CRM = Customer Rejection Management
Every major organization has some form of customer call center. You may have renamed yours “contact center.” They are manned by staff that are trained, tooled-up with technology and incentivized to support customers. The center is critical because it drives long term sales and protects repeat revenue. It may even be considered a “profit center.”
But your customers are calling you less, and only when they really have to. I would suggest that CRM stands for “customer rejection management” rather than customer relationship management. And this is by design.
There are three strategies that companies are adopting that are driving customers away, giving you less insight into your customers and their needs, and, ultimately, alienating them.
These strategies are:
• Outsourcing: letting a call center operator talk to your customers
• Self service: letting customers find their own answers
• Search/social networking: letting someone else help them
All three strategies must be driven by a cost-center / cost-reduction mindset.
But the one time you force your customers to contact you is when they don’t want to. This is called non-value demand. In other words, you are making your customers do something that has no real value for them.
Either you make them call a number and sit on hold after they have navigated through a labyrinthine list of menu options; or you make them go to an unintelligible website, register by entering a huge list of personal information, wait for a validation email, and then make them try to navigate your website – all with little or no guidance or step by step instructions. Sounds familiar?
Here are some examples of non-value demand:
• Report a fault or error in a product or service
• Fix a problem in a product or service
• Confirm or acknowledge a change of contract or other details
• Update personal details
The opposite of non value demand is value-demand. This is something initiated by the customer that they want to do for their benefit. They may not want to talk to you but it is worth their time and effort. Some examples are:
• Ask for an increase in credit limit
• Cancel a product or service
• Order a product or service
• Give feedback
What makes both non-value demand and value-demand a nightmare is that companies often compound it with poorly thought through, inadequately tested and inconsistently applied business processes. I am not just talking about the screens in the CRM application but the end-to-end process: the customer journey.
This makes the experience even worse for everybody. The customer is confused and frustrated. The call center operator is uncomfortable and frustrated; i.e., the customer leaves the call upset, no matter how good, positive or cheerful your call center person is.
Good process design
The explosive growth of social networking means that there is now a wide range of ways that a customer can get their question answered. They can call you, search your website, email you, search for the answer on a forum, post the question on a social networking site like LinkedIn or Facebook, or on a micro-blogging site like Twitter.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to take a look at front office processes, and take a customer-centric perspective. Put the customer at the heart of the situation and think about their journey.
The good news is that most of the back office processes can stay the same.
This is the opportunity to take a faster, more effective yet proven approach to process capture/discovery, CRM design, and the adoption of new working practices for your customer facing staff. This can be done through interactive, collaborative process mapping sessions, rapid CRM system prototyping or role-based guided process walk-throughs delivering links to systems, videos, on screen entry, documents and forms, in the context of an end-to-end process.
Gone are consultants interviewing staff and producing complex flowcharts that cover the entire wall of the project office. The end to six to 12 month CRM/IT-centric projects. Say goodbye to offsite CRM systems training courses.
Just theory? No = Success.
Is this approach just theory, you ask? No. It can be seen on every street in the UK in Carphone Warehouse stores, with an initiative they call ‘How2’.
If you can’t make it out of the office, Carphone Warehouse has documented its project in videos from several perspectives including a retail store, back office, the project sponsor. The results speak for themselves. Just from the deployment to 815 stores the ROI was 1100% in year one, customer satisfaction (NPS) was up 25%, an additional revenue of $8M in the first year and they’ve saved $80,000 per year on telephone support calls to stores. In fact, the company won a Gartner BPM Excellence Award in the Leveraging BPM Technology category.
Just theory? No = FAIL.
I’ll contrast this with the non-value demand experience of 2 other media operators. You couldn’t make this up.
“It’s a sad reflection of business nowadays is that my major accomplishment today was getting to speak to someone at VirginMedia that was able to use a telephone and find out the problem with our order. He also managed to retain my number and call me back. Mind this took 3 calls yesterday speaking to 5 people and 2 calls today, one of which was 45 minutes long, speaking to a total of 6 people. There are real human beings out there that have brain cells but to find them you have to be extremely persistent and keep holding on through the dire hold music.”
And I thought that this was as bad it could get. Until I read this blog. A customer, so hacked off with Vodafone, he wrote and blogged his letter to the CEO. The full letter is here, and it makes pretty painful reading. But in summary:
“I told the rep that simply doing the same thing over and over would not solve the problem and that it was not fair that a customer should have to deal with this for 3 hours repeating the same process over and over again. He told me that we were going to do it for a 15th time….. I am so tired of Vodafone and I still after 4 hours of continually trying on the phone, cannot access my account.”
Process-led thinking leads to happy customers
The people who design operational processes should think about how it feels from a customer perspective. Then how the effective use of technology can enhance the experience for everyone. The social media revolution taking place is the perfect catalyst.
Ahhh!! I feel better now. Who should I call to tell?