Optimizing Customer Experience with Effective CRM Strategies

‘Customer relationship management’ is a key factor in the success of any modern business today. Companies spend time and money developing CRM rules and methods for dealing with their customers. Unfortunately, sometimes those rules and methodologies that look great on paper can cause more frustration than satisfaction.

What the customer wants…
I have been a cellular customer with our local phone company since 1997. My family and I also have all of our other telecom services, land line, internet, and television with this same company. In today’s competitive market, I thought my long term loyalty and bundled product mix would be worth something. It did not seem to be.

My cellular contract with the company was due to be renewed and the new iPhone4 was out and being marketed by numerous other cellular companies in my immediate area. The company I have a contract with, however, was unable to offer this new phone when my contract was expiring. When I was interacting with their representative, I inquired about the iPhone and when it would be available through them. Unfortunately, the representative was unable to give me a time frame, but assured me it would be “quite some time.”

I renewed my long standing contract and left somewhat unsatisfied with the answer, but wanted to continue with a company I felt had the same loyalty to me as a long term customer as I to them.

Loyal..So what?

Within two months, what to my marvelling eyes should appear but the advertisement for the iPhone4 at my service provider! Adding insult to injury - the ad was a full window sized poster in the self-same store where just two months prior I had been told it would be “quite some time” before this phone was available!

I returned to the store and engaged the same representative who had serviced my account. I requested an upgrade from the phone I had to the iPhone4, explaining that it would be a better business instrument for me amongst other things. The representative cheerfully looked up my account, commented on what a long term customer I was (obviously, I thought their Cloud CRM software is working!) and then with a smile told me it would cost CAD 400.00 to buy-out my current contract and then he could “sell” me the iPhone4 for a new $400.00 three year contract! I requested him to check again, I was two months into a contract and he was telling me that all my years of loyalty and all my product bundling came to nothing in the system which should have been managing my customer relationship. With a shrug, he told me there was nothing that could be done – it was company policy and perhaps I should consider a different phone company if I really wanted an iPhone4.

I asked him to call the customer service department for me. To my utter amazement, he handed me his personal phone and said – “call from this, if they see a store number come up you won’t get anywhere!” Could their system really be this bad? Yes, it could!

Because the system tells me so!

After what seemed an interminable amount of time, I was finally connected to a customer service representative. I explained the situation, careful to mention that I realized it wasn’t the representative’s fault that they were not given proper information on the release of the iPhone4. To which the ethereal voice on the phone said “that’s our policy.” “It’s your policy to keep your representatives in the dark?” I asked. The question went unanswered.

I continued to inquire about upgrading my phone on my current contract. Again, I was told “our policy is that you must complete or buy-out your existing contract before you can upgrade.” Of course, the service representative reiterated several times, what a valuable customer I am! It was at this point, I asked to speak with someone, anyone, who was in the position to look at my entire customer relationship record and authorized to make a decision.

Customer Relationship Management disconnected!

After numerous transfers and unassailable ‘service’ representatives, in exasperation, I asked to speak to the Customer Service supervisor. I was told that they “were not available” to take my call. I indicated that for a long term and supposedly ‘valued customer’ they should be willing to take the call and became insistent. Finally, the supervisor (or someone posing as him) came to the phone. Once again, I explained the situation and was told what a “valuable customer” I was and that it would only cost me $400. When I pushed for a reason again I was told “our policy...”

Customer Relationship Management reconnected!

I needed to speak with someone higher up the food chain – someone who could override the “policy” and make a customer situation ‘right’. I’m not sure if it was my tenacity or if I finally reached the right person, but someone who was very apologetic eventually did get on the line. What should have been a simple transaction, based on customer information in a Cloud CRM software, turned into a policy odyssey that left a customer eventually satisfied but puzzled and uncertain..

In an era of economic downturns and austerity among consumers, it is unthinkable that a company is willing to toss aside even one long term customer. It was apparent from the beginning of this transaction that everyone from the store representative to the last customer service representative had access to my customer history. What is also apparent is that none of them had the authority to work with that history.

When the system overrides the common sense of the company representatives, the system is at fault. Management must empower the company representatives to work with the customer history and make sure that customers are managed by the relationship and not the policy set down in the system itself.

To know more about Cloud CRM Software, visit: www.crmnext.com