To gain a real competitive advantage, it is important to understand how your customer feels, not just how they behave
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) vendors are just as keen as many client organisations to pursue a value proposition based on Customer Experience (CX) because it represents competitive advantage all round. However, it is important for buyers to understand where most of the CRM solution providers start and end with regards to engagement versus experience.
“My CRM solution gives our business the data to manage our prospects and customers through the sales process and ongoing engagement, so why do we need CX as well?”
Because the CX vendors understand the value of overlaying customer sentiment with engagement, which is why they have published integrations and/or technology alliances with the major CRM providers. The table below is by no means an exhaustive list of either CX or CRM vendors and it is only reflective of information published on their websites; CX implementation services or partners may expedite other CRM integrations and vice versa. That said, the three CRM vendors all appear in the leadership corner of the most recent Gartner Magic Quadrant, along with Zendesk and Pegasystems.
Age of the customer ̶ it’s getting emotional
Engagement is not an indicator of the success or failure of a commercial relationship.
“I changed the opportunity status to show a 90% probability of win because they have been using our products and services for more than 10 years, but apparently, we’re not a great company to do business with. I didn’t see that coming!”
Typically, a base CRM system does not offer CX. In simple terms, CRM helps a business to integrate sales, marketing and customer support activities by analysing customer data through events and engagements. CRM platforms deliver an analysis of marketing campaigns, demand generation, sales cycles and other customer interaction metrics, such as case management and/or customer service – the touchpoints and time spent by the customer engaging with the business, pre-sale and post-sale, cross-sell/upsell and so on.
A CRM platform records customer information from various channels, such as campaign leads, website and web forms, emails and sometimes even support calls and so on, before parsing this information into demand generation, pipeline and forecast or service channels – the holy trinity of sales, marketing and service.
CRM is an accurate record hindered by time as current sentiment is missing. It’s a factual statement typically tied to a transactional event. Very easy, in the example above, for sales to lose sight of what may matter to a lifetime customer when the same engagement rhythm has been maintained for such a long time: the buyer may have changed, the way the customer and the supplier do business could now be different and the expectations of service more demanding and possibly not fully tracked in CRM. All these change customer perceptions and feelings towards the supplying company and, left unchecked, the sales team will never truly be able to predict what a customer is likely to do next. If there are no compelling economic reasons to continue to buy, then sentiment will take over supplier/product/brand choice.
CRM is bought for managing customer engagements from the perspective of sales and, increasingly, services and for demand creation. For some organisations with niche products in small non-competitive markets this may still work, but the Age of the Customer is upon us and, as Victor Milligan, an analyst at Forrester states, “Loyalty is an emotion, not a transaction”.
CX adds the emotion. It is sometimes referred to as Voice of the Customer (VoC) and, back in 2011, Gartner even had a Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Feedback Management (EFM), which most of the above vendors appeared on until this class of solution became known as CX.
Its roots are in customer feedback capture with email, web and SMS surveys commonplace within the software, backed up with decision support analytics and case management. Today, this moves into conversation analysis (text and voice), social media monitoring and rating tracking – in effect, any channel where a customer will post or voice a feeling, sentiment or opinion is captured. As multi- or omni-channel grows, so capturing the VoC at every touchpoint drives essential customer journey mapping as a critical capability.
Net Promotor Score, often referred to as NPS, uses feedback to create a customer score and although Microsoft saw the benefit of recognising this within Dynamics, it has been a core component in CX since its conception. NPS has, for many years, been the aggregating link between engagement and customer sentiment that has allowed sales organisations to assess the real status of a relationship.
With social media and online review services increasingly driving real-time feedback, NPS is facing competition. The Forrester CX Index, launched in 2016, takes this a step further with the vendors, as greater high-accuracy predictive modelling is sought to reduce detraction and increase customer lifetime value.
Winning hearts and minds with CRM and CX
In isolation, the reports and dashboards generated from CRM and CX will obviously make a positive contribution to any business but a connected view of all data, available as a single pane of customer truth, will make incremental advances in revenues and retention as forecast and emotions perfectly collide – hearts and minds!
Best-of-breed integration between CRM and CX is operationally effective for all departments as it extends the value of the investments made in both systems. CX solutions also provide Big Data benefits by further extracting and utilising customer records held in legacy or siloed systems. Vehicle manufacturers are leading the way, as they have CX as a component of their digital transformation strategies that cascade down into ensuring continuity of brand value within global dealer and distribution ecosystems.
As for the holy trinity, the headline benefits (of which there are considerably more!) include the ability to:
- proof-point pipeline and forecast with customer sentiment
- identify specific customer strategies based upon live status
- allow frontline to be more responsive to customer needs and increase cross-sell/upsell opportunity creation
- validate annual forecasts with predictability assured customer metrics
- create 3D Persona Marketing based on profile, engagement behaviour and sentiment
- use predictability to test Go-to-Market audiences for new product release activities
- reinvent customer marketing using sentiment segmentation
- merge subjective nurture streams with objective outcomes based on customer status
- increase personalisation and relevant content for lead fulfilment to increase lead quality
- realign response and fix processes with additional focus on current customer sentiment and empower service analysts to go the extra mile
- provide a greater connection between service and sales through enhanced resolution processes – don’t just fix, advance the relationship
Finally, if the organisation is about customer-centricity, then understanding what a customer truly thinks about doing business with a company changes everything from the greeting they receive, the help they get and the likelihood that they will give their loyalty for a lifetime.
CRM and CX? Marriage made in a commercial heaven.
Now for the last time in this blog I will mention the Gartner Magic Quadrant. For many it is an essential reference point for decision-makers and their economic buyers, but beware the promise of CX in CRM. Below is the snapshot of Gartner’s Ability to Execute criteria for CX – just remember it’s the voice of the customer that needs to heard. Like all good relationship advice, listen!
Customer Experience: Relationships, products and services/programs that enable clients to be successful with the products evaluated. Specifically, this includes the ways customers receive technical support or account support. This can also include ancillary tools, customer support programs (and the quality thereof), availability of user groups, service-level agreements and so on.