Businesses need to understand good customer service does not
begin or end with the purchase of a CRM (customer relationship
management) solution, according to Gartner.
It may seem obvious but too many companies are failing to
understand the complexity of the good customer service jigsaw in which
technology is just one–albeit important–piece.
"More than 70 percent of CEOs currently rank building customer relations as their most important task yet, they tell me they’re not doing CRM. They think CRM is a technology. CRM is not a new concept. The term may be a decade old but it goes back hundreds of years." according to Gartner analyst Scott Nelson
Companies, increasingly under pressure to grow, are now looking
to improve their CRM through a greater use of technology. But according
to Nelson many are approaching the task in the wrong way.
Speaking at the Gartner CRM Summit in London, he said:
"Companies I speak to ask me ‘what vendor should I buy?’. They want to
jump straight to the technology, but it’s impossible to answer that
question without knowing what other building blocks are in place."
Nelson said businesses must ensure a number of vital building blocks are present.
First must come a vision, said Nelson. Any company must know why
it wants to do CRM and what it is hoping to achieve. And this vision
must be underpinned by a strategy for making it become a reality.
Likewise a company must ensure it understands all its core
processes, what data it needs and what that data means. The quality and
the relevance of the data will be a more telling differentiator than
any amount of technology bought on a whim, according to Gartner.
A company must also put in place a clear framework for
organizational collaboration to ensure silos within the business are
broken down. As long as information and resources reside in silos the
company will always be hamstrung, said Nelson.
And finally, a company must understand what metrics it needs to
judge its success. Only with all these factors in mind should a
business consider what technology can best complement those other
building blocks, said Nelson.
Bryn Jones, director of business architecture at Virgin Mobile,
said his own company has scooped a number of customer service awards
because it has prioritized many of these building blocks over the
technology it uses.
Jones said: "Our core CRM is built around a seven-year-old system. That is not the thing which is making the difference."
He added there are far more fundamental things a company must
worry about before the bells and whistles of technology. "You cannot
provide great customer satisfaction if you’ve got a duff product," he
said. "Below the product, the processes you have in place must be
designed from the customer’s point of view."
This includes everything from simplifying the number of hoops
customers must jump through to ensuring the language used is
appropriate. The best Web site in the world and the best back-end CRM
could easily be undone by what Jones calls "corporate bollocks".
"If people understand what you’ve said, they shouldn’t have to call back," he added.