Tuesday, March 12, 2013

How Making Employees More Sensitive to Customer Needs Improves Customer Retention


One of the most critical strategies that businesses should keep in mind is to 'retain' their customers, rather than scramble to find new ones. A loyal and satisfied customer will automatically bring new customers and new business for a company. However, one of the most important ways to keep customers happy and satisfied is to address their complaints and make them feel that you are genuinely interested in their feedback. This can only be done with the help of employees that are sensitive to customers and their feedback. Do you at times feel that the communication between Pi and his tiger in the movie/ book, Life of Pi, was better than the communication that you have with your employees? Well, that's because it probably was! You need to work towards sprucing up the communication between you and your employees so that you can watch your business increase exponentially.

Encouraging employee feedback for timely action
Any organization worth its mettle knows that employees are the first customers of a company. Hence, employees need to be kept happy, so that they share genuinely good feedback for the company, even when they're not on their company premises. The feedback that your employees may give you is something you will not get from the most insightful and detailed marketing analysis.

Details interface for training program
Some CRM solutions facilitate training management with an object for collecting trainees' feedback for each session. To explain, asking your staff to undergo cross-selling training without understanding if it is helpful in a real life scenario is a waste of time - analyze responses to each training module and improve them, if necessary.

If the business mantra that you follow is 'The customer is always right', then understanding and treating your employees as your first customers will make you realize where you're going wrong and related corrective measures.

Using feedback to improve performance and product offerings
Make your employees realize that immediately addressing complaints is the one way to win over a disgruntled customer. Addressing complaints is the best way to not only win over customers, but is also a great way to know where your business is going wrong. Response time is vital, make employees realize that the sooner they provide a resolution, the easier it will be to win over the customer.

Hold workshops where employees can be divided into pairs, each taking turns in being an angry customer and a customer relationship officer. This way, they can know where they're going wrong and how to reach a solution. Brainstorming in such sessions will make all the difference and will give employees a new perspective. 

Running a call script wizard
Also, ask them to collate feedback and take surveys at the end, so that they can evaluate their performance and find out where there is room for improvement and work on it. A CRM solution's call scripts ensures a smooth call flow during these exercises, which in turn allows employees to gather more information by simultaneously building rapport during the interactions.

It's no secret that CRM software is very effective for addressing any customer related issues. Thus, to make the workshop a resounding success, keep incentives and bonuses for employees that make it their duty in the future to address complaints through the CRM software which will give them access to a holistic customer view and centralized solutions database. In addition, a CRM solution's content library can be used to share information internally and analyze available knowledge collateral.

A movie that managed to strike a chord when it came to teamwork and employee motivation was Outsourced. In this film, employees complain that they're not able to process complaints nor sell items because they don't understand what they're selling. So the manager, in a smart move, not only orders a box of the products, but also offers the employees an incentive, stating that the one who performs best, gets to pick his favorite item and take it home. A simple, yet effective strategy.

Sharing holistic customer views to improve collaborations
The best way to ensure that employees realize how valuable customers are is by helping them understand and embrace the CRM solutions that the company has taken such pains to implement. CRM software is an all-in-one package that can help to retain customers and increase profits, not to mention, help improve internal communication and collaborations in an organization. However, it may be an uphill task convincing employees to login to the CRM software without clearly explaining its all around benefits. After all, let's face it, salaried employees will only be truly motivated to use a CRM solution, if they are convinced that it can help them perform better by automating repetitive daily tasks and enable them to build rapport with customers to improve relationships, thereby increasing cross selling and up selling opportunities. 

A renowned CRM vendor found from their survey that nearly 80% of senior management executives stated that employee resistance was the biggest hurdle in implementing effective CRM solutions.

So, genuinely convincing employees about the strategic benefits of CRM solutions could go a long way in ensuring that they use this software religiously. One factor that may motivate employees into using CRM software for better customer service is that it helps increase employee efficiency. For example, mobile CRM aids in enabling salespersons in the field receive accurate and updated information on customers' needs. Thus, they can immediately visit and deliver a product to a specific customer as required. 

'Lead qualified' alert message for logged-in user
Furthermore, CRM software can be used to store and share real-time information related to existing and prospective customers through employee updates and multi-system integration across touch points. Additionally, important updates to customer information can be displayed to the record's owner through alerts and the CRM solution can ensure that all related employees are on the same page regarding recent developments. This helps greatly, to elaborate, a salesperson will not follow-up with a hot lead until their service request is not closed, thereby making sure the person has a positive perception when contacted. 

Ensuring optimal performance from customer facing employees
One skill set that a lot of employers tend to underestimate is soft skills. Addressing all customer complaints politely, even if the customer is absolutely livid and screaming his heart out, is a quality that any good employee must learn to cultivate. Have you noticed how most high end businesses have employees that speak in a deliriously cheery voice all through a complaint call by an angst riddled customer? There is a reason for that - a dreary, dead and disinterested voice is often reason enough for a customer to scream and complain into a telephone mouthpiece. Hence, having a small but effective soft skills talk with employees could go a long way in fostering employee-customer bonds.

At the end of the day, many customer services employees believe that they are merely salaried workers in a company and have no contribution towards the company's profits. However, the management needs to make employees understand that their performance will be judged on the basis of their customer interactions and satisfaction levels. Also, with a successful CRM implementation, employees can be offered incentives to cross sell using CRM tools that simplify identifying the most appropriate products based on customers' needs, purchase history and budgets. 

Custom SLAs for 'Call Center' category cases
Customer services management solutions ensure managers can pinpoint their top performers and bottlenecks through alerts and reports. By segmenting cases in linked categories with their individual SLAs (Service Level Agreements) a foolproof strategy can be enforced for compliance and turnaround time regarding various types of cases and requests. Also, customers' complaints about the same call center and branch employees can be pinpointed and escalated to relevant reporting managers through the CRM solution.

As mentioned earlier, every successful business believes that the customer is king. To make existing and potential customers believe they wear a crown on their head when interacting with any department in your organization - consistent active listening and enhanced customer experience must be maintained always. Your  CRM solutions will motivate employees to be more sensitive to customer needs and make each customer interaction mutually productive and enjoyable.


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