Tuesday, November 20, 2012

In defense of the technology aided customer - company relationship

I have thought about this topic frequently; it is very common to see negative comments regarding the “mechanization of the customer relationship” among those that write about the Social - CRM - Digital - Advertising space, particularly with the recent onslaught of attention for “Big Data” and its value for business.... I’d like to offer a contrarian view.

To get it out of the way let me state upfront that I vehemently believe companies should seek and manage real relationships with their customers, I just don’t believe that this is at odds with technology aiding and facilitating these relationships. Lets think about CRM for a few minutes from a systems perspective: these systems came into existence to ensure companies had a collective and accessible memory of a customer’s relationship and this memory was used systematically to inform, drive and improve any future interactions (and those future interactions would continue to inform the record of the relationship of the customer with the company). It is clear to me and you and many others that CRM has not necessarily being used this way all the time (indeed many companies have dehumanized their customer relationships with their implementation of CRM systems); however the “tool” is not at fault here, it is the “implementation of the tool” that had issues. What is a true relationship anyway but making sure that we have a memory and understanding of those that we care for, and we use that memory to provide what they need or want?  is the relationship with my wife any less real because I used an scheduled reminder and a pre-paid service to ensure I had flowers in hand the day of our anniversary? isn’t the fact that I cared to set up the reminder and purchase enough to validate the honesty of my intentions? Technology was simply an aid to ensure proper execution.

Our life will continue to move online, the digital signals of our daily activity will become richer and more comprehensive and the tools available for companies to use these signals (with our permission) to provide us with better service will continue to improve. We should not fear or even resist a technology aided company-customer relationship, we should simply demand “honorable intentions”, respect to our data sharing choices and excellence in execution.

What do you think?

Filiberto Selvas

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