Many organizations today look to CRM as a starting point to improve their customer experience. The first step in a successful CRM implementation is to collect and display historical transactional customer data to help gain visibility into your customer base to reactively engage with customers. However, most CRM implementations stop after this first crucial step. – The question becomes: How do I build on this foundation of customer data and get to the point of impacting and driving loyalty and advocacy from the customer with my CRM system? This is important because integrating and enhancing a CRM platform with key customer insights and analytics provides employees the support needed to proactively manage and personalize the experience organizations provide to customers.
Organizations have collected massive amounts of customer data over the course of the last few years; however, many of these organizations are either not doing anything with this data, or are performing very minimal analysis and providing passive customer information1. For organizations that are looking to analyze this data with the goal of identifying different key customer insights, Forrester Research Group recommends that these analytics align with the customers’ perspective in their decision-making life-cycle.1 In addition, organizations should consider using different analytical methods based on the insights they want to discover, including both descriptive and predictive analysis. Some examples of these specific analytical methods include Segmentation and Scoring (to help profile and evaluate customers and prospects as they discover more about your organization), Propensity and Cross-Sell models (to increase the probability of making a sale to a customer through personalization), and Voice of the Customer (VoC) and Sentiment Analysis (to understand customer’s thoughts about an experience)1. Using these different methods can enable an organization to better understand their customer’s needs and thoughts. These practices help ensure the next opportunity with the customer nets a positive experience (or at least avoids the potential negative experience).
While analyzing data to discover key insights about each customer is important to an organization’s customer experience program, the real value is being able to take action on each of these insights. What does it mean to take “action” on an insight? Ultimately, it means that an organization is using that insight in a way to provide a better experience. For example, if an organization has a Voice of the Customer (VoC) program that collects customer feedback, and finds that a customer provides a Net Promoter Score (NPS) Score of 6, the organization begins executing key next steps, including: follow-up with that customer to understand why they gave that response and/or save the customer relationship, use analytics to identify customers that are “behaviorially” similar to the customer and review their responses (or note those that haven’t submitted a response) and confirm any potential issues, and then execute a root cause analysis and fix the “issue” so it doesn’t happen to another customer. This now puts the organization is a position of proactively managing an experience for customers based on a singular experience, instead of reacting to a (potentially) large array of bad experiences.
So why is CRM the right place to deliver these insights to take action?
Today’s CRM platforms, like Salesforce, are being positioned as the “System of Engagement” to help employees manage customers’ experiences. Having a central system to manage this engagement model ensures that employees understand the totality of the relationship a customer has with an organization. It also provides data to help shape and support specific moments of truth with the customer. Adding insights about each customer within a CRM further deepens employees understanding of the customer, including predictable outcomes based on their previous behavior (i.e. a customer consistently provides low NPS scores and often contacts our service center, therefore, I can expect this individual to contact us within X time of a new purchase). Using the CRM’s automation tools helps standardize tasks that are required of the employee, ensuring operational consistency and efficiency – hopefully leading to a remarkable experience.
Here is an example of implementing “next-best product or service” as a foundational actionable insight that can be delivered through CRM to begin building greater loyalty with your customer. We built a custom real-time integration from a client’s CRM system (Salesforce Sales Cloud) to their Marketing Analytics engine, presenting to the customer-facing end user the top-three next-best products or services recommendations (ex. A customer opened up a new checking account online, but didn’t sign-up for online banking, and can then offer to help the customer sign-up for online banking service). While engaging the customer, the end user can shape the conversation around one of these personalized recommendations. The user can then take action within the system based on the outcome: if the customer says they are interested, it creates an “Opportunity” and assigns it to the appropriate individual to follow-up; if the customer says they are not interested, the recommendation is removed. By delivering this actionable insight into the system, the customer can now receive personalized recommendations, increasing the probability of a new sale. The customer should also have a better experience the next time they engage with the organization, by not receiving the same recommendation – which provided a negative experience prior to this solution, decreasing the probability of a future sale.
Now that this organization is laying a foundation to use analytics to provide initial customer insights, they should expand upon its “sales-focused” analysis to be more inclusive of “experience” analysis – some might consider it a “next-best action” model. CX-driven organizations that do this focus on where the Customer is in its journey, and based on key information collected (directly or indirectly), should provide a recommended set of next steps to ensure the best experience possible. Consider an example of a Contact Center agent that receives a call from a customer. Before picking up the phone to start the conversation, the agent can understand (potentially) what information on the website the customer was looking at to help narrow to a potential issue or question, and then provide the specific list of possible next steps via a smart knowledge base or actions presented to the user. The agent can then capture the information about the interaction with the customer in real-time, indicate which steps/actions were taken to ultimately resolve the issue or question, and track and assign any post-interaction activities (send a survey, call follow-up, etc.) to close the loop.
While many organizations claim VICTORY! with their CRM program after completing an initial implementation of their new CRM system, the long-term impact to their overall customer experience is limited. By taking the next step and delivering key actionable insights to the end users through the system, an organization begins to make its CRM system work for its users and customers, ultimately helping employees facilitate a personalized conversation with the customer, providing a positive experience, and starting to drive loyalty and advocacy with the customer.