CRM? First You Need To Have A Customer to Manage

Beth Cox

Updated · Jan 25, 2001

I don't know what it is, but the folks at sales consulting firm
Future Now always seem to come up with a fresh
perspective in their grokdotcom newsletter, an online
publication that describes itself as “the plain-spoken
E-Business newsletter for management, entrepreneurs and

This time around, the free newsletter (you can subscribe at
the site) had several things that interested me as an observer
of the e-commerce scene, including some anecdotal
accounts of e-purchases gone awry that made me wonder
how anybody gets it right online.

But first, a small discourse on their headlined piece: “Yo!
It's MRC, Not CRM!”

The article basically contends that way too many
e-commerce Web sites are putting the cart before the horse
when it comes to CRM — customer relationship
management — and strategies for same.

“Oh, the idea is pointed in the right direction, all right — but
don't you think first you need a satisfied customer base to
manage?” the article asks.

The answer, of course, is like, duh!

The article goes on to say: “How would you feel if you
bought something at an off-line store and immediately the
manager came over and started talking to you like a
long-lost drinking buddy? Building a relationship takes time.
Shoving some tech-heavy CRM application at your
customer is more likely to push them away than draw them
in. If you want to get it right, you need to follow MRC, not
CRM: Manage your e-business correctly so you can
establish a Relationship from which you can develop a
delighted and loyal Customer. Only then can all the other
stuff you do have the impact you want.”

Clearly you've got to get a happy customer base first before
you have anything to manage. All too often, I suspect, us
tech types think that if we just had the right software, we'd
not have to worry so much about having happy customers.

“It all begins with how you treat your customers, from the
moment they land on your site through their purchase and
beyond,” the article says. “The first-time buyer plunks down
his money for a product, but if he runs into hassles, he very
likely will never come back again. To put it bluntly, poor
customer service has lost you a customer and left you with
nothing to manage.”

For the record, Future Now specializes in the design and
implementation of computer-enabled sales processes and
markets what it calls Digital Salespeople, a process for
developing effective sales presentations in digital format. So
clearly they have a vested interest in all this. But that said, I
happen to think they are right about a lot of this stuff.

Now we come to the anecdotes, which I found especially
interesting in light of all the self-satisfied surveys I've seen
following up on the holiday sales season.

These examples are all from the folks who work at Future
Now, and who describe themselves as avid online

“One guy placed an order with and sat back,
fully expecting to receive his merchandise. He waited. It
didn't come. He made an inquiry. BlueLight's Customer
Care Team responded, in a very chipper and clearly canned
e-mail, that his order regrettably had been canceled and
then proceeded to thank him for providing input that helped
them achieve their goal: ‘the complete satisfaction of each of
our customers.'”

“More than a little dissatisfied and annoyed that his order
had been canceled and he had not been notified, he wrote
again. He got another response. This time, the Customer
Care Team informed him the item was out of stock,
thanked him for shopping with BlueLight and suggested,
blithely, that he should continue to keep checking out those specials.” Right! Don't think so.

“Another (person) ordered from He
handed over his credit card information on a $200
purchase, then learned later in the checkout procedure that
the software coul

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  • Beth Cox
    Beth Cox

    Beth Cox has been a well-known keynote speaker and author as well as a business and technology advisor. She helps companies improve their business performance, better utilize data, and understands the implications of new technologies, such as (AI)artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains and the Internet of Things.

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