Yoga vs. CRM

by Bruce Kasanoff on September 17, 2011

CRM, or customer relationship management, teaches companies to install software and get close to customers, so they can sell more stuff. Yoga teaches us to be present.

Which works better in business?

Megan Moss Freeman teaches my favorite yoga class at Kaia Yoga. She’s a highly capable instructor, but that’s not what most distinguishes Megan.

She pays attention, and she remembers.

Even with 30 or more people in a class, she notices when your movements differ from your norms. “Is your back bothering you?” she might ask.

A week later, she’ll ask if your back is better.

She notices new faces, and asks their names. Then she remembers the names.

A year ago, when I first started yoga, I got excited and started going to classes at the last minute, to squeeze in another one. One night, I dashed to class, and halfway through suddenly remembered I’d made an appointment to meet a friend at the same time. Oops. After waiting ten minutes to find the least embarrassing moment to race out, I left, whispering that I’d explain later.

That was my first class with Megan, and it took a few months before I took another of her classes. She not only remembered the moment, but also my name. She was amused, not upset.

Listen, learn, remember

These are the things that spell the difference between a service you want to recommend to others, and one that leaves you vaguely satisfied, at best. Megan listens, learns and remembers.

This is a mindset, not a technology. It’s a habit. You can’t install it, like CRM software, you can only do it, again and again and again.

Ten years ago, I wrote a book called Making It Personal, and thus am sensitive to the difference between personal service and everything else. In the first few seconds, I notice the difference between a service provider who cares about people versus one who is bored, frustrated or merely going through the motions.

Those who care about people change the entire interaction. Since they pay attention, you tend to answer their questions in more detail. Since they listen to you, you tend to listen harder to them.

One of the central flaws with CRM is that it tends to be bolted onto the side of an organization. Companies install a software program, and force employees to use it. But nothing changes in the culture, and customers often don’t notice a difference – which means executives don’t see a sales increase, either.

Yoga teaches you to be present, to focus on the present moment. This is sage advice for businesses, too. Instead of being obsessed with what you can sell customers, try paying attention to customers. If you do, they’ll tell you exactly what they need.

Photo of Megan Moss Freeman by Cathrine White

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