I must admit, I had to read this article a few times to really wrap my head around its message.  It’s not that I am unfamiliar with benchmarking, I just was not all that excited about the title of the article.  Don’t let the title fool you – this message applies to all aspects of a business, in particular to customer relationship management (more commonly known as CRM).

There are two statements that really caught my interest, and they are the following:

“…a benchmark should yield insight into how the organization’s historical context and unique characteristics contribute to performance.”


“The benchmark should also define the different types of operational constraints, client choices within the organization, and how to address those constraints to improve performance.” 

The first statement is rather obvious – who are you (as a business) and what makes you unique?  The second statement is much more complex and most likely, more difficult for a business to dissect.

Identifying operational constraints and then how to address those constraints is commonplace.  I’m sure you’re thinking, “tell me something I don’t already know.”  Well, how about taking a really hard look at the client choices within the organization?  While I am not entirely sure of what the author of the article had in mind, I think it relates to everything from customer selection to customer termination.

I challenge you to think about your business and what your ideal client looks like.  Once you’ve pictured your ideal client, go through your current client list and see who fits the ideal client or customer description and who does not.  Then, see how much time and effort you’re putting into the clients who fit the description of your ideal client and those who don’t.  Once you figure out who you should be spending time on and who you might want to refer-out to someone else, you can just imagine how positive the impact will be on your entire organization. This will give you the opportunity to focus only on your ideal customers.  Of course, it’s not a perfect world, and we can’t always work with five-star clients.  However, if you figure out how your business works best with your ideal clients, the ones that don’t fit will either adapt to your business or they will go elsewhere.

As you can see, periodic benchmarking can vastly improve your customer relationship management strategy. If you’ve had any experience, positive or negative, in making those client or customer choices, please share in the comments below.