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Collaborative CRM – We ALL Owe it to the Customer

“It’s MY customer. It’s MY call.”

That was uttered recently in a meeting. The meeting was to discuss business process (a subject near and dear to my heart) and more specifically to view our sales business process through the eyes of the customer. I’ve led many such meetings in my career and was pleased that my current employer was ready to embark on this cause. Little did I know how deeply engrained our silos…our fiefdoms were.
The issue arose from a seemingly insignificant exercise. Each team (representatives from each division) was to answer the following questions:
  • What are the critical things you need to know about your customer to make decisions on next steps?
  • Why are these pieces of information critical?
  • How do these critial items enable you to best care for the customer
The idea was to then list these critical components to show how similar our needs were across all divisions. Like any sales organization, this one things that it (each division) is completely different than the others. And, after performing this exercise they found that, like any sales organization, they’re more alike than they are different. That realization created tension. For years (75+) this company treated it’s division as businesses built on the idea of how different, how unique they were. Now they were realizing how intertwined their services were.
We left that meeting with quality work completed (my vantage point) and a lot of uneasy feelings among team leaders. I felt like there’d been chinks strategically placed in the armour of space and time…that we were evolving. Time would be the next ingredient needed to continue this process.
The next thing that occurred was a customer meeting. One of our division sales people met with a customer and discovered in that meeting that another division had been talking to the customer. How dare they! It’s MY customer. I was in the meeting with the customer and a couple of things happened that disturbed me:
  • The salesperson immediately stopped listening
  • The customer found himself apologizing for contacting the other division

This customer needed the services provided by our other division. It was an upsell that the first division would get credit for yet all this guy could think about was how his colleague dare talk to HIS customer. In the car after the meeting we debriefed. When my sales colleage mentioned how angry he was about his cross division colleague talking to his customer I reminded him “it’s not YOUR customer. It’s OUR customer.”

I wonder what kind of service this customer would have received had we all put him at the center of our world. How much money was left on the table because we couldn’t get our collective act together. Does the customer feel like he’s working with a team focused on providing him an experience? (I asked and the answer is no…no doubt he’s now shopping us).

Are we focused on what belongs to us or on stewardship of our customer’s success.

Here’s to the latter. We aren’t given customer relationships for life. They are earned daily and we must be good stewards of that relationship with each interaction.

Here’s to becoming what our customer values.

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