Today, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) plays a significant role in all businesses, irrespective of the industry they operate in. While CRM is well understood in the context of industries such as FMGC, Telecom, Automobiles, etc., understanding and managing CRM in a marketplace for renewed devices to fight e-waste requires a different mindset and approach.
Laura Perceval (Laura), CRM Manager, is actively supporting the efforts of her company – Back Market – in their efforts to create more sustainable purchasing habits. In this article, Laura shares how the role of the CRM Manager has evolved and the essential skills anyone new to CRM should look to develop.
- Laura’s Career Journey
- Emerging CRM Trends
- 4 Essential Skills for CRM Managers
- Final Thoughts
- Lessons Learned
Laura’s Career Journey
Laura didn’t begin her career in CRM but acknowledged that working in the customer service area helped shape her approach to CRM. “I started my career in customer service, first as a working student with Sony Mobile and then at a fashion company. Starting in customer service gave me direct exposure to the types of problems customers would face,” Laura explained. “Early on, this helped me adopt a mindset where I’d be thinking about aiming for every action I would take towards creating a positive customer experience. Then, when I moved internally to work on UX design, I was taught how to use design as a way to solve those user issues.”
When the company started a CRM team, Laura jumped at the opportunity to move into Marketing. “I started to work with newsletters and retargeting and discovered the power of browsing and purchase history to create hyper-personalised experiences. I then moved to Audible where I was working on engagement, merchandising and their onboarding programme. It was an ideal environment to deepen my knowledge of CRM, as Amazon has both data and the tools to leverage it to create things like a gamified onboarding experience”. After a year and a half at Audible, Laura moved to her current role at Back Market.
Back Market challenges people to rethink their tech consumption by buying and selling renewed products. Their mission is to establish consumer trust in renewed devices, and by doing so, create a desire for people to buy more secondhand products that would otherwise become waste.
Emerging CRM Trends
Laura highlighted that the world of CRM is rapidly evolving and she pointed to a number of key trends that CRM professionals need to stay ahead of to be successful.
1. Decline of Email-only CRM
While the death of email has been overstated, there’s no denying the trend that engagement with the channel has been steadily declining. As a mature channel, there’s also the added complication of brands competing for your attention. Laura’s recommendation – try other channels. “CRM Managers should always look to diversify the channels they use by leveraging push or in-app messages. There are also emerging channels like Alexa that are rapidly growing and are largely untapped,” she explained. “There’s a great opportunity for forward-thinking brands to jump on these channels before other brands realise their potential.”
2. Privacy Changes
Google and Apple have both made significant changes to how tracking consent is collected which has been a positive change for consumers. The impact on Marketing has been stark, and Laura highlights the increasing lack of visibility we have towards customer actions. “Every year Google and Apple make it harder for us to collect data on customers, which reduces our ability to personalise their experience with our brand. Moving forward, brands need to get creative about collecting explicit tracking consent by highlighting the personalisation benefits that emerge when companies are able to collect this data.”
4 Essential Skills for CRM Managers
Over the course of our conversation, Laura highlighted the skill set she feels creates an effective CRM Manager.
1. Customer Empathy
The first, and perhaps most crucial skill for anyone working in CRM is the ability to understand and connect with your customer. Laura credits her earliest roles for developing this instinct: “Working in customer service put me on the front lines of the issues our users were facing and the type of solutions they were looking for. When I finally moved to CRM, I possessed a strong idea of what the customer needs were and I used that to shape my approach,” she explained. “Your mindset should always be focused on building the long-term relationship with the customer, and not just focus on short-term wins”.
While automation has reduced the amount of work required to communicate with your customer base, it has had the unintended effect of reducing the amount of creativity you see from brands. Laura emphasised that companies shouldn’t neglect the form factor of customer communications. “My time working with UX design showed me that how you communicate with the customer, the conscious decisions you make about images, copy or layout, influence your ability to connect with customers and convey your intended message”.
3. Data-driven Mindset
Laura explained that one of the biggest shifts she experienced was moving from relying on her gut feeling or instincts to digging deeper into data and actively working to validate her thoughts. “You can only act so much on gut feeling. You should actively seek out data and leverage it for A/B testing to understand the impact you’re having; That’s also how you gain more buy-in for your initiatives, by proving they work. One of my core responsibilities at Back Market is data reporting and visualisation, and having this mandate allows me to refine the type of tests I’m going to run and share this expertise with the wider team.”
4. Technical Knowledge
CRM is an ever-evolving discipline that requires CRM professionals to expand their expertise to match the rapid pace of change. Laura spoke about how liberating it feels to be independent enough to tackle the challenges of CRM without relying on others. “You don’t want your technical skill-set to act as a limitation; if you have to depend on others to set up an automation or find the data you need, then you’ll spend more of your time chasing others versus deploying campaigns. You want to have the ability to build something from A to Z, which might mean learning SQL,” Laura shared.
When I asked Laura for any advice she could give the next generation of CRM Managers, she had this to say: “CRM is a broad discipline, but more than ever I think it’s about information – knowing your users and understanding where you can have an impact. So, for anyone aiming to break into this profession, I would say, learn coding or learn programming and empower yourself with the technical skills necessary to get at the data you need to solve customer problems”.
|Having a background in customer service or design creates a strong foundation for moving into CRM in future, as they help you build a customer problem solving mindset
|As CRM becomes increasingly complex, CRM managers need to invest in their technical skill-set so that they can feel confident using data to create increasingly sophisticated campaigns
|The decline in email engagement creates an opportunity for companies to look to new, untapped channels to find new ways to connect with customers
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