How much do you really know about your customers? Going beyond the CRM

As a label, the term ‘customer’ neatly replaces ‘person’ with the idea that they aren’t people so much as revenue sources, mere numbers, figures on the balance sheet. Companies who treat their customers that way don’t keep them for long, especially with the heightened transparency of social media. Bad customer service and brand interactions don’t stay hidden for long.

We’ve talked before about personas and how brands use this information to understand their customers better. This means starting with six questions in order to get information on the following: demographic information, job and seniority, ‘day in the life’, pain points, aspirations and who influences them.

This is certainly a start. But in order to get a full 360 view of the customer it is time to dig deeper.

What you need won’t always be found in your customer relationship management system. There is more information spread across the wider web and social networks than is available in most CRMs.

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Learning to Listen

The key to using this effectively is combining what can be determined through ‘listening’ (using a service, like across the social web in order to better understand what your customers are really like. This can be combined with the information you have, to correlate the touch points your brand has had with the customer and their life outside of those limited periods of interaction.

You can get a lot of valuable information this way. Depending on certain factors, like how much a person shares on social networks. But there will always be gaps, which sometimes the best way to fill such a gap is by talking – getting to know them as people.

One method, which has been uncovered while researching for this blog, is the Mackay 66 model, developed by Harvey Mackay, author of The Mackay MBA of Selling in the Real World, after decades of sales experience.

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