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Building Bridges

Optimize Blog - August 24, 2015 - 0 comments

Many, many organizations have invested huge amounts in customer relationship management (CRM) applications software and these investments have generated a wide range of outcomes from successfully increased revenues and customer retention all the way down to dismal write-offs of the total investment.
Ensuring that CRM benefits are realized relies on the companies improving the way they interact with customers across channels and product groups. Most companies still lack a systematic way to pass leads and service requests from one channel or product group to another. Success then relies on leaving it up to dutiful employees to bridge the gap by making exceptional efforts…..or not.
For too many companies the effort required to coordinate across functional boundaries and business unit silos just doesn’t exist even though research shows that improving a company’s case-management (the ability to track sales leads and complex service requests) through relatively modest changes in processes, technology and organization design can increase revenues by 10 to 20 percent while reducing customer churn by 5 to 10 percent.
Too often a CRM deployment is sponsored by a specific function resulting in sales leads and service requests being isolated because of functional silos and functional systems that are not linked. Even when employees pass leads from one unit to another it is often difficult to succeed as there is no process to ensure that someone does something with that opportunity.
From a service perspective most companies can easily solve simple account issues but fail to deal with situations satisfactorily when problems cross boundaries of business units or product groups. Employees may understand these boundaries but customers could not care less and too often the customer becomes the coordinator for resolution of the issues. These ‘moments of truth’ lie at the heart of customer attrition.
Adopting a broader CRM approach as a philosophy not as an application is the solution, requiring better coordination and follow through on customer interactions across every part of the organization. By making cooperation systematic, companies can deliver a better customer experience. The core processes need to cut across organizational lines. Alignment across the leadership groups and all functions is critical. There needs to be a single view of the customer and variability within customer interactions needs to be reduced or even eliminated.
The opportunity lies in capturing unstructured information and creating the right incentives for staff to share the information in an appropriate and effective manner. Typically the IT system requires only modest modification – the requirement is to enable information to pass seamlessly from the department that records it to the department that can act on it.   Establishing a case-management approach that crosses boundaries is not easy because many departments can be involved and often there is no obvious owner. But as we mention frequently, just because it is hard doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be done. So where to start?
To build capability the organization first needs to assess the current processes and identify where the missed opportunities are occurring. Next, determine the potential value of each opportunity identified against the cost of the effort required to capture it. Establish this as a norm and ensure that there is an ongoing assessment of the companies’ customer interaction processes.  With any changes made the results need to be measured to ensure the assumed benefits and increased performance is being realized.
Ultimately neither money nor technology represents the main obstacle to building a cross functional case-management approach that can improve sales, reduce customer service costs and improve customer retention. The real barrier is the inability for the organization to identify the opportunity and act on it.

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