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June 2017

Learn the competitive advantage of great CRM habits

In a recent issue of INC. magazine, Nicholas McGill gave a wonderful summary of great CRM habits. Even if you are a high-powered salesperson at a big company, you have to be maintaining your personal contact network, and these tips show the way. I have re-framed his points in my own language because I totally agree and I want to have them seared into my own brain. 

INC.: Managing Connections Is Now an Essential Life Skill. Step Up Your Hustle With These 7 Tips, 2017-May-16 by Nicholas McGill 

It may shock you that the linchpin to having more influential relationships rests not in some secret funnel app or technology but, rather, a deeper commitment to some basic fundamentals of contact management. These relationships are your opportunity farm. Maximizing your results often comes down to simply being a better steward than the rest of the crowd. So let's get to work. 

So here is my recap of Nicholas' wisdom:...   CRM to Save Your Life

  1. Get a good tool... Not Outlook or Gmail or Apple Contacts... because noting the activities is just as important as recording contact data. 
    1. You can keep it simple, like Streak for Gmail or Less Annoying CRM or Insightly... 
    2. Baseline: you must to be able to schedule a 'next task' every time you touch a contact, with a due date. 

  2. When collecting information, getting the name, and email or phone is NOT enough (and less is disastrous). If you can't get employer, title, interests or more, then at least write down where/when/why you met the person. 

  3. Prefer the personal email address and mobile phone if you can collect it. Business information is changing faster than ever. 

  4. Capture the story. Having a name with no context means making a 'cold call' later. 

  5. Watch for noteworthy tidbits. These will reawaken the spark. Better write them down ASAP because they fade SO fast. 

  6. Social media accounts rise and fall. When you first connect with someone on a social platform like LinkedIn or Facebook, you can probably collect their email address (which is probably a personal one), right after the connection is established. This will be crucial when their account lapses two years later. 

  7. Each time you meet the person IRL (in real life), update their record with details and personal anecdotes. Even if you don't reconnect for years, those memories will reawaken the connection. 

More from Nicholas McGill:

Every meeting reveals something new about the needs, interests and desires of one of your contacts. If a meeting doesn't, you are talking too much and asking too few questions. You should review and reflect on your meetings by jotting a few notes in your CRM.... 


CRM as an innovation driver at Wyndham Hotels

Customer relationship management is not just about 'sales and service.' Great CRM programs drive innovation. 

Loyalty360: Deep Customer Research Pivotal Piece of Customer Loyalty Puzzle at Wyndham Rewards, 2017-May-11 by Jim Tierney

During a session titled, “Loyalty Revisited – A Retrospective Panel Discussion with Loyalty Expo “Alumni” at the recent Loyalty Expo, Noah Brodsky, senior vice president, worldwide loyalty and engagement at Wyndham Hotel Group, talked about the key factors that fuel the successful Wyndham Rewards loyalty program.

“There is more heated competition for the same customers,” Brodsky said. “We will see richer rewards. We rolled out new benefits for our best customers. It starts and ends with deep customer research...."

Customer research showed that a free night was the most important reward for members and, yet, that same research overwhelmingly showed that most felt that reward was out of reach.

With the new program, Wyndham introduced a flat redemption rate of just 15,000 points per night at any of its more than 8,000 hotels and, simultaneously, made it so that members earned a minimum 1,000 points with every stay.

Last month, Brodsky said that Wyndham views itself as a challenger brand and continues to push for innovation.


Apple Pay steps further into the loyalty ecosystem

As a member of the Quizno's loyalty program, I can see the advantages of having Apple Pay. Quizo's has always been a low-end proponent of loyalty, and by pairing with Punchh and through them Apple, it gets access to more sophisticated features. We can watch the evolution of loyalty into being too complex for most businesses to own. 

9to5Mac: Apple Pay loyalty card support coming to Quiznos, Smashburger, and more restaurants, 2017-Jun-22 by Zac Hall

Punchh works with over 85 restaurant chains including Quiznos, Smashburger, Pieology, and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and announced plans today to bring Apple Pay-based loyalty card support to its client restaurant locations.

For participating restaurant brands, Apple Pay users will be prompted at checkout to add the restaurant’s loyalty program to their Apple Wallet. Once added, customers will automatically begin earning points and receiving specialized offers, which can be redeemed during future visits. Restaurant brands using the integrated solution will be able to match customers who have opted in to their loyalty program with their payments and receipts, know which menu items they purchased, and incentivize them to use Apple Pay.

Following today’s announcement, Punchh says customers will start seeing Apple Pay support for loyalty cards at participating restaurants “starting later this year.”


Why Marriott is not worried about Airbnb

While Marriott recognizes Airbnb as a competitor, its current strategy is being driven by pressure from the online travel agencies. In general, Marriott serves a distinctly different market than Airbnb, although that could change. In the meantime, Marriott is looking toward expansion, operational excellence, and a booming loyalty program to cement its future. 

Fortune: Marriott: Why It's Expanding as It Fends Off Airbnb, 2017-Jun-14 by Shawn Tully

So far, Sorenson’s strategy of building scale is working. The OTAs’ share of bookings remains flat at around 8%, and more new hotels are signing with Marriott and other branded hoteliers than ever before. The combined rewards programs are growing faster than ever, says Marriott, at around 1 million new members a month. As long as those higher-margin direct bookings remain strong, Marriott’s owners will be happy and its business healthy.


How Shell is leveraging CRM for marketing insight

Companies have been slow to realize the value of their CRM data for marketing insight. Shell's global  leadership in London has recently moved to the front line with its appointment of an experienced brand manager to head the CRM practice. Sherine Yap moved from the Global Marketing Promotions Manager for Shell Retail to the Global Head of CRM - Retail. 

Marketing Week: How Shell has bridged the gap between brand marketing and data, 2017-May-24 by Charlotte Rogers

Yap explained how the actionable data insights generated by her team are driving conversations around marketing spend and strategy. The data, for example, shows that a customer that engages with Shell’s loyalty programme is worth 10 times more to the company than a non-loyalty customer.

For all the marketing strategies that we have around attracting new customers, actually if you want to spend your money wisely we need to be driving more satisfaction and more value out of existing customers by deepening engagements. It’s not an opinion, I’ve got the data to back me up,” she said.


How puts customers in charge is constantly trying out new ways to excite and intrigue their customers. 

VentureBeat:  How gets users to pick the right subscription option (VB Live) , 2017-May-24

Too many subscription options, the potential customer gets overwhelmed and walks. Too few, and your customer feels crowded into their decision.

Finding that sweet spot, the subscription option that makes your user feel like they’re wringing out all the value and your accountant feel like Scrooge in his money vault, that’s the key to bottom line results, says Derek Blatter, Senior Manager, electronic payments and fraud prevention at, though not quite in those words... 

There are two key page elements to pay attention to: How you provide the default option to the customer, and how price is highlighted — for instance, the additional savings they’ll get if they choose a long-term commitment versus just a one-month subscription.

A lot of it comes down to how well-informed the customer feels.

“Just distilling all the subscription information into a simple way to understand is key,” Hennessy says, pointing out the matrix of options on Ancestry’s selection page. “Get a lot of information out to the customer in a way they can navigate and get working and integrating with your product as soon as possible.”

But all is not lost if they don’t choose the most lucrative option, he says. 


Minimal CRM and the challenge of tagging

Many of my friends have either added a CRM tool to their email application (i.e., adding Streak to GMail or PoliteMail to Outlook), or they have created a CRM-oriented routine using other tools such as Excel or Evernote. 

Because I've seen what a great CRM application can do, I am attracted to a full-featured product like Salesforce, but then discouraged because I just don't have enough 'relationship-building' time to use all its features. 

I recently stumbled across an article by Khe Hy, who used to be a hedge-fund manager and is now a writer and adviser. He did a great job of zeroing in on the essential issues of having a 'personal CRM' and the challenge of grouping and tagging your contacts. I've been trying to do this in LinkedIn, and it's so much more difficult than I anticipated. Khe has done a great job of 'hacking' this problem. 

RadReads: I couldn't find a good personal CRM so I created my own and want to share it with you, 2014-Aug-23 by Khe Hy

[I've lightly edited this information to be easier for future reference.]

The crux of the system is 4-category tagging system. As I meet new people, I use four tag families to describe their attributes: 1) Industry/Sub-Industry,  2) Job function, 3) Passions and 4) Personal Attributes. 

  • The first two are pretty straightforward (and very similar to LinkedIn); however, much of the magic occurs when you understand and connect upon an individual’s passions and personality traits. Quite simply, people connect more deeply over their personal commonalities than the information on their business cards.

  • ...The most “controversial” part of this system is that the tags are hard-coded [limited and pre-defined]. The reason I did this was to enforce some self discipline on the user (and to make things searchable). As most Evernote users know, the free form nature of tags makes it very hard for them to be effective. The example that I give is say you were using “Crossfit” as a tag – one day while updating you may type in “Xfit” and you would immediately have duplicates.

If you’ve made it this far, you must be wondering if creating these tags, updating individuals, filtering, etc is worth all the work. I would say that this tool becomes pretty powerful as the number of individuals increases. I currently have 500 people in mine and I believe that it enables me to really surpass Dunbar’s Number [150 contacts is a human limit without technology support] as I try to make myself as helpful as possible to my network of friends. I’ve added fields to help manage small mailing lists and to also keep track of attendance to the various events that I host. [In the CRM world, these are History fields.]

  • Resist the habit of adding new tags right away. Start by adding them in the Free form field and making a habit of scanning those every month or so.
  • Comment your tags – this can help resist the temptation of adding new ones too quickly or dealing with those that are not mutually exclusive


Alaska Airlines, unlike United

Recently, I flew Southwest Airlines, which used to have the reputation for humanity now enjoyed by Alaska Airlines. At Southwest, they were very efficient and friendly, in that order. It seems like the bigger and older a company gets, the less personal it becomes. I hope the Alaska-Virgin America merger goes well and they have another few years of humanity to share. 

Bloomberg Pursuits: Why Little Alaska Airlines Has the Happiest Customers in the Sky, 2017-May-24 by Nikki Ekstein

According to Michael Taylor, travel practice lead at J.D. Power, Alaska performs well—or wins—in every category. In-flight services are one exception: Alaska keeps up with aircraft models and onboard technology but doesn’t push these envelopes. (This is expected to change as the carrier inherits Virgin America’s tricked-out fleet.) But cost is a selling point. Flight crew get praise. And the airline wins by its widest margins in the boarding, deplaning, and baggage handling category.

“This [category] represents access,” explains Taylor. “The courtesy of the gate staff, timely flight information, and the time it takes to get on and off the plane.” In his mind, how you’re treated and how quickly you board are related: It takes smart, intuitive crew members, both behind the scenes and in the front of the house, to make the process seamless. It’s about making customers feel less like cattle, he says, and more like individuals. How does Alaska do that? “It’s not a mystery at all,” says Taylor. “They’re just very people-oriented. They empower their employees.”...  

Even though Kelly flies the airline only a few times a year—mostly to TED events in Vancouver—he puts serious stock in his Alaska miles. They’re often redeemed at more valuable rates than those of other airlines, he says, to the point that booking an Emirates flight is often cheaper with Alaska miles than with Emirates miles. The carrier also sells miles cheaply, for less than 2¢ apiece. (Other carriers sell them for 3¢ or 4¢.) “All this makes it one of the most valuable programs out there,” Kelly says.

Maintaining reward status is also easier with Alaska than with other airlines. “Even in a down year, Alaska will grandfather you into your normal level of status,” says David Fowler, chief privacy officer for an online marketing company. That was an informal perk until recently: Earlier this month the airline launched a “parental leave” policy that lets new parents (or others with significant life changes) put their loyalty status on hold for a year.

For Amy Daly-Donovan, an organization development consultant, little things like upgrade reliability, free cocktails, and end-of-year thank-you gifts (like tins of cookies) allow Alaska to stand out. “They truly seem appreciative of their highest-level frequent fliers and have the best frequent perks—no change fees!” she says.