Is Customer Relationship Management an Art or Science?
Customer relationship management has become an important part of business these days. Every successful business today needs to have a solid CRM started in place to ensure that customer satisfaction is always high and that the company is able to convert sales leads into actual sales and ensure that customer service performs its best too. While old school customer relationship managers believe that the job requires a bit of personal flare, talent and is something of an art, newer managers that have studied customer relationship management as a discipline in college, however, tend to think of it as more of a science. This begs us to ask the question – is customer relationship management is an art of a science?
The origins of CRM
To understand the art of CSM and the science behind it, we first need to understand the roots of the discipline itself and the forces that gave birth to it. The world’s first business school was founded in Paris, France in 1819 and it was called ESCP Europe. Business schools popped up around Europe through the 1800s and the first business school in the United States came into being in 1881 with the founding of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Historically, these schools taught disciplines like public relations, marketing, organizational behavior, entrepreneurship, economics, administration, accounting, human resource management, etc. though it wasn’t until the modern times that customer relationship management came into being as a specialized form of management.
What does CRM do?
CRM is basically a model that allows a company or business to manage its interactions with past, current and potential customers. Generally, CRM involves practices like technical support, customer services, marketing, synchronization, automation and organization of sales etc. When we think of CRM being an art, we basically mean that the customer relations office of a particular business is filled with smooth talking folks who can sell ice to an Inuit! However, since not everyone is blessed with the kind of suave that can charm people into forgetting their complaints or buying products that they don’t need, we need the scientific aspect of CRM that helps businesses keep a solid strategy in place which helps resolve conflicts easily and helps keep customer satisfaction on the higher end.
How is CRM an art?
As an art form, CRM has got more to do with the individual personalities and charm of the personnel working in the department than the limitations of these jobs per se. for example, it is a standard practice for businesses to employ a young, good looking and amiable person to manage their front office or reception desks. Being greeted by an attractive person who makes the customer feel welcomed and valued puts them in a good mood. The customer is likely to carry this feeling of positivity with them when they walk into the store/place of business.
Once inside the store/place of business, the customer usually meets with an experienced salesperson that may or may not be as attractive but they are usually knowledgeable about the company’s product and service range. These people help convince the customer into buying a product. Some companies put attractive front office personnel in charge of closing sales, i.e., getting customers to pay and sign the necessary documents as well which is where the charm and persuasion of their personalities help the business sell additional accessories as well. And then there are customer and technical support personnel. More often than not, the more successful people in this business too have “a way with the customers” which of course points heavily towards CRM being more of an art form than an exact science.
How is CRM a science?
Not every business in the world has an inspired and visionary HR head who can handpick charming people to put in all the right positions to secure customers and sales and that is precisely where the scientific element of CRM comes into play. As a business strategy, CRM enables businesses to attract and secure new customers, understand what the customer wants, provide a better customer experience and eventually boost sales and profits. If a company has a solid CRM strategy in place, it could win a lot of new customers and retain a major chunk of their existing client base by simply following the policy in place.
While the artistic and personal aspect of CRM cannot be denied, it is ultimately the scientific aspect of CRM that allows businesses to ensure that customers stick with them for a prolonged period of time.