Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved.
CRM Journey
CRM for Customer Service


quote To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity. quote

- Douglas Adams

CRM and Customer Service

Support. Sigh, support equals service. Ever had the pleasure to speak with a surly support representative on the telephone?
It's a rhetorical question, no answer is required. A mass exodus is in full swing. Did you do anything about it?

Over 98% of us won’t bother to report bad service. Even when faced directly with a rude customer service representative, significantly less than half of the general population complains about shoddy treatment. We simply don’t do business with that organization anymore. No one wants to be that angry person at the airport screaming at the reservation clerk, well, except for that one person, that is.

So how does the VP of Support address customer loss if up to 98% of customers don't report the issue and simply leave for a competitor? Two ways – proactively preventing bad service and luring customers or Customer Support Representatives (CSRs) into reporting it when it occurs.

Service or support software systems measure and monitor. We’ve all heard that little message before actually speaking with a live person on the phone, “This phone call may be monitored for quality assurance.” That’s one method of monitoring and its shown to work. Workflow processes built in to service software perform most of the others. You sent an email to your printer’s support website with a question about how to get the built-in scanner to work. Did you receive a reply? Almost immediately. You had an online chat with the Customer Support Representative (CSR). Another email. Was the problem solved? If it was, another email appears. Are you satisfied with the resolution? The automated workflow is geared towards monitoring your experience, identifying deviations, increasing your satisfaction, and ultimately, retaining your loyalty.

A business entity first must define and refine its best business practices. Processes evolve over time that don’t necessary reflect the optimum level of support or service, but instead are knee jerk solutions to artificial measurement factors. Just as readers know when content is plumped for word count, clients know when a shoddy or incorrect response is sloughed at them. In this world, the only constant is change, and business practices must reflect current conditions. That means constant refinement.

How do you persuade a recalcitrant individual to report a bad service experience? Everyone’s had that bad restaurant night, where you ordered a thick, juicy, medium rare steak and received a dried out piece of cow leather. Or, your vegetarian son and his new wife were served meat on the anniversary dinner you invited them to. What did you do? You have two options – complain, send it back, wait, stomach gnawing in hunger, as everyone else finishes their meal, and then hurriedly eat when the food finally arrives, not enjoying a single bite, because everyone else is ready to go. Even if the restaurant is a favorite haunt, you’ll avoid it for longer than usual, and you certainly won’t recommend it to anyone else. Option two, is to do nothing, eat the leather, pay the bill, and seethe at the wasted expense. Next time someone asks for a restaurant recommendation, you’ll tell where NOT to go.

How do you facilitate a better experience and keep that customer? Train your staff appropriately to inform a supervisor at the slightest hint you may lose a client, and then give that supervisor the authority to offer the option necessary to retain that customer. Let your support personnel know they won’t be disciplined for reporting errors, whether they’re responsible or not. Of course, if it’s repeated regularly, you have an issue to deal with.

Reward the employee for early notification of the issues and recognize the CSR for a job well done. Implement methods to make certain that the supervisor follows up within a specific response and time frame, and ensure the customer uses whatever was offered, a free meal, a complimentary bottle of wine or a coupon.

Smith and Tiliano, senior managers for The Gallop Organization (think the Gallop Poll) noted four emotional dimensions that comprise customer engagement, whether in selling or retaining a customer - Confidence, Integrity, Pride, and Passion.

If the employee is fearful or recriminations, there is no amount of training which can persuade him or her to report to a supervisor. The service environment must support and create a safety net for the Customer Service Representative. Creating the processes necessary to do this can be tricky.

Measurement and electronic notification are other methods of ensuring a complaint is handled before you lose the customer. You don’t want to wait for the ultimate USPS complaint – a man with an AK-47 firing rounds. No, as VP of Service, you want your supervisors informed at the first possible sign of dissonance. Notification. A vital aspect of service mentality and service information systems.

Automatic, electronic notification and escalation to the supervisor, is a crucial benefit of service software functionality for both the CSR and the service supervisor. The major benefits of automating Service or Support for the executive in charge of these areas are threefold: increased customer satisfaction, loyalty and longevity. Just as clients simply stop doing business where they’re not handled with honor, they stay where they are valued.

Service information systems offer significant alert notification and reporting capabilities. You can view support incidents by type of call, returns by type of product and a seemingly endless array of other options. This benefits the service manager because patterns and deviations are easily spotted. If one CSR takes ten minutes to resolve an issue, and another takes twenty, maybe more training is required. Service systems benefit other departments as well. For example, if there are regular calls about how to get the scanning to work on a printer, there’s either a problem with the documentation or a problem with the product.

Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, gave a marvelous acceptance speech after being awarded the Columbia Business School’s Botwinick Prize in 2001. In it he said, “At the end of the day, when business is really good, it's not about building a brand or making money. That's a means to an end. It's about honoring the human spirit, honoring the people who work in the business, and honoring the customer.”

There are benefits to the CSR too. A major one is that automation of the process means he or she can learn the job quickly, and provide the necessary service to be successful. That helps with two of those emotional engager's, confidence, and pride. No one wants to look a like a fool, even if he or she is simply answering a telephone.

Support information system capabilities include thorough knowledge bases so the Customer Support Representative can easily follow procedures to resolve an issue, and simple methods of escalation when it goes beyond his or her training level, again reinforcing confidence. Recognition of the employee in resolving issues can only stimulate pride in his or her performance.

Stimulating passion can be a nebulous process, but support software systems have minute measuring capabilities. The support department of that leading financial software publisher located in the mid-west took great pride in the fact they never missed a service call even during severe flooding conditions. Keeping track of each individual’s record and rewarding them when they reach a goal can kindle passion about performance. All of these are benefits to a CSR and ultimately produce a profound payback for the company.  More CRM Journey

Home | Hosted CRM | CRM Labs | Help Guides | Software Compare | CRM Directories | CRM Resources | Feedback