When Is CRM Not CRM?

I’ve noticed a trend recently in which organizations are talking about updating or implementing a new Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.  I think real CRMs area great and an absolutely necessity.  My issue has been that many of these organizations are governmental or municipal groups and don’t need a CRM.  They need Customer Service Management (CSM), Case Management, Business Relationship Management, and Shared Services Management.  And those are very different disciplines.

Why the Difference?

Let’s level-set; a customer opts to give you money in exchange for goods and services.  A constituent receives services determined by the government and directly and/or indirectly funded by taxes.

That’s why good CRMs are focused on how to move the sale forward.  They are great at helping businesses attract, retain, and extend customers who aren’t required to do business with them.

Public entities don’t have customers; they have constituents.  The constituents are provided services by right.  It’s in the public’s interest to receive those services as quickly, efficiently, and cheaply as possible and it’s the job of the public agency to ensure that happens.  It’s a dual-partnership to between both parties to define what those services are.  There are solutions to govern this process, but it’s not a CRM process and a tool designed for customers probably isn’t the best fit in this case.

As a citizen constituent, there’s no reason for my city government to push my usage of additional services.  I want my trash picked up.  I want potholes fixed and graffiti removed.  My needs are inelastic and demand-oriented, not consumption-based.  I’m not a customer and actually would benefit with fewer services needed because (in theory) my taxes would decrease.

Now, the city government should absolutely be using a modern IT solution to track and manage their services and fulfillment.  I want my government to know where they are fixing potholes and start identifying patterns.  I want my government to anticipate trees that may fall based on incoming weather.  I want my government to know what neighborhoods are consuming more or fewer services than others.  I want my elected offices to know the past issues I’ve had, and address their resolution.

Those processes, though, are Customer Service Management, Case Management, Demand Management, Strategy Planning, Request Management, and Fulfillment Management.  They are grouped in disciplines like Case Management, Business Relationship Management, and Shared Services Management, but those processes generally aren’t in the discipline of CRM.

What Do You Think?

Are you noticing this trend as well?  What do you think should be the focus of cities, counties, states, and other municipalities?

Are you currently involved in such a project using either a CRM or CSM solution?  I’d love to know what you’re thinking in the comments below.


Join Our Newsletter & Learn

Get our latest content delivered to your inbox.