Technology Is Not the Success Or Failure Of A Customer Relationship


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My son is in the hospital this week, inpatient. In this situation we are the customer. It may be a specific industry with different terminology, but ultimately we are the customer. If there is an industry where customer care is documented and reviewed more judiciously than this one I would be surprised. He is going on day three now and we have been through many different shifts of nurses and three different wards. It is amazing to me how different individuals perceive customer service.

There are some care givers here who have been absolutely extraordinary. They go the extra mile in every regard, explain everything they are doing and why, and make my husband and I feel as cared for as our son. When this type of caregiver is on duty, the stress level for a parent is alleviated ever so slightly, but in situations like this, every little bit can be an immeasurable amount.

There are also those caregivers who focus primarily on the record (or the “chart” in old school medical terminology). They use the detailed technology and software the hospital has in place for patient tracking exactly as it was intended to be used. They know what has to be done and when it has to be done. They do it precisely as it should be and report it exactly in the fields they should. Something is lacking, however.

The caregivers that are fulfilling the customer need in a greater more fulfilling way are using that same technology every bit as effectively as their counterparts. Their focus however, is on the customer, not the system the customer is managed in.
Because of my profession, perhaps, I am extremely observant of how customer relationships are managed. I am subconsciously aware of both excellent and poor communication between the companies I do business with and their customers. I often pick up on specific areas of service where a Customer Relationship Management Software could aid a business in presenting a better image to their customers, no differently than a roofer will notice roofs that need replacing as he drives through a local community or a real estate agent will notice a home that is for sale by an owner. It’s not something you can turn off and on. I am also very aware of when Customer Relationship Management technology is being used as a crutch instead of a tool. Technology is not the success or failure of a customer relationship. The people in that relationship are.

Regardless of the industry that you are in, someone is the customer. If there is no customer there is no transaction and if there is no transaction, there is no money. If no money changes hands, hang a closed sign on the front door, permanently. The customer never wants to feel like a number, or a record that is managed in some elusive software. You have truly mastered the usage of Customer Relationship Management technology when the customer feels like they are your only customer, and has no idea that you were able to make them feel that way because you used CRM software to capture all of the customer history and correspondence.

It is in part an art. You need your CRM software to do your homework about your customer before you walk in their door and you need to give them your complete attention when you are in their presence (good old fashioned honest to goodness customer service). Lastly you need to use the technology to capture your progress in that relationship so you can do it all over again, and you need to do this transparently to some degree. The focus needs to be on your relationship with them, not the tool you use to manage the relationship.

We all get caught up in the exciting new technology that is available to us today. That is human nature. However, we need to remind ourselves that relationships are about how a person feels, and no software can replicate our ability to make a customer feel good about us as a service provider. You are the success or failure of your customer relationships.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Luke Russell
Luke Russell has been CRM consultant since 1998. He has personally consulted with hundreds of organizations, and has a strong success record for CRM implementation and results. During this time, he has worked with customers to achieve such lofty goals as higher quote win ratios, larger average order size, more effective follow-up, reduced cost of administration, increased customer retention, and expanded cross-sales into existing customers; to name a few. Luke is the founder of Resolv, Inc.


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