Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 85 – CRM

I am going to start the February edition with a reminder about the importance of Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Customer Relationship Management is one of the key fundamentals for every person in every organisation. And I would like to discuss several points here, namely:

•    Your Relationship with yourself
•    Your Relationship with your colleagues
•    Your Relationship with your managers / supervisors
•    Your Relationship with the visitors and the people who come into the organisation
•    Your Relationship with your customers

In this issue we will look at:
•    Customer Relationship Management is the foundation for everything else
o    Your Relationship with yourself
o    Your Relationship with your colleagues
o    Your Relationship with your managers / supervisors
o    Your Relationship with visitors and people who come into the organisation
o    Your Relationship with your customers

Customer Relationship Management is the foundation for everything else
I know I have covered the aspect of customer relationship management a few times since beginning these newsletters, but I feel this is one of the key fundamentals to a successful life. And I feel it all starts with ourselves!
1. Your Relationship with yourself:
It may seem a little strange to talk about ourselves before we talk about our “customers” but I feel it is important to look at our attitudes towards ourselves – before we can look at our relationships with and treatment of other people.

•    Do you enjoy your job?
•    Are you excited about what the day has to bring?
•    Do you like the people you work with?
•    Do you think the organisation you work for treats you fairly?
•    Do you think your duties match your job description?
•    Do you think you are being paid the correct amount of money for the job that you do?
•    If you were to describe your job to me, what would your tone of voice / body language / emotional response tell me?

Now depending on how you answer those questions will determine (I think) most everything else.

If you enjoy your job and what you do, who you work with and for, you are more likely to be happy and you are more likely to:

•    Arrive on time (or before your allotted start time)
•    You will rarely (if ever) “chuck a sickie or take stress leave
•    You will take pride in your work
•    You will take pride in your appearance
•    You will speak positively
•    You will get more done

Conversely the opposite is also (and usually) true

2. Your Relationship with your colleagues:
•    Do you get on better with the people you like?
•    Do you avoid people you don’t like?  
•    Do you resent being asked to do something by certain people / groups of people?
•    Do people gravitate towards you or avoid you like the plague?
•    Do you whinge about certain people to ‘others’ “He/She never pulls their weight”

While I am not saying you can get on with everyone in a work place, especially if your workplace is large, and given that you have no control over what someone else thinks about you. What can you do?

I personally feel the only way to deal with anyone is with respect. Or as someone once said “treat everyone in the same way as you would expect to be treated” which may be easier said than done I know, but all we can do is try.

I’ve worked in several organisations where everyone from the managers to the line workers all wore the same uniform. There was no way to distinguish between the big bosses or the grunts (if you didn’t know who they were and hadn’t been introduced), so what do you do? The only thing you can do I feel is this – you treat everyone in the same way. What would you do if all of a sudden you were immersed in a culture where you didn’t know who was who, and you couldn’t distinguish what role they played in the organisation – how would you be able to define your relationship with them, how would you treat people then?

Translate that into the jobs we ask you to do when you take on a contract. You are being put into an organisation whereby you don’t know the culture of the organisation, you don’t know who does what (in the early days) so how are you going to be able to tell who you need to be polite to? Answer = everyone of course.

Now, translate that back into your current working environment – what was it like when you first started there. Did you start out professionally but years later and several thick coats leave you feeling a little cynical? So what do you do now? As I see it, there are a couple of options:

•    Change your attitude or
•    Change your job

And believe me it’s usually easier to change the first one.

3. Your Relationship with your managers / supervisors
As with the above, the way you treat and speak to and about your managers / supervisors can and does have a massive impact on your day-to-day working life, and how much you can achieve / or may be willing to achieve.

•    If you don’t like them, or they don’t like you, you are unlikely to enjoy your job as much as perhaps you could. It is likely that you will be stressed and may feel justified in taking sick and stress leave as a result.
•    You may not do what they ask you to do in a timely manner, which may cause even more disruption.

As I have just mentioned, you can quickly find out who the big bosses are (even if they wear the same uniform as everyone else), but in the early days it is important to treat everyone with respect. You should not show favouritism just because they have the power to hire and fire. However, if that is what is expected I would be tempted to find another job (and quickly) because the culture of the organisation would be difficult to work in. I know that sounds like I am contradicting myself, but if you feel that you have a positive attitude towards yourself, your work and your work colleagues, but the culture is not friendly – then I feel you are left with little choice in the matter.

4. Your Relationship with visitors and people who come into the organisation.
These are the people who come to your place of work, to do their job. These people include the cleaning crew, the couriers and delivery drivers, the postal workers, the “people” who come into reception to wait for someone and everyone else who happens to walk into your place of work for some reason or another.

Why should a “random” person walking into the front of the building impact on you if you sit down the back staring at a computer screen all day? Well you don’t always sit down the back staring at a computer screen all day do you? No, you walk through reception to go into and out of the building at least a couple of times a day. You may have to walk through reception to get to somewhere else. How then do your casual visitors see you? Are you polite as you walk past them? What do you look like to them? Are you rude as you push past? Now if you bear in mind we don’t usually know who is sitting out in the reception area, and may never see the person again, but what happens if it is the visiting CEO over here for a business meeting? How impressed would she / he be with the quality of the general customer service they have received? How would they perceive you?

A very long time ago, our company was taken over by a rival. We had a whole new set of managers and a brand new CEO (as it turned out from Melbourne, Australia). I had the chance to meet him once as he was being shown around the information centre where I was working at the time, and we certainly weren’t introduced (I was just a grunt in those days). A few weeks later I was standing at the train station waiting to travel to London for a training course, and who should happen to be at the station, but the new CEO.

“Good morning Dr Redrop”
He looked at me and said without hesitation “and how is everything in the library? And by the way the name is Colin”

Never underestimate the power of a single interaction, you may not think you’ve been seen / noticed but believe me – you have been.

5. Your Relationship with your “customers”
In the information profession our customers can be both internally and externally focused but that doesn’t mean to say we can treat either with anything less than professional courtesy.

And if you are in any doubt – always ask yourself this one question:

After the “transaction” is completed – How do I want to be remembered?”

With many thoughts