Customer often complain that they are passed between different departments and have to repeat their problem. Do you believe that it’s a result of badly designed internal procedures? How often do you meet companies with well designed procedures?
As well as being passed between too many departments, receiving inconsistent answers and having to endure long call queues are other major gripes for consumers. This is as result of a combination of badly designed processes, systems and internal procedure. However, the good news for contact centres is that this is easily remedied.
To date, CRM systems have been rigid and inflexible – offering very little in terms of functionality and customer insight across the business. Companies need to drive a CRM strategy that encompasses all parts of the business, including systems, processes and procedures. Additionally, it needs to be flexible in its deployment, capable of running new processes, and interoperable with all business applications – only then will businesses realise the true value of their customer data.
For instance, a financial services customer of ours, Bank of Ireland, realised that it needed not only to reengineer its call centre delivery processes, but also to ensure it provides the same level of outstanding service across all channels to give a consistent customer experience. To meet this objective, the bank launched “Banking365,” a customer relationship management system powered by Oracle's Siebel Finance. Today, the bank enjoys customer satisfaction ratings above 85 percent and has earned a string of awards for service excellence. Such examples just highlight how powerful CRM can be, when used in combination with processes, systems and procedures.
Sales people often refuse to use CRM tools. This is more common to elder people and people with lower education. Unfortunately, a company cannot change them and has to persuade them to use the CRM tool. Can you recommend a plan (i.e bonus) that will make them start using the tool?
Sales people are notorious for working in isolation and not using CRM to share leads, contacts and sales opportunities. This is primarily driven by their negative experiences with rigid CRM systems, which were seen more as a management edict than a genuine productivity tool. Today, CRM has moved beyond this regimented approach and will help employees report less and ultimately, sell more. Once sales staff see their pipeline filled with opportunities through collaborative working, they will realise the genuine proposition offered by CRM.
Software providers are beginning to look at Web 2.0 technologies and the models and experiences they deliver and are envisioning how they could be practically applied in the business space – predominantly through CRM 2.0.
One example is the use of mash-up technology to collate both internal data and external information sources for decision-making tools that can make informed recommendations and support sales priorities. Another is the lesson provided by social networks in gathering shared information while rules on data visibility control access to key information and maintain data security. Collaborative participation in blogs and wikis, and the use of tag clouds and social ratings to classify and rank information could deliver a whole new level of insight into customers, product lines or a particular piece of collateral. Ultimately, CRM 2.0 is about providing the functionality for sales people to be more productive in their roles through collaborative working, rather than simply entering data on opportunities and forecasts for management.
Example: Encouraging user adoption
Take a major telecom customer of ours, British Telecom, which has managed to do just that and achieve high user uptake across its widely-dispersed sales force. Sales teams are now able to proactively create sophisticated interactive dashboards to examine key sales metrics, including the average amount of customer-facing activity per month, the number and value of open opportunities, the status of target Account Selling plans, individual and team pipeline and sales performance - and various other slants on opportunity and activity reporting.As a result, the business is better positioned to understand customers’ needs, improve forecasting accuracyand increase the overall effectiveness of its sales and marketing teams. Examples such as this just go to show how CRM is able to fulfil the very particular requirements of businesses, while also encouraging high levels of adoption.
How important is to involve the employees (or a part of them) from the start of a CRM project? Do you agree that it’s a crucial spot?
High user adoption is a strong indication of a CRM project’s success, so involving staff from the outset is the key to success - particularly at the design stage of the user interface itself. Staff who feel part of the change will respond positively, yet many businesses miss this crucial step in a CRM project.
CRM needs to also go further and empower staff with actionable customer insight at their fingertips. Having the information needed to hand will help staff make more informed decisions – which will ultimately drive more profitable customer relations. In addition, once staff see how the system supports their role, high user adoption will take its natural course. However, a CRM investment is not just about technology. It’s about a change in employee attitude and getting everyone within the organisation to agree on a common standard of interacting with customers. Once the whole business is on board, companies can set key performance indicators that help drive a product-centric, customer-focused organisation.
The concept of web self service (through a corporate portal) is very familiar to all of us who deal with the CRM tools and philosophy. We are all aware about the advantages for both the customer and the company. Unlike the other Europeans, Greeks love to use their phone and prefer to call and speak with agents or sales executives. Can you give us tips on how to persuade them to start using web self service techniques?
Consumers around the globe are all the same, in that that they want their query resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible. However, there are three main reasons why consumers use contact centres: Firstly, to gain access to account information. Secondly, to resolve account or service problems and thirdly, to receive information that relates to them as an individual – ultimately, users want a personalised service.
However, once consumers realise the value of self-service CRM, they will use it as the primary source for resolving an issue. The onus really is on businesses to ensure that their self-service portal is interactive, intuitive and responsive to the needs of the customer, which is where we come in. Oracle is recognised as a leader in CRM, and has developed its solution based on customer feedback. The result being CRM technology that exceeds the adoption rate of competitive products (in fact, the figure is 3-5 times higher). Not only will this benefit customers (since they receive a personalised, intuitive service), but it will also open up a whole host of cost savings and efficiencies across the business.
For instance, businesses could have their top 20 frequently asked questions listed on the self service portal. This will drive high-volume, low-value calls to the website – leaving staff to manage and prioritise high-value calls such as enquiries for new services. It is also important to remember that there will always be a proportion of customers that will refuse to use the internet and will always want to speak to an individual. Putting in place the framework to ensure rapid response times, quick call closure times and consistency of advice across the business, will ensure that those customers continue to receive superior levels of customer service.
Regardless of whether customers want to use self-service CRM, companies need to take a pragmatic approach and look towards a long-term self-service CRM strategy. This is particularly true in the current climate, where green issues are at the forefront of the political (and social) agenda. By deflecting calls to a self-service portal CRM, companies realistically move away from the archaic paper-based approach for interacting with customers.
In certain territories, companies are required by law to use electronic billing and other electronic means at all stages of the negation process - and when interacting with the customer. In fact, Spain is mandated to comply with this regulation by the end of 2008. All companies in Spain with more than 100 employees (or more than €6.010.121, 04 in annual revenue) will need to comply with this regulation, across the following industries:
· Financial services
· Travel agencies and travel companies
· Any company offering e-services
Oracle is recognised as a leader in providing Self-Service CRM solutions to help companies improve customer service, drive efficiencies and ease the burden of tracking and complying with the plethora of industry regulations.
Stephen Fearon is the Vice President in charge of Oracle CRM Sales Development and CRM On Demand for Europe, Middle East and Africa. In this role Stephen guides the leading edge of CRM across the region. Stephen has been with Oracle for 15 years.
As customer expectations change over time, CRM priorities change as well. Right now Stephen sees two major changes happening to customer interactions.
First, the ever expanding breadth and complexity of consumer applications is changing customer expectations of the businesses they interact with. After connecting with friends on Facebook and editing and sharing pictures on Flickr, the customer will get frustrated by over-complicated IVR menus, long waiting times, and first generation web sites. They expect to be able to have the same kinds of seamless experiences whether they're attending an event, purchasing a product, or asking for help.
Second, businesses are trying to influence customer behaviour by sensing their needs at any given time and responding in the most appropriate way to meet consumer expectations. Right now, most businesses are finding that their front office processes are so complex that they're not enabling their customer facing teams to really help their customers. Only by simplifying their internal processes and connected systems will they really be able to empower their staff to meet the next level of customer expectation.
Stephen comes to Oracle EMEA from Oracle's UK business where he was the UK Solution Sales Leader for CRM. Prior to that Stephen held a range of roles at Oracle UK in sales management, sales, and consulting. Before Oracle, Steve worked at IBM in their Pensions division.
Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Stephen holds a degree in Computer Science from Queen's University Belfast and is a member of the Marketing Society in the UK. He is married with two young children.