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Ashton Kutcher Authors: Matthew Lobas, Thomas Krafft, Scott McKain

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Why CRM is often DUM…

Benjamin Franklin once said, “The sweetest sound in any language is a man’s own name.” Why is it so difficult for a business to understand that is true about their customers, as well?

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time…or listened to any of my speeches, broadcasts, or training…or read any of my books…you may know that my name is “Scott McKain.”

However, according to the CRM data of many companies, it’s not.

You see, my full given name is “Dallas Scott McKain,” but everyone I’ve ever known…from my parents, to school teachers, to business associates, to best friends…have ALWAYS called me “Scott.”

My name was suggested by the small town doctor who delivered me. My mother insisted (thank goodness!) that I shouldn’t be a “Junior,” because my Dad’s middle name was Maynard! However, Dr. Bard always liked names that had an initial first, with full name second. One of his favorite authors was F. Scott Fitzgerald…the leader of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, was enormously respected at that time…sports legends such as H. Lou Gehrig…rich industrialists like J. Paul Getty…authors like W. Somerset Maugham…even Presidents of the United States, for example T. Woodrow Wilson — or First Ladies such as A. Eleanor Roosevelt — used their middle name as their given name. No problem, right?

(In today’s world, consider W. Brad Pitt, C. Ashton Kutcher, A. Kelsey Grammar, O. Marie Osmond, F. Murray Abraham, L. Reese Witherspoon, H. Ross Perot, G. Gordon Liddy, S. Truett Cathy (Chick-Fil-A), T. Boone Pickens, author T. Coraghessan Boyle, R. Buckminster Fuller, astronaut M. Scott Carpenter…and, no list like this would be complete without the late L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology. And, of course, we remember legendary lawyer F. Lee Bailey, civil rights activist H. Rap Brown, E. Howard Hunt of Watergate fame, mutual fund founder T. Rowe Price and more!)

However, many CRM (“customer relationship management”) programs require a full first name…then, provide space only for a middle initial.

It is one of the reasons I believe the name of these types of systems is totally wrong. It’s not CRM — customer relationship management. It’s CIM — customer information management.

EVERYONE who knows me calls me “Scott.” Yet, Delta Airlines, for example, will answer the phone saying, “How may I assist you, Dallas?” Grrrrrr. I’m one of their best customers on the planet, as exemplified by my SkyMiles frequent flyer status…yet, they don’t know my name…or, at least can’t get my name right. You call that a relationship? How can you have a relationship with someone if you don’t even know the name they go by?

Most “CRM” is, in actuality, DUM. Data Under Management. It’s not about “relationships.” It’s almost always about data: How much did they buy in the past? What is the address required to invoice them? Where do we call if there is a collection problem?

If you want to truly be distinctive…develop fields in your CRM system about the things that REALLY MATTER to your customers!

Not just their names…that of their partners and children…how they drink their coffee…what their favorite sports teams are…the charitable organizations they are committed to… and more.

What if you and a small team came up with a list of the aspects you should really know about your customers to build and enhance relationships with them? What would happen if you built your CRM system so it could include that type of information?

Every person with whom I have a true relationship knows these things. So…why do many of the organizations where I do business not even know enough to call me by the name my Mom gave me?

It’s, in part, because their CRM is DUM.

(USA Today did an editorial about me using my middle name a few years back. Here’s the link.) I wonder what the scene would’ve been like at a TSA checkpoint if they tried to tell J. Edgar Hoover he was going to have to start going by “John,” instead? (Of course, given some of the things we now know about him…)

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More Stories By Scott McKain

Scott McKain is a business leader, bestselling author, and Hall of Fame professional speaker.
Scott's latest book, "The Collapse of Distinction: Stand Out and Move Up While Your Competition Fails" reached the #1 spot on list of Customer Service Bestsellers! He is the author of two #1 additional business bestsellers ( & 800-CEO-READ): "What Customers REALLY Want" (currently available in trade paperback) and "ALL Business is Show Business."
He is the Co-founder and Principal of The Value Added Institute, a think-tank that examines the role of the customer experience in creating significant advances in the level of client loyalty, and has appeared on multiple occasions as a commentator and analyst on FOX News Channel. His platform presentations have run the gamut from the White House lawn with the President in the audience carried live on CNN and NBC's "Today" a remote outpost near the Amazon...all 50 states, seven Canadian provinces...and from Singapore to Sweden...Mexico to Morocco.
An inductee into the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame, he is also a member of "Speakers Roundtable" -- an elite, invitation-only group of twenty of the world's top business speakers.