In the customer-driven age there are no secrets. Compared with just 10 years ago, information is plentiful and easily accessible online, and customers can learn more about an organization or a product in one day than previously was possible in a year both the positive and the negative.
Most organizations intend to put their best foot forward. They understand how important it is to present the very best the organization has to offer to their customers. And in many cases, this happens. However, when organizations fail to meet or exceed customer expectations, alternatives are only a Web search away. The ability for marketers to present offers has exploded with the advent of new channels and new media. Offers arrive on cell phones, are posted on street corners and airports, are interspersed within movies and television shows, presented on every Web search – and everything is sponsored. Media is pervasive and customers are immersed in opportunities to find new alternatives to products and services that don’t live up to expectations. In the customer-drive age, however, even the best organizations can falter and the stakes are high. Customers can easily discern when a business engages in poor service behaviors, including:
When a customer receives different answers from different parts of the organization, it creates a red flag. This could be as innocuous as posting the wrong store hours on the Web. Or it could be more significant – health benefits told to be available from one regional call center that differ from another, resulting in a costly and potentially dangerous decision for a patient.
With the wealth of information now available on the Web, customers are wary of being “sold.” Gone are the days when the lack of public knowledge about a product or service could mask design shortcomings. In today’s market, the proverbial “used car salesman” is a dying breed or is already a memory. In many cases, customers will know more than the salesperson. Before they even speak with the organization, they are likely to fully understand the product or service – what options are available, what colors it comes in, whether it can be used in their neighborhood and coexist with their existing equipment, whether it can be upgraded, extended or traded in, and what price to expect. If the organization does not extend the dialogue from this new benchmark, customers are likely to be dissatisfied.
• Poor memory:
Customers expect to be remembered. No matter what an organization provides – be it a mobile phone, a consulting service or even a government benefit –customers expect their information to be current and consistent across any access point. Information entered in their Web account will map to what a call center agent knows. When they inquire about additional products or services, their profile will be known – what they’ve purchased and when, how much they paid and what discount they received, how they prefer delivery and how they prefer to shop. Any one of a hundred pieces of information that customers have provided will be expected to be immediately referenced, understood and used in their next transaction. These factors can often be the trigger for poor customer satisfaction, resulting in low loyalty and high churn.
Responsive CRM is the Key
The key to solving these challenges is establishing a highly accurate, deeply knowledgeable and completely consistent dialogue with customers over time – a concept that’s easy to understand,
yet difficult to accomplish without the right tools. Success in today’s business environment requires that answers to customer inquiries are consistent no matter where or when they contact an Organization: Offers for products and services are relevant and targeted to the needs of the customer, and perhaps most importantly, that buying history, profile information, project requirements and other critical customer information never need to be repeated. The difficulty in meeting these challenges rests less on the identification of the problem and more on the implementation. Without the right set of tools, organizations will struggle to make their customer experience more consistent, more information-rich and more relevant. The key to building the customer-driven enterprise is to empower everyone in the organization to make the right decision and provide the right answers, and enable organizations to be more responsive when new opportunities appear, or when old conditions change.
CRM continues to play an integral role in the evolution of the customer-driven enterprise. Yet to enable organizations to transform their customer relationships and markedly increase organizational performance, CRM must do more than it ever has before. To survive and thrive in today’s “flat,” media-rich, global business environment, CRM must provide new capabilities to the organization and ensure that CRM investments have the highest possible return in the shortest possible time.
To transform an organization into a customer driven enterprise, CRM users must come first.Frontline customer-facing employees – including salespeople, business development, marketing, customer service and support, partner managers and even accounts receivable – need to have a flexible, role-based CRM application that maps to their individual needs. Their CRM tool must provide real-time insight at the moment of customer interaction. The user interface must be simple to learn and easy to use. Customer intelligence should be embedded at the users’ fingertips, woven into the fabric of each interaction. Finding information should be as easy as using popular Web search engines. And most importantly, all business processes should be clearly and simply exposed
to the user. It should be plainly evident what the organization expects from each customer transaction, and it should be easy for users to accomplish the task. By providing the best possible tools to the people who interact directly with customers, it is possible to unleash employees to do their best for their customers – and for the organization as a whole.
Enable CRM Responsiveness
The core of a Responsive CRM system is the ability to respond quickly. It is not enough for a CRM system to provide a platform for launching new customer initiatives. CRM must enable an organization to be agile and adaptable as market, competitive or regulatory conditions change. The benefit of choosing a responsive CRM platform is that changes can not only be made quickly, but also provide a net improvement in the customer experience. This includes both the ability to change business processes on the fly and to ensure that customer information is consistent across divisions and departments even while processes, teams and customer segments are changing. Organizations need to ensure that the specific requirements of their industry – from government to telecommunications to oil and gas – are cost-effectively captured inside the CRM application as requirements change. And as technologies change, the organization can capitalize on new business models such as software as a service and grid computing to increase reaction times and provide new financial options.
Success in Customer Driven Age
Succeeding in the customer-driven age requires a new set of goals and a new set of tools. The pressure to increase performance as the global economy has become more interconnected and “flat” has accelerated the demands on organizations and the customers they serve. To succeed in this new business environment, organizations must put the customer at the center to transform the relationships that power growth. Responsive CRM Makes that Difference