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Friday, August 20, 2010

Individual Relationship Management (IRM) trumps CRM

Part 2 of a 2 Part Series on Individual Relationship Management (IRM) versus Customer Relationship Management (CRM) which is flawed

By Guest Author, John Fleming, Executive Advisor to Solutionz 

Individual Relationship Management - IRM - is not a technology, but a cultural foundation that must exist in a company before customer intimacy can become a reality. 
 
While there have been many attempts at one-on-one marketing in the past leveraging CRM technology, IRM transcends that and takes you to the next level of customer intimacy. 

IRM requires that you understand the context and situation that your customer or prospect is in at the time that you are interacting with them (the who, what, when, where, how and why behind the interaction). This is the only way that you can be assured that what you are presenting is relevant and meaningful, reinforcing your relationship with the customer and building the engagement at the same time.

CRM will provide benefits operationally as the vast experience with the various CRM tools has demonstrated. And, in many instances the frontline and the customer will have a more meaningful interaction because a new level of attention overlays the transaction. 

Yet it does not answer the IRM questions posed above. And, as such the delivery system (see model below) becomes more static and fails when it comes to being agile enough to adjust to changing relationship circumstances. 

This may be fine if your business is based on operational excellence such as McDonalds, or Amazon. But, if for example your business is based on sustaining a growing member/customer base or attempting to achieve a preferred service provider status; then it is imperative that the individual relationship be a focus of the service engagement. And, note that we are now talking about an engagement rather than a transaction. 

The IRM process must begin with a complete understanding of customer expectations and whether done by survey or focus groups, or whether your front line provides you their observations and insights, this step in achieving an IRM-based culture can't be skipped.  

Inspired by the models and thoughts contained in Service Management by Richard Normann
The engagement of both a service provider and a customer in a relationship that will result in an exchange of value between both parties. Truly, a mindset that both parties have to win or have to feel better about the relationship after the engagement than before.
As stated earlier this outcome is the result of focused effort to build and sustain a cultural foundation that is based on serving customers or serving those that do at every level of an organization.
For more information about achieving Customer Intimacy through deployment of an Individual Relationship Management (IRM) strategy, please contact us at (813) 925-0789.
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