Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software has developed a bad rap for waste and inefficiency. Critics paint it as the cobwebbed basement of business—full miscellaneous info, out of date records, and generally forgotten details.
Gartner projects that through 2015, 85% of Fortune 500 companies will fail to exploit big data for competitive advantage. In the same report, they discovered that executives blame variety and volume of data as the two biggest obstacles to big data utilization.
Dark data, duplicate data, incorrect data—none of these obstacles are big news to businesses, but many organizations simply lack the manpower to comb through their databases and separate value from waste.
Yes, not getting the most out of your data is troublesome for you, but spare a thought for your customers. They can actually suffer the most from poor data management.
When they interact with your reps, that waste and inefficiency is manifested as service mistakes and unfulfilled requests. A sales rep says they’ll take care of a special request, but because the center isn’t checking their CRM records for pertinent information or alerts, the order may be forgotten. The customer then has to call back again, be told something different, and potentially escalate the issue to a supervisor.
It’s not pretty, and these interactions don’t foster better customer relationships. They create distrust.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index, which catalogues customer satisfaction across all major industries, showed a significant drop in overall satisfaction for quarter three of this year, 0.8% – “the largest [drop] in the 20 year history of the Index.”
Does this mean business leaders should flee from big data, and the information their CRMs possess? Does it mean CRM has failed us?
Some pundits erroneously say yes. They let their CRM software devolve into a glorified phone book, turning their efforts instead toward leads.
Pursue new leads, buy them, and sell products and accounts. After all, do you even need advocates when you can simply attract more customers?
Return to the Fundamentals
CRM is about the customer-business relationship, and that means maintaining existing relationships as well as forming new ones. With the right strategy, CRM can help your company make the most out of the relationships you already have, using the data you already have.
Don’t just think of data as something to collect and store away in a table. Start thinking of it as a quantifiable, valuable commodity with the potential to significantly impact your business operations.
In order to make your customers happy and keep them that way, you’ll need to develop a thorough understanding of their histories and preferences. That’s where the information comes in.
Here’s how to use it.
Five CRM Tactics to Improve Customer Satisfaction
1/ EMPLOY ANALYTICS TO MAKE USE OF DARK DATA.
Over one third of executives believe their biggest opportunity for growth, when it comes to data, is tapping into underutilized dark data. Many CRMs offer integrated or add-on analytical tools that can do the mining for you, sorting through thousands of records, drawing insight, and displaying the results to managers in customizable dashboards.
2/ USE WHAT YOU KNOW ABOUT THE CUSTOMER TO PERSONALIZE HIS EXPERIENCE.
Anticipate the customer’s needs before he has a chance to voice them. A prominent telephone company, for example, added an automatic balance update to their payment receipt procedure after they discovered that customers were frequently checking their balances after making a payment through the IVR. Personalization can also mean offering certain products and services based on details recorded in the CRM system, or meeting customers within their preferred contact medium. Personalization increases perceived value, which means higher satisfaction.
3/ DEVELOP A MULTI-CHANNEL UNDERSTANDING.
Don’t just rely on “structured” data (i.e. transaction history, account balance) to inform interactions with customers. Incorporate “unstructured” data from multiple channels like email and social media. Many CRMs on the market today offer helpful features for building a comprehensive view of each customer (like Nimble’s “Intelligent Relationship” platform).
4/ USE CRM TO SEGMENT CUSTOMERS
You should offer the same caliber service to every contact, but the reality is that some customers are bigger assets than others, which changes the way you interact with them. Use your CRM to judge how tenuous or deep each relationship is. You don’t need to provide a lengthy explanation of services to someone who’s had an account for 10 years. On the flip side, new customers will require a bit more guidance and finesse.
5/ USE CRM DATA TO EVALUATE FAILURES
CRM doesn’t only inform you about current customers; it also tells you about customers who churned—the ones who canceled service. A good strategist will compare data between ongoing and broken relationships. Perhaps your churned customers share a common demographic trait or cite the same reason for cancellation. Use this insight to boost retention.
Data is an essential building block of CRM, but that doesn’t make CRM only a database. Equipped with the right features and know-how, your CRM system can be a powerful tool for capitalizing on old, new, and enduring customer relationships. You can only keep customers satisfied if you understand them, and to do that, you’ll need plenty of information.