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Ouch. The title of this post is one of the things I hear most often when I am ‘reaching out’ to sell my services.

Is it true? Are relationships all you need?

Relationships are amazing but they are not enough to keep your customer happy.

B2B organisations need structured customer satisfaction processes just as much as consumer-facing businesses. And to be clear I am not talking about arm’s length surveys or risking disintermediation (I have been looking for an excuse to use that word for a while).

Unfortunately, CRM has become a synonym for sales and marketing tools. This image search shows how few people include delivery and support.

CRM models tend to end at sale

But true CRM looks after customers after the sale.

What is the difference between issues and poor performance?

It is a little grey in places, so don’t get hung up on it. Instead, tackle both.

But for the record, issues are incidents that have compromised your performance – a box of broken bottles, or a website crash. Poor performance is more about the ongoing – every box contains a broken bottle, or a perpetually slow website.

As I say, don’t get fret about it as they need similar responses.

How do delivery and service fit into CRM?

Should we look after our customers’ experience assuming a happy customer is a repeat customer?

IMHO that is only part of the reason for tying delivery and service into CRM. I would say

We serve our customers to carry on getting to know them, understand their needs and aspirations, and grow with them.

The thing is B2B relationships tend to focus on the immediate and points of contact are rarely structured. How often do you put aside time to ask your B2B customers these three important questions?

  1. Can you quantify our performance?
  2. What do we need to get better at?
  3. What are your plans for the future and where do we fit? (that might look like two questions because it is. But no-one likes lists with four questions.)

You might do this already and be ready for the next stage. If you don’t, get cracking and be honest about your relationships. Ask yourself who are the best people to answer these questions and be ready to answer the obvious question – “What are you going to do with that information?”.

The next stage

Here’s the answer to that awkward question: You are going to take action to improve your performance and you are going to align your business development with your customers’.

To do both you need accountability and communications. Throughout the organisation, you need people who will take action to fix issues, drive performance improvements and influence your strategy. And you need to tell them what the customer is saying, the priorities for fixing and what to start developing. BTW you also need governance to prevent a tsunami of instructions sweeping away your internal teams.

This blog examines customer experience and its relationship to business performance from my unique perspective. If you would like to share your thoughts, leave a comment or head over to my contact page and to get in touch.

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