You Might Expect Better – Guest Post by Fred Zimny

Let us define the starting era of CRM as of the mid nineties, after sales force automation and database marketing became mainstream.

Nowadays CRM is big business. Gartner projected circa 13 billion dollar sales for CRM in 2012. In 2017, the market will be about 22 billion dollar, according to the research firm Trefis.

Customer Relationship Management should be about managing the relationship an organization has with its customers. A relationship that might be an encounter with an chance of a successor or indeed a lifelong relationship. Relationship are maintained from a participants perspective because a relationship creates functional and emotional value for all parties involved.

At least, that is the theory.

It was about 2010 that Michael Maoz, vice president and analyst of Gartner claimed that

over the past ten years the level of customer satisfaction has edged only slightly – for most industries about 3 till 5%. But only in the US $75 billion was invested on CRM related applications and triple that sum on process improvement programs and initiatives.

My sincere belief is that a limited manager’s perspective on CRM technology will not benefit any stakeholder. Having worked in the Netherlands as an operational manager it was and it still my sincere belief that first time right and first line completion are the deciding factors for creating a satisfying relationship.

In 2006 Dutch Health Insurance Company VGZ was confronted with a major change in health insurance legislation. A low first time right resulted in a mediocre customer satisfaction. Moreover, a suboptimal first line completion resulted in a low employee morale in the call centers. Investing aggressively in improving first time right and first line completion was rewarded. Reduced customer churn, appraisal from intermediaries and employers and less staff turnover.

But at the end of the decade and now such an approach has limitations.  The customer often starts now the customer journey on the web: any website, a google search or social media. And a customer typically gets frustated when their problem is not one of the few the contact (actually a call) center provides when it says, “Press 1 for change, Press 2 for information, Press 3 for other”.

Investing in a relationship that benefits all stakeholders implies for me that nowadays one should invest in optimizing the customer journey that takes place in whatever for channel. Designing the service from a broad perspective – indeed a design thinking  approach is imperative.

This is not an easy job. Assisting customers, using various channels to realize their functional and emotional outcomes. Not an easy challenge, but for me it is the only way for organizations to get real benefits of their – still loosely coupled – investments in the various channels.

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About Fred Zimny

Sound operational manager who focuses on an execution – aligned with the strategy -which benefits the organization and all involved stakeholders. With an improved quality, more flexibility and innovation at substantially lower costs. Experience: 15+ years work experience in CRM & Customer Services in national environments. 15+ years managerial experience, of which 5 years as end-responsible for multi-site, multi-channel Customer Services Center of 400+ seats. ITO-certified and award-winning operations. 10+ years experience in Customer Care / Customer (Service) Banking & Insurance, Utilities and Education. Goal: To transfer my knowledge and insights within and outside the organization.