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What Parenting can teach us about CRM

Date Added: September 16, 2011 09:35:31 AM

CRM or Customer Relationship Management  is a term tainted by failed IT projects and an industrializing of customer contact. It seems we have forgotten the customer experience. We have focussed more on the management part than the customer par of it.

So how can we refocus and get back on track?

For me it all fell into place when my friend Ole Lund Riber showed me the definition of the word ”Client”.

According to Merriam Webster’s Online Dictionary the definition of “Client” (read: Customer) is “One that is under the protection of another”.

That is so important I´m going to repeat it in bold italics:

One that is under the protection of another

You don´t have clients anymore, you have children! Congratulations.

So let´s look at parenting and see what it can teach us about CRM

4 main aspects of CRM and Good Parenting

My little girl Malou is 16 months and teaches me things every day. And I hope you can relate to some of her teaching on CRM.

Her main lessons can be summarized in four parts:

1 – Love
2 – Customer insight
3 – Teaching
4 – Complaint Management

Here´s a short summary on each of the topics

1 – Love

This is basic. You have to adopt a philosophy of always thinking what you can do to activate your child/client and make her feel loved. Think more about what you can put in to the relationship than what you can get out of it. Fact is: The more you put in, the more you get back.

An example of this is online shoe giant Zappos. Not only do they offer free shipping, free returns, free 365 days return and 24/7 customer service. They also – in their core values – install a mindset of always finding new ways to ”wow” their customers.

So love your client as if she was your child.

2 – Customer insight

My wife and I read dozens and dozens og blogs and books on parenting and childrens development before Malou was born. A very normal thing to do for first time parents. And I know a time will come when I will research schools, her friends, her friends parents and everything that can have an influence on her.

But are we putting enough efforts into getting to know our clients’ needs and normal development? Their environment?

I work in online marketing with SEO & Content and often get frustrated with how slow clients are to make suggested changes to their websites. But time and again I find this is because I try to teach them to run when they haven´t learnt how to crawl.

3 – Teaching

Being a parent means teaching your child how the world functions and how to navigate life safely. You have to teach them how to tie their laces. Explain why they can´t get their allowance before they clean their room and why they have to wash their hands before eating.

Same with clients. You need to teach them the value of your products and services and how to get the most of their relationship with you. Teach them what matters when buying your service, what the major pitfalls are, why why they should pay more for your services than your competitors’. Give them the insights they need to navigate your industry.

So take a look at your website. Are you teaching potential customers how to solve their problems? Or are you just showing your products and talking about yourself?

How to teach? Your website is a good place to start. Shut up about how you are a "leading company in the whatever industry" and denonstrate why and how the way you solve your clients' are better than your competition.

A client of mine, VPS Server specialists Webhuset, do regular roadshows where they teach customers how to make the most out of their setup. You don´t need to travel around like they do. Have a good newsletter or a blog.

Your goal should be to become the father figure your client comes running to when they need advice.

4 – Complaint Management

There will always be times when the client/child is discontent. Your job is to make sure she gets happy again quickly.

I hear many fathers saying they are not going to change their child until she´s one. BIG MISTAKE. You need to get stuck in early and learn how to clean up the mess.

Same thing with complaints. You have to deal with them when your client is small, or else you will not know what to do when the big shit hits the fan.. It might not always be serious business but if you don´t take it seriously your relationship will soon start to stink.

What you should do is to learn to recognize their signals – and check their diaper regularly. Fail to do so and you´ll end up having to clean up forever and keep rubbing ointment on them for a long time. And even if the ”situation” is caused by the client; she is under your protection and you need to change her.

Remember this: Only 1 in 20 complain to directly. The rest complain on their blogs, on Facebook,Twitter or one of the othe gazillion social platforms. If you want to succeed with CRM in the social economy you need to bee there when your baby starts crying.

So get social, and monitor your brand in social media.


The definition of “Client” is “One that is under the protection of another”.

So love them, get to know everything about them so you know what needs protecting, teach them about the dangers in the world and if they make a mess: clean them up!