Sending CRM communications within a single country is a straightforward affair; you have a relatively homogeneous customer base and can tailor your value proposition directly to your core customer base. The same cannot be said for global CRM.
David Martin, Global Head of CRM at Cabify, is well aware of the challenges of conducting effective CRM on a global scale. In this article David shares his fundamental CRM principles, and how Cabify overcomes the complexities of multi-country CRM to build strong customer relationships.
- David Martin’s Career Journey
- Structuring CRM for Global Success
- Three Fundamental CRM Rules
- The Future of CRM
- Final Thoughts
- Lessons Learned
David Martin’s Career Journey
David didn’t begin his career in CRM, but instead had experience with programming databases, business intelligence and data analytics across companies such as Burger King and Casa del Libro. “I’ve never enjoyed working in a single sector or role – but I’ve always had roles that focused on leveraging data,” he said.
After years working in senior business intelligence and data analytics positions, David jumped at the opportunity to build his skills in CRM. “I saw it as a natural extension of the skills I had gained working with data,” he explained. “Once you’ve gained a good understanding of the potential of data and how to use it to actually improve user experience, you can then integrate that data into CRM platforms such as Braze to build complex communication orchestrations.”
David believes the key to success in CRM is having a robust understanding of four key disciplines. “Product, Marketing, Engineering and Data are the fundamental pillars of CRM, and leveraging them together grants you incredible vision for what you can achieve” David said.
David now works as the Global Head of CRM for Cabify, a multi-mobility platform that connects private users and companies with the forms of transport that suit their needs. There he strives to balance a global strategy against the variety of markets and types of customers they serve, something he elaborates on in the rest of the article.
Structuring CRM for Global Success
Every company approaches the structure of their CRM team differently, but for David, he had multiple factors to consider when looking at how best to manage his team.
“Our customers are a mixture of private users, corporate users, collaborating drivers and taxis. And the differences between these types of users and their needs changes between the 8 countries we serve across Latin America and Spain,” he explained.
“Ultimately we settled on 3 communication layers that affords us the flexibility to handle different situations, while maintaining some guiding principles that everyone on the team follows.”
“This layer functions as a collaboration between our central team and local representatives. They bring the knowledge of the market – the customers motivations and needs – and we help with the execution,” David explained.
For David, local knowledge brings important insights. “In Latin America our customers want to hear from us 7-8 times a week and readily give us their data, which is the opposite of what we see in Spain where the CRM team works from,” David said.
The core of any CRM team, and something David tasks his team with spending most of their energy on. “Lifecycle is exclusively our domain, and I challenge my team to think of improving conversion funnels, deepening the relationships with our users and fine-tuning our automations,” David explained.
“The difficulty we face is creating a consistent strategy that also respects the local qualities. The value proposition is the same, but how we position it changes. For example, we want our customers everywhere to appreciate our unique emphasis on safety, and sustainability: we plan to have a carbon neutral fleet by 2030.”
Supporting initiatives by the rest of the company is also key to the success of the CRM team. “Our team acts as a buffer between the customer and internal departments that want access to our communication channels,” David explained. “The challenge for us has been trying to shift the mindset from product-centric to customer/city-centric. We want our colleagues to reflect on their request and remember that just because we have direct access to our customers, doesn’t mean we should abuse it.”
Three Fundamental CRM Rules
David knew having the structure set wasn’t enough – he needed to make sure his team and the larger company were aligned behind rules he still feels are crucial to CRM’s success.
Rule 1: Build with Data
“My background has informed my approach at Cabify, which means we work a lot with real-time events and spend time analysing data for any customer insights we can find,” he explained.
While David emphasises maximising the potential of data, he also cautions against abusing this power. “Data is a superpower that you need to use carefully – like any relationship, you’re dealing with trust and you don’t want to betray your customers.”
Ultimately David shared that you should have a clear idea of the relationship you want to build with customers and make sure the data you collect and use is aimed towards this goal.
Rule 2: Eliminate Silos, Create Consistency
David is adamant that without effective collaboration, your brand is likely to have differing messages that dilute your brand image.
“You’ve got product messaging, paid marketing, and CRM all communicating to the customer, and without consistency you run the risk of confusing or alienating customers.
For David it’s not just about having the right tools such as a CDP, it’s also about aligning the organisation behind a customer-centric mindset.
Rule 3: Empower Stakeholders
While David has established rules he wants colleagues within Cabify to adhere to, he also wants to make sure that CRM is set up in a way that it can support the goals of stakeholders.
“We have our local teams that are often pushing for CRM to support their business goals, and I wanted to develop a process that empowers them while maintaining the guardrails I’ve set around communicating with our customers,” he explained.
David’s team is in the process of designing a framework that will allow local managers the ability to quickly develop ad-hoc campaigns through Braze, but still give the central CRM team the ability to monitor the frequency of communications and relevancy of content going to customers.
“It’s a win-win for the company. Again, our local team members have such deep knowledge of the markets they can use to personalise campaigns, while we’re able to free up capacity on our team to focus on fine-tuning lifecycle communications”
The Future of CRM
For David, the pandemic highlighted the growing importance of the relationship CRM can establish with customers.
“As a company we were trying to communicate the health and safety protocols we had established for our customers, and luckily we were able to trade on the trust CRM had created with customers to get the message across effectively,” he explained.
David shared that he felt 5-6 years ago CRM was viewed solely as an engagement tool that wasn’t worthy of significant investment in, but that the attitudes are quickly changing.
“Now you see business intelligence teams creating predictive AI for CRM, companies are investing heavily in CRM departments and making sure they have the ability and authority to represent the customer across the organisation,” he said.
David’s pride in working for Cabify is evident throughout our conversation. “There are a lot of competitors in our space, but instead of engaging in a discount war we’re really doubling down on the customer experience, safety and trying to limit the impact we have on the planet,” he explained.
“One of the reasons I joined Cabify is because they want to make cities a better place to live for current and future generations. If more businesses cared about their impact in the long term, we wouldn’t be experiencing the devastating impact of climate change.”
Before ending our conversation I asked David for one piece of wisdom he could share. Here’s what he said:
“Make sure that you feel like you’re making an impact. I made a decision years ago to focus on how I could create awareness around the importance of sustainability and improving the livability of cities. If we all think less about the titles and career accomplishments we have and more about the impact we make on the world, we can create a better future for everyone.”
|Product, Marketing, Engineering and Data are the fundamental pillars of CRM – you need to understand how all four work together to create effective CRM.
|Data is a privilege CRM teams need to leverage carefully, balancing the value of collecting data against the trust customers have that you won’t abuse their data.
|Localisation is one of the most powerful forms of personalisation you can invest in, allowing you to exploit clear customer differences to create relevancy.
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