Spotify’s VP of Growth: CRM is much more than off-the-shelf software
For Mayur Gupta, everything a digitally based brand does revolves around understanding what the customer needs, and when.
“The customer is always under warranty,” Spotify VP of Growth Mayur Gupta told me.
Of course, he was speaking figuratively to emphasize his view that modern brands need to continually pay attention to their customers.
In other words, he said, businesses’ need to re-evaluate what is meant by “customer relationship management.”
CRM — which falls under his purview at Spotify — “for me is not [just] the ability to send emails,” he said. Rather, he added, it’s understanding user or customer behavior in real time or just in time, so the brand can shoot you a message appropriate to a dormant or casual or core user.
“That’s where a traditional CRM isn’t sophisticated enough to map these signals for the journey,” he said. “CRM has been around for a while, but it’s so, so far away from where it needs to be.”
“Of course, they can manage a shopping cart abandonment and send me an email, [but] I’m talking about much more complicated behaviors that are not just rules,” like managing responses to behaviors across multiple channels. Artificial intelligence enhancements are often employed these days to move marketing platforms past rules-based responses.
“The expectations that the user has are much higher” than they used to be, Gupta pointed out.
As an example, he recalled that he was recently in a New York airport, heading back to Chicago after a trip to Spotify’s office in that city. A travel app that he uses sent him a notification, to the effect of: “We see you’re heading home to O’Hare Airport. Click here if you’d like to reserve a car service pickup when you arrive.”
That’s a “no-brainer” use case, Gupta said, an example of a notification at the right time with a high value for him. But, underneath, it’s much more than a no-brainer, involving location tracking, interpretation of travel patterns, integration with a car service and so on. It’s the kind of customer relationship management that a typical CRM couldn’t do, he said.
Which is why new generations of customer management structures are emerging. Gupta pointed to Customer Data Platform-based services like Iterable and Appboy, which utilize CRM data to drive behavioral messaging. Other approaches go by such names as JOE (Journey Orchestration Engines) or Customer Experience Orchestration Services.
What they have in common, he said, is the ability to take where the user is, what she appears to be doing and what she has done, and then combine it into some appropriate communication.
“This is the magic,” he said, “bringing all these signals in one place, forming these signals into an insight [so] I can take an action.”
Managing the customer with this kind of attention involves three basic buckets of technology, Gupta said.
First, there needs to be tech that understands the user, by understanding the relationships between behaviors, values and expectations.
Second, there has to be an understanding of where the user is in the journey, so there can be engagement within context, delivered to the customer’s expectations — not necessarily to the brand’s.
Two kinds of warranties
And, finally, there is the ability to measure, such as attribution or measuring past patterns so behavior can be predicted.
A key question is where to find the right CRM and other tools to do this kind of customer orchestration.
Gupta says that “anything that is core to our product, anything close to user behavior, like CRM done right or JOE, we are going to build ourselves.” These are the tools to track multiple touch points across multiple channels, synchronize them into insights, formulate an action, and then take that action.
Anything disconnected from that — such as buying media – Spotify can buy existing tools, he said, adding that he thought this kind of build/buy strategy was common among companies whose product line is digital.
Because the key thing to get right about CRM is that it’s really about maintaining the “warranty,” except the warranty isn’t only about the product the customer has bought. It’s also a warranty on the relationship.