Canadian firms pay ‘lip service’ to CRM’: consultant

Canadian business leaders may understand the importance of customer relationship management (CRM) but they are not delivering on it, says a consultant who wrote a report on the subject. Jerry Garcia, a partner with Andersen Consulting in Toronto, says that only...

Canadian business leaders may understand the importance of customer relationship management (CRM) but they are not delivering on it, says a consultant who wrote a report on the subject.

Jerry Garcia, a partner with Andersen Consulting in Toronto, says that only 15% of Canadian business leaders surveyed last December consider CRM a top priority, placing it last in a ranking of critical management issues.

‘Was I surprised at the result? Yes and no,’ says Garcia. ‘I’ve worked in different industries and countries and I know that lip service is given to CRM. But the extent of the gap between executives and [consumers] was bigger than I thought.’

According to the survey of more than 400 business executives and 250 consumers ‘the gap’ exists in the expectations of both survey groups. On the one hand, only 15% of executives rank CRM a top priority. On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of consumers believe that an integrated ‘customer-centric’ approach should be one of businesses’ top five organizational priorities.

‘Many Canadian executives do not associate CRM with the other goals they have,’ says Garcia. ‘In an expanding market, lowering costs is a primary focus and CRM can help with that by lowering acquisition costs. But executives don’t always make that link in their mind.’

When asked what’s at stake if companies don’t meaningfully embrace CRM, Garcia says, ‘Today’s customer can do business with any company in the world with a click of a mouse. Knowledge of one’s customers, retention strategies, building brand loyalty and maximizing the value of customers must become the focus of Canadian executives.’

Garcia says one of the elements exacerbating the CRM problem among many Canadian businesses is that many of them believe they are customer-driven when, in fact, they are not.

‘They are product-centric, rather than customer-centric,’ he says. ‘And instead of becoming more customer-centric, they focus instead on becoming more market-value-centric. They are concerned with how they will be perceived by analysts and the market. That’s great for the market we have today, but not sustainable for the long-term.’

Garcia does allow that some sectors, notably financial services and retail, are making good strides in addressing CRM needs. But the telecommunications industry has the most unrealized potential in exploiting the technology.

‘Telecoms have lots of customer interaction,’ he notes. ‘Billings, in-bound inquiries, sales. Any industry with lots of customer interaction like that has great potential.’

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.