Guest Blog: Dennis Casey, VP of Operations
Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a crucial component in any organization’s arsenal of systems. The evolution of these systems has been tremendous and their ubiquity across industries and business types is exciting. But implementing these systems takes vision, attention to detail and a desire to dive deeply into business processes to sort them out and, if necessary, re-engineer them.
CRM system implementation is an exploration and discovery that is inwardly focused, based on questions like, “How do we sell, market and provide services?” Many companies stop after a “successful” CRM implementation, happy to know that they’ve tuned internal operations for the better. In most cases, this is a huge accomplishment, but there’s more that can be done to drive return on a company’s hefty CRM investment, should they care to explore their options.
Customer service is often mistaken for customer experience. However, they’re vastly different.
Customer service is defined as, “The assistance and advice provided by a company to those people who buy or use its products or services.” Stated another way, customer service is how a business responds when things go wrong or a customer expresses a need. Therefore, it’s reactive.
Compared to the above, customer experience is defined as, “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” CX starts on day one of every customer’s journey and is intended to be proactive to avoid unwanted events from occurring.
CRM solutions can play a huge role in helping a company fulfill each of these definitions. Sadly, most organizations only focus on the inbound aspects of sales and service, missing out on opportunities to enhance CX. Businesses shy away from understanding their customers’ experiences because diving into consumer perceptions and emotions can get “messy”. Not to mention, many companies have captured little to no customer experience data or don’t have established processes in this area, which means they’d be flying blind.
This is precisely why factoring in strategic CX initiatives when implementing or updating your CRM is so important. A properly implemented CRM solution can support CX in a variety of ways, from automating and measuring lead generation efforts to housing multi-channel customer support operations to streamlining sales dashboards and beyond. Most importantly, combining your CRM and CX strategies can give every team involved in the customer journey a single source of truth for key data and processes that ultimately turn leads into loyal fans.
According to research from Bain & Company, 80% of companies surveyed say they deliver “superior” customer service. But the customer’s perception of the service level is very different – only 8% of customers felt companies delivered “superior” service. So, why the disconnect?
Companies look at their internal metrics and may even report on external customer-facing metrics, but none of those figures truly help them understand their typical customer’s journey or perceptions throughout that journey. That means, any changes the company makes in their customer service processes aren’t addressing actual customer experiences. Companies want raving fans but don’t really know how to create them.
Let’s go back in time to understand why customer experience is the new battleground:
> In the 1970s and 1980s, a business could differentiate itself by having zero defects.
> In the 1990s, differentiation was attainable via customization.
> In the 2000s and 2010s, being accessible 24/7/365 was a way to differentiate, but that novelty faded as organizations transitioned to fully connected, online business models.
Given all of the above, the only real way for a company to differentiate itself today is by focusing on CX. In order to thrive moving forward, companies need to stay in tune with how their customers think and feel, while remaining easy to do business with every step of the way. Unlike previous generations where companies only needed to focus on how they handled customer issues or problems, every single interaction throughout the buying journey matters. With a few tweaks, your CRM can likely support those critical interactions and make your organization a CX powerhouse.
Never Lose a Customer Again by Joey Coleman
Stay tuned for future installments where Dennis will explore the 8 phases of customer experience and how your CRM system can help manage them!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis is an experienced business and consulting executive having spent the last 20+ years in the technology sector, most of which was with emerging companies. Utilizing his diverse experience Dennis is often the “go to” guy when it comes to navigating change, establishing operational imperatives, or just plain getting something done. He gets no greater satisfaction than helping staff progress in their careers and mentoring new managers as they emerge as leaders.
Stay in the know with monthly insights and updates delivered directly to your inbox.