Has CRM become the classic all-time folly of marketing?

Customer experience (CX/CRM, the two are more or less interchangeable)) has become the favourite refuge of scoundrels across the marketing spectrum. Companies across the board promise improvements which, aided by a battery of consultants and other snake oil merchants, make it worse.

That at least is our impression.

SugarCRM, which presumably has an interest in this business, has been carrying out some research: finding that poor CX is leading to what it calls “The Great Customer Resignation.” Customer churn has hit 33% globally (including the UK); 74% of UK respondents suspect customers are leaving due to poor customer service or experience (suspect?) and 53% of sales leads generated by marketing are deemed either poorly qualified or under qualified. Meaning, presumably, they don’t deliver.

SugarCRM reckons data is a the bottom of it. “Companies face a daunting scenario – struggling to fill the top of the funnel with qualified leads while losing customers at the bottom of the funnel,” says CEO Craig Charlton. “A key contributor to losses on each side of this equation is a lack of data. Data fuels the actionable insights that sales, marketing, and service teams need to act decisively at every critical touchpoint – to drive high-definition customer experiences – and to reverse the Great Customer Resignation.”

Not entirely sure about that: the marketing business is awash with data. Surely the answer is that companies only act on the data that supports their own opinions, however daft or short-sighted they may be.

British Airways has given its CRM brief to its new ad agency, Uncommon. BA is the company that pissed off thousands of its customers by scrapping free snacks on short haul flights. All to save a point or two on margin. Is anything Uncommon suggests going to reverse this? BA’s computer systems don’t work either, which hardly helps.

Waitrose has just committed the CX disaster de nos jours by attempting to switch to a digital-first platform which even the staff in the shops don’t understand. Rather than re-instituting the late-lamented free papers and the rest, it’s slashing prices on some lines (temporarily) while increasing them on others. Does it really think customers will fall for this? Waitrose was advised to go digital by a gaggle of consultants including M&C Saatchi and the mighty Salesforce.

CRM/CX has become the classic folly of marketing: trying to get people to buy something that doesn’t actually exist.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.

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