Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Felix Thomson

Content Executive

The Financial Services Forum

Customer Experience – how can it work? Alan Pennington believes that those who take the ‘leap of faith’ are increasingly recognising that becoming more customer centred is not a project with a start and end date but rather the start of a journey which will have staging posts but no end date.
Why did the great customer relationship management hype and expenditure of the 1980’s and 1990’s not deliver the return on investment, in terms of sales or customer loyalty, upon which it was predicated and vast sums were gambled?
The principles behind hundreds of corporate programmes were, and remain, solid – namely creating value and loyalty by understanding customers better and varying the experience of customer groups based on varying definitions of ‘value.’ Yet the benefits have, for many, failed to materialise. The technology platforms in which so many firms invested heavily are both robust and immensely flexible in terms of capability, whether in improving sales force communications or enabling a single view of the customer.
Boardrooms were sold on the potential benefits of efficiency, customer retention and loyalty through customer intimacy and approved these significant investments. But as a result customer programmes became huge, all embracing, enterprise-wide systems developments encompassing front and back-end processes and technology, with swathes of data and multiple databases.
Many commentators now believe that the dominance of software vendors as the driving force, plus the enterprise nature of many customer programmes, led to huge spend levels being attached to the CRM label, and to a resulting no win position. The huge spends on technology alone required massive turnover increases to produce any meaningful return on investment.
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