the
best
customer
guide
Get our free weekly marketing briefings...
"They're always useful, and always brief"   :-)
Enter your email address to get started!
As social media expands into all areas of consumers lives and their day-to-day contact with brands rises, they are increasingly turning to smartphones and social channels to connect with the companies and brands they deal with, according to Daniel Heck, Senior Director of EMEA marketing for SugarCRM, who here looks at whether or not customers are happy to pay for better service. This article is copyright 2014 The Best Customer Guide.

It's impossible to deny the increasing importance of customer centricity. As consumers, our level of expectation in how brands respond is much higher because of this accessibility. It's now estimated that 78% of consumers have bailed on transactions or not made an intended purchase because of poor service experience.

Time is precious
Customers will no longer accept being kept on hold for considerable lengths of time with a customer services representative. We all expect instant answers to our queries. Businesses have a number of options when trying to meet these increased demands; they can try to meet their customers' expectations for quick customer service by re-structuring their customer service departments, improving the tools the customer service department use, or as in the case of EE, create a premium option that adds optional charges for customers who wish to jump the customer services call queue.

This proposed two-tiered customer strategy, with differing levels of access dependent on budget, has created a great deal of controversy demonstrating that people expect the same level of service regardless of budget. They like speed, but they expect to be treated as an individual, not a number. They like tailored rather than untargeted solutions.

A customer is never just a number
Businesses that offer an individualised customer service to their customers will ultimately build longer term relationships with them and achieve customer loyalty. Many customers expect better service if they stay with one provider for a longer period of time.

The 2013 Accenture Global Consumer Survey found that 60% of all customers now expect better service for being a loyal customer. However, capitalising on the growing individualisation trend is dependent on the data that can be provided for individual customers. To keep up with their customer expectations businesses need to use the knowledge at their disposal to tailor every customer interaction and ensure queries are answered with speed.

The role of CRM
CRM solutions can provide a solution to this issue. CRM brings together information from various data sources from within and outside an organisation to give a single and holistic view of each customer in real-time. Imagine how positively you would react if you contacted a brand to complain and they knew all your past history and could address the problem in a few short moments, saving you precious time and money.

Contrast this with a scenario where you'd paid a charge to jump a queue and found yourself having to explain a situation or issue you'd been through with service representatives many times before.

Again, picture the situation if you were considering purchasing a product and the sales person already had an idea of what you might need and how it would best benefit you. You'd be far more tempted to buy than a random scattergun approach of products, which would feel fake, impersonal and could leave you feeling frustrated.

Efficiency over speed?
In order to ensure that the business can respond to all enquiries in a timely fashion, every single employee in a customer-facing role needs to be able to use the CRM platform to benefit from the valuable and useful data it can provide on each customer. It should not just be those at the coal face of customer service, but also data analysts and even the reception desk.

Providing a quick, efficient and positive customer experience is dependent on this personalisation of data. This rather than speed is the way to build loyal and lasting customer relationships. CRM solutions empower customer-facing employees who can nurture leads on the basis of the query and the interest of individual customers to ensure that their businesses stay top of mind.

Real time analytics
Most marketers and customer service professionals are now aware of the need to use data and technology to help identify profitable customer relationships and changing trends. Businesses enjoy a wealth of data, but also face the challenge of how to make the most of it. Having the data and information at hand is not enough without the right tools in place to make it meaningful for any business.

The growing volume of digital content isn't showing any signs of slowing down and is set to reach eight zettabytes by 2015 according to IDCS 2011 report the IDC Digital Universe. This means the focus needs to be on how to make Big Data insightful and translatable into effective business actions, practices and processes.

These changing market conditions will lead to an increase in businesses investing in real-time analytics in order to respond rapidly to changing market conditions and exploit customer data to maximum effect. Modern CRM software can seamlessly unite data from many sources from within or outside an organisation. This provides a complete view of every customer to every employee in real-time.

Breaking big data into byte sized chunks
A list of figures and stats mean nothing if they cannot provide insight into the business and its issues. This information should also be easily understood because data is only useful if you can draw insight from it. Providing an individualised service that makes you stand out is dependent on understanding your customers' needs and supplying a solution that will ensure those needs get met. A CRM solution can help companies find this insight but it's essential to find one that will match your business as well as the needs of your clients.

Delivering a truly customer centric solution cannot be done quickly. It must be planned and thought through thoroughly, thereby ensuring customer centricity becomes the life blood of a business and all customers are treated as an individual - not just another number. While optional charging appears to give customers options, without a personalised customer experience it falls woefully short.