Can Customer Relationship Management ever be exciting?

Can Customer Relationship Management ever be exciting?

Customer relationship management, or ‘CRM’, has suddenly become exciting. The words 'exciting' or 'creative' would not have sprung to mind 10 years ago. But things have changed. The reason? Technology, of course, and there is plenty of it appearing in this space.

CRM is built on technology that lets you store customer data, keep track of every interaction with individuals and manage follow-ups. But it has changed so much recently that the role goes far beyond even these areas.

In fact, it has now become a critical creative role as it requires a mind capable of “joining the dots” delivered by all the technologies, says marketing recruitment specialist Danielle Hanson, Consultant, Interim Marketing at VMAGROUP.

“The CRM and Loyalty Manager role is fully measurable, and that is when exciting things can happen,” says Danielle.

So as one of the roles that is shaping today’s marketing function, we asked Danielle to explain how the CRM or Loyalty Manager role has changed.

In which function does it usually sit and to whom would a CRM or Loyalty Manager report?

Danielle: “It’s very much about return on investment (ROI) so it sits nicely, depending on the industry, sandwiched between the Marketing and Commercial teams. Normally, it would sit within these functions or within the Data and Audience Insights teams.”

What are a CRM or Loyalty Manager's typical responsibilities?

“It’s a very in-depth and involving role. You need your eyes on so many areas and to be able to see the commercial opportunities with data with another eye on ensuring ROI.

“Candidates today are expected to provide expertise and advice for the wider commercial function and develop the digital, data and CRM strategies which all feed into commercial revenue targets that feed into the customer experience. The CRM or Loyalty person will devise that strategy and decide the areas for investment. It’s about that person being able to understand that customer experience journey.”

What is the salary range?

“Depending on the industry, it ranges from £35,000 to £42,500. The role involves line management duties too, and setting key performance indicators with third-party

Danielle Hanson

suppliers and direct extended reports.”

Is it usually considered a senior, mid-level or fairly junior role?

“These days, it is mid- to senior level. It often is senior because you’ll have a direct report and oversee strategy. It is almost as senior as Head of E-Commerce or Head of CRM.”

What hard skills do you need? What about soft skills?

“You need overarching hard skills in campaign strategy, planning, budget co-ordination and management. You also need direct marketing skills. In the early 2000s, direct marketing (DM) was all the rage so it is important you have experience in a role where the customer is king. But you also need good knowledge of the Data Protection Act and GDPR. If you have data insights and analytical experience, those are highly desirable.

“The soft skills are about being results-driven as it’s all about the statistics to reflect the results of what you are doing.

"It’s a more creative role than it used to be. Creativity in the role is now much more valuable because it’s about connecting the dots that the technology is delivering. And of course, you need all of this with a customer-centric and commercial approach.

"The technology that is available in this role is causing a huge amount of excitement in marketing and business.”

Which sectors usually hire for this role?

“Essentially, the role is required everywhere but the highest demand is in FMCG, travel, leisure, hospitality, retail and fashion. Broadcast media also use CRM extensively and Finance is beginning to do so more often.”

What roles do people usually have before they become CRM and Loyalty Managers?

“There are lots of opportunities for current CRM Managers to change sector. But new entrants are typically digital managers or email marketing managers because there is a tie-in with direct marketing. The concepts and principles of DM apply so these people understand CRM. Product Managers also have that creativity that is in demand and also understand personalization and customization.”

What advice would you give to prospective candidates before applying?

“Ensure you fully understand the commercial function so you can advise as a specialist. This role is pivotal for the business – it’s sandwiched between inputs and outputs. And if you really understand how the email marketing exec, the product owners and the e-commerce team work you can really see the opportunities for the business.”

If you were interviewing someone for the post, what would be one of your key questions?

“This is a good one to prepare for: What is the best approach to segment your audience then re-target them? It gives you a chance to clarify how you understand that people have different behaviours and spending habits and scales, and that you understand the different tones of voice for each group. You can also show how you appreciate the need to target them at the right time and in the right way. I would also ask: What are the business benefits of investing in CRM? You could answer by demonstrating any areas where you’ve shortened the customer sales cycle and identified tangible commercial wins.”