Customer Self Service enriches Customer Experience

‘Customer self service’ is an emerging trend in customer service management that has several advantages when integrated with an effective CRM solution. Consumers are eager to use an online interface when it provides a better experience and increases efficiency. Companies provide “self service customer portals” for key marketing, sales and support activities which can be viewed, updated and analyzed in real time through a CRM software. This radically improves customer experience by allowing instant access to solutions and maintains accuracy of information shared by consumers related to products, services and feedback.

Self-service customer portals directly impact the performance of an organization, some key points:
  • Reduction in the number of inbound support calls by offering a self-service environment. 
  • Solutions for customers are shared through FAQs and the products’ knowledge base. 
  • Customers can update account information and create new opportunities or cases without an intermediary. 
  • Greater clarity in service requests and queries created by customers through customized user interfaces. 
  • Better understanding of customer needs. 
  • Automated assignments, escalations and alerts for customers’ inputs to improve follow-ups. 
  • Reduction in the costs of service delivery.
Customers expect robust self service options such as product comparisons, accessing and updating account information, signing up for promotions or changing service packages. To encourage customers to use a self-service portal and increase ROI (return on investment), it must incorporate the following:
  • Creating or searching for information should be quick. 
  • Data entered by customers should be secure. 
  • Tasks should be simple to create and track. 
  • Increased efficiency for transactions. 
  • Information for customers should be reliable. 
  • Accessibility through any popular web-enabled device. 
  • Consistent information regardless of channel. 
  • Dropdowns and pick lists to ensure consistency and make interfaces user friendly.
Competition keeps growing - increasing the probability of customer churn, no margin of error can be left when it comes to attracting and retaining high-value customers. Balancing business, customer and operational needs to design a good self service strategy will provide the greatest long-term benefit for the company and its growth. A well designed self service customer portal is an integral part of customer service management which ensures clarity for customer needs and solidifies loyalty.

Enhance Customer Relationship Management with CRM Tools

Have you ever wondered what your business life would be like without a cell phone? How about no email? Well, if you are in sales or any other form of customer service and are not using CRM software then you should be wondering why you are missing the single most powerful customer relationship tool available. CRM stands for ‘Customer Relationship Management’. It is a software solution that puts your entire client list and individual client information at your fingertips. CRM is available from many different vendors, but what all solutions have in common is the ability to not only keep track of your interactions with customers, but to greatly increase sales and customer satisfaction.

Imagine the following scenario - you call a customer whom you have not spoken to in a month. You enquire if he has made a decision on equipment that was discussed. He says that he has not had a chance to review the quote and asks if you can check back with him in a couple of weeks. You read the notes on your CRM screen and see that his daughter plays softball for a team called the Cougars. This is information that you recorded from a previous conversation. "How is Jessica's softball team making out?" you ask. The prospect's tone changes from curt to friendly and what was at one moment a dismissal has now turned into a conversation, ingratiating you with your client and giving you a better chance to close the deal. Now, you might have remembered this information about this particular client, but how about 50 clients? When a client calls and asks what she paid to renew a contract last year are you going to remember? On a CRM - simply open the client’s screen and quickly find the information. It's as fast and customer friendly as it gets.

A typical CRM software program consists of client screens that include contact information and a space for time and date stamped notes. Some CRM users choose to label clients by industry type, making it easier to sell to various market segments. If you employ CRM company-wide, then all members of your organization can access and update customer screens, notes, technical/ service information and related quotes. If you work for a service organization, it is particularly helpful to be able to view services provided to a particular client and analyze how to sell more. CRM can be easily set up to assign specific customer information such as cases, mails, surveys, invitations to events, birthdays, appointments, renewals and more.

CRM is a highly efficient business decision tool - it empowers the management to discern effectiveness and to streamline sales and customer service efforts. It provides a complete overview of sales, service, marketing and related customer data. Additionally, it provides the tools for collating real time data to generate highly effective forecasts.

Marketing is made easy using a CRM solution, mailing or call lists can be compiled in a matter of minutes and can be tailored to specific industries using templates and mail blasters. Let's say your company takes on a new product - each sales person records his or her introduction to the product for their respective clients or leads. Management can track these activities on the CRM and study the results.

From an individual sales person's perspective, CRM is an exciting addition to your sales or customer service offerings and to their personal success. The more you know about your client, the better you can service him. This leads to better customer satisfaction and more sales! Let's think about the aforementioned ‘new’ product. What customers would most benefit from it? With CRM you can access the customer history that will enable you to find out. Maybe they don't have the budget right now to purchase it. Type a note on your CRM and schedule a call for a couple of months later. Oh, and don’t forget to add your contact’s Birthday, the CRM will remind you in advance!

Like any technology or tool, CRM software is what you make out of it! CRM programs are highly flexible and can be tailored to your particular needs. Like email or cell phones, once you have used CRM, you will wonder how you ever succeeded without it.

Relationship between CRM, social, mobile, cloud and 'Big Data'

Big Data refers to the tools, processes and procedures allowing an organization to create, manipulate, and manage very large data sets and storage facilities. This large volume of data created by more than terabytes of complex information flowing in from social media and other new and traditional sources is harnessed by analytic and transaction applications like social CRM. Often, these data sets grow so large that they become challenging to work with in terms of capturing, storing, searching, sharing, analyzing and visualizing.

By helping us analyze historical data, Big Data considerably improves the accuracy of predictions. Traditionally, this volume of data was collated for meteorology, genomics, astrophysics, business informatics, internet search, etc. In the current decade, social media and mobile devices generate extensive data and activity logs - conversations, messaging, browsing, searching, sharing and more. One billion tweets are made per week, according to analysts – the number of tweets per day has increased by over 40% in the first quarter of 2011. Also, 77% (approximately 5.3 billion) of the world’s population are mobile subscribers; a major portion of the growth in users is from China and India.

The common factor between CRM, social media, mobile devices, the cloud and Big Data is ‘information’. A relationship is formed between them when we create a business strategy that keeps Big Data on the cloud by capturing customer data from social and mobile. This data is then harnessed by a CRM based on key factors to provide actionable insights and assist in predicting the needs of your current and future customers. The result is optimized products and services that are future-proof and provide a vast competitive advantage.

The ability to facilitate in-depth studies and mine actionable intelligence from customers’ Big Data in the cloud is going to be a key differentiator for organizations this decade and is achievable through several highly effective social CRM tools.