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The topic of CRM from a management perspective



Why is there so much talk of “new leadership” in connection with CRM? What does leadership – CRM from a management perspective – essentially mean?

CRM from a management perspective: Leadership is both a) a field of research and b) a practical skill that encompasses the ability of an individual or organization to “lead” or manage other individuals, teams or entire organizations. …”.

So simple, so clear.

Studies on leadership have produced findings that highlight very specific aspects or characteristics such as a) situational interaction, b) communication, c) behavior, d) power, e) vision or f) values, g) charisma and g) intelligence, among others.

This long list shows that it is not that simple.

Why? Because one characteristic or aspect rarely “comes along” or is in demand in isolation. It is always a mixture of different aspects that are used in a targeted manner depending on the situation.

In other words, good leadership or good leadership management is a combination of situational behavior in conjunction with a continuity of “his” behavior. In the best case scenario, this results in a high level of trust and a special, problem-solving and sustainable culture.

Do you know John P. Kotter? Probably already, because …

John P. Kotter, one of the world’s best-known authors on the subject of leadership, has written several books on the subject.

Wikipedia writes about him: John Paul Kotter (born February 25, 1947 in San Diego, California) is a professor of leadership management at Harvard Business School. He is particularly known for his work in the field of change management.

A major thematic work that has brought him global recognition is: A Force For Change: How Leadership Differs from Management. ISBN-10: 9780029184653

One of his best-known books is entitled: The Penguin Principle. How Change Leads to Success (“Our Iceberg Is Melting”). Droemer, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-426-27412-4 (together with Holger Rathgeber).

What does the Penguin Principle, invented by the Harvard professor, mean?

Kotter describes the change process using the example of a herd of penguins who notice that the iceberg is melting. He describes the reaction and change process using 8 steps. The 8 steps – in a nutshell – of such a change are

  • Create awareness of the problem (and demonstrate the need for a solution)
  • Assemble a team – to coordinate the changes
  • Develop a vision and strategy for a better future
  • Communicate this vision of the future to the other stakeholders so that they understand and accept it
  • Remove as many obstacles as possible
  • Achieve initial successes as quickly as possible
  • Drive the necessary changes forward until they are firmly anchored
  • Ensure that the changes achieved are not undermined by tradition.

The particular challenge for a good manager is to draw the right conclusions for change from classic change theory and the theory of customer orientation.

What do you do when the iceberg melts? CRM from a management perspective

Is it first and foremost a business issue? Yes, it is, but …

It is primarily a question of personnel management. Because even the first two aspects have something to do with people in the company. Am I the only one who feels that “the iceberg is melting”? Are there others besides me who are aware of the “melting iceberg”? Who in the team is suitable for coordinating the changes? What skills do we have, what skills do we need?

In the coronavirus era, the iceberg has melted enormously – to stay with the metaphor.

During this time, the skills of good managers were (and still are) in demand. How do I plan for the coming year with the current knowledge and perspectives? How do I lead my team out of the crisis? Is this still a classic management task? Or is it a completely different responsibility? How do I lead my team in the home office for at least three months? How do I lead mixed teams that need to work together optimally both in the office and at home? Do we want to continue this form of collaboration? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

And now there is the issue of customer orientation?

Everyone is talking about customer relationship management and customer experience. Nevertheless, the topic is still not being approached seriously and consistently. There is far too much lip service.

However, if a company is committed to customer orientation, then all areas and teams must be managed differently today. The employees in the individual areas/teams must be able to make decisions directly at the customer or in customer contact. The availability of information and speed are competitive advantages. This is only possible if the employees are supported by the top management (leader).

CRM from the management’s perspective

Example: If the customer is dealt with in a standardized manner or has to wait for a decision (because an employee asks the line manager and the answer is delayed), this is a problem. The result: the customer is quickly dissatisfied or goes straight to the competition.

And the employee – without the appropriate information or decision – stands in front of the customer like a watered poodle.

In many cases, the customer will not express their dissatisfaction if they do not like the decision that was made later. In most cases, they are not even asked. In this way, a possible churn is never recognized.

  • The result: everyone is dissatisfied.
  • The manager: They see “customer churn” in the statistics
  • The employee: He sees the frustrated customer AND feels his powerlessness
  • The customer: He would have liked to stay, but …

CRM from a management perspective: Who are typical leaders? What is good leadership?

The “usual suspects” such as Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk – to mention just three – are often mentioned. They are the brand, they shape the corporate culture through their way of communicating, through their behavior. They drive ideas, set directions and present or represent their company every second, with every fiber of their body, with their facial features, with their communication.

Yes, in a way, they show within their own culture how they have managed to be successful. But is that the silver bullet? Sometimes yes, but certainly very often no.

Leadership management is of course not only represented by top management. Any other manager can also become a leader through leadership management. It is usually people who are intrinsically motivated. They drive a cause forward, their cause. They are allowed to drive. Because you let them. In other words, it depends on the leadership style, not the hierarchy.

Digital leadership is a special kind of leadership.

Wikipedia (as of 18.06.2020) writes about it:

“Digital leadership is a scientific approach to defining the tasks and tools of leadership in times of digitalization in general and in phases of transformation to digitalization in particular.”

It was first developed and mentioned by Utho Creusen at the Catholic University of Eichstätt/Ingolstadt in connection with the study of leadership in start-ups. Other authors use the term Leadership 4.0 to describe a comparable leadership concept.

A distinction is made between leadership in start-ups, leadership in digital companies and leadership in the digital transformation and conclusions are drawn for the different leadership approaches.

The starting point is the realization that digitally leading companies achieve higher sales, earnings and company values depending on their level of digital readiness.”

Now, the level of digital maturity is always very different. This is not a bad thing, as not every company has customers and business models that require perfect digitalization. But it’s practically no longer possible today without it.

CRM from a management perspective: so what does this mean in practice?

Here’s a guiding principle of mine: “Digital transformation is subject to customer orientation.”

Not everything that is digitally possible is also important for you and your customers. Just because experts sell a topic as “the hot shit” doesn’t always make it relevant for their companies.

Another aspect: 14,000 software tools are currently listed in the MarTech Landscape

More than ever before. Not all of them are “core tools” that are important for CRM, CX, etc. But many are intended for collaboration and workflows. Whether they are suitable is another question. But back to leadership management. Depending on how you lead, depending on what the processes should look like in the future, you need different tools. Not every tool is suitable. And, it’s also simple, depending on what the software landscape looks like today and what it should look like in the future, a tool may or may not fit.

If you want to automate, you have to standardize!

How do we work together internally? How much standard or freedom will there be in the future? How does automation benefit the company? How does the customer benefit? How do we make the customer happy? How do we create a balance between “customer value” (value of the customer for the company) and “value to the customer” (value that the customer receives from the product/service)?

But beware:

Customer orientation has a natural enemy:
The function-oriented form of organization

I describe why this is the case in my CRM manifesto

PS: This article will be updated on an ongoing basis.


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