Category: Service Request Management

New Age Customer Self Service Portals for CRM

Traditionally, CRM self service portals used to be the web support channel for customers. Some companies extended this concept and used such portals for employee management, dealer management etc. However, such use cases are very minimal.

Even today, majority of the self service portals in the market focus on these standard functions only:

  • Register / Login
  • Search / View Knowledgebase published by the company
  • Create Service Requests

While these basic features are required, modern web support (whether it is self service or assisted) wants to go a step beyond this. For example, let us take an example of a college, deploying their own self service portal for students.

  • College students get a login (or can register) in the portal
  • They can login, see the college knowledge base / download documents
  • In case they have a support requirement, they can create a service request

Wait a minute, when you say “Service request” what do you mean?

For a student, it may mean many things: Requesting for a mark sheet, Requesting for an attendance certificate, Requesting for a change in the profile phone number etc.

While all these are service requests, their nature is not the same. For example, when requesting for a mark sheet, they may have to provide additional details such as their examination number, year of exam etc. When requesting for an attendance certificate, they may have to say this certificate is required for what purpose, from which date to which date etc.

This means, even though portals call it with a single term “Service Request”, it actually means many things. You can’t have a single form and expect that to serve every possible service request case. Either that form will be too generic not serving the purpose, or it will be too long and users will run away.

Customer Service Management

To take care of such problems, CRMIT’s CRM++ Self Service Portal is moving in the direction of dynamic SR Types Management feature. This means, companies implementing CRM++ SSP can design their own types of Service Requests, and design unique forms for each one of them, with specific fields, labels they are looking for. Customers will love this because only targeted questions are asked, Agents will love this because all the information they need to solve a particular problem is right in their hands.

Stay tuned for our next SSP release.

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Guest Post : Have I Got Your Attention Now?

Admit it.  As consumers, we’ve all felt frustration . . . the confusing IVR, the long hold, the uncaring support agent, the seemingly Draconian rules that cost time and money.   It’s amazing more people don’t take to violence.  But sometimes they do.

Her name is Mona Shaw, a 79 year old with a heart condition.  She is a nice lady and serves as secretary of the local AARP, belongs to a square-dancing club and takes in strays for the local animal shelter. You wouldn’t consider her tops on the list of people pre-disposed to violent action.  But her phone service had been out for a week and no one seemed to care. Helpless rage . . . we’ve all felt it.

Ignored too often for too long and armed with a hammer, she visited the local office walking to the front of the line passing other waiting customers.  Leaning over the counter, Hammer Lady” started destroying office equipment. Once the damaged had been done, Hammer Lady asked the frightened customer service employees, “Have I got your attention now?”

Picture Courtesy : http://funnygurusdca.livejournal.com/1005932.html

Everyone has a little Hammer Lady in them. Scary thought. Luckily, more people don’t act in such dramatic ways. But the hammer of an emotional rant via social media can cause even more damage.  We didn’t we learn about her story in social media. The story found traction old school via CBS News, the Washington Post, and Dr. Phil, among others. To be fair, the story was extended via social media once it played in print and broadcast.
This quaint little story about a quaint elderly lady reminds us that today’s customers are less likely to stay silent and simply go away. They are emboldened to take action, often rash irrational action. It may be a rant to a neighbor. It might be letter to the president. It might be a Facebook-ignited wildfire. And in some cases it just might be a hammer.

These random acts of frustration happen when traditional means have failed.  Here’s the point. The best way to minimize the impact of frustrated customers “going toolbox” is to make your traditional customer service channels work better. But recognizing you can’t please 100% of the customers 100% of the time, what can you do?

Give customers their own hammer.

I’m totally serious. Tell them exactly how they can get your attention if traditional channels don’t render satisfaction. That’s better than an irate customer lighting the fuse with a mad tweet. Get control by giving control.  You may be thinking, “If I give customers hammers they will use it to beat us up.”   Many fear giving such a tool to customers undermines the integrity of standard customer service processes. “They will use the hammer instead of calling our regular people.”

The hammer is something to be used when the system fails rather than instead of the system. So when giving customers “their own hammer” it is important to include instructions: “please use this hammer if you do not find satisfaction through our normal channels.” Key word is ‘if.’ Indeed, the normal channels need to have integrity as the best and easiest way. In many ways, a hammer encourages normal service to be better.

Perhaps the hammer needs a less violent name. How about panic button, emergency alarm, or circuit breaker?   If your organization believes in the voice of the customer, doesn’t it make sense to make sure the customer has a voice?  And if they have a voice wouldn’t you rather they were engaged directly with you rather than the “open microphone” of social media?

Gary Lemke

Gary Lemke (@lemke) is Chief Customer Advocate at CRMAdvocate where he blogs about the customer experience, CRM, and the Contact Center.  Join the discussion by visiting crmadvocate.com

Customer Experience Management Concept : FCR

FCR = First Call Resolution

According to Wikipedia, FCR Means:

Percentage of incoming calls that can be resolved without the use of a callback or without having the caller call back the helpdesk to finish resolving the case.

You may not be a call center, but it helps to ask this question, What is your FCR? This is going to determine what level of Customer Experience you can provide as part of your CRM Support functions.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Service-level_agreement

Guest Post : Managing Product Defects, via Exceptional Support

My sister wanted to buy a new refrigerator. I accompanied her to a local store as she wanted to get the feel for the design and physical dimensions before searching for the cheaper prices online. We approached a salesman in the store and detailed our requirements, he has started showing latest models and explained the cool new features of them. My sister wanted to show her patriotism by buying an Indian brand, she turned down the salesman whenever he tried to hard sell the south korean brands. She liked a fridge made by Godrej, which had a big flower on it’s door. I checked it’s power consumption and it had a label with 5 star rating from Bureau of Energy Efficiency, so our search ended there.

Before buying it, I took out my smart phone and checked it’s prices online. Surprisingly, this store was offering better prices than online shops. We bought it. The salesperson told me that they can deliver it in 3 hours and he will send a serviceman tomorrow to install it. I was bit surprised, what is there in a fridge to install? Aren’t the fridges plug&play devices (even before computers had USBs)? I have politely asked him to just deliver it and convinced him that I can do the installation all by myself.

Fridge got delivered, we have unpacked it. For such a huge size it wasn’t that heavy. Plugged it to the power supply and it has started making that noise every fridge makes while powered on. My sister started loading it with everything she could possibly put into it and still found some space left inside. I was too lazy to go through the manual for recommended settings for right temperature, just wanted to turn the knob to the middle of it’s range. As I tried, I could not turn the knob. It was stuck, by seeing me trying my sister begged me not to break it. Decided to get some professional help after slamming Godrej for this poor quality finish. I didn’t want to call the store as I declined to accept their installation (well, I’m an egoist), I called Godrej’s toll-free service number which I found in their manual. I have explained the problem to a friendly lady on telephone and she promised to send a serviceperson as soon as possible. After the call, all those bad experiences, from the past, with calling the customer support and the service request getting last in nirvana flashed in mind. I’ve started to become anxious.

But, Godrej sent an SMS within minutes after my call with customer care. The SMS had a service person’s name, phone number and a 4 digit code to be given to the serviceperson after he does his job to my satisfaction. This one SMS gave me a lot of assurance that my service request is not lost. Now, I have a hold of a service person with that 4 digit code and real phone number (without extensions). The bad experiences of the past have just lacked this sense of assurance the SMS has provided. My anxiety has been wiped out.

Little later, the serviceperson called and offered to come by next morning. Next morning, the service person came and replaced the knob in minutes and I have given him the code, he left happily. All went well. This has been such a good experience, we have forgotten that Godrej delivered a brand new fridge with broken knob in first place. Big kudos to that person who has really thought through this process to delight his customer.

Yeasix

For the people who haven’t met me, I prefer to go with the name yeasix (supposed to mean ASICs) as my twitter handle. I’m an Electrical Engineer who loves to force the semiconductor elements to get the job done, a.k.a ASIC/chip design. Freshly backed Returned-Indian after spending 12 years in Germany for studies and work. New to Bangalore and it didn’t fail to amaze me

CRM : Look beyond numbers

Few days back, I got a marketing call from my mobile service provider, they suggested a new bill plan for me. It was very attractive, lot of benefits when compared to my current plan, and the price was also reasonable (Rs 1000).

So, I decided to shift to this new plan and gave them my decision. I got an SMS immediately, everything went smooth. I started enjoying all the new plan benefits, and felt happy about the right decision.

One month later, yesterday I got the bill and it was a shocker, because, it had Rs 2000 as the plan cost, instead of Rs 1000.

I am sure all of us would have faced this kind of a problem before, we would dial the call center, shout at some helpless lady there that the company has cheated us, threaten them that you will go to court and finally, (if lucky) get the refund back. This post is NOT one such story, believe me

My intention is not to share my frustrations with you or throw dirt at the mobile company (That’s why I am not even mentioning their name here). Instead, I fully understand that such service issues can happen at any company, and want to think aloud on what is the best way to handle them.

Coming back to my story, I immediately contacted their call center, informed them that they have charged me Rs 2000 instead of Rs 1000 and asked for a refund (and reason). The gentleman on the other side of the phone was very kind, apologized for the error, took just few seconds to understand the real issue, and gave me a solution almost immediately. (May be many people are facing the same problem!)

Actually, the plan to which I subscribed to, is called “Package 2000″ (or something similar), which means, the fixed rent on this plan is Rs 2000 per month, and then, they enable something called a “50% discount package” on top of it. As a result, you will get Rs 1000 discount on your bill every month, bringing the effective rent to Rs 1000 only.

In my case, they never told me about this complexity, and simply sold it as a “1000 Rupees package”. Technically, it is not cheating, but they should have mentioned it clearly during the “Marketing” phase.

OKay, Marketing is done, I am ready to buy the package, at least now, someone should have told me that the plan is actually called “Package 2000″ and I would have asked “Why 2000?”. They missed this step too.

Biggest mistake, they forgot to enable the “50% discount package” for me. As a result, I got a bill for Rs 2000 now, instead of Rs 1000.

The call center person could revert it back to Rs 1000 very easily, and enable my “50% discount package”. I am happy, I even gave that person a “5/5″ rating as the feedback. But, the bitterness is there with me, that they didn’t handle this right.

What they could have done differently?

  1. They could have created a simple “Package 1000″, instead of a complex combination “2000 Package” + “50% discount” (Owner : Product Management / Marketing)
  2. Even otherwise, They could have told me clearly about the package, instead of selling it to me as a “Package 1000″ (Means, you are hiding facts about your products to your customer, just to make a sale) (Owner : Marketing / Sales)
  3. They could have put a process in place, to ensure that “2000 Package” always goes with “50% discount” package, just to make sure no customer gets a surprise after their first bill (Owner : Delivery / Deployment / Billing)

These are the “Expected” reactions, if they want to go one level up, they can “surprise” or “delight” the customer by taking few more initiatives, but that would be too much to expect at this stage 🙂

Now, let us analyze this entire story from a Customer Relationship Management standpoint, these are the transactions, and the result:

  1. Marketing call to customer : Success
  2. Sales to customer : Success
  3. Delivery of the product (package) : Success
  4. Customer raised a complaint about Billing
  5. Customer complaint resolved in 2 minutes : Success
  6. Customer gave a “5/5″ rating : Super Success

Do you see the problem? My mobile service provider will NEVER know that things went wrong in my relationship with them, they will never know that there are number of improvement suggestions they need to work on, if they just look at the statistics above. Unless and until I write a long Email detailing all these to their senior management, they will be under the impression that everything went smooth. Even after I write one such mail, there is no assurance that action will be taken against it.

This proves beyond doubt, that CRM is not just transactions, it is the overall relationship that matters. If you just look at the customer records / activities / feedback numbers, you may be missing the real picture altogether.

There is a very famous quote about statistics, let me borrow it and modify it slightly : “CRM systems and reports are just like mini-skirts, they give you good inputs, but hide the most important things!”

Naga Chokkanathan

Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published in http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/crm-look-beyond-numbers/

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.