With the emphasis recently on customer relationship management (CRM), it seems there's a customer love-fest in the making. It's an orgy, almost: Every company wants a close relationship with me, and they want one with you, too. They want close relationships with their business buyers and suppliers.

Of course, as the name spells out, what they really want to do is "manage" these close relationships.

There's one small thing missing from all this talk about customer relationships, both on and off the web. Not every customer (and, in particular, not every business customer or supplier) wants a close relationship, nor do they want to be managed. (See an earlier piece, "When Do B2B Customers Want a Close Relationship?")

CRM alone can't build the close relationships companies promised—those long term relationships that couldn't be broken. Instead, CRM should be called CSM, for customer service management. That more faithfully represents what companies are trying to do—manage and improve poor customer service. Even companies that get it—like customer-friendly Amazon—don't offer the model for a close "relationship."

Let the so-called pundits and experts drone on about CRM technology, integrated data stores, and processes.

If you want to build a forever relationship with your customers, you need to first step back from the rhetoric spewed by technologists (and, in fact, a lot of the so-called experts who write books about B2B relationships but don't know what they're talking about).

Instead, you need to think about what a relationship really is, before setting into play the necessary steps to build and manage long-term relationships headed by any type of technological solution.

Relationships Are Confusing

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Allen Weiss

Allen Weiss is the CEO and founder of MarketingProfs. He's also a longtime marketing professor and mentor at the University of Southern California, where he leads Mindful USC, its mindfulness center.