Service: Sure Recipe for Success
the new economy, businesses, especially in the services
sector, have become customer-centric and have been exploring
new ways to service customers efficiently. The verdict:
it usually boils down to effectively managing those
moments of truth with customers. And this turns out
to be the most difficult part of the relationship saga.
The interaction center plays a major role in enabling
us to manage these moments. Though we all know this,
we lose ourselves in the dictionaries of technology
that are available to improve this interaction center.
institutions, for one, are being forced to make this
shift from processing transactions to managing relationships.
It's been some time since I consolidated my banking
transactions to a single bank in the hope of receiving
better service and attention. Recently I was performing
an Internet banking transaction and decided to pay my
house loan EMI from the same account. It was a frustrating
experience. The bank did not provided this facility.
As a natural extension to my attempt, I called the number
mentioned in my loan letter for any queries.
The result: four phone numbers, six phone calls, five
"can you please hold on, I will transfer you to
the right person" requests and many explanations
later a physical human being actually came and collected
the cheque from my doorstep. Am still loyal to my bank?
Definitely not! All I see is the tattered remains of
what should have been a pleasant moment of truth.
Most customer service centers run by banks and other
service departments are quite sophisticated. Right from
outbound telemarketing capabilities to tele servicing,
a technology capability exists to manage every possible
customer scenario. Despite this, the moments of truth
at many interaction centers end up being disastrous
because they access customer information product-wise,
as it is organized product wise and not customer wise.
It is a rare moment when a customer service representative
(CSR) can help you at one go with all transactions that
you may have with an organization. Fortunately some
banks are now realizing the need for a single point
of contact, where a comprehensive and updated database
of the customer resides. This ensures immediate fulfillment
of customer queries and requirements through simple
The problem rests not with technology but the thought
process that goes behind technology selection and deployment.
Most of the tools and techniques used, such as work
force scheduling, are focused on increasing the efficiency
of the interaction centers. The techniques used are
similar to what a supervisor's role would have been
in an old shop floor. And we see people in interaction
centers toiling away to meet their efficiency metrics.
What is missed out in the process is the customer experience.
There are number of ways to make this customer experience
more delightful and memorable:
Not having to repeat my problem again and again
to different people who are called in to support
me when I call
If I don't speak English and am a registered customer
for local language support, I shouldn't have to
operator that I want local language support.
Despite the fact that numerous customers would have
reported the same problem, each call goes through
yet another problem solving cycle.
If I called in earlier regarding a problem and if
it's unresolved, the CSR should be able to trace
this during the subsequent call.
Thoughts, But Intricate To Implement And Manage!
Things ultimately boil down to how information is structured
for a CSR to access. Does he/ she have information on
the value of the customer, based on the transactions
performed with the company? So where should the investment
go when developing a world-class interaction center?
My opinion is that it should be in analytics and in
evolving a single customer master. All other technology
ingredients should come later. Superimposing new technologies
on a product centric organization is a sure recipe for
a poor return on investment.
Think about my earlier experience with the bank. Suppose
the bank deploys a tool to make my transaction information
flow with the call, so that I do not have to repeat
my query about my credit card. But what if I suddenly
wish to enquire about my bank loan? My experience is
that I have to call again and wait for about ten minutes
before I can get connected to a CSR who can answer my
query. And in all probability, this CSR will not be
aware of the discussion I had ten minutes ago.
Here are some tested and tried tools, techniques that
when deployed help to efficiently and successfully manage
those moments of truth, which alone ensures a profitable
and longstanding relationship with customers.
Database construction is really the heart of Customer
Relationship Management (CRM). Most of the data would
come from transactional systems such as billing and
accounting, promotions and campaigns. These operational
systems are typically fragmented, inconsistent and unsuited
for managing relationships. To have a 360-degree view
of the customer the CSR would require the assistance
of software tools such as next generation integration
and transformation platforms that are capable of handling
the complexities of transforming bare facts into useful
data, to enable efficient customer service.
A unified view of the customer would further mean maintaining
hierarchical views of customers, linked to their transaction
histories and of course enhanced with external demographics,
dates and behavioral patterns obtained through the various
interactions and transactions that the customer previously
had with the organization. When an organization does
have such a view of the customer, the e-moments of truth
are managed much better. This in turn will strengthen
the quality of relationship and probably increase the
lifetime value of the customer.
Analysis And Mining
Typical questions that marketers often ask are of the
following nature"How many of my customers
are located in Bangalore and are software professionals
with a balance of over Rs. 2 lakhs?" Quickly counting
customers who meet a specific profile and constantly
refining the segment would require an analytical tool
that would be easy to query and give quick answers.
Traditional databases and SQL do not usually help. An
online analytical processing tool facilitates asking
these complex marketing questions and delivering quick
Data mining tools today have the ability to search for
unsuspected relationships among customer attributes.
Submit a question such as "Which of my customers
in Bangalore are likely to go in for a house loan?"
and voi la you have the results in an instance. Data
mining tools, Presto for instance, often come up with
answers such as "Software professionals working
in an MNC with an average bank balance of Rs. 2 lakhs
in the savings account." Of course, the pre-requisite
is that you have a customer-centric database populated
with all the transactional and demographic data.
Let's look at another key technology enablerInteractive
Relationship Management. What if my bank was to trace
that I have pulled out an unusually large amount from
my savings account or deposited a large amount? If this
can be coupled with the analysis made by the analytical
tool used by the bank, it would probably represent a
marketing opportunity for the bank's investment division.
The CRM tools would then proactively trigger in a rule
for the bank to get in touch with me through a medium
I would prefer mosta telephone in my case.
Let's go back to my earlier experience with the bank.
Suppose the bank adds a tool to make my transaction
information flow with the call so I need not repeat
my query regarding my credit card. But what if I suddenly
wish to enquire about my bank loan? My experience in
India is that I would need to call in again and wait
for about ten minutes before I get connected to a CSR
who can answer my query. And most probably this CSR
will not be aware of the discussion I had with the bank
ten minutes ago. Such events can be better managed through
interactive relationship management tools, which typically
help in responding to the real time interactions using
pre-defined customer prediction models and the customer's
Do I Optimize Customer Relationships?
Capture, analyze and integrate data from all touch points.
Companies that have the resources to perform these processes
can transform this knowledge into a powerful CRM arsenal.
To optimize customer relationships, organizations should
operate within this framework:
The foundation is to have a customer-centric database.
This provides a fundamental value a 360-degree view
of the customer.
Add enabling technologies that include interactive
Ensure that your fulfillment processes and your
customer ordering processes are in sync.
Align your infrastructure and your organization
to support your CRM initiatives.
It's surprising how many businesses are run without
information. If we just step backwards and review the
dotcom bust, we can derive some interesting tidbits.
There is lot of talk about business models, market share,
mindset and so on while trying to explain the dotcom
demise. Service seems to be a forgotten word. Apart
from poor business models, dotcoms were unable to survive
due one obvious reason: poor customer service. This
was facilitated by a lack of investment in infrastructure
and processes for interaction centers. The belief that
just a HTML page would deliver wonders to the world
was a flawed one.
As more corporations are nursing their wounds, there
is a huge opportunity for what are called "old
economy companies" to leverage their service orientation
and deliver through a reliable business model a delightful
user experience. So before we run to buy new interaction
center technology, lets pause and understand first what
information would be useful for serving the customer
better and how it should it be stored for efficient
quality of customer
the problem rests not with technology
but the thought process that goes behind
technology selection and deployment To
have a 360-degree view of the customer, CSR can do with
next-gen software tools that are capable of
transforming bare facts into useful data
Srinivas K.S, Head-Client Services (Asia Pacific), Talisma
Corporation Pvt. Ltd. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
and Asit Sinha, formerly Managing Principal, Talisma
Corporation Pvt. Ltd. can be reached at AsitS@talisma.com