Category: Service Management

Guest Post : AmEXperience

There are three organizations I can happily write books on: American Express, Nordstrom and Apple. Amex first.

I started using American Express (Amex) credit card in 2002 and since then, their services have always made my experience better. But there are few instances that are worth sharing.

Episode 1: I purchased an Apple mouse with Amex for $69. The mouse had a warranty period of 1 year and it worked absolutely fine for an year-and-a-half, but after some time, it stopped working. So, I decided that I will pick up a new one. While billing, the person on the counter asked me whether I had already purchased an Apple mouse with Amex. As, I told him that I purchased my first Apple mouse around one and a half year back using American Express card, the person asked me to call Amex’s customer service.

I was confused thinking that how would Amex help me with this, but still went ahead and called them. To my surprise, Amex heard that my mouse died within an year after the manufacturer’s warranty died. Amex said “Sorry for the trouble” (huh?) and paid $69 for my new Apple mouse. Why did Amex pay? Amex adds to the manufacturer’s warranty period by 1 year and that actually enhanced my experience with them. This encouraged me to start using American Express for every single purchase.

Episode 2: Circa 2008, I went on a trip to the United States and purchased a computer for $1200.00. On the total price, there was 1% cash back, which I was supposed to receive, but by that time I had returned back to India. Amex found out my address inIndia and mailed me a $12.00 cheque, which I still have. Momento, I think.

Episode 3: Of all, this is what I savor. I wanted to purchase a motoscooter from a dealer in India; I was told that there would be a 2% transaction fee on MRP (Maximum Retail Price), which seemed dissatisfactory to me. So, I called Amex. A couple of weeks later, I received a phone call from the same dealer. At the top of his voice, he called names at me for complaining about his business practice to Amex. Apparently, it ain’t exactly legal to charge x% on MRP and Amex is stringent; it had initiated action against the dealer. (x% on negotiated price is common, but that couldn’t be charged on MRP.)

Though I had to weigh if the called ‘names’ were appropriate, Amex springing in on my behalf gives me immense pleasure. Isn’t that what every customer is looking for, with the organization that provides him service?

Gokul

A commoner. ‘A fool’, my parents say; ‘a simpleton’, my wife says. Proud father of two wonderful kids, humble husband of one super woman. I tell stories for a living at Effect Works, while my extended family thinks that am on twitter 24×7. Write to me on twitter (@rgokul), easy to catch me there.

CEM : Customer Experience Management

Yesterday I had a casual lunch conversation with one of my colleagues and the topic of “Online Purchases” came up. He quoted a particular website and said “Their website is good, but the way they run their buses, it is horrible to say the least!”

I was surprised, because to my knowledge that website doesn’t run any buses. They just allow you to book tickets from various bus service providers and that’s it.

Personally, I have used this website many times, I know they don’t run any buses and hence I only book tickets from bus services which are highly rated by fellow users. As a result, I never had a bad experience. I would gladly recommend their website to anyone.

But my colleague, had a totally different view on this. He said he will never book tickets from them anymore.

So, I decided to probe further and asked him about the ‘bad experience’ he had with this website. His response was ‘Their buses start late, arrive late, they are dirty, Air conditioning is poor…’

‘But wait, these are the problems of Bus Service Provider, The website where you booked the ticket can’t be held responsible for these operational issues. They just act as agents and allow you to book a ticket at the comfort of your home, that’s it.’

‘I don’t care. For me they sold the ticket, and they are responsible for my travel experience. Isn’t it?’

Now, you can’t argue with this logic!

Few days back, I had a similar experience when we tried to buy a washing machine for home. We went to a super market, looked at various models, and were debating on which one is best for our needs. My wife had some additional questions about few of those models, and asked the sales person.

Unfortunately, that person was not able to answer any question my wife asked. It was clear that he didn’t understand anything about washing, forget machines. He is simply paid to stand there and tell people what models are available and how much they cost.

My wife got really upset about this. ‘Let us go to some other store’, she decided abruptly.

‘But why?’

‘These guys don’t know anything about the products they sell!’

I tried to explain her how retail industry works. ‘This super market deals with hundreds of brands, thousands of products, it is practically impossible for them to know technicalities of all those goods they sell.’

Her response was almost same as my colleague’s, ‘I don’t care. I buy from this shop, and they should give convincing answers to all my questions, Else, I am not buying from them!’

So, Consumers are not ready (or don’t want) to understand the gap between Sales and Delivery / Usage Experience. It is for companies to manage. They don’t care if you sell somebody Else’s product, they want the entire process to be smooth and you are responsible for it, end to end!

When you look at the way most companies are organized, there is a Research division which looks at various customer needs and imagines products. Then we have a production division which makes these products, we have Sales / Marketing divisions which take care of the selling process and Support division to take care of customer issues. Each one of these divisions have their own problems / solutions and boundaries.

Not anymore. A sales guy can’t say “My CRM ends when an opportunity is converted to an order”, a Service guy can’t say “No Purchase, No Support”, Whether we like it or not, we need to do everything possible to make sure that EVERY touch point a customer has with us, are giving them the best possible experience.

For example, someone coming to your website, visiting your twitter page / facebook wall, buying your product in a small store, calling the telesupport number to report an issue, talking to their friends about how your product functions … all these touch points (and more) are important, and as a company you need to make sure all these experiences are great. This is not optional anymore, one bad experience in any of these touch points can drive tons of business away from you.

Customer Experience Management, that’s where the future lies. CRM is not enough, it’s going to be CEM Era now!

Naga Chokkanathan,

Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published In : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/why-not-manage-experiences/

Social CRM For Service Teams

One common source where people are sharing content online more than ever is certainly the social networking environment. This is the largest source of direct, honest and outspoken opinions and community assistance. While this real time social media thing is global, uncontrollable and dynamic that lets your prospects and customers talk about you online, it is definitely serving like a helping aid to Service Teams, as well.

While customers talk about issues that you may not be even aware of, using right tools you can actually uncover the posts that talk about various issues, problems or may be grievances about company products and services. This can facilitate you in enhancing your customer support and service.

Social CRM provides you an opportunity to automatically convert these customer posts into service requests into the existing support application for a better follow up and track.

Now, what kind of social media posts for customer support routine can assist you? It may be a complaint, suggestion, any positive feedback or may be an additional service or product offering.

Once you identify the kind of post that can help you further in the matter, social CRM can convert it into a service request and route it through the existing workflows. Most of the organizations answer these posts as first come, first served manner, but you can choose to answer these according to your high value customers or may be high rated products. But whatever you choose, that should be based on business needs and not social media dynamics.

With the scoring mechanisms of social CRM, efficient and timely segmentation of actionable posts becomes easy. So, while managing service requests and taking proficient actions accordingly, you can also enjoy various other benefits of social CRM like platform flexibility, greater influence over conversation, better accommodating complexity of customer relationships and achieving deeper customer engagement.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

Sports and CRM

Sports & CRM Applications : This Works Great

Don’t feel surprised if an organization suddenly seems much more familiar with your tastes and preferences.

Yes, this is actually grabbing attention these days. Recently, a well-known professional baseball team from Boston deployed a Sports CRM app. It rolled out the application in luxury sales only, which resulted in 20% more conversions and the senior operations analysts believe that it will increase much further this year now that they have become more familiar with the system.

Features in the Sports CRM applications incorporate usual range of functionality, which can be oriented as per the needs of a sports team. It not only provides customer service in a single system but also allows users to track and manage different information including finance and sales.

For instance, the team can now easily access the inventory management module like premium seating and event venues. With the help of better customer data and predictive analysis, developing promotional material and marketing programs has become very easy for them and they can effectively target specific customer groups as per their gaming and seating preferences.

Prior to deployment of the CRM system, the team was dependent on its own home-grown databases that included excel files, but post deployment, the system gave them a better view of what could be booked when certain seats were available. But the best part is in terms of customer knowledge that allowed the team to know about the preferences of the customers. CRM systems not only make it easy to manage your customer data, but you can also maximize the amount of data that can be put in the CRM system to make it comfortable for your customers, as well.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

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/)

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