CRM Built for Customer Service

The Executive Guide to Selecting CRM that Meets Service Needs

Source: Pivotal CRM whitepaper.

Customer service personnel constitute a company’s front line in customer retention, satisfaction, and relationship management. Accordingly, as companies embark on their CRM selection process, they must pay special attention to the needs of the customer service department and ensure that sales and marketing objectives don’t eclipse service considerations. Nowhere within an organization is the opportunity to use CRM to deliver an exceptional customer experience and build lasting customer relationships—while cutting costs and increasing productivity—stronger than within the customer service department.

Why Customer Service Needs CRM that’s Built for Them

Delivering an exceptional customer experience and building strong customer relationships are key goals for today’s corporate leaders. Recognizing that loyal, satisfied customers are the true drivers of business success, companies of all sizes across diverse industries are realigning their operations and transforming their work cultures to become “customer-centric,” placing customers’ needs and preferences at the core of their business.

Making a business more customer-centric is a multi-pronged effort that requires transformations of process, culture, and strategy from the top levels of the company down through every individual employee. While establishing a customer-centric vision and strategy should always be the first step, technology plays a critical role in providing the infrastructure and tools to implement this vision and build it into daily processes. As broad-reaching systems that impact all customer-facing processes, customer relationship management (CRM) systems are typically central to companies’ efforts to reinvent the customer experience and embrace customer-centricity.

As a consequence, many organizations are currently taking a serious look at their customer relationship management strategies and supporting systems. Companies that have gone without a CRM system until now are recognizing that such a solution may be necessary to take them to the next level and align their firm around the customer effectively. And even enterprises that have used CRM systems for years are reexamining their strategies and looking at ways they can use their system more effectively or upgrade to a more current, flexible, or powerful system.

The Customer Service Factor

CRM projects may be initiated by any of several different areas of the company. Often, for example, a need for sales force automation (SFA) or marketing automation may drive a broader CRM initiative. In fact, in a somewhat ironic inversion, customer service is sometimes almost an afterthought in customer relationship management projects, despite its obvious importance to the customer experience.

Not surprisingly, CRM initiatives undertaken without paying adequate attention to the needs of the customer service department often fail to deliver on corporate goals of increased customer-centricity and improved customer satisfaction. While SFA- or marketing-focused CRM projects might succeed in better process and data management, they will do little to enhance the long-term customer experience if service is not also enhanced. Indeed, nowhere within the organization is the opportunity to achieve customer-centric goals—or the risk of failing to meet them—stronger than within the customer service department.

Customer service personnel constitute a customer’s primary post-sale contact with a business (and often a key pre-sale or sales contact, as well), making them the front line in customer retention, satisfaction, and relationship management. Service representatives are the “face” of the organization to most customers, and the impression they make on customers has a direct impact on how customers feel about the company and its brand and whether they continue to do business with the company over the long term. Furthermore, research has indicated that customers who are impressed by a vendor’s resolution of a service issue will in fact be more loyal than those who never had a complaint,2 and that 40% of customers who lodge complaints will consider buying additional products or services from the company if they were happy with the issue resolution. This clearly identifies customer service as not just a cost of doing business, but a critical component in ongoing revenue generation.

Companies evaluating CRM systems need to carefully research and consider a system’s suitability for their customer service users

what does the customer service department want from a CRM system? In a nutshell: a system that will help them provide faster, better support to customers. Customer service representatives want a system that will give them the tools and information they need to answer customers’ questions and resolve their problems—on the spot, in the first call or interaction—keeping customers satisfied, friendly, and loyal. Customer service supervisors, managers, and executives want this too, but they also want the tools to measure and manage performance, costs, and resource utilization, keeping the department efficient and effective. In addition, they want tools that will reduce the learning curve for new hires and take the guesswork out of problem-solving, ensuring consistency and quality while empowering their teams and keeping them happy and productive.

What Is “CRM Built for Me”?

For your users to feel that a CRM solution is “built for them,” it needs to address tangible pain-points in their daily activities, rather than introduce new ones. These pain-points differ by role

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