What do customer experience, customer service and CRM have in common?
Everybody is talking about customer experience and competing companies all over the world are in the race for who can offer it up the best. While there are many aspect to what makes up customer experience, customer service plays a significant role in it. To start, let’s first establish a definition of customer experience.
What is customer experience?
As Blake Morgan puts it in her 2017 Forbes article, “What is Customer Experience”:
“Customer experience can include a lot of elements, but it really boils down to the perception the customer has of your brand. Even if you think your brand and customer experience is one thing, if the customer perceives it as something different, that is what the actual customer experience is.”
I personally LOVE this definition and believe it is entirely accurate. At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what YOU think your customer experience is, what matters is what the customer thinks.
Morgan goes on to say:
“Consider what would happen if a company hired employees for its stores and call centers that were apathetic about the service and didn’t really want to be there. They would likely have poor interactions with customers, which would lead customers to perceive that the brand is lazy and doesn’t care about their business. On the other hand, a company that hires passionate people and trains them to love the product will shine and likely help customers have a great experience and strong perception of the brand.”
Boom. There you have it, an explicit mention of customer service. The interactions your customers have with your brand make all of the difference. Customer service and support make up a lot of these interactions, which is why it’s so important to get it right. So, where does CRM come into all of this?
Customer insight, data, and organization.
CRM provides a technological foundation for great customer service
CRM (customer relationship management) is a software solution and a strategy focused on putting the customer back at the forefront of your business. It offers data collection, organization, and transparency so that your team is more productive and efficient at building long-term, profitable relationships. A CRM houses important information about every one of your leads and customers, giving you greater insight into who they are, what they want, and the type of relationship they have with your brand. All of this information provides context and background for your customer service staff engaging with your leads and customers day in and day out. The more knowledge they have about WHO they are serving, the better they can serve.
CRM is not just for sales
Traditionally, CRM was seen as primarily a sales tool. Not anymore. While CRM helps sales organize their leads, automate follow ups, and manage their opportunities and pipeline, it does a whole lot more for the other departments within your organization as well.
CRM for Marketing
Marketing uses CRM data to help learn about their leads and clients. They use this information to build buyer personas, develop meaningful and relevant content, and to develop strategies that engage and convert. A CRM gives marketers the ability to become more data-driven, executing more effective strategies than ever before. CRM also powers any marketing automation strategy enabling better personalization, segmentation, and tailored customer journeys.
CRM for the entire team
Delivering great customer experiences means being able to deliver what your lead/customer needs and wants – across ALL departments. While none of us are mind readers, data gives us the information we need to help us realize the needs and wants of our contacts. Therefore, it’s critical that the entire team (this includes developers) have reasonable access to the customer data that help them better understand who they are speaking to and working with. Because customer service plays such a large part in the relationship with the customer, their access to pertinent customer data is integral.
CRM data makes stronger customer service teams
When you arm your team with the right tools, they become invincible. Not to mention, a team with the right tools is a happy team because they are not struggling to perform. Here are the top five ways CRM makes for a stronger, more effective customer service department.
Real time data across your entire team
No more “Can you repeat the problem, please?”: How frustrating is it being passed from support person to support person and having to repeat your issue over and over? The worst! CRM eliminates this issue. When your customer service team has access to customer data and their history with your brand, they are already informed and better armed to serve the customer. Data gives them context. Furthermore, you cut down the time spent with each customer, getting them setup right and out the door happy and satisfied. Plus, from the customer’s point of view, you look more organized and efficient as a team. Seamless data management and transfer among departments improves their overall perception of how a company works and handles their customers. Fuel their perception.
A complete history of all customer interactions
When your customer support system is integrated with your CRM, every interaction (both automated and manual) is recorded and saved in the contact record. Going back to the point above, the customer service rep can reference previous issues, resolutions, interactions and more without having the customer repeat their story. This relieves customer frustration and gives your staff the ability to handle more customers in a shorter amount of time.
For your team and your organization as a whole, integrated CRM and customer service provides greater transparency into your relationships and in understanding how a contact is communicating and engaging with your brand. It also gives you transparency into how your team is interacting with that contact. How quickly did they respond? Were they helpful? How was their tone of voice? All of this matters.
A single point of reference no matter where the customer came from
No more searching around for unorganized or missing data. Customers come to you in so many different ways including support ticket, phone, email, live chat, etc. When CRM and customer service are connected, your support team only needs to look in one place for all of the information they need to help the customer. Plus, they can easily update contact records with new information or send resources or follow ups right from CRM vs having to go into different systems or worse, having to email it to someone else for data entry! So, no matter what they used to contact you, they receive the SAME, consistent experience each time.
Invaluable analytics to show you the truth behind your customer experience
Just like we said before, the customer experience boils down to what the customer thinks about you and not what you think the customer experience is. This can be hard to understand without the proper analytics. Having analytics in place providing insights such as: customer service response times, case tracking, email open/reads, clicks, website visits, survey responses, CRM activity reports, and more, helps a business visualize what the experience is really like for your contacts. If you have unusually long response time or you are getting negative feedback from your support chats, then you know these are areas that need significant improvement. WIthout these insights, you’d just keep trekking along the path to an even poorer customer experience and worse, negative growth. Analytics give your management team the ability to test our different methods and strategies for interacting with customers so you can gain some visibility into the best way to connect with customers and exceed expectations.
Listen to your customers. Never make assumptions on what they are experiencing. These insights should always be data-driven.
Save on software while providing better customer service
CRM data organization and accessibility fuels more efficient strategies. More efficient strategies means a reduced cost in managing your customer service team and should also result in an increased revenue stream. By using an integrated complete CRM, you avoid having to invest in multiple systems. This alone saves you significant $$$ in Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). When you save on your technology, you are able to spend those resources in other areas helping to improve the customer experience and employee productivity, as well as overall satisfaction.
So, does CRM help customer service to improve the overall customer experience? Yes. An integrated CRM platform should stand as the base for your sales, marketing, AND customer service strategies. There is no doubt that there’s a huge shift happening in the way we do business. Things are becoming (as they should be) more customer-centric in all aspects. Isn’t it time you started improving your customer experience by arming your team with the right tools?