Month: March 2012

Beware Of Inactive Inboxes

We have a curious problem in our apartment, Not something which can be resolved by calling a plumber or electrician.

There are 8 flats in this apartment and we have a small association of owners. We meet once in a while and discuss things such as maintenance fee, current issues, possible solutions etc.,

In paper, this sounds good, But in reality, it’s near impossible for us to gather all the house owners (just 8 of them) in one place. So, we kept postponing these meetings and many issues went untouched.

One fine day, we decided to sort this by using the power of internet. Someone created an Email group, asked all the owners to join there and we started interacting regularly. As we could read / respond to Emails offline at our convenience, this was very useful and we all liked it.

All, except two.

One of these owners, had an Email ID, But never used it. So he missed all important updates and was always raising a flag on every issue ‘when did you discuss this? I am not even aware of it!’

‘But we sent you an Email.’

‘Sorry, I don’t check my mail at all, you should have called me in phone and informed.’

Another owner, didn’t even know what an Email is. In fact, he never touched a computer in his life till date. So, he missed all updates too.

Thankfully, the other 6 owners had active Email IDs, and were checking / responding to Emails. But we could see some mismatches in the frequency of checking Emails, for example, couple of us checked Emails every few minutes, while others did it by end of the day, or even end of the week. As a result, we couldn’t make any decisions fast enough.

To summarize, eventho’ we had an Email group and discussing things, there is no assurance that all the concerned people get updated promptly. This brings down the overall effectiveness of the Email Group itself.

If this is the case with just 8 members, imagine what will happen with Marketing teams trying to push messages to hundreds of thousands of customers in their CRM Database. You may be sending a beautiful Email Newsletter, but 20% of your contacts may never open it, another 20% may open it late, effectively spoiling your party.

With “Social” messages, the risk is even higher. Most of your contacts in the CRM Database, may not be active in Social Media / check updates regularly, What is the point in touching base with them at great expense? May be they need to be contacted in a different channel?

To take care of this serious communication issue, it is advisable for marketing organizations to start analyzing their existing contacts and split them into different buckets such as:

  • Email Aware
  • Email Active
  • Social Media Aware
  • Social Media Active
  • None

This is just a sample, we may have more buckets like this, but the point is, if we know how active the contact is in various channels (by just asking them, “What is your preferred mode of communication? Email / Phone/ Twitter / Facebook / Others?”) we can push the same message to different people in different channels and expect a higher HIT Rate.

For example, a single campaign message may go to 20% of my contacts via direct mail (Post), another 20% in Email, 40% by Social Media etc., based on the bucket where they are. This way we ensure that a message has a higher chance of making an impact, by not falling on an inactive inbox / facebook wall.

Naga Chokkanathan

Senior Director, CRMIT

(Originally Published in http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/why-not-beware-of-inactive-inboxes/)

Understanding Service Delivery Gaps

The earlier article on Excelling in Service Quality would have helped you to identify the five elements of service quality (Reliability, Assurance, Tangibles, Empathy, Responsiveness) that you have to focus on to exceed your customer satisfaction. But what is more interesting to understand is to know what creates the Gap between the perceived levels of Service Quality VS the expected level of service by the customer. The Gaps model helps you to understand that better by splitting the gaps into four different constituents. Understanding these gaps, measuring and narrowing down the gaps would help you to reach the ultimate objective of exceeding your customer expectations. The below picture summarizes the Gaps model where Customer Gap = Gap 1 + Gap 2 + Gap 3 + Gap 4

Gap 1 generally arises due to difference in understanding of customer expectation by front end analysts who elicit customer requirements. You can consider this as not knowing what the customer expects / the knowledge gap. This can happen due to multiple reasons like capability of the Analyst who elicit the customer requirements, not interacting with the right mix of customer contacts, not listening the customer, Language / cultural barriers, not asking the right questions, too many layers of management etc

Gap 2 arises due to translation of analyst understanding of customer requirements to service specifications / design. This is the services design and standards Gap. This primarily happens due to constraints (technology, people, process) that limits your ability to map the customer needs, not so flexible in-house processes to adopt to customer needs, lack of capability in translating the requirements specs to a well rounded design etc

Gap 3 is due to difference in the way the design is done against how it is actually executed. This is the services performance gap. This primarily happens due incompetence of delivery staff, process non compliance, employee-company conflict, high empowerment leading to people taking ad-hoc decisions etc

Gap 4 is due to difference in what is promised to the customer against what is actually delivered to the customer. This is due to you not in a position to deliver what you promised to the customer. Most obvious reason could be false promises by Sales / Marketing staff to the customer, poor expectations management etc

Unless you have tight measures to manage each of the Gaps by having right checkpoints, audits, surveys, reviews etc you may not be able to reduced the Customer Gap which is the difference between the expected service of the customer and perceived service.

Venkatesan Sundaram

Senior Director, CRMIT

(Originally Published in : http://venkysundaram.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/understanding-service-delivery-gaps/)

Oracle CRM On Demand For Travel Industry : Part 1

Today’s increasingly competitive travel industry caters to different types of tourism needs, but actually, identifying, developing and retaining high value customers has become increasingly difficult for entrepreneurs. Refining customer needs and building customized value proposals is not the only strategic move for businesses to survive this competition, but you also need something very reliable to depend on.

Since tourism has become a major source of revenue for many regions, there is a clear need for a solution that can facilitate managing information on customer requirements, economics and contextual data for delivering the right kind of offer to the right person. And this should be possible, bearing in mind the budget factor.

In this article, we will discuss how Oracle CRM On Demand (CRMOD) can help Travel Industry through various facets.

CRM On-Demand is a one-stop solution that offers plethora of features for managing customer information in a methodical manner. Think of a scenario where complexity of your business structure and growing marketing demands start creating issues for you and you lose a lot of data that ultimately leads to ambiguity. CRM On-Demand provides a single platform to record all customer interactions with agents, ranging from flight schedule inquiries to ticket reservations, cancellations, changes and customer feedback.

CRM On-Demand’s biggest return on investment is the ability to integrate the best practices in process management which in turn will help the business to track activities for resolving customer inquiries, improving customer relationships through maintenance of accurate customer information, agent efficiency and many other activities.

Usually, information flows in from diverse channels like websites, e-mails, faxes and is lost amid the huge amount of data that is typical of almost all companies. Also, to make matters worse this data is not stored at a central repository. Not only does this complicate the business processes, it also impacts the end user satisfaction.

In this complex scenario, CRM On-Demand facilitates with a centralized repository which provides a uniform and robust platform. This platform supports customers and effectively manages issues, concerns and clarifications logged by them. And the best part is that CRM On-Demand solution can be customized to suit specific organizational requirements.

(To Be Continued in Part 2)

Charu Mehta, Sai Ratnakar & Sushma Reddy 

CRM Consultants, CRMIT

What To Monitor In A Tweet?

One out of every three Twitter users talk about brands in their tweets and that’s a fact. This is a good way to keep an eye on your brand. A tweet may look very small and even insignificant, but actually there are so many things that you can monitor in a single tweet. There is lot of business information that can be driven from this amazing social media tool. You can know a lot about your customer and their feelings by just carefully observing the tweets they write. Check out this picture, which talks about various things you can track from a single tweet.

There are various factors that can be considered while looking into a tweet of one of your customers or prospects and this can be mapped to your CRM data, as well. While Twitter not only works as an opinion poll, it also helps people to build an instant “backchannel”. And if your prospects are online most of the time, monitoring the tweets and responding to them promptly, can immensely help with business development and augmenting customer service.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

Measuring Customer Satisfaction

When it comes to building business, adding new customers to the pipeline is not the only crucial aspect that should be taken into account, retaining existing customers is equally important. Customer satisfaction actually works like an interpreter for envisaging customer retention, loyalty and product repurchase. So, in an organization, a CRM system is the best way to measure customer satisfaction. CRM system can produce actionable reports for management and is also reliable enough to attach employee performance and compensation to the final results.

Here is a pictorial representation on how these things work together:

There are some critical aspects that should be taken into consideration while measuring customer satisfaction:

Quality with “Zero Defects”: Projects are never perfect and defects cannot be immediately detected at the time of delivery. But if they can be detected during the time of warranty period, customer will feel happy about the service. Though we know that a product with zero defects is rarely achieved, but customers always expect such products.

On-time delivery: For a customer nothing is more frustrating than not receiving product delivery on time. This affects “customer satisfaction”. Even if the delay is caused due to some change that customer has requested, they would still expect the product to be delivered on time.

According to an old perception, vendors always prefer to compromise with the quality rather than delaying the delivery. However, the fact is that customers might forget a delayed delivery, but they hardly ever forget poor quality and whenever asked for references, they highlight the quality factor than on-time delivery.

Price Rating: If a vendor expects his invoice to be respected fully, without any issues, then he should not bill the customer for an amount that was not agreed upon. But sometimes, contracts are drawn up as per hourly rate, thus allowing variance on both sides and whenever customer has to pay more, customer is always dissatisfied.

Issue Factor: Usually, error in the requirements or a conflict, any unclear specifications or lack of understanding the specifications causes various issues. A customer feels dissatisfied when vendors are not able to understand the requirements properly. Additionally, valid issues do not make customers dissatisfied to the extent, as trivial issues do. These really make customers annoyed.

Accommodation and Cooperation: Whenever a customer requests a change, vendors should be able to accommodate and cooperate with him, along with implementing the change without postponing the delivery of the product and without incrementing the price.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

Excelling in Service Quality

It is a dream of every services organization right from coffee shop to hi-tech professional services organization to excel in service quality. It is easier said than done. Measuring service quality is lot more difficult than measuring product performance due to many factors. Some of the key factors that differentiate service quality among service providers are explained by SERVQUAL model. The easiest way to understand the model is to take the most common example of our experiences in restaurants as we all know just the food quality alone may not be a very compelling reason for us to go to specific restaurant than another. I tried to present below the five dimensions of SERVQUAL model, their definitions and their applicability to a restaurant scenario

Tangibles: Appearance of physical facilities, equipment, personal and communication materials. This has to be considered as basic hygiene factor (if it is not there it would create a big dissatisfaction, if there not a great differentiator) that everyone expects from a service organization. In the context of restaurant it could be anything like hygiene of the place, well dressed staff, neatly arranged chairs and table, presenting the dishes in the right format etc

Reliability: Ability to perform the promised service dependably and accurately. This is a very important aspect as you would never go back to the restaurant if he assures you the food in 5 minutes but takes more than 30 minutes to serve (no wonder why companies like Dominos promises 20 minutes guaranteed delivery). Other factors like consistency in the taste of the food every time, availability of your favourite food whenever you go, no mistakes in taking / delivering orders, error free billing etc are other reliable factors that you obviously expect from the Restaurant

Responsiveness: willingness to help customer and perform prompt service. I believe many of you would have the experienced a situation of where the waiter vanishes after serving (dumping) the first round of orders. You have to really look around every nook and corner of the restaurant to locate to get even a glass of water. These aspects go under responsiveness

Assurance: Knowledge and courtesy of employees and their ability to convey trust and confidence. Factors like the ability of the waiters to explain us the ingredients of the menu items, ability to recommend the right food depending on your requirements (less spicy, hot etc), some accreditation/ certifications from Organizations like http://www.burrp.com etc goes under the assurance aspects of Service delivery

Finally Empathy: Providing care and individualized attention to the customers. This is a significant differentiator. Some of factors like the special attention given by the restaurant staff to kids, elderly, physically challenged people etc are examples of empathy. Promptly replacing a dish that is not in good form or shape without arguing with customers by understanding the concerns from customer stand point is also an example of Empathy

I presume with a good understanding on the above, it is no big deal to map the above to whatever services your organization delivers to ensure they are taken care to excel in service quality. Feel free to post on what does each of the parameter means in your organization’s context

Venkatesan Sundaram

Senior Director, CRMIT

(Originally Published in : http://venkysundaram.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/excelling-in-service-quality/)