Successful businesses aren't built on luck. They're built on calculated planning, tenacious implementation, meticulous feedback and continuous process improvement.
For users of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems, often the nearly everyone under-implemented component of the closed-loop process is the feedback system. So how do you acquire the feedback to constantly hone your customer facing business processes and CRM applications? Pay attention to the performance metrics.
That's where measuring, analyzing and leveraging all that helpful data that's being recorded and collected in your business applications, particularly in your Customer Relationship Management software, becomes a more precious resource to your business than you ever imagined.
It's important to recognize that your work doesn't end after deploying your CRM system. In fact, it's just getting started.
You purchased and implemented your CRM system to improve marketing campaign performance, sales pipeline visibility, customer service response or any of the other objectives that improve your customer relationships, and subsequently grow your business.
But if you stop poignant forward with your CRM software after the go-live event, then you're missing the opportunity to baseline your performance and implement programs to continually raise the bar.
Most CRM systems include performance dashboards, operational reporting, business intelligence and built-in query tools to measure the successes and failures of customer interactions along the way. If the CRM software tools aren't robust enough, there are plenty of third-party software vendors who can deliver enhanced tools to measure the true efficiency or effectiveness of your customer-facing business processes.
Those operational metrics may be the most valuable component of your CRM investment because they can tell you which customers are not satisfied, which customers are not profitable relationships and which customers are likely to churn. This type of advance notice gives you the shot to make changes before customers are lost.
By analyzing all right metrics made available in your CRM system, you'll be able to quickly and accurately gauge the health of your business and its relationships with customers. That means knowing exactly how long the phones ring before the incoming calls from your customers are placed on hold or are answered in your call centers. That means knowing if your call center left customers satisfied when they reached out to your company. That means giving you the success or failure information for any of the important objectives necessary to win and retain customers.
Key performance indicators can tell you if customers are placing more or larger sale orders, or can show you early if problems are cropping up that are causing orders to decline. Performance metrics can also show you if new customers are being referred from existing customers, a great sign and information you can use to inspire your staff and further promote to encourage new customers to join the fold.
The usefulness of these metrics is that they can graphically show you how every process in your customer service chain of command is working, or not working so that you can make adjustments and keep your business moving forward.
But even the metrics don't give you the whole story. There's more.
Have you ever called another company's customer service line, to be placed on hold and then after finally reaching a customer service agent found out that they couldn't help you? Instead, they had to escalate your case to a supervisor, or perhaps you might have insisted on speaking with a supervisor after the customer service agent told you that "there's nothing more I can do." Can you say AGGRAVATING, FRUSTRATING, and MADDENING? So now, take a deep breath and put yourself in the shoes of your customers. You don't want to make incur that same madness if they call your company, do you?
Of course not. So be bold. Help the customer. That's why your customer contact center is there. So how do you fix this? Try empowering your customer service representatives with the decision-making authority to revise business processes and make things work for your customers. Let your customer service team listen to your customers, understand their issues, identify methods to resolve their issues (without having to escalate to supervisors) and then track and improve those methods going forward.
Is that a revelation or what? Not really. It's called "customer service." And no amount of computer hardware or CRM software can replace it. Although, CRM software can automate, track and report on the business processes performance. CRM applications are truly the enablers of business process automation, review, and improvement.
These examples may include a few of the reasons you invested all that money and purchased Customer Relationship Management software and all of its features in the first place – to improve your marketing performance, sales effectiveness, customer service, customer retention and customer satisfaction.
But perhaps you've become complacent. Don't think that after deploying CRM systems you can sit back and stop worrying. Stay ahead of the learning curve by using the metrics tools available in your CRM applications and then using the data to revise and upgrade business processes.
Lastly, don't just believe the metrics. They need to be analyzed, flexed and modeled. Metrics by themselves are simply data. However, when metrics are modeled, perhaps through what-if analysis, they can deliver insight that leads to actionable takeaway - and then business performance improvements.
Also remember to talk to your customers every time you engage them during sales calls, business meetings, and industry conferences or even when you bump into them in the grocery store. Ask them if they are happy with your company's products and services and if your company is doing everything it can to help them. Be prepared for the shocked looks on their faces and the ensuing smiles. That's a personal performance metric that no CRM software system can deliver, however, one that your customers will definitely appreciate.