Sometimes being a CRM guru/thought leader is really just being a CRM butthead.
I'm talking about me here. This is not about someone else.
I'm sitting here recalling two separate and disparate "lyrics" (only one is really a lyric and the other just musical) - one from Good Charlotte in their hit "Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous" and the other from Miguel De Cervantes masterwork "Don Quixote."
Here they are in reverse order:
"Good actions ennoble us, we are the sons of our own deeds" - Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes
"You say you have problems. That's because you can solve them." - Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous by Good Charlotte
I'm on a cruise right now. My wife and I are celebrating our 25th anniversary and we went all out and got the Royal Suite on Celebrity Cruise's GTS Summit - a ship that holds around 2200 passengers and nearly a thousand crew (great ratio). The Royal Suite is magnificent - about 800 square feet with a veranda, several rooms, two plasma TVs (I'm watching the A's - Twins first ALDS playoff as I write this - want to date stamp this? Frank Thomas JUST hit a homer off of Santana in the 2nd inning), a separate dining room, a Bang & Olufsen CD/Radio/etc. player on the wall, teak contemporary walls, a weird sort of jacuzzi in the bathroom that I can't figure out, sculptures, original art, a separate living room, and a full time (for the penthouse wing) butler. The food on this ship is exceptional with world class chefs trained by a guy who has a Michelin-starred restaurant and there are 10 bars all rather unique at this place. There is also a very good gym and jogging track. The gym has strength training machines and free weights in addition to a substantial amount of cardio stuff.
Plus, we're heading to Hawaii for two weeks.
Hard to complain isn't it? Not if you're a CRM "guru" it isn't.
The Thing Is...
The biggest problem with being a CRM guru-type is that I'm ALWAYS looking for what's wrong with the policies and processes of a business. Or right with them. This is, incidentally, different than a complaint about a customer service representative at an airlines or a telco. We have zillions of stories of that. We also have zillions, well okay, hundreds, of stories about good customer service reps. The CRM take on this is how baked in is the bad or good service as a policy or process that the company endorses or embeds. I'm not looking for the jerks who do bad or the angels who do good. I'm looking for how the company treats its customers and how well the logic of the company coheres with the logic of the customers they have.
That said, there is also a difference between being a CRM thought leader and being a big butthead. CRM thought leaders extract the crucial strategic value from the good and the bad and either present them in a novel way or easy to understand way or come up with new strategies or concepts that lead to strategies that support both customer and business value. CRM big buttheads are hypercritical and are carrying out their "jobs" when they should be enjoying their lives. It doesn't mean that you can't do your job - it just means that you (meaning, me) should sometimes enjoy what you have and not try to find the "problem."
I've often said that CRM is attempt to make the art of life into the science of business. You can take that literally or figuratively. That's up to you. They both apply. But the art of life isn't ALWAYS the science of business. Business is a part of it. But note, I said a part of it, not all of it.
Yet, I was on the ship two days and I found myself scrutinizing the Celebrity line policies relative to a couple of glitches in the customer service. The glitches? Lets just leave it at no big deal. Really. They were nondescript.
What was ridiculous was that I found myself scrutinizing things from a CRM guru's (read: butthead's) perspective. I'm on my 25th anniversary cruise and I'm looking at the science of business, not living the art of life.
Let me add one cliche to the lyrics from Good Charlotte and the poetic statement from Cervantes. Here it is: "Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees."
So we have:
"Good actions ennoble us, we are the sons of our own deeds"
"You say you have problems. That's because you can solve them."
"Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees."
What being a CRM butthead means is that I sometimes forget what I actually have. I'm sitting here doing something that most people can't afford to do because I've been lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time when it came to CRM and business consulting. I'm on a cruise with someone I've loved for almost 30 years which makes me immensely lucky - someone who stood with me during the best and worst times - and there were some truly worst ones that most of you probably wouldn't ever imagine - and I'm trying to find out what's wrong with the customer focused policy of the cruise line. That's why the Good Charlotte line. "You say you have problems. That's because you can solve them." These are NOT problems. These aren't even business lessons. They are a matter of enjoying a life that many people can't enjoy and being grateful for the fact I can. It means enjoying the companionship of my wife of 25 years and recognizing that having someone like this (and my family) in my life is what the whole thing is all about to begin with. That's the "forest for the trees."
It also means that I have to continually understand that I am the son of my own deeds - meaning that the good I do does ennoble me but when I act stupidly and forget what the difference is between the "art of life" and the "science of business" that I debase or degrade myself - not a lot, but any is a lot if you aren't doing the good you should. It's why Cervantes is already a timeless artist while I don't think Good Charlotte will go down through the ages. Though they are pretty profound for a group of 20 year old rockers.
So what's the lesson for CRM folks? None other than to remember why you do what you do. Why do YOU want CRM for your company? Let's follow the logic for a sec.
- You want to align the logic of your business with the logic of your customers
- You want that because you have been tasked to do or taken it upon yourself as a leader at your business to do it.
- You realize that if you succeed there will be value to the company that you trust you will be recognized for.
- Also, there is something that is appealing about bringing a company into alignment with its customers because you're a customer and you want to be treated well and be happy with those you do busienss with.
- Thus, success could mean that you are happy because the results are good and you did something good.
- The operant word is "happy." You are happy.
- THAT is when the art of life is transformed into the science of business - when all concerned are happy with the results.
But it also means that to avoid being a butthead like I was on this trip for a short time, remember there is a real difference between that art of life and science of business - even if governed by the same principles. The science of business is nothing more than a subset of the art of life - and its life that's worth living - not business. All in all, if it's done properly - supersets, sets, and subsets, we are all happy.
Enough. While I actually ENJOY writing the blog in a way that transcends my business interests, for now, I'm going to lay back, watch the game (only 9:10am here - we're at sea currently) and enjoy my art.