Marshall Lager is the founder and managing principal of Third Idea
Consulting, LLC. We've hired Marshall to provide his perspective on
the CRM industry, Sage news, and the state of customer/company dialogue
budgets are tight, businesses tend to focus on cutting costs and
reducing expenses. This usually leads to reticence on the part of
executives to spend for new or upgraded business technology. Sadly,
this is a case of being penny wise but pound foolish, if the figures
reported in a recent study are to be believed. Billions of dollars are
slipping through the fingers of companies who deliver poor customer
service, and a lack of good CRM is one of the causes.
of Poor Customer Service: The Economic Impact of the Customer
Experience and Engagement,” a joint study by Ovum and Greenfield Online
(commissioned by Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories) surveyed
nearly 9,000 consumers in 16 countries. It revealed that lost
relationships—defined in the study as transactions taken to a
competitor or abandoned entirely—cost businesses $338.5 billion per
year. That works out to about $243 per loss, according to the study. So
if somebody ever says, “So what’s one customer more or less,” now you
can tell them. For complete reporting, see the destinationCRM.com article by Christopher Musico.
poor business processes and a lack of understanding of how to best
relate to customers take part of the blame, but everything cited in the
study as needing improvement—being trapped in automated self-service,
waiting too long for service, callers having to repeat themselves, and
customer service representatives lacking the skills to answer
inquiries—everything can be remedied by smart use of CRM technology.
Here’s a list of the traditional solutions to these problems:
in automated self service? This one is easy, even anti-tech: Make sure
there’s a way to escalate from the IVR to a live agent. Call deflection
has value only if customers are getting the help they need. A timer or
tracker that follows a customer’s call and lets a customer service rep
break in with live service if the call goes too long or revisits the
same menu too often would work if the company (foolishly, in my
opinion) doesn’t want a “press zero to speak to an agent” option.
too long? There are more than a few on-demand contact centers out
there, as well as software that allows companies to direct their call
overflow to work-at-home agents who can help absorb the volume. Take
Callers having to repeat
themselves? This makes me sad, because even simple integration between
the CRM system, the IVR, and the agent’s desktop takes care of this,
100 percent. I can’t believe it’s still an issue.
lacking the required skills and permissions? A well-stocked and
-maintained knowledgebase means that your customers don’t have to
suffer for gaps in a particular agent’s expertise. E-learning tools
help agents stay current on important information. Not penalizing an
agent for handing the call off to somebody who does know how to help,
rather than flailing uselessly at a problem, is also wise.
are the usual ways to deal with the issues brought up in Musico’s
article. It also mentions social media as a potential problem solver. I
don’t deny the closing statements of the piece, where Ovum analyst
Daniel Hong says it will take some time to get businesses comfortable
and proficient with social CRM, but the investment of time and money
must be made. It’s been shown that fellow customers are often better at
solving some problems than a CSR, so answers are provided for free
without costing agent time. Answers generated by the community can be
added to the company’s knowledgebase, and over time this feedback can
help fix issues with the next product or service in development. That
sense of shared experience also makes for loyal customer advocates,
which is money in your pocket.
Basic integration has been too
long in coming for too many businesses, so perhaps the study will show
them the true cost of delay. I hope they remember the social CRM part
of the integration as well—bringing businesses into closer and more
productive contact with their customers.