If CRM is your company’s “solution” for improving customer experience, you’re making a big (and shockingly common) mistake. Why? Because CRM systems look at the world from the inside-out, capturing the ways and places you touch and interact with your customers.
What CRMs can’t do is help you understand what your customers think and feel when those interactions occur. And these feelings and emotions–that can only be captured by looking at your company from the outside-in–are at the heart of customer experience.
But that doesn’t mean CRM can’t help to improve experience. In fact, a recent article on Oracle’s customer experience management practices sheds light on its proper role in customer experience management. Here’s a hint: If a “Top 3″ CRM vendor doesn’t have a CRM-centric view of customer experience, maybe you shouldn’t either.
Guess What? The “R” in CRM stands for Relationship. Oops.
The advent of CRM—with the promise of smarter, more flexible, and more automated customer databases—was supposed to be a game changer. And in many ways it has been.
But it hasn’t improved customer experience much at all. Why? Despite having “relationship” in their name, CRM systems don’t actually track relationships or experiences. They track transactions and profile data as a proxy for deeper customer relationships and experiences.
In the end, this means CRMs don’t take into account your customers’ views of your company. They also don’t capture how interactions make customers feel, much less help you identify what they want or need. And even though a wealth of related customer data continues to be fed into CRMs (like support desk and social listening through SalesForce), the customer feedback that’s central to customer experience is still missing.
Instead, CRMs inside-out perspective means the conclusions reached by companies about customer relationships are skewed. They’re based on the interactions that occurred rather than the customer perceptions that resulted.
A CRM system can tell the company that two customers have the same set of interactions, but it can’t tell which customer is delighted vs. which feels trapped, upset, and may be actively bad-mouthing the company online. To get that sort of insight, you have to engage directly with, and listen to, your customers.
How Oracle Bridges CRM and Customer Experience
Oracle leverages CRM for improving customer experience in two main ways: First, by using CRM data to segment the customer feedback they gather and second, to take action based on customer feedback. What the CRM can’t and doesn’t do is actually gather that feedback. This highlights both how important CRM can be to customer experience, and why CRM alone is incapable of improving it.
The ability to use CRM data to segment responses to customer feedback is important on several fronts. Of course, it adds dimensions to and drives new insights from the data. But, just as important, it helps you look at responses through the lens of customer value. This lets you maximize experience improvement investments for your most valuable customers, while also allowing you to make cost-effective improvements for less lucrative segments.
Meanwhile, Oracle’s ability to take action based on customer feedback by using their CRM infrastructure is the mark of a good customer experience improvement strategy. According to the article, responses “requiring follow-up are automatically distributed to … employees empowered to take ownership, coordinate resources and outreach to the customer and corrective action steps are tracked in Oracle CRM.”
The thing is, the advancement of CRM technologies gives companies the ability to remember everything about customers and interactions. But just because a company has the ability to remember “everything” by collecting more data doesn’t mean they bother to use it.
Which is why Oracle’s integration of CRM into their customer experience program is where we see those companies that really want to better serve customers going. Using customer experience management as a way to actually leverage customer data as a signal for personalized issue resolution is something all companies should aspire to.