The customer service practice has evolved dramatically over the past twenty years. I started as a front-line technical support technician for a large software company, and our initial call tracking system did just that: track calls. Fast forward just a few years, and customer relationship management or CRM had roared onto the scene. The promise of CRM was one place for all customer information, to the benefit of all teams working with customers: sales, service, and marketing.
We’ve now entered a new era, one that looks beyond a single view of customers to sales, service, and marketing to instead focus on improving the customer’s overall experience. Service management takes customer service in a new direction, offering many benefits beyond the traditional CRM approach.
Engage The Organization
CRM seeks to create a single system for customer information to benefit the teams working with customers. While there are some advantages this brings, one could argue those benefits are more to the advantage of the company than to the customer, and the result isn’t necessarily better service.
With service management, the goal is to solve customer problems. To do so, customer service takes the lead on customer issues but pulls the rest of the organization in. By connecting the customer and their issue into the rest of the company, those departments outside customer service not only have a greater awareness of customer issues, but they are better positioned to work cooperatively with customer service.
Assign Work And Keep Teams Accountable
Granted CRM doesn’t limit the ability of customer service to engage with other parts of the organization to solve customer problems, it’s just that it doesn’t provide any means of simplifying it. CRM’s primary purpose is to record and consolidate customer information. When customer issues come up that must be resolved by other departments, those issues can be shared, but that’s often a manual process: create a report, send it over email, and hope for the best.
With service management, all departments are connected with a common platform. Like CRM the customer’s issue is recorded, but then the true power of service management takes over. That one issue the customer is calling about is probably not unique to them and can be quickly matched up to a larger problem that exists, already reported by other customers. The problem is assigned to the department that can further investigate it and resolve it. Thanks to workflow, the problem is never lost and progress (as well as any delays or detours) can be tracked through to the resolution.
Deliver Permanent And Proactive Solutions
Unlike CRM’s one-off approach to servicing customers, service management has a greater goal in mind: to quickly resolve the root cause of an issue. It does this by identifying patterns in customer issues, assigning that issue to the department responsible for validation, and following the progress to completion. By addressing the root cause, the problem is permanently solved.
But there’s more to it than that. By solving the core problem, not only is the issue solved for all the customers currently experiencing it, but future customers will never encounter it. In this manner, service management short circuits the repeated request-respond-repeat service cycle CRM is trapped in.
A More Efficient Approach To Service
The primary goal of customer service departments is to respond to and resolve customer problems. With that in mind, it’s clear CRM and service management take very different courses in terms of how they tackle this.
Customer service is more than just taking down the customer’s details. With service management, customer service takes the lead on issues but engages the entire organization in solving customer problems. Connected in this way, customer service can assign problems directly to the departments that can affect a permanent solution–and prevent future customers from encountering that same issue.
Which approach do you think will drive higher customer satisfaction?