Is customer relationship management (CRM) shortsighted? For example, I missed a connecting flight with a major airline and proceeded to customer service. While waiting an hour in the customer service line (there were four people in front of me), I heard the customer service representative have a commiserating chat with her co-worker about how she resented working mandatory overtime. By the time I reached the counter, following my long wait in line, there were no more flights available that evening; therefore, the CSR booked me on a flight the next morning and sent me to the hotel shuttle bus without ever looking up from her reservation system. Sharing the bus ride to the hotel, the other customers and I were amazed at the lack of customer care, poor service and ineffectiveness of the customer service representative.

Ironically, I participated as a consultant in a large CRM initiative for this airline; and their goal was to treat each customer with great care, dignity and service. However, throughout the organization, there was much less emphasis on relationships with their employees, partners and suppliers. How is it possible to build strong customer relationships without healthy relationships between the people that provide the service or product to the customer? When I commented to the customer service representative that it appeared as though the airline didn't treat its employees very well, she replied, "Oh, they are awful to me." It is possible that perhaps I did not receive good customer service because she was not treated well as an employee.

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