Dawn Mergenthaler has been leading CRM marketing teams for healthcare, retail, and Software-as-a-Service companies for over a decade. She works closely with customer experience (CX) professionals to understand the insights gained that can be leveraged for CRM. She’s well-known for partnering cross-functionally to improve the customer’s communication experience across an organization, ultimately working to improve customer experiences and increase sales for an organization.
We caught up with Dawn to provide her insights into how CRM and CX best fit together in an organization.
CRM can mean different things to different organizations. To start off, could you give us a quick explanation how you describe CRM?
Sure. It stands for Customer Relationship Management, and like customer experience, it’s a strategy. CRM uses different initiatives and methodologies than CX to achieve the goals of improving customer experience and increasing sales.
Similar to CX, it involves collecting customer information and data that’s used in a variety of functional areas across an organization to provide a cohesive customer experience.
What are some common misconceptions you run into about CRM?
A lot of people think that CRM is either a marketing-specific strategy or a database, and though it might include both, CRM ultimately is a strategy that includes practices and technology used to manage and analyze customer behavior and interactions across the company. Again, the end goal is to improve the customers’ experience regardless of which company department the customer interacts with.
The information housed within the CRM database is specific to the customer, such as order information, communication preferences, a history of customer service calls, delivery dates, returns, referrals, marketing communication sent and more. Companies can analyze this information in many different ways to aid the different functional areas within a company.
You mentioned one of the ways CX and CRM are similar—what are some key differences? How have you seen them work to complement each other?
In terms of complementing each other, they’re both aiming toward the same goal—better understanding and serving customers to improve business practices—and they can definitely benefit from each other’s insights. Often they’re looking into similar areas and sometimes using the same data. It can save time and resources to find out what the other team has discovered before spending time trying to find out the same information or replicating analysis.
As for differences, elements that CX brings in that have not been traditionally used by CRM include satisfaction and effort scores or comments. CX also leverages Voice of the Customer with regularity whereas CRM is newer to using such.
CX and CRM teams should definitely build relationships with one another—to share information, divide and conquer, and ultimately better serve the customer.
What are the advantages to building a specific CRM team within a company?
Often CRM gets rolled into marketing, and it has definite benefits to any marketing department. But there are many advantages to having a dedicated CRM team specifically designated within your business. The heart of the usefulness of a CRM team is that they are the people who can implement strategies for the company—to take action based on research and internal thought that reach your customers at a personal level. The CRM team can help drive behavioral activity based on analysis of what customers want. It’s much easier to do if they are able to work equally with a cross-section of departments and areas.
While I have yet to see it done this way, there’s likely a huge benefit in placing CRM and CX under one leader in an organization. It would align them to the same goals, create more opportunities for sharing data, and create opportunities to collaborate for short and long term results.
What’s one piece of advice you have for people looking to build or improve their CRM?
Partner with your CX team and listen to the customer. It sounds obvious, but incorporating the customer’s feedback can be another source for CRM. And it’s not just data or statistics that are beneficial—though those are definitely important. Listen to what the actual customer is really saying from all sources of VoC, and you can find ways to not only improve experiences, but drive sales.
I worked for a company that had customer satisfaction surveys. As I was reading through the comments, I ran across one customer who said he’d like to know how long it was since he’d bought his product, wondering if it was time for a replacement.
I knew that it would be easy and low-cost for the CRM marketing team to include this information and measure results. When the personal information (telling customers how long they’d owned our product) was included, incremental sales increased 10% over the control group without the inclusion. With that success, we were able to roll out the test and apply it to drive millions more in sales. All it took was stopping to listen to our customers.
That sounds great. Any last words?
CRM is essential to the customer journey. CRM is talking to your customers. Daily. Whether sales, service, or marketing, it is the most personalized way of communicating for the organization. To ensure it’s not operating in a vacuum or on partial information alone, I’d recommend that the CX and CRM teams figure out a way to align, share and collaborate on a regular basis.