The great CRM myth – little to do with relationships

Posted by Janice Scheckter on 11 June 2015 10:30 AM CAT
Do you know the difference between CRM and SRM? AND do you know that there is SRM and then there’s other SRM!


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For years CRM was the buzzword. If you didn’t have a strong integrated CRM programme – customer relationship management was lacking and you were possibly losing sales, losing loyal customers and of course losing revenue.

Truth – the R in CRM should not have represented “relationship” – maybe it should have be – retention or possibly, revenue – customer retention management or customer revenue management – both were accurate for what the vast majority of CRM programmes focused on.

So what’s SRM? Well many of the large software giants offer their customers the solution to replicate their original CRM programme to build a strong Supplier Relationship Management programme. SAP talks about a better managed procure-to-pay supplier relationship and Oracle speaks of SRM in the social relationship management context – talking of the importance of utilising social media effectively to engage the organisation, build marketing platforms and more. Both are right and both are critical for the survival of business.

When we think of SRM, it the acronym represents yet another concept. The smart connected enterprise of today understands that it’s essential to embrace the concept of Stakeholder Relationship Management. This has less to do about data management and more to do about aligning the interests of stakeholders through the ecosystem of the organisation. While businesses fully understand that the mandate of the business is to create shareholder value, the true connected enterprise acknowledges shareholders as part of the stakeholder ecosystem and looks to aligning derived value.

These businesses often look at their suppliers as partners rather than suppliers and succeed in building a relationship where true value is derived all around.

 Starbucks Coffee Company decided to make environmental care and the welfare of small coffee growers part of its brand promise. Part of this initiative involved an association with MPO Conservation International.

Starbucks worked with small Mexican coffee growers to increase good environmental practices while supporting them through sales. Starbucks went to great lengths to ensure that this value system was embraced by its employees and understood by its customers, and no doubt had the buy-in of shareholders.

This represents real SRM where the entire ecosystem has alignment of interests from society and the environmental issues, to partners growing good capabilities, to investors realizing improved value through better customer support and of course employees connecting to the business they work for.

We are clearly beyond the requirement of only managing data in our organisations. Those that embrace Stakeholder Relationship Management while continuing to effectively understand valuable data, will continue to build sustainability.

Janice Scheckter is MD and co-founder of Indigo New Media. 






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