Can Organizations have a Global CRM?

Having a global CRM strategy is  one of the most important steps towards operating as a global organization. The next question that comes to mind is “Why do organizations have to operate as a global organization?” There are various reasons, but one of the primary reasons is the saturation of US and European markets clubbed with the rise in the disposable income in newer markets. Organizations have realized: To achieve growth and to provide return to the shareholders they need to explore opportunities beyond the conventional markets. These markets are different and so are the customer preferences and needs.

There's no such thing as a global customer

Just extending the CRM strategy “AS IS” to these markets many a times will not be the most intelligent idea. But contrary to this; Organizations in the past have done this and have burnt their fingers. An example:

 British coffee chain Costa Coffee has reworked its India strategy to turn profitable and expand its footprint. The new strategy involves closing unprofitable locations, Customer segmentation strategy for different locations, changing the look and feel of outlets and customizing the menu to better suit the Indian palate.

 According to Santhosh Unni, who took charge as the CEO of Costa Coffee last year, the company went through its share of mistakes before setting the model right.

“The biggest mistake was to try and replicate the same UK model in India, when it was launched in 2005. We found that the UK model is not working in India where people look at coffee shops as a meeting place. So we had to alter the format and the ambience of the chain,” Unni said.

The chain had also made the mistake of opening stores at wrong locations. Read the full article here  http://www.mydigitalfc.com/news/costa-coffee-rejigs-india-strategy-659

So does this mean that one cannot have a global CRM strategy? I think there is nothing like a “Global Customer” and a customer is  “stranger” and his/her behavior changes over time, age, sex, demography, etc., but  having said that, organizations should create  the CRM strategy to know this “stranger” better and predict his behavior. This can be the global guiding light. The operational level changes to this strategy are keys to achieving a true and successful CRM in each new market that the organization expands its operations to.

At operational level also organizations invariably face the challenge of maintaining the balance between the core philosophy and local market needs. Organizations need to appreciate the fact that there are very few possibilities to effectively develop global customer segmentation profiles and global sales and marketing processes. But if organizations do try to create a global CRM at operational level, one of the following is bound to happen:

  • Each market ends up with its own customized version running locally. This is a politically acceptable compromise, which if properly managed, usually works satisfactorily
  • There is a single version running centrally, with all the attendant difficulties of managing a one-size-fits-all solution with various flavors for various countries, with serious technical/operational issues resulting in a costly, complex and rigid/inflexible solution.

Global organizations should try and define in concrete terms — rather than in vague and all-embracing concepts — just what business objectives they’re trying to achieve and whether standardization of CRM is the best way to go about it.

What do you think? Is there a global CRM?

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