A tweet caught my eye the other day, it was a quote from Richard Branson that went something like, “If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your customers. It’s that simple.” I could not shake this from my brain, so I thought I would try and crystallize my thoughts by writing about it.
I have been around the CRM space for a long time, 10 years with Salesforce.com and now 6 years with Dynamics 365. One constant has been this idea that everything we are doing is for the customer, the customer is the priority. I am not a Branson fanboy, I am indifferent, but that sentence resonated with me and got me thinking about the past deployments I have been involved with, and the current ones also. Every one that I can think of may have started out with the rah-rah, Customers are #1, but ultimately the focus was actually on the users.
Improved Customer Relationships, a by-product?
When I talk with CRM Clients, their overarching goal always tilts towards their own users’ being able to use the system successfully. There are a lot of discussions around usability, performance measurement, change management, etc. “Customers” do not come up that often. Having been indoctrinated into the “Customers First” mentality, I would often find myself thinking, “Let’s not lose sight of the real goal here“. But I may have been wrong all this time.
For Sales, Customers are Cattle
I will no doubt get some heat for this, but it is reality. In the Sales part of an organization the number one priority is not making customers happy, but getting them to buy. When I look at past deployments for sales, the goals were around selling. CRM was a machine for selling more. The focus was around closing more deals (herding more cattle into our pen). The customer was not the priority, getting them to sign on a dotted line was… and getting as many of them as possible to do so. Inside of CRM, customers were simply numbers, numbers to be herded down the sales funnel.
Is Customer Service about Customers?
Nope. Customer Service is about efficiently using your support resources. Customer Service is almost always a cost center. I get, that keeping customers happy, leads to more business, yadda yadda. But again, with CRM clients, the primary effort is around reducing that cost. Obviously companies like Zappos stand out because they have placed the customer first, and we can all admire their story, but it would not be a story, if it was the norm. With that rare exception, Customer Service is expected to be bad. One reason why off-shoring support is so popular, is reducing the cost… knowing full well that the customer experience will be barely tolerable.
The Truth is in how we Measure
I cannot recall ever having been asked to build a “Customer Happiness” dashboard in CRM, and by now we must have built thousands of custom dashboards. Most dashboards are focused on goals, goals like “Number of New Leads”, “Number of Opportunities Closed”, “Number of Resolved Support Cases per Hour”, etc. Even when we connect up to Social Media, it is primarily to listen for negative feedback, so we can triage it, by sending the poster a coupon to shut them up. All this has done, is led to a whole bunch of people tweeting about hair in their food, in hopes of getting a coupon… for more food.
Do these Goals Intersect at some point?
So I know I got waaay off the reservation, so let’s circle back to the quote, and break it down. “If you look after your staff” is the first part. While I know Sir Branson was taking a different angle, I see this as providing the tools to your users to help them meet the goals you have given them. Is it possible that by introducing a sales tool that would allow your sales team to handle 50% more transactions, that the Customer’s Experience would be better? I guess that depends on how you measure that CX, if you measure it at all.
If, in order to meet my new higher expected sales goals, to gain an ROI on my CRM deployment, some things were factored in, that happen to be good for the customer also, then yes. For example, to increase speed and efficiency in the sales process, maybe we built some workflows to automatically respond to a new customer request on our website. Within seconds that customer has been sent information specific to their request for that information. The goal may have been herding them faster, at a lower cost, but the result is, they got what they wanted from us. Another example might be when a customer opens a support ticket, and they are automatically presented with relevant knowledge base articles. While our goal may have been to eliminate a support technician from having to get involved, the result is that the customer may have gotten the answer to their question instantly.
How about we just stop Pretending
Increasing the efficiency of your organization, whether on the Sales or Service side, will increase revenue and reduce costs. If you place 100% of the focus on that, as most CRM clients already do, the Customer wins anyway.