Category: Soft Skills

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/

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Stock Of “Kudos”

Oracle Fusion CRM has various interesting features, once of them called “Kudos”.

You can see this via Navigator > My Portrait. If you don’t see Kudos option, click on the downward arrow in this page, and expand the portlet called “Kudos”.

This page shows all the “Kudos” (or Praise) given / received by the current employee across the organization. It says on which day the person gave (or got) kudos to (or from) whom, and for what reason.

This doesn’t add too much of value as a CRM application, but is a very valuable HR function. There are many other similar features in this page such as Career Planning, Development and Growth, Experience and Qualifications etc., These shows how powerfully Fusion Apps are integrated across.

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/)

Clarity In Communication

Saw a newspaper advertisement for a general insurance service, with the following text prominently displayed:

No Claim Bonus

Of course, people in the insurance industry / those who bought insurance / made claims earlier will immediately understand this as:

If you don’t make any claims in the policy period, you get a bonus

However, assuming most of the  people reading this advertisement (and are primary targets) are laymen and won’t understand this “No Claim” terminology, what will they see in this Ad?

No Bonus

You may call that silly, but when I look at the words “No” and “Bonus” near to each other, I naturally assume this company is refusing to pay me bonus (for whatever reason). There is no clarity to teach me that they are actually paying me bonus, for not making any claims.

This whole  communication gap could’ve been avoided if the company did some beta testing of its Advertisement text, they would have come up with better alternatives such as:

Bonus for No Claims

Attractive No-claim Bonus

When millions of dollars are spent on advertisement, we can never ‘assume’ things, it is better to be clear, than create a wrong impression in the target readers’ mind.

Naga Chokkanathan,

Director, Presales, CRMIT

Support Without Scripts

Currently reading a book called “Delivering Happiness”. This is written by Tony Hsieh and it tells the story of Zappos.com, famous online shoe store which was acquired by Amazon sometime back.

Even though this book is supposed to be a business history, it gives so many examples of how an exceptional customer service should be. I recommend this book for anyone interested in knowing how to wow their customers. Eventhough it may sound like lot of work / unnecessary cost in the short term, it will help you in the long run. That’s what CRM is all about!

For example, take Zappos customer support. Typically call center people are given ‘scripts’ for various situations and trained on how to use them. Whenever a call is recieved, they select one of these scripts and strictly go by the books. This is the most effective way of handling repeated customer queries. It is fast, and hence cheap.

But what about Customer Satisfaction?

Ha, who cares?

Fortunately, Zappos cares. They doesn’t believe in call scripts. Their call center agents are trained to help customers, no matter what the issue is, and they don’t use any templatized answers. They don’t hesitate to go out of their way and assist in solving the customer’s (or prospect’s) current issue. Even if it means they don’t get any sales out of that particular call, they are not worried. Because they look at the experience that the person gets by contacting Zappos, not just the profit made in that call. Tony Hsieh explains this with a cute (and real) story:

Once, a lady from california called Zappos in very late hours, and this is what she told their call center agent: ‘I am staying in a Santa Monica hotel and very hungry. I want to eat a pepperoni pizza now, but my hotel’s room service is closed. I want to know if there is anything you could do to help me.’

Obviously, this is a strange request. Zappos is a shoe selling online retailer, not a pizza joint.

But fortunately, that call center agent didn’t get irritated or disconnect the call. She took couple of minutes to research on places around Santa Monica who deliver pizzas 24*7, and gave that lady not one, but five addresses.

Tony Hsieh concludes this story with a superb lesson: This is the benefit of having no call scripts, Just provide exceptional support, no matter what the client issue is, and they will be your customers for life.

Naga Chokkanathan,

Director, Innovation & Presales, CRMIT

Originally Published In : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/why-not-support-without-scripts/

Law Of Non Resistance : How It Works?

Whenever we refuse to accept a situation, we actually put in more power to it and this makes it even harder to solve. The moment we decide to resist it, we direct negative energy to that object or situation and this makes the problem appear even bigger. We start losing hopes, feel dis-empowered and ultimately lose the energy to overcome it. This is called violation of Law of Non Resistance.

The saying goes like this “what you resist always persists” and struggling with any situation is a clear sign that you are moving against the flow. But believe me, you can change this direction anytime you want. To actually make this Law of Non Resistance work for you, the easiest way is to recognize the problem and view every aspect related to it.

As you start acknowledging it, you start giving positive energy to it and this helps your action to target the problem appropriately. And giving out positive energy allows you to receive positive energy, as well. This is how the law works for you and pushes you to move in the correct direction.

If in case, you are not able to find a solution for the problem, you can leave it for a while and wait for sometime until you get some ideas to resolve it. But in this case, you got to leave the problem peacefully and need not think about it for the rest of the day. So remember, whenever you start facing your problems, you head towards your life’s purpose and when you do not, you actually invite lot of struggle and suffering in your life.

– Charu Mehta

Finding Time For Yourself

Some simple tricks for finding time for yourself:

1. De-clutter your schedule

  • Look at your timesheet for time wasters
  • Analyze timesheet to find tasks you spend most of your time with least results/ satisfaction
  • Try and be more efficient in selected activities
  • Drop / reduce time for few activities which may not make serious sense

2. Learn to delegate

  • Identify & delegate to others tasks which they can do better, not important to you or need early completion
  • Coach/ train/ mentor people to handle tasks which you may want to delegate

3. Learn to say ‘no’

  • Typical tasks which you may want to say NO to could be: Tasks not adding to your Goals/ KRA, Paucity of time/ preoccupation, You do not have the skills/ confidence to do, Not interested/ motivated to do the task
– Bhasker Rao, Director (HR), CRMIT