While most people know that CRM stands for customer relationship management, not everyone realises what CRM promises. Today it is of such importance, even the smallest company can no longer negate it.

A year ago at NWZ Mediengruppe, we finally put our ideas into action and gave the go-ahead for the implementation of a new CRM system. We have thus bid farewell to an old system landscape that was built up from a total of three CRM systems: one for the B2C (business to consumer) market, one for the B2B (business to business) market, and one for the digital business of our media agency.

A fragmented data world, a puzzle of different technologies, and a limited perspective on the customer are the things we threw overboard.

NWZ consolidated three layers of CRM systems — B2B, B2C, and its media agency — into one when it moved to Salesforce.
NWZ consolidated three layers of CRM systems — B2B, B2C, and its media agency — into one when it moved to Salesforce.

The decision was driven by three primary goals that most publishing business will consider familiar: We wanted to enable a holistic view of the customer, create stronger opportunities for up- and cross-selling, and be able to play out products individually for each customer.

For us, however, a new CRM system meant even more than that, and we built it with three more things in mind:

  1. Structure: The new form of sales in the B2B and B2C segment increasingly needs to be structured by data-driven models, and thus optimised. By enriching customer information in our sales cloud, Salesforce, we achieve efficiency in target group selection, accuracy of fit in the product range, and intelligence in marketing.
  2. Emotions: Data and emotions? To us, they are synonymous. In addition to customer acquisition, customer loyalty is the hard nut to crack. Through a well-managed CRM system, we can build a customer entertainment programme that offers us, as a regional media company, the only true opportunity for long-term customer loyalty. “Emotions through community building” is our mantra for the coming period and the big task for deploying the Salesforce marketing cloud.
  3. Connectivity: We are only a small star in the worldwide cosmos of media companies. CRM, however, makes us more attractive and gives our core value of “regional brand trust” a currency form.

And suddenly it becomes clear why it could not be just any CRM — for example, a cost-effective in-house development — but rather it needs to be a standardised product that can be connected. Instead of having to offer our new currency at a miserable exchange rate, we are banking on maximum connectivity by purchasing a CRM like Salesforce. This is where we create opportunities for our future fitness by opening the door for cooperation.

This display shows opportunity management in the Salesforce sales cloud.
This display shows opportunity management in the Salesforce sales cloud.

And this could be where the story ends: a new system with three success components. Seems simple. But that would be missing the most valuable piece: human capital.

Which means we needed a fourth component: People. To harness the power of the CRM system, we need data scientists, a rare species of highly trained professionals who have long since been purchased by the big tech companies. A good data scientist looking for a job in Oldenburg? Affordable? Not in this life.

So there is only one thing left: to build up our own human capital. That means to inspire and engage our own employees and to put on the table a large package of leeway and personal responsibility that is motivation enough to successfully embark on the journey through the data jungle.

That is, quite simply, our current plan. It has a little of everything: everyday pragmatism, hope, courage, madness, and the urgent will for more. A CRM system cannot wish for a better basis and it will continue to shape our digital future.