CRM will always be on my radar as I had the opportunity to head the establishment of CRM consulting in Mecrastor Coopers & Lybrand in the late 90’ties and at IBM in the beginning of 2000. It was so long ago I’d somehow expect enterprises to have this area covered by now, but no – I guess the world around us changes so rapidly that as much as there has been talk and documentation on customer focus, customer point of view, customer touch points and so on, I’m still left with more questions than answers. A couple of examples:
Shopping on the internet – case 1: delivery by a courier company. I get a phone call “I’m behind your door with a delivery, where are you?” Well, let’s see . . . it’s a weekday, office hours and I have not received any warning on the delivery => I’m at work. “Can I bring it to you there?” Sure, the address is . . . “That is not in my delivery zone. I’ll have to take it back to the airport”. Can you leave it at the local post office? “Not possible, I need your signature”.
Case 2: delivery to SmartPOST. I get a tracking code: a pre-notice has been received at Naantali as an EDI message -> sorted at Turku -> sorted in Itella 01010 (I don’t know where that is) -> it is in the pickup point and the locker code.
Wanted to rent a car: The price was higher when I entered my loyalty card information than the general offer on the internet site. I contacted the company and they promised to send me an offer. The offer was even higher than the internet offer and the price I got with my loyalty card. When I called them and wondered about their pricing they asked me to send them screen captures. I did. They were surprised and promised to get back to me.
Purchased flight tickets: Couldn’t complete the credit card payment on their site. Contacted the call center. The agent saw my transaction and completed it. Got my tickets but they were charged twice from my credit card – there was a 25% price difference in the between the two charges.
In my experience basic purchases work relatively well, but I’m still waiting to get an experience from a multi-channel transaction that works like clockwork. Building a multi-channel customer interface with customer self-service channels requires a strong understanding of enterprise architecture, well-defined processes and a trained personnel.
You need to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What gives value to the customer? Can your customer understand what services he’s paying for? Does your customer trust he’s getting a good offer? Hassles with pricing – be it regarding the product, the method of payment or the delivery – gnaw on trust. What information does the customer need?
Are you making the process convenient to the customer? Although it may sound like super service to bring a package to the customer’s door, it may actually be easier for the customer to be able to pick it up from a pick up point near home with extensive opening hours instead of having to be at home at a specific time to sign off the package. Package tracking is nice, but I didn’t need to know that they correspond with the internet store by EDI messages and it did not help me much to know where the package is at any given point in time if I do not know the entire route it’s going to take – I couldn’t estimate the time of arrival.
Once the information content is known, you need to know which processes need the information, what systems support the processes and how to ensure that each process has up-to-date information. Throughout your value chain – internal and external – you need for the right hand to know what the left foot is doing at all times.
Last but not least – if you expect your customer to be able to understand the different channels you offer, make sure your personnel matches the skills of your customers.