…managing an information system that enhances loyalty is the way forward
Customers are the lifeblood of any business, it, therefore, pays to invest your best efforts into understanding their needs to enable you to serve them effectively. Note that it is not cost-intensive to ensure that customer service is a top priority, thus focusing on their needs and planning to address them effectively is a mutually beneficial endeavour.
The adage ‘knowledge is power. makes sense here, by using a customer information system productively you will make your company highly visible to clients as a result of your vivid understanding of their needs and your ability to serve them based on your ‘outside-in’ insights.
The way to manage this challenge is to build and deploy a fit-for-purpose Customer Information System that will serve as a beacon for engaging your customers proactively. Having the ability to learn from your customer interactions can potentially grow your business as recent research by consultants McKinsey has indicated.
According to them, brands that can improve the customer journey see revenues increase as much as 10 to 15 percent while also lowering the cost to serve 15 to 20 percent. it improves the customer journey from average to “wow” and increases the likelihood that a customer will buy another product by up to 50%. Oracle reports that 86% of customers say they would pay more money for a product or service where they will get a better customer experience.
It, therefore, goes without saying that providing a good Customer Experience increases revenues, decreases costs, retains customers, and attracts new ones. A few observations made by customer experience researchers attest to the following capabilities rendered by well-designed customer information systems in improving your customer experience; a defection-proof Customer Information System, consistent order updates, staying ahead of the pack, targeted communication, and customer surveys.
A defection proof CIS
There is a lower cost these days in capturing and storing customer data. With the advent of sophisticated software customer data has become more accessible and can easily be applied to improving customer loyalty as well as deploying win-back programmes to keep customers coming back. Using a flat database (a database in which all of the information about an individual customer is kept in a single file) or relational database (information about an individual is kept in several files) businesses are better able to avoid the peril of ‘trying to find their way down a dark and bumpy path without a flashlight’.
Other techniques and methods that can be frequently applied where the capability exists, include data warehouses (vast amounts of information captured, cleaned for accuracy, and sorted for later analysis), data mining (use of statistical processes to dig down through layers of data and identify customer patterns of behavior, emerging trends, and issues) and Extranet (marries the benefit of internet technology with the security of a private network – or intranet). With these capabilities, you have the benefit of integrating scattered customer databases containing different kinds of information and transparently tying together geographically and organizationally dispersed customer operations.
Mercedes the well-known automobile brand, has built a state-of-the-art CIS that enhances its relationship with customers. Collecting customer feedback is serious business such that opinions about product quality and suggestions about product improvements are routinely compiled from conversations with customers and fed back to the company’s marketing and manufacturing operations. To demonstrate its efficacy the company tells the story of how several years ago a defect reported by dozens of owners was quickly detected using vehicle identification numbers. It turned out that cars in that category had similar VINs. The company won big points for expert problem solving and responsiveness.
Real-Time Order Update
Real-time data is data captured when customers or prospects visit your website. During your navigation, the site can capture the history of your activities to help determine your preferences whenever you browse. So these are capabilities that Yahoo for example possess and can use the information to personalize your experience. Amazon will welcome you on subsequent visits using your first name and can suggest purchases to you based on your history and record.
The capability to show who is visiting your site, when the peak traffic times are, and even which specific areas of your site are getting the most traffic at a given time, gives insight as to the most popular products, features, or services of the company, allowing you to steer curious or discerning customers in the right direction to generate leads. These days, many online shopping companies send updates when orders are received, for delivery, or have been delivered. all this is achievable with a CIS, but you could also send an email or even an SMS at other key milestones e.g. when the job is in progress.
Several manufacturing companies in Ghana are actively using CIS to enhance their customer relationships. When supplies are due you get alerts during shipment enabling you to track the status and plan your schedule around the impending delivery.
Get ahead of the pack
Furthermore, a well-planned CIS enables call centre agents to learn at first hand who and how many people are having problems with the company’s system or services. This enables them effectively handle queries, needs, or concerns as they surge up, in a timely and satisfactory manner. Additionally, real-time data resulting from such interactions can indicate to agents which resolutions are making customers the happiest, informing how best to problem-solve with current and future customers on the same or similar issues.
Real-time data also gives perspective from the past to inform the needs of the present. A customer who has called for help on the same issue several times should be dealt with differently than a first-timer. When a customer has already been transferred several times to resolve an issue it calls for a variation in approach. Call center agents who can respond promptly and pull up some up-to-the-minute stats on the customers they work with offer great value and are at a significant advantage to making the customer feel valued and satisfied with the way their issues are handled.
A case in point to reinforce the value of a CIS is when a customer who calls in with a service request ends up wanting to make another purchase right there on the phone. Keeping customer data updated in real-time for agents across all channels (phone, email, social media, face-to-face) and all purposes (marketing, sales, service) means never missing an opportunity to provide timely, relevant service and maximize customer sales and satisfaction.
It does not pay to go to the market with generic messaging. Using your CIS productively you can easily prevent this from happening. With an integrated CRM you can identify quoting or buying habits that will help you target the right customers at the right time with the right information. Integrating your MIS with marketing automation systems offers even more opportunities for an out-of-the-ordinary customer experience.
Looking at a practical example, if you can identify any customers that normally order calendars in a certain month and then auto-enroll them in a marketing campaign that your marketing team has already initiated with the help of a CIS. Suddenly – your customers get sent an example pack in the post with a follow-up email, a week before they would normally have to start thinking about this project. slick indeed.
It means you can promote other goods and services at the right time, to the right person. A customer whose data indicates that she has been lingering in a bookstore for over an hour on a Saturday afternoon could be sent an offer from a local cafe about their coffee specials and comfortable lounge area. My personal experience in a supermarket further echoes the great value derived from information systems. Being made to wait for over 20 minutes due to a faulty machine earned me free shopping for one day! Think about how many times I have shared this story about my personal experience at a touchpoint.
Putting real-time information in the hands of sales, marketing, and service agents means they can target promotional goods and services to the right customer who is in the right place at the right time, rather than blasting out annoying (and often ignored) spam offerings.
They are everywhere now, even at airport security or on card payment machines in retail outlets. You can use your information system tools to send out these surveys at different points of the customer journey to measure how well you’re doing in different areas e.g. customer service, production quality, delivery speed. You can use the likes of survey monkey to create a set of simple surveys that can be emailed or texted out from your MIS when triggered by key milestone events.
CX tools help you automate feedback at key touchpoints and to collect information across all channels including websites, email, SMS, and mobile apps. It also empowers you with the means to easily analyze omnichannel feedback in one place to see your holistic customer experience. With the right toolkit your teams will be empowered to;
- Drive actions in the systems your teams use to get their work done, such as Salesforce, Slack, and Jira
- Easily share insights such as trends, sentiment, and key drivers across your organization
- Understand customers more deeply by unifying CX data with CRM data
The reality is that with new technologies emerging there is no shortage of capabilities to learn more about your customers to help you serve them satisfactorily. However as clearly stated by Griffin and Lowenstein (2001) the success of any system is still dependent on the elegance of its design, intelligence of its users, and knowledge of the decision-makers.
|The Writer is a Management Consultant. He can be reached on 059 175 7205, [email protected],