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The 3 Pillars of Modern Customer Engagement with Aleksandra Varakina, Data and CRM Leader at Massive Rocket 


CRM projects often start with high expectations streamlining operations, improving productivity, or increasing sales. However, one of the fundamental mistakes made during any CRM implementation is viewing it as a mere technology hook-up; CRM adoption requires a holistic approach that considers the entire organisation.

In this article, Aleksandra Varakina shares how she tackles the challenges of CRM adoption and how the right approach and a dream team can help you achieve CRM success. 

What’s Inside?

  1. Aleksandra Varakina’s Journey
  2. The Future of CRM
  3. The 3 Pillars of Modern Customer Engagement
  4. Closing Thoughts
  5. Lessons Learned

Aleksandra Varakina’s Journey

After completing her marketing studies, Aleksandra began to work in the CRM field including business development and IT. Today, with over ten years of experience in project management, business analysis, and marketing, Aleksandra has witnessed how CRM adoption is a team effort and not disconnected individuals working with the same tool. “I perceive myself as a CRM leader who builds teams and loves transforming chaos into structured processes”, she said.

The division of PWC I worked at had over 1,000 employees, and as CRM was a super small department, we needed to structure our team to handle the high demand; the key was to use technology and processes to scale and deliver quality work consistently.

We were responsible for a system in which big processes like sales management, accounting management, and risk management were handled. These were the foundation of our entire customer lifecycle starting from the moment a lead enters the sales process to the moment we invoice the client and grow the project. As our lifecycle grew, it became increasingly important to fine-tune the analytics layer for reporting across the funnel and to make critical business decisions.

After PWC, I worked at RVVZ Foundation for 5 years, a philanthropic fund with multiple worldwide initiatives. When I started, customer data was highly fragmented across the business, so we deployed a CRM system that acted as a source of truth and streamlined communications. This allowed us to connect client interactions across sales, marketing, event management and project delivery.

Today, I lead the CRM, Data & Integration team at Massive Rocket where my focus is set on CRM & CDP implementations, workflow design, marketing automation, and analytics.

The Future of CRM

CRM brings immediate value to businesses by forging a relationship between a business and its customers. The perfect CRM experience is Human in that it includes the following qualities: Personal, Relevant, Genuine, Valuable, and Compassionate. 

Use the arrows at the bottom left of the presentation to navigate through the slides.

The CRM discipline has evolved exponentially in the last 10 years. The basics are the same – to deliver relevant communications to the right audience, but Aleksandra shared 3 specific elements that are especially relevant for modern businesses to consider when creating successful CRM.

The 3 Pillars of Modern Customer Engagement

It’s a little cheesy but when we talk about our approach, we talk about the 3 pillars of Modern Customer Engagement. We have figured out that when one of our customers is struggling, generally one of these three areas is not set up correctly.

Pillar 1. People

Great CRM teams care deeply about customers. Passion and empathy are essential traits for each person on the CRM team, and every decision should consider the customer experience. Team members need to remember that every form of communication created is received and read by a person, so you need to have compassion and empathy for your target audience.

At Massive Rocket, we emphasise finding team members that think first and foremost about the customer experience. This is why compassion is one of our core values and something we live and breathe every day. We coach everyone to consider who the customer is, and what their needs might be and make sure everything we create is optimised towards that.

Once you have the correct people on the team you need to then consider the correct team structure and skill which should include:

  • Strategist with a vision of where you are and where you want to go;
  • Campaign Manager to plan, execute and optimise your campaigns;
  • Architect to ensure impeccable CRM functionality and data flow;
  • Content Team to tell the company’s story with a dedicated approach to content and visuals;
  • CRM Developer to create and test CRM campaigns and recommend technical improvements;
  • Data Analysts to analyse and get insights from the data to support decision-making.
Pillar 2. Platform

Today, we have tools that allow us to collect, connect and analyse data to get a clear, real-time picture of customers and talk to them in useful ways based on their context. 

At Massive Rocket, we exclusively partner with Braze as our CRM tool because of the robust suite of tools it has for connecting with your customers. As a market leader, Braze has specialised and doubled down on the ability to leverage insights on customers to communicate with them in real time through the most relevant channels. They have also built the deepest integrations with the best data management solutions in the market: Segment, mParticle and Snowflake. The results speak for themselves and we have successfully been able to get every single one of our customers to value this approach.

Source: Massive Rocket Data

Modern CRM teams need to be more strategic and goal-driven rather than directed by tactics and campaigns. They need to understand how to use the tools available to them, combined with a robust understanding of data and a scientific mindset to allow for experimenting with different hypotheses.

Pillar 3. Process – we call it Agile CRM

The last and sexiest pillar of CRM is the ‘Process’. Strong processes are the most overlooked component of CRM. You can have great technology and people, but the process is the glue that holds it all together; good processes make your work more efficient, and more transparent and enable you to go fast and scale.

Massive Rocket built to help guide companies through all of the different processes and steps required to build a strong customer experience. From auditing your existing setup to building a well-defined roadmap, gives companies a strategy to follow for connecting better with their customers.

Source: Massive Rocket Analysis

At Massive Rocket, we have productised best practices from over +100 CRM engagements that enable us to get customers to value events faster. Through a combination of tools and processes, we will rapidly benchmark your CRM performance, identify new opportunities and provide recommendations on how to perform better.

Source: Massive Rocket Analysis

Closing Thoughts

Today, customers expect every company they do business with to act and interact like their favourite technology brands. The way businesses engage with their consumers needs to evolve constantly to keep up. CRM is not just people building lists and sending newsletters, it’s your competitive advantage.

CRM is an extension of your product and customer experience. Every CRM expert should approach their work with a test-and-learn methodology. Don’t take anything for granted or anything as certain – create a hypothesis and figure out the best way to prove it.

Lessons Learned

1Always consider the relevancy of your product and message – you need to push the right product, to the right person, at the right time
2If you want to integrate CRM into your organisation’s strategy, you need to educate your peers about how CRM can support their goals
3Continually advocating for CRM representation across all departments is the best way to create a customer-first mindset
4CRM needs to have a certain level of sophistication to connect with customers. It’s important to work jointly with BI/Insight teams to make sure segmentation and 1:1 targeting is possible

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