Modern CRM connects people with digital means

Jens Treuner is working as a Managing Consultant with ec4u expert consulting ag in Karlsruhe. Most of the time, he works on customer projects with renowned enterprises from Germany and Switzerland, helping them with digitization and CRM projects. We asked him some questions about this topic.

CRM projects need a modern approach

Hello Jens, JE_TRwhat is the biggest challenge of CRM projects in the context of digitization?

I think, nowadays, we are trying to revive the good old days. When we think of the corner shops of past times, there was always one contact person for the customer. This person knew exactly what the customer wanted. You really felt taken care of, like it should be in every good company-customer relationship. Today, with all the big companies, it is of course no longer possible to have a single contact person. Many employees from different business units are in direct contact with the customer, not only the ones working in shops or in the customer care department. There is broad range of contact points and ways of communication: on paper, digitally, on the phone or via e-mail. Nonetheless, the customers want to have the feeling they had in former times when there was a single contact person. This is when CRM comes into the game: with the help of modern technology, we are trying to restore the feeling of security people had in former times.

CRM needs to be modern without losing the personal touch

What is the difference between the customer journey and CRM?

The customer journey is not only a CRM system with more channels but it is the consideration of all the factors in the context of customer relations, including all the channels and all the information a company has about the customer. In my view, a great customer journey provides an ideal solution for the customer and all necessary information at any customer touch point.

Where is the line between customer benefits and disturbing customer contact?

I think it is hard to tell when to offer customers cross- and upselling products and to balance whether they will like it or feel disturbed. We have seen this on many internet platforms where, based on data, purchases and search queries, the operators try to interpret which products might be of interest to us. We know this from search engines and booksellers which offer their products more intensely as we use their sites. It is a balancing act in my opinion. On the one hand, this can be in the interest of the customer because this way, he is offered products he is really interested in. On the other hand, it can be too pushy and become annoying. This is a really interesting issue, you have to deal with in a very sensitive manner. Maybe, you also have to educate the customer that a product suggestion might really be his interest.

Product suggestions need to benefit, not annoy the customer

What are the differences when compared to 10 years ago?

I have been working in the field of CRM for 20 years now. Back then, we built the first systems that you would call CRM systems nowadays. It was really tiring back then and we were not at all certain that one day we would create digital databases where several persons have access to in order to get information. We started from scratch and tried to provide information to as many persons as possible. Today, we are several steps further, trying to reach business goals with cross- and upselling, interpretation of sales figures etc. We are trying to provide a maximum of comfort with many different channels. However, I think that many companies still have a lot of work to do to close the gaps. And I am convinced that we will be getting new insights on how to take care of the customers even better.

Thank you, Jens Treuner.

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Digital Thoughts is a series of interviews based on the German YouTube-Channel „Digital Thoughts“. In this series, we give experts the opportunity to have their say on current issues regarding Digitalization in Customer Management. Find all interviews in English on our blog.