I read Michael Maoz’s recent post “Getting Beyond “It’s all about us” to improve CRM capabilities.” And I could not agree more.
The hype around customer experience is indeed a good start. But where do we go from there? Few organizations have the answer to that.
Great customer experience is provided by making your customer feel like he/she is the only one in the world, in every interaction. Your customers are unique, and so are their needs. Addressing your customers' needs or requests in a personal way, anticipating their upcoming need and being responsive to it, is at the heart of a differentiating experience.
That small family-run shop at the street corner has no problem in doing so. They have regular clientele, and they are a part of the community they sell to. But what about service providers who must cater to the needs of millions? How can they deliver the personalized service needed to win over their customer’s heart, and build this to scale?
CRM systems are the basis for providing a good customer experience. No matter how much we’d like to automate customer service, according to our data, 88 percent of customers still prefer to speak to an agent. People still love to talk to other people. Therefore, supporting agents with smart technologies that help them focus on the person on the other side of the line – is critical.
These agents need real-time, easy-to-understand, actionable insights that will enable them to do the best job possible when interacting with customers. In this case, having six “homegrown” applications open at the same time on the agent desktop, while looking for the right thing to say to the customer, is probably the wrong way to go.
The answer is supporting systems that allow agents to know the customer’s situation, be familiar with his past interactions with the company, know what the right thing to offer is, and complete all the required "paperwork" (or back office processes). This is not a simple task, but it is definitely a rewarding one – both for the agent and for the business. If you deploy supporting systems that do all the thinking in the background and provide real-time guidance for the agent, including auto-reporting where possible – then you free up the agent to provide the "softer side" of customer experience, the personal touch (farewell, my male readers).
This is what I believe in, and this is what we do.
So why isn't this the default MO for organizations? The main reason is that while systems and technology are the necessary foundations for such a fundamental change, it is just the beginning. This is a mega change that requires involved executive leadership, a dedicated program owner, and organizations’ long term commitment. That alone is enough to put off the "all about us" audience Michael Maoz speaks of. Without a change management program you cannot rally employees behind providing exceptional customer experience; you cannot foster CX-based KPIs to measure performance and related culture change; you cannot ensure use of intelligent applications (such as service-to-sales); you cannot entice employee engagement and make them believe they are part of a huge positive change.
Organizations that make this shift and invest the required resources will win against their competitors, especially in markets where products are highly commoditized. And like everything that requires dedication to achieve long-term returns, it is up to corporate leadership to make a difference and tip the scale in favor of genuine competitiveness.
So what is required to help corporate leadership push such an initiative forward?