Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a cross-functional field that requires input and buy-in from a myriad of stakeholders. CRM Manager, Christina Doubara, explains how she aligned with multiple teams to prioritize and create a workflow — all before planning the CRM strategy itself. Learn why these early stages of alignment are so crucial for the ongoing success of customer relationships.
I joined the CRM team in the beginning of 2020. Funnily enough, that's also when we could start calling it a team. It was only six months prior that my manager Krzysztof, CRM lead, started the team, together with the support of our content manager, Audrey.
Before joining the company, I worked at Project A, an operational VC, supporting different startups by setting up and scaling their CRM competencies.
Having worked with both large and small companies, I learned the key components of a successful CRM team setup: Getting the right tools in place, setting clear priorities, workflows, and individual team responsibilities. Fortunately, I had the pleasure of working with Krzysztof at Project A, which makes this challenge even more exciting.
When I joined GetYourGuide, it was clear that we needed a better customer relationship management setup. Here’s a checklist of six steps I needed to complete before kicking off the many tactics necessary to launch a CRM strategy.
When I started, the CRM team was only sending out weekly newsletters to our existing subscribers. Besides that, and the confirmation messages the customer would receive upon booking, there was little interaction with the customer.
The need for an improved customer relationship management setup was clear. The company invested an incredible amount of time and resources into stepping up its CRM game. This meant we started with the best — yet so far, most demanding — setup:
With more than 600 people in the company, there were many other teams like Category Management, Product, and UX Research that had different expectations on how and when CRM could support customers best.
Our next challenge was to align on expectations across all these teams. Setting expectations was not only essential for our collaboration with others, but it was crucial for us as a small team of three to prioritize and focus on what to do first.
To offer the most relevant touch points throughout the customer journey, we work closely with the Customer Engagement team, which has the mission of accelerating engagement across the entire customer lifecycle.
However, to successfully do so, we need to be clear on what those essential channels are and what are the technical requirements to get started. Of those channels, we need to figure out which ones to tackle and when.
Simultaneously, a significant part of our daily business is collaborating with the Creative Studio and Localization team. We team up with them on branded promotional campaigns and company-wide initiatives. Understanding when support is needed on both our team and theirs is crucial.
Once we had our priorities aligned across all teams, our second challenge was to create a workflow that could work well with other teams and offer transparency to everyone involved.
One might think that it's not that important to come up with these structures straight away and more important to start with the actual work of creating content or reaching out. But skipping processes for later and getting straight to work is a trap we have already run into one too many times ourselves.
The two most prominent projects in the first quarter were to optimize the existing customer newsletter process and to introduce the first action-based touchpoints in the phase between a customer's booking and activity and the customer journey.
These action-based touchpoints would require the buy-in and commitment of a large number of internal stakeholders, such as Creative Studio and Product Management (see step 2), making the need for transparency and structure a priority.
Defining who does what in a team of three is simple with bi-weekly updates and daily interactions, but this could get more challenging once the team grows. Knowing we'll grow eventually makes it only more crucial to establish these good habits early on.
The clearer the structures are, the faster we can progress with any project and avoid delays. We make sure that the following are always transparent:
These structures are especially important when looking at our ambitious plans for 2020.
One significant benefit of starting in a relatively small team is that constant communication and exchange is easy to maintain. Luckily, insights from longer-tenured colleagues helped us connect with the relevant people to understand existing processes and hurdles.
We set up detailed documentation to make it easier for any future collaboration with stakeholders and onboarding new team members. For CRM setup, we don't need a fancy project management software.
We use a combination of Jira for project management, and Google Drive to document our processes. They are structured according to our quarterly Objectives Key Results (OKR), making the deliverables visible to all parties.
We also keep a project overview in a Google spread sheet for more complex projects with multiple stakeholders from other teams. This way, we can keep track of timelines, dependencies, and deliverables.
With so many stakeholders involved in building customer relationships, the CRM team needs to lay the right foundation for everything we do. If another department comes to us with an idea on how to bring value to customers, we need to anticipate all possible outcomes and assure that these would be scalable, if successful.
With COVID-19, we are facing new challenges, both on a business and on a personal level. From a CRM perspective, these are the situations that define the personality of a company to its customers and will have a long-term effect on customer loyalty.
We are very aware of this responsibility of adjusting our strategy to accommodate the customers' needs. Our objective is to be as transparent as possible and think of what information is valuable and when.
Delivering customers more relevant and valuable content — not empty messages
To achieve this objective, we are continuously reviewing and adjusting our CRM projects. Customers don't need yet another message in their inbox from the CEO of the company they shopped with once saying, "We've got you," but then won't deliver on this promise.
We need to act and communicate in a way that conveys that same message of security without actually having to explicitly explain what we are doing in an email. Instead, we are honestly understanding and acting on the situation our customers are in.
We're mindful of the extraordinary situation and the fact that customers will have more time to consume our newsletters. So instead of just sending them more mail, we shift our focus to create more relevant content that adds something positive to their day.
For example, we are sending them valuable, useful content with our world at home initiative, containing virtual experiences that our Creative Studio team has created with suppliers of our best selling tours.
We know people aren't traveling right now, so we are sending them free coloring books, cooking classes, and Harry Potter quizzes. These are travel-related activities subscribers can enjoy while safely social distancing.
Shifting our short and long term strategy
In our daily business, we are focused on responding faster to travel and social measures communicated by the government and serving customers quickly and more effectively.
Our current focuses are:
Build the customer journey: We are focusing on our existing, active customer base, to test and learn. The most engaged customers can give us the best insights into what works and what is relevant.
Our goal for this year is to introduce several touchpoints triggered by customer actions across multiple channels and build the customer journey. We are particularly focused on building trust, loyalty, and offering relevant information.
Reactivating customers: We will apply our learnings to our less active target group and see how their behavior differs. We’re looking into touchpoints we need to optimize moving forward to reactivate customers and activate new leads.
We're also looking at topics that are valuable but maybe not immediately actionable. We started coming up with a contingency plan for when the current travel regulations relax.
When it comes to our strategic, long-term initiatives, we are framing these under the current circumstances and make it part of the process to revisit these frequently in case of any changes.
One thing I can recommend to other CRM teams who are in the same position as we are right now is to align internally on what you want to work on and communicate this clearly and early on to other teams. This will help you manage expectations for short and long-term requests and make it easier for you to push back on projects that exceed your current capacity.
For updates on our open positions, check out our Career page.
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