I just read a news report yesterday on destinationCRM.com with the title “Sears Outsources Its CRM.” At first I thought it was some sort of double entendre — it must have meant something else. But it turns out that Sears is handing over all of the targeted marketing for its Sears and Kmart brands to OglivyOne.
My take: Sears is not only having financial problems, it’s having customer problems (the latter is likely a key cause of the former). In Forrester’s Customer Experience Index which ranked large firms, Kmart came in 20th and Sears came in 24th out of 27 retailers on the list. So both brands are not meeting the needs of the customers that they already have. To pull itself out of the doldrums, Sears needs to change all aspects of how it deals with customers — from marketing through sales and service. And all of those pieces need to be revamped together (remember the 2nd principle of Experience-Based Differentiation: Reinforce the brand with every interaction, not just communications). So outsourcing a piece of the customer relationship seems like it’s heading in the wrong direction.
The bottom line: In times of trouble, firms should embrace customers relationships not shed them.