Customer Centricity - Do you “CRM?” Part I

August 17th, 2016

As the CRM Practice director @ iPipeline, I am pretty excited. I am excited that I am blogging on topics that I am passionate about and excited to be promoting two significant business drivers - Customer Experience Management and CRM. If you are reading this, thank you.

At this point, a brief introduction is in order. Since 2012 I have overseen the CRM practice here at iPipeline. Prior to coming to iPipeline, I have had significant leadership roles related to CRM, direct to consumer marketing and digital marketing efforts with some of the leading retail, insurance and banking companies in the U.S. At heart, I am a customer experience and CRM purest so it is my hope that my posts inspire you and drive you to think about more ways to drive your customer relationships and profitability forward.

So what does that mean to be a CRM purest, you ask? It is an interesting question as I hear a lot of C-level executives saying they are doing CRM. In reality I would argue they are barely doing anything significantly related to true CRM. Sure, maybe they have bought a CRM system like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics. While that move is an enabler to do CRM, it in itself is not CRM. CRM is a methodology that focuses a company's time and resources on profitable customer engagements.  It is a strategy whose sole mission is to identify leads, convert leads, and then grow the lifetime value of new and existing customers. But in order to fulfill that vision, the CRM strategy must enable a company to identify who their most valuable customers are, provide the ability to find prospects that look like those customers, and then manage the various channel touchpoints to gain the optimal ROI in their customers.  CRM's number one goal should be to treat customers as an investment and therefore, a company should be looking to maximize their return on any investments made. To achieve this requires a data analytics mindset to not only measure effectiveness but also to predict various customer behaviors along the way.  So to me, CRM is one-part strategy, one-part system/technology and one-part analytics. The strategy drives the systems and technology that need to be put in place.  The analytics measure the effectiveness of the strategy and identify ways to optimize the strategy's approach going forward.

One CRM tactic you often hear is the desire to create targeted communications. When I hear this I am often reminded of the personality tests that I have taken over my career; Myers Briggs, MBS, and DISC to just name a few. The idea is that people fall into one of several personality types based on whether you are introverted or extroverted, whether you are analytically minded versus ‘gut feeling’ based, etc.  Because CRM is all about engaging in conversation and interactions, the number of possible personality combinations in those interactions becomes daunting. The sheer number of potential "tailored" messages highlights the importance of systems and data. The idea that you can open up your CRM system and create a call list of 100 different individuals or create an email blast to those same 100 people, and call that effort "doing CRM", is a bit short sighted.

So what is a better view of CRM? Well, now for the teaser part…I will discuss that in my next blog post. What I will suggest is we combine CRM data and marketing automation tools with a dose of smart analytics to really show some basic examples of true CRM that help move the needle forward.

Stay tuned….

Steve Malliard is a CRM and Customer Engagement enthusiast focused on driving profitable customer relationships and maximizing the benefits of the technology and marketing/sales investments companies are making. As a business-minded technologist, he blends technology and strategy into a comprehensive transformational business approach. Having a career that has spanned across multiple industries and disciplines, he borrows ideas from each to create innovative CRM strategies that move businesses forward. At iPipeline, he directs the AgentOne Salesforce solution implementation practice and is an active member of our consulting services offering with the whole goal of delivering the needed solutions to the customer centricity challenges that insurance agents face every day.

If you would like to discuss CRM and customer engagement strategies, please connect with me on LinkedIn @

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