a client or customer will result in a long-term business relationship. While CRM is certainly a step up from haphazard, unmanaged touches, I believe that there is another level in relationship to which we can aspire.
CEM: Client Experience Management
I read an article put out by the Disney Institute through Inc. recently (I attended Disney Institute in the 1980s and found it tremendously revealing and motivational) that elaborated on the lengths the Walt Disney Company goes to “over manage” all of the touch points where the company interacts with a guest. Each potential touch point is identified and given deliberate attention, organized and planned in detail so that when a guest interacts at that touch point the experience is excellent.
Following are some of the key concepts from the Disney Institute/Inc. article:
- Walt Disney said “People can feel perfection.”
- Every touch point must be given deliberate attention.
- In business the power of service lies in the ability to create an emotional connection rather than a purely rational connection.
- Emotional connections can lead to many ambassadors for your brand.
- Our goal: be intentional where others are unintentional. Over managing the things most companies ignore or under manage is what differentiates us.
At DKE we are in the process of developing a firm wide Client Experience Management program. It will start with the creation of a comprehensive inventory of client touch opportunities. Once we analyze the inventory of touches we will identify touches that should be there but aren’t and then organize and plan each of them in detail so that no matter how a client encounters our organization or the work product of our organization they will encounter an excellent experience.
I will report on our progress with this initiative in future posts.
Invitation to comment: What have you noticed about the impact of a great client experience on your relationships?