Today's post is written by Adam Barr, a Senior Consultant at Sonoma Partners.
An accurate, relevant and unified CRM environment is one of the most powerful assets an organization can employ. The ideal environment would be designed to support efficient business processes, all of which are aligned to corporate strategies and goals. It would be connected to provide all critical customer data, equipping the right people with the right information at the right time. Ultimately, it would be a tool used to provide a superior customer experience throughout the customer journey.
That’s the ideal scenario. The reality for many CRM environments is that over time, they become disjointed as the industry, customer or company evolves. The effects of a disjointed CRM environment can be far-reaching, but can be boiled down to three primary categories:
- Customer Satisfaction
- Employee Productivity and Retention
- Company Performance
Customer Satisfaction – The Customer is King
Today’s customer is armed with more resources, information, and channels than ever before. The evolution of the customer purchasing process now spans multiple platforms and communication channels, including phone, email, web, social, chat, and mobile. The desire of the customer to leverage whichever medium is convenient for them has profoundly reshaped how companies offer products and support.
This evolution has changed how your customer’s learn, choose, review, and advocate for products or services. A customer’s heightened expectations for quick and agile service without compromising quality further emphasize the need to have a CRM environment supportive of a unified customer journey. A disjointed CRM environment decreases the likelihood of a company meeting, yet alone exceeding, these growing expectations.
An online purchase should offer a smooth transition for the customer. Whether they need to call customer service to follow up on the order, or if they chat with technical support a week later about their questions.
The CRM environment should underpin all interaction channels throughout the customer journey.
Routing to different resources or leveraging various communication channels should offer a consistent and unified experience. Requiring a customer to hold while an agent sifts through multiple records or separate databases can create a poor customer experience. Overtime, poor customer experiences lead to highly dissatisfied customers. Dissatisfaction may not only create a loss of the current customer, but potential future customers as well.
Not all unhappy customers complain. In fact, more dissatisfied customers are likely to simply (and quietly) switch brands. Customers who experience poor service often share this with their personal networks to save them from having the same experience. Happy customers are loyal customers and loyal customers are valuable customers.
Employee Productivity and Retention - Happy Employees are Productive Employees
A disorganized or disconnected CRM application can be devastating for employee productivity, performance, and potentially, retention.
Imagine the impact created in an environment where a support agent does not have access to key customer information in a unified fashion, includingcontact information, active contracts, recent orders, previous conversations, and support tickets. This may require employees to manually stitch together their own story of that customer, all while maintaining high levels of customer service during the interaction. Not only does this create a poor experience for the customer, but it can easily lead to employee inefficiency, frustration, and low levels of morale.
Issues can compound when faced with the reality that it is rare for customers to strictly have a one-to-one relationship with a company resource. Various team members are involved throughout the customer journey. Product and Marketing Managers may interface with customers while they conduct their research, where sales representatives may be engaged during the evaluation and selections of a product or service. Finally, service and support agents are often engaged post-purchase to ensure retention. For the sake of satisfaction and efficiency, it is imperative that these “hand-offs” are seamless and smart.
Company Performance – CRM Impact on the Bottom Line
CRM costs money. All environments will have ongoing costs. Some costs will be very obvious, like software and hardware. Others are lesser known, such as training of the system users, development of technology and support resources, and re-engineering of processes and markets as customers evolve.
The costs of a disjointed CRM environment are exponential when considering the impact to business decisions, customer experience, and employee morale.
All which ultimately impact the bottom line. A CRM environment that is not designed to enable success may consistently breed poor customer experiences, which will result in a poor reputation amongst customers and partners. This will not only drive away current customers, it may cause potential future customers and high quality talent to look elsewhere. Fewer customers equals lower sales. Fewer qualified candidates results in greater overhead to capture talent, or potentially missing out on the best talent altogether.
A misconception of many CRM programs is that the implementation of a new technology will lead to an increase in overall performance.
Often overlooked is the people (employee and customer) and processes involved.
Disjointed CRM environments impact marketing initiatives, create misinformed or under-informed decisions, deliver inaccurate reports, decrease customer and partner satisfaction and retention, and impact employee productivity and morale.
The environment needs to be designed to deliver the right information to the right resources at the right time. Aligning with the modern, omnichannel-enabled customer will result in the ability to consistently deliver positive customer experiences.
We can help you make sense of a disjointed CRM environment. Contact us today to get started.