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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Sports Communication is Changing - CRM is dead???

For a while now, CRM has been a hot topic (or certainly a hot three letters) with sports clubs/bodies (the good ones anyway) clamoring to drive their businesses with the best available CRM computerized systems.
Communication with your customers is a key part of building your brand/club - so to have a system that makes this easier / more robust, and improves the results (and use of results) is certainly a good idea....
The thing with CRM though is that the buzzword has been around for a few years now, but the practice has always been around - just under a different guise.

When we all worked with parchment and ink - a wax stamped delivery from your local Falconry Club to inform you of the upcoming ‘Hare Chase’ would have been unusual (and restricted to just the very best at patronage communication).  But as technology moved on - sports administrators moved to managing their customer's data with hand written records (and some studious and generally pretty friendly office administrators).  Stuffing envelopes became one of the year’s most dreaded events - “We have 10,000 warm leads who need a letter - it’s all hands to the envelope pump”.

Data was captured through approaching folk directly, writing it down, and then transferring it to an A4 lined book / Excel spreadsheet (or similar) and then using your skills to dissect / analyze and decide how best to use..
In the past ten years, the Internet has revolutionized the way that we collect and use data.  For me, the best teams will still utilize the methods of yesteryear - a letter is still nice to receive, it’s still good to speak to people (even if they are collecting data) - but the vast majority of work in recent years has been done online.
The email address has been the most prized possession - it’s cheap, it’s success is quantifiable, and generally it’s pretty easy to get hold of.  And with the Internet being the single biggest factor in our lives - and people’s use of email,  the rise of CRM systems has been rapid.
All manner of innovation has been seen - there is plenty of good stuff going on - with hugely creative ways now in existence of managing the Customer Communication Process.
But, as the title indicates, those days are soon to be over I believe.  Yep - we’ve only just got there - and we’ve only really started to give customer the ‘relationship’ that they deserve (co-ordinated email (and snail mail) campaigns - giving you the information you want, when you want it) - and already we're too late.....
The “old” CRM system however was based on using a person’s address (be that email or postal) - and increasingly the address is becoming more of an outdated concept.  We are still a long way from addresses becoming redundant - but with the advent of Social Media (more time spent on dedicated sites such as Facebook / Twitter and less time communicating via our email addresses), and with the huge growth of Apps (where people now go direct to dedicated providers for their content or comms in certain fields) - the CRM systems are going to need a rejig.
Good communication with your customers now is more than just using their address (many people have multiple email accounts, using each sparingly for different functions).  And CRM systems as we know them will no longer deliver the right communication mix.
Those of us responsible for managing Customer Relations are going to need to get busy (and ‘skilled-up’) to keep up.  A strategy across all available communication channels is needed, using different types of ‘addresses’ (the address being redefined as the place where the communication ends up).  Personalized comms to a platform will become more common - we might not know how to get to you - but when you log on - our comms will react and reflect what YOU want to see (and get our messages across in a skilful / non-intrusive / ‘persuading you to act’ kind of way - OK - may be pushing it a bit there....).
Think about it - 
  • The old ‘computer’ has competition for our time - with Apple introducing the ‘PC killer’ - tablets will be changing the way communication is received, and viewed...
  • Smartphones now take up more hands (30-40% of phone sales) and more time (folk check their chosen comms in a different fashion via reader / Aps / etc)
  • Some people spend more time communicating with their ‘games’ (Angry Birds / Words with Friends / and more) than they do with their contacts (Jeff / Dave / Miranda / Hilda / other names / your Sports club)
  • The pace of change has been exponential - is it really likely to slow down....  And people's expectations are only heading one way as the rest of technology 'improves' our life...
To be the best, it’s going to be real tough, and real challenging.  But comms is going to be a lot more exciting to work in - good luck.
CRM is dead, long live ‘new’ CRM.

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