This article will guide you about the six important steps to be followed to achieve the goals of CRM. The steps are: 1. Setting a Clear Customer Experience Strategy 2. Selecting the Correct People 3. Developing, Motivating and Managing your People 4. Establishing Effective Service Delivery Processes 5. Building in Continuous Improvement 6. Ensuring Managers are the Key Change-Agents.
Achieving the Goals of CRM: Step # 1.
Setting a Clear Customer Experience Strategy:
Often organisations confuse defining a customer experience strategy with creating a “slogan”. How many companies create a slogan without any supporting initiatives, thereby disillusioning employees and creating a “flavour of the month?”
To establish a good strategy certain key practices are required:
(a) Understand the overall organisational vision and mission
(b) Define the organisation’s customer service direction, slogan and values
(c) Ensure customer service is defined as a key responsibility for the business/department
(d) Share the customer experience strategy via a comprehensive communications program
(e) Ensure that this strategy does not conflict with other business strategies. As consultants, it is amazing how often we hear organisations say, “Improving Customer Service is a priority, and we are also introducing stringent cost-cutting measures.” This can present a tough dichotomy.
Achieving the Goals of CRM: Step # 2.
Selecting the Correct People:
It’s really hard to teach an elephant to dance!
When recruiting employees to provide customer service, the process often tends to concentrate more on functional expertise, technical competence and knowledge rather than interpersonal skills. However, lack of the right attitude can drastically impact client satisfaction levels. Research has in fact shown that attitude is the most important requirement: skills and functional expertise can be taught.
Therefore in selecting the right people:
(a) Define the critical job requirements
(b) Develop scenario-based interviews/assessment centres to screen and select candidates
(c) Involve multiple team members in the hiring process
(d) Ensure evaluation is based on objective, not the subjective “Be Like Me” criteria
In part two of this article, we will look at the remaining four key principles of making the transition from a customer service culture to customer relationship management.
Achieving the Goals of CRM: Step # 3.
Developing, Motivating and Managing your People:
Even though you have hired the right people, there is still a need to orient them into the organisation’s customer relationship culture and define key communication skills. In Call Centers and Technical Support departments, there is a tendency to rely on technical/functional skills and neglect interpersonal skills development. This can result in providing acceptable material service, the more tangible aspect, yet unacceptable personal service, the competitive differentiator.
Therefore to build a customer relationship culture, it is important to:
(a) Provide training in key areas required to deliver exceptional personal service
(b) Reinforce these skills using ongoing coaching and feedback
(c) Measure current performance levels
(d) Reward performance using a combination of monetary awards and non-monetary recognition
Achieving the Goals of CRM: Step # 4.
Establishing Effective Service Delivery Processes:
Effective processes and procedures provide the foundation for smoothing or inhibiting the material service element of the customer interaction. Efficient service delivery systems appear transparent to the customer. Poor systems create those ‘speed bumps’ that necessitate personal intervention in order to satisfy the customer requirements.
The critical elements in ensuring a positive material customer experience are:
(a) Mapping the service delivery processes
(b) Evaluating critical success points in the process
(c) Defining service standards and objectives for these essential points
(d) Establishing service delivery procedures to optimize material service
(e) Creating service level agreements to smooth internal service delivery
Achieving the Goals of CRM: Step # 5.
Building in Continuous Improvement:
No matter how effective the service delivery processes, or well-trained the service deliverers, things go wrong. Products have faults. Customers get frustrated. Things slip through the cracks. The organisations that are built around managing the customer experience are able to resolve these issues effectively. This process known as “recovery” is an important differentiator in building customer loyalty.
In order to recover effectively, it is necessary to:
(a) Actively seek customer feedback and complaints: you cannot improve if you don’t know what went wrong in the first place.
(b) Train staff how to handle customer complaints effectively using the correct mix of empathizing, apologizing and resolution.
(c) Make sure that the real problem is solved, not just the symptoms.
(d) Focus on proactive (prevention) as well as reactive (cure) problem solving.
Achieving the Goals of CRM: Step # 6.
Ensuring Managers are the Key Change-Agents:
As consultants, we observe that senior management often has the vision, intention and commitment to introduce a comprehensive customer relationship management system. The “make or break” element is in involving middle management in the change process, and empowering them to be the key change-agents.
To do this, it is important to:
(a) Engage the management team early and often in the process
(b) Involve management members in articulating the customer experience strategy
(c) Teach managers coaching skills so that they are able to articulate and reinforce the key personal service skills
(d) Use managers as facilitators when rolling out interpersonal skills training
(e) Reward managers on establishing, monitoring and updating service delivery processes
(f) Ensure managers are able to act as an example to their teams.