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Value of CRM

Have M&S Forgotton The Real Value of CRM?

Number 1 Key to Increasing Sales….Know Your Customers


The other week I had to visit Marks and Spencer to buy some school shirts for the kids.

The lady at the counter asked me if I had a Sparks Card.

I do.

But it was jammed into the card segment of my purse and I couldn’t get it out.  Under other circumstances, as a self-professed bargain hunter, I would have indignantly stuffed my fingers into my wallet until they bled.

Instead, guess what I felt?


I was actually relieved that something had happened to prevent me from bothering using the card again, so disconnected I feel to the whole customer loyalty experience.

[Mumsnet is usually a good bell weather test of what the general public think.  You can see from this hilarious thread that I am not alone in feeling this way]


What did M&S get wrong?


I shop little but often at Marks and Spencer.  It is close to my work, the food is good, and the kids’ clothes hold up well.   Their beauty advent calendar is superb.  I’m possibly a typical customer and I’m in there roughly once a week.

With all this transactional information being stored by M&S, against my customer record, in their customer relationship management (CRM) tool, they must have great insight into “me” as their customer.

But they have failed to engage me in their loyalty scheme one bit.  Why? Because they have failed to use this information collection in any way that is meaningful to me.

I think the email declaring “Say Hello to Your Exlusive Bonus Offer”, the content of which was “30% off cod and haddock” was the straw which broke the camel’s back.

Value of CRM
Be still my beating heart!

Do they know me at all?  After all, they’ve been recording all my transactions, my preferences and shopping habits for the past 4 months.

Logging into my Sparks account (yes you have to log in each time to see which special offers you have “unlocked”) I can see I am eligible for the following:

  • 20% off vinegar
  • 20% off lamb
  • 20% off coconut & aloe vera water (whatever the hell that is)
  • 20% off my least favourite dessert (cheesecake)


And, of course, the special bonus offer, an exciting 30% off Cod and Haddock.  After I had finished dying of excitement, all I needed to do to get this outstanding deal was log into my account, decide to activate the offer, go to M&S and remember to buy some cod within 6 days from activation.

Thanks M&S, but no thanks.


The Real Value of Customer Relationship Management


When it’s done well, loyalty management reaps rewards for both business and consumer.  Loyal customers spend about 67% on average more than others.  That is a hugely significant impact on your bottom line.

Using a system which intuitively predicts behaviour, or offers intelligent “upsell” items, or sends marketing emails with real offers at appropriate times will bring customers back to your business over and over again.

I was talking to a potential customer yesterday about using NetSuite workflows to engage customers in an intuitive way.

The system can be used to recognise a customer’s buying habit and a workflow can be set up to create an event (an email for example), at an appropriate time (regular purchase time minus 4 weeks for example), to send out an offer to clinch the deal.

Something like;

“we notice that you always buy two bottle of Aqua Sparkle Hot Tub Flush each year.  You’ve not bought any for 6 months so you’re overdue and we thought you might like to take advantage of a BOGOF?”

A great CRM system, used well, in conjunction with a good loyalty scheme can help you retain customers, increase the lifetime value and create brand advocates of them.

All you need is a great software system to help you manage the process and some common sales sense!  I hear M&S have dispatched their old chief of loyalty (how’s that for irony).  Let’s hope the next one applies some common sense to a very straight forward sales and marketing principle.

Marks and Spencer, for cod’s sake stop being a cold fish and start treating me like a customer you actually know!  If not, don’t bother contacting me at all…I’ve got other fish to fry.  And get some blue school shirts back in stock please.


To talk to a bona fide sales person about how you can use great customer relationship management (CRM) software to improve your bottom line, get in touch. 

Written by Emma Stewart – Sales & Marketing Expert, loyal shopper and bargain hunter at Cofficient.  Read more about my bad CRM experiences here


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