Outsource Magazine Issue 26 - (Page 51)

feature CrM ConneCting ServiCe Linking customer service to CRM is crucial for productivity, but more crucial still for customer retention – and in times like these, retention is everything... Chris Bucholtz Chris Bucholtz is the Editor of SugarCRM’s CRM Outsiders Blog. Formerly the editor of Forecasting Clouds (www.forecastingclouds.com) and InsideCRM (www.insidecrm.com), he has covered a variety of technology topics over a 17-year career. C ustomer service is the classic outsourcing and cost-cutting target. Seen as a cost centre for years, it’s been offshored, IVR-ed and KPI-ed to death, often resulting in something that satisfies the CFO but infuriates customers. Poorly-chosen metrics and company-centric management motivates agents not to help the customer but to appease their bosses. Customers are then deprived of the service they expect. Meanwhile, the value of customer service is becoming increasingly obvious. In 2009, customer service edged out sales productivity to become the primary reason businesses invested in CRM, according to Gartner. In a weak economy, where new customers are scarce, businesses need to hold on to the customers they have – not just to survive but to succeed. The emphasis on CRM is not an accident. No application is more useful at orienting the entire business towards the customer. It isn’t just the customer service component of CRM that helps – it’s the compilation of a complete customer history that can help provide customer-saving service. Meanwhile budgetary pressures are still on. No matter how the case for customer service is stated, it’s unlikely the CFO will be eager to free up additional funds. Luckily, intelligent use of CRM can make agents more productive and better able to satisfy more customers more completely with the same assets. In many service organisations, agents find themselves toggling between dozens of screens. Some may represent internal processes; they may be custom-built and they may not be integrated with other applications. Sadly this is something agents deal with daily. However, the customer Customer serviCe ❛transaCtions do not take plaCe in a vaCuum doesn’t want to feel the business has to page through multiple systems to know who he or she is: the customer wants a peer-topeer relationship. That’s where CRM can help – with all the data about the customer in a CRM record, the data is consolidated, collected and collated. The agent can understand the customer’s history without toggling through multiple screens, saving time and giving the perception that the business knows the customer. That record is more than the customer’s service history: it includes sales activities, the marketing efforts the customer reacted to and other aspects of the relationship. ❜ Arming agents with this information in one easy-to-access record is not enough. The agent then needs the autonomy to react to the customer’s requests based on what’s transpired in the relationship in the past. Customer service transactions do not take place in a vacuum, but in the context of the totality of the customer’s experience with the company. A service process that treats a customer’s request for help as a one-off, isolated event is not only a failure to foster the relationship but also a productivity failure, since without CRM and that customer context, the agent has to learn about the history by interrogating the customer each time he or she calls in – which builds in complexity on each contact. While the productivity costs are worth noting, the real cost comes in the damage to the customer relationship. Projecting a “know-nothing” attitude towards customers is deadly in the era of social media, as customers want businesses to be available for conversations when it’s needed, and expect to be known by the people they buy from. To take the responsibility for understanding who a customer is and push it back to the customer is insulting at worst and a productivity drain at best – and in the new era of customer expectations it can be enough to drive the customers you worked so hard to acquire to look elsewhere. “I’d just like to be treated like a regular customer.” – Elvis Presley www.outsourcemagazine.co.uk 51 ●● ●● http://www.forecastingclouds.com http://www.insidecrm.com http://www.outsourcemagazine.co.uk

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outsource Magazine Issue 26

News & Comment
2012 in outsourcing
Fine – but what does it all mean?
Steering Steria
Separate Ways?
Getting Smart
Northern Lights
Heads in the Cloud
Connecting Service
Bigger and Better
NOA Round-Up
Breaking Through
You Cannot be Serious!
Back to the Future
Accounts Payable
The Power of Two
Public-Private Partnerships
Kill or Cure
Public Problems
Top Ten
The Legal View
HfS Research
Online Round-Up
Inside Source
The Last Word

Outsource Magazine Issue 26