The Three Rules of CRM: Automate, Automate, Automate

Recent news that Starbucks will soon start offering a feature on its Square payment app that automatically prompts customers to leave a tip for appropriate purchases and also calculates “basic,” “better” and “best” tip amounts serves as a reminder of the three rules of modern CRM: Automate, automate, automate.

In theory, automated CRM solutions like a tipping prompt make the consumer’s life easier. Continuing the Starbucks example, it’s easy to forget to leave a tip when you’re in a hurry, and nobody wants to compute a tip percentage in their head with a bunch of impatient caffeine-starved customers waiting behind them. In practice, this convenience for the customer also makes it much more likely they will add a tip to their purchase, and who really wants to leave a “basic” tip, especially if in the company of others?

Let’s look at a few suggestions to help you ensure your automated CRM offerings are providing maximum benefit to both your customers and your organization.

The ‘Help’ Must Be Real
For an automated CRM solution to provide true ROI, the “help” it offers customers and retailers must be real. Looking at the Starbucks payment app, automated tipping genuinely provides a time- and face-saving service to the customer while boosting tips, which does not directly affect Starbucks’ bottom line but does improve employee morale and can also reduce pressure to raise barista wages.

But customers are not dummies, so any automated CRM solution must legitimately help them in some way and not serve as a blatant attempt to grab more money out of their pockets. A purchase recommendation app that recommends upsells and cross-sells reflecting a customer’s behavioral history genuinely helps a customer while increasing market basket size. A purchase recommendation app that simply recommends pricey items, which are not selling well insults the customer’s intelligence.

Bring the Customer’s Device
While in-store devices, whether fixed such as kiosks or mobile such as employee tablets, can be highly useful and sometimes necessary mechanisms to deliver automated CRM services, the best automated CRM solutions run on the customer’s own device. Modern consumers live seamlessly integrated lives where their digital and physical presences are interchangeable, and expect retailers to seamlessly interact with them wherever most convenient. Receiving a text with an automated discount at a nearby store is a lot more convenient than having to go in the store and announce yourself to an employee so they can generate automated discounts on a tablet or kiosk.

Using customer devices as a delivery platform for an automated CRM solution is more complex than using in-store devices, but potentially saves money on hardware overhead and employee training. In addition, it extends the reach of automated CRM solutions far beyond the physical store.

Relate While You Automate
Finally, remember that “relationship” is the central word in “customer relationship management.” Automated CRM solutions should not just robotically deliver special discounts and services, but also help retailers better relate to their customers. Whether through social games and contests, solicitation of comments and feedback (with follow-up live interaction), reposting of select interactions on company social media accounts, or other means, automated CRM solutions should not seem overly “automated.” Duplicating the dreaded touchtone menu-based call center experience in the digital realm is the antithesis of automated CRM, or any CRM, for that matter.


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