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Building a world class Customer Management System

The requirement for a fully integrated, easy to use customer management system has now become a basic requirement for organisations looking to enhance the customer experience and reduce internal costs via optimised processes and more efficient organisational structures. Organisations are striving to lower costs by adopting new technologies like Cloud services and having in place a workforce totally switched on to operating across multiple retail channels and social media trends.

Furthermore, customers are expecting retailers to provide world class services where each customer feels known to the organisation, their shopping, repair or delivery history and potential requirements fully understood by multiple departments who should have access to a single view of the individual, so as to facilitate a rewarding end to end experience for each customer. This should then provide customers with the level of trust for their requirements to be met without the need for them to keep following up. As we know, having the technology, optimised business processes and people with the right skills is vital to providing a world class service. Reducing costs often begin by looking at the amount of legacy systems and the vast amount of resources being sucked into maintaining them against a backdrop of cheaper, more efficient and fully integrated technologies out there that would readily provide the platform required to deliver world class customer management that customers are demanding. Apart from customers, the workforce require systems that are reliable and capable of providing the single view of the customer that prevent the need to traverse multiple systems and directly enhance the experience for a customer who either calls into a contact centre, goes into a store or uses self service capability on-line to complete a transaction or perform a query.

Obtaining the Single Customer View (SCV) requires a strategy that involves:

  • A seamless experience across every touch point in the customer journey for all customer based interactions;
  • Ensuring every customer receives a personalised, enriching and value adding experience when speaking to someone in the organisation;
  • Putting customer satisfaction at the forefront of all performance measures to drive better revenues and shareholder value.

A key step in building a world class customer management system is obtaining a detailed understanding of what triggers activity across the customer management landscape. It is important to identify all:

  • Business events / scenarios (unique processes that follow the customer journey, which are completely system agnostic);
  • Process relationships;
  • Business users, roles and responsibilities;
  • Operational reports;
  • Process inventories;
  • Policies, procedures and business rules.

In selecting a vendor to deliver a world class CRM system, organisations are starting to introduce very stringent assessments to understand which vendor is fully capable of delivering a system that addresses every touch-point across the customer journey. To extract the maximum value from these vendor assessments, companies must ensure the involvement of the Technical, Business and Executive teams. Having a healthy list of vendors comprising of market leaders and some niche players always helps to obtain a wide ranging set of capabilities and specialism. Each vendor must be able to show the assessment team that their system can deliver all technical and business requirements in order to be considered for short-listing. The assessment criteria require extensive planning and involvement of all key stakeholders so as to extract the maximum benefit from vendor assessment workshops. It is often an area that goes poorly planned and can cost the organisation tremendously down the line. Coupled with this, is the assessment and selection of a suitable System Integrator (SI company). Similar stringency in assessing SI capability is vital to ensuring the organisation has the right technology and implementation Partner in place to make the business transformation effort a success.

Change Management planning is the next critical element in ensuring a successful business transformation. Building a compelling business case, clearly articulating the business benefits expected as a result of implementing a new customer management system must be the immediate priority of the change team. A key exercise that the change team should perform is taking every enriched business scenario and creating a logical linkage between Board and Operational KRAs (Key Result Areas) and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators), which then become the basis for measuring success over time. Getting this right at the beginning will ensure a well governed and meaningful transformation for all impacted stakeholders. Empowering the workforce throughout the CRM journey is crucial as advocacy for adopting the new system and processes is a people driven initiative that people need to see as beneficial to them as individuals before they can start using and selling the system to others in the organisation. Creating internal competitions for which department is adopting and using the system most effectively is a great way to create excitement and buzz around the new customer management system. There are various ways to ensure that the workforce is kept energised and embracing new technologies and ways of working but vitally important is a well thought through post implementation support strategy to make sure system usage and process adherence is aptly measured and managed. Learning from any mistakes along the way is vitally important in ensuring future system enhancements or implementations are run more smoothly. Making use of the appropriate communication channels will bolster marketing of the new system and associated new ways of working, so getting stakeholder communications right the first time is of paramount importance and will require extensive planning with all business and technical stakeholders.

Finally, development of the training and adoption plans for the new CRM system is a key step in ensuring users of the system understand the full functionality of the system and will create the basis for people accepting it as a business tool that will help them do their jobs better and ultimately provide a better experience for the end customer. Training plans must be aligned to the strategic objectives of the organisation and linked back to high level KRAs explored during the business case development stage. Preparing the organisation for receiving the new system, processes and ways of working will become a major success factor as many CRM transformation programmes fail due to poor preparation for Go-Live and beyond. The experience and knowledge of the change team is a key driver of success and having the right team in place to guide the organisation forward will become more of a priority than ever before. Getting senior management involvement in recruitment of people with the right skill-sets and development of SLAs with service departments forms part of the organisational and operational readiness process.

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