Welcome to the New CRMI

It is the Age of CX. Delivering a consistently superior customer experience (CX) has become table stakes. CRMI has championed that concept since its founding in 1999, and now – as CX becomes a strategic imperative for more and more companies – is taking its mission to a new level.

The New CRMI is a membership-based resource that is intended to be your one-stop shop for “Everything CX.” Whether you are new to CX strategy and implementation or a veteran practitioner, as a CRMI Member you will join thousands of like-minded professionals who are eager to learn the latest advances in CX strategy and enabling technologies – and share their experiences in guiding their organizations to the pinnacle of CX success.

Vendors with technology and solutions that fuel the CX marketplace are an important part of the CX ecosystem. Those vendors who are CRMI partners recognize that members are a qualified, highly knowledgeable audience that is constantly seeking the latest innovations to help bring CX perfection to their contact centers, tech support groups, help desks, field service organizations, and other customer-facing operations. So, with our new CX Lab, CRMI Members can test drive these vendors’ solutions and contact them directly for more information.

CX and training consultants and other service providers complete the ecosystem; there’s a directory with information on many of these experts on the New CRMI. Our consulting partners are well versed in the tenets of CX and CRMI’s CEMDNA Playbook Strategy. Consequently, they’ll be able to provide assistance with your specific CX needs.

So, welcome to the New CRMI. Please explore all of the information available on our website – from content and conferences to webcasts and workshops to training and certification, and more. Also be sure to bookmark our homepage and visit often because we’ll be posting new content and events frequently.

We’re all about “Everything CX” and look forward to exploring this exciting ever-evolving domain together.

5 Keys to Maintaining Customers Relationships

Consumers and B2B purchasers are spoiled for choice. Nearly any product or service they desire is available at the click of a button, in a 100-page catalog, or a short drive away. And they’re spending on those wants and needs. Consider: Retail sales grew 3.8% in 2016 and is predicted to increase between 3.7 and 4.2% in 2017, according to National Retail Federation. And the Institute for Supply Management predicts manufacturing revenue to increase 4.6% and B2B non-manufacturing revenue to increase 4.1% this year, as well.

But that doesn’t guarantee growth for sellers. In fact, while some companies thrive, others stall or fail completely. What do these growth companies do differently than their less successful counterparts? Businesses that flourish tend to use five key strategies to customer engagement and interactions, laying the groundwork for customer loyalty and repeat purchases.

1. Engage, Engage, Engage

Customers want to be served, but they also want to be noticed. They don’t want to feel as if they’re consumers first and people second. In a retail or B2B setting, don’t just pitch the company’s wares; strike up a conversation with the customer and actively listen to what they’re saying. Respond to their questions or comments in detail. This will give them a sense of belonging and help to build trust.

2. Be Available

You never know when your customers are going to need you. B2C businesses should have multiple touchpoints for service, including chat, social, and traditional contact centers. B2B companies will see significant benefits from monthly courtesy calls to their high-value customers, just to check in. Send customers relevant content, such as links to how-to articles, industry news, and product updates. If you’re available to your customers when they need you, they won’t turn to a competitor.

3. Take Advice

You’re never going to survive as a business if you don’t take customer feedback to heart. Feedback helps to highlight problems and opportunities that those within the organization might never notice. Being attentive and concerned, acting on customer input wherever possible, and keeping customers apprised of your actions and outcomes communicates to customers that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep their business.

4. Keep Improving

It’s not possible to make every single customer happy all the time. But if you continuously work to improve your customer experience and always aim for fairness and satisfaction, you’ll come out ahead. Complacency is not an option in today’s customer-driven markets.

5. Focus on the Experience

One of the biggest mistakes that a company makes is attributing customer satisfaction to customer loyalty. It’s more complicated than that. Satisfied customers often leave for a competitor that offers a better customer experience—however customers define it: better service, product, price, attentiveness or responsiveness, etc. Customers are driven by their buying experience. So, understand what aspects of your customer experience keeps them loyal to your company and continue to focus on and excel in those areas.

3 Ways Customer Surveys Will Benefit Your Business

A successful business needs honest feedback from its customers to evaluate how well those customers’ needs are being met. But customer feedback should be far more than a generic gauge of customer satisfaction. Obtaining customer input is a valuable way to hear firsthand what customers think of your customer experience, products, and services, as well as how to improve them. Just as important, asking customers for their feedback builds customer loyalty and increases retention.

Here are three key benefits of using customer surveys as an information gatherer and relationship builder.

Detailed Insight

The number one benefit of customer surveys is gathering customers’ honest opinions about various facets of your business. Surveys can help you gain insight into how the customer feels about your company and the experience you deliver. Asking the right questions will help you determine, for example, how much customers value the products or services you offer, which provides additional insight into their likelihood to switch providers. Surveys can be an outlet for customers to share detailed feedback not only on products and services, but also on everything from customer service and sales interactions to billing and shipping to ad campaigns and the website experience. Surveys also can help identify potential areas for growth.

Long-term View

Surveys can be repeated. Running a survey multiple times with a defined control will provide you with data ready for comparative analysis. As you collect more surveys, you will have more data to draw deeper analysis and conclusions about your business. Over time, the data will not only reveal important and perhaps unexpected trends, but also may uncover changes you did not anticipate.

Commitment to the Customer

Asking for feedback shows customer commitment, which helps build loyalty and trust—especially if it’s clear to customers how their feedback will be used. If customers’ values, opinions, and feelings are important to your company, demonstrate that by involving customers in ensuring and improving the quality of your products or services. Their input can uncover opportunities for improvements or expansion that you might not have discovered otherwise. And using their feedback is a powerful way to build engagement and loyalty if you close the loop and communicate back to customers the ways that you’ve acted on (and plan to act on) their input and the outcomes of doing so.

Do Customers Know You Care?

Retaining today’s fickle customers takes more than discounts and loyalty points. Customers want to know that businesses are there to help improve their life or solve a problem—not just empty their wallet. Here are three ways companies can demonstrate the kind of customer commitment that helps retain customers and bolster loyalty.

Express Compassion and Empathy

Stellar service has long been and continues to be a leading ingredient for promoting a healthy long-term customer relationship. Compassion and empathy during service interactions show that your business cares about its customers. Resolving customers’ issues quickly also highlight that you take their concerns seriously. Acting on customers’ feedback in another way to demonstrate empathy that helps to cement customer loyalty.

Stay Abreast of the Customer’s Contentment

A business should keep in touch with customers from the moment they make a purchase. Automated thank-you emails give the customers a sense of appreciation after they buy from you. An onboarding series can help customers get acquainted with your products, services, and processes, which improves their customer experience. Follow-up messages are also excellent ways to see how customers like a product, as well as proactively uncover any issues.

Frequent check-ups based on customers purchasing habits will increase the likelihood that customers will stay engaged. Personalizing those messages helps keeps customers engaged and allows you to send relevant messages at the right time.

Fresh and Frequent Content

Great content adds value to the customer experience. It engages customers through articles, videos, events, and the like that provide information, education, and entertainment. Savvy marketing teams use content to educate customers on all aspects of their products, services, and brand’s unique abilities. High-value content builds brand affinity and bolsters customer loyalty.

Avoid These Employee Motivation Killers

It’s essential to arm yourself with various strategies you can use to motivate—and retail—your employees. But, it’s equally important to learn what not to do. Here five are workplace motivation killers to beware of.

Negativity
If you’ve been around someone with a bad attitude, you likely understand how detrimental that energy can be to their colleagues’ work demeanor. Use clear policies and coaching to minimize the risk of employees spreading toxic energy through.

Lack of Growth
If employees aren’t growing, they may get complacent or bored. There should be constant learning opportunities for the betterment of the team, and, thus, the company. Professional development is an investment in the success of your business.

Blurry Vision
Transparent communication and a clear vision and mission set an effective company direction and focus. If the vision is muddled, even the most formidable employees won’t be able to operate at their peak performance levels. Ensure that all employees have a clear understanding of the company’s vision.

Trashed Time
If your organization holds two-hour meetings where nothing is truly accomplished, it’s likely your employees harbor frustrations. Don’t waste people’s time. Make sure the goal of each meeting is explicit , the agenda is clear, and that there is follow up afterward.

Lack of Appreciation
Employees don’t expect a gold star at the completion of each task, but it is important to recognize a job well done–especially when someone goes above and beyond expectations. If an employee puts in an extra few hours each day on a big project, devotes weekends, or exhibits extreme dedication, management should recognize those efforts. Recognition can be as simple as a sincere in-person thank you or god big by circulating an email about the person’s accomplishments to the team or company. As the adage goes, a little goes a long way.

Don’t let these employee motivation killers hurt your business. Improve your workplace by recognizing potential demotivators and creating effective solutions. In doing so you’ll build, strengthen, and maintain passionately loyal employees for life.

The Key Difference Between Loyalty and Retention

Retention marketers know there is a difference between customer loyalty and retention. Without a proper understanding of the two concepts, it’s not possible to retain valued customers and grow wallet share. Consider: A business that keeps customers at all costs is not effectively managing its resources. It’s more cost effective—and more profitable—to use the concepts of loyalty and retention to ensure that customers are so delighted with current product and service offerings that they’ll stay loyal and buy more. That also means it’s better business to identify customers who aren’t a good fit and be willing to cut the cord.

Loyalty Means Growth

Loyal customers conduct themselves in a way that produces positive outcomes for themselves and the business. They stay loyal to a preferred brand despite, for example, price breaks or promotions that competitors offer. Businesses looking to bolster loyalty of turn to formal loyalty programs designed to encourage specific behaviors, such as achieving certain spending levels. Loyalty programs designed well will encourage habits that benefit the customer and business.

When Retention Means Decline

Retention is commonly thought of as the process of keeping a customer. Loyalty programs are one element of retention efforts that aim to not only keep customers, but also increase their value. Retention efforts that aim to keep customers who aren’t a good fit—e.g., they have a high cost to serve, they only buy on special—are likely to waste money on customers who will leave as soon as a competitor presents a better offer. Instead of focusing on price promotions and specials, companies should focus their retention efforts on the customer experience, such as providing education through content, outstanding customer service, and insider-only access to special events.

Why Use Both

Businesses will see the best outcomes from combining loyalty programs with other retention campaigns. Doing so helps to ensure that customers keep coming back—and have plenty of reasons to do so. Implementing a mix of loyalty and other retention-focused campaigns will also help to make sure that you’re build long-lasting relationships with the right customers: those who will provide the greatest returns, versus those with a high cost to serve.

How Customer Centric Is Your Organization?

Customer centricity is evident in many ways. These include superior customer service, product quality, personalized communications, and responsiveness. By creating a customer-centric culture from the CEO down to your customer-facing employees, your organization will build and sustain long-term, profitable customer relationships.

Being customer-centric starts by placing the customer at the center of a company’s strategic planning. Doing so will help ensure that you get the buy-in you need from across the organization. It also will help to make sure your organization provides positive consumer experiences not only at the point of sale, but also post-sale and throughout the customer lifecycle.

To achieve true customer centricity, a company needs to commit to a culture of customer success. Elements of a customer-centric culture include:

  • engaging with customers in their channels of choice
  • providing top-down support
  • recognizing individual customers across all lines of business
  • designing and implementing processes from the customers’ point of view
  • measuring what matters most to customers
  • fostering customer innovation

Taking a customer-centric approach adds significant value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience. Do you think your organization is truly customer centric? Take our quiz to find out!

This self-assessment will reveal you how your company rates in such essential areas as Corporate Leadership, Employee Engagement, Brand Values, and overall Customer Centricity. The results will highlight your areas of strength and show where improvements can be made to bolster your customer experience management (CEM) Strategy.

Take the CEM IQ Quiz today to see exactly how your company rates on the customer-centricity scale.

Are You Ready for Customer Experience Management?

Customer centricity will only take hold when it’s woven into the fabric of an organization. And that will happen only when customer experience management (CEM) is embedded into a company’s entire operations.

Getting to the point where CEM is a part of a company’s DNA takes time. There are five key areas to examine to determine what actions to take and improvements to make to embed customer centricity in an organization. These comprise CMRI’s Road Map to CEMDNA.

Review current business performance: This includes all operations that contribute to revenue, costs, and profits. Which ones are most directly tied to CEM? Consider dynamics such as growth, retention, win-back, and return on investment (ROI).

Determine current CEM maturity level: Review the actions in the chart below to determine whether your organization is reactive, tentative, engaged, or customer centric. Knowing your starting point is vital to setting CEM objectives and measuring progress and results.

Conduct management interviews: Interview key senior leaders in all customer-facing areas of the business. Doing so is critical to achieving buy-in on CEM processes and building consensus on the key CEM objectives.

Draft vision and mission statements: These shared principles are essential to making CEM part of your organizational DNA. Vision and mission statements should include customer-centric language to maintain a consistent focus on your CEM goals.

Set long-term goals: Based on your current CEM maturity level and the findings from the management interviews, set realistic, achievable goals for a CEM implementation. Create a detailed timetable for achieving each objective within the implementation.

Brand the CEM program: Show that CEM isn’t just the initiative of the month by branding it; for example, “Customers First.” Branding your CEM activities will make the initiative more memorable, help to ensure high visibility and long-term commitment, and set it up for a successful outcome. It also helps to rally support among stakeholders, include employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, and channel partners.

Road Map to CEMDNA is one of 12 elements that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.

Create a Customer-Centric Account Strategy

Sure, customers share behaviors, preferences, traits. They have similar opportunities and face similar challenges. But no two customers are the same. Each has its own unique set of needs and business models that share their expectations of working with suppliers and vendors. Consequently, you cannot exceed each customer’s expectations if you treat all customers the same.

CRMI’s CEMDNA Playbook Strategy includes four approaches designed to help you understand the needs of each major type of customer. This will allow you to create a CEM strategy designed to success with each customer type. The process is meant to leave nothing to chance in your interactions, regardless of which touchpoints you use to connect with customers.

Segment the customer base: Determine which are your key accounts, your strategic accounts, and your marginal accounts. Key accounts typically comprise 20% of a customer base, but deliver 80% of revenue. These are accounts you’ll want to retain, which means ensuring that you consistently exceed their expectations. Strategic accounts are priorities, as well. They may be brand names or are in new markets you want to develop. Retaining these customers requires delivering a high level of service and support.

Marginal customers deliver limited value. They aren’t strategic, but do provide a revenue stream. Don’t overinvest in service and support for these customers; instead, consider self-service options. And if they’re unprofitable, you may be better off without them.

Segment key account contacts: Key accounts are a company’s “bread and butter,” so it’s worth taking the time to understand the players within each key account. Determine who, within each key account, is a decision maker, recommender, and influencer. This is vital because each will have different needs, goals, and expectations. Knowing this information will help dictate the appropriate level of service and support to correctly and consistently meet those expectations.

Build 360-degree alignment: Compare your perception of the customer experience against customers’ actual experiences. Survey and interview customers and customer-facing staff on their perceptions and experiences. (It’s best to hire an independent third party to obtain “unvarnished” feedback.) Combine the results with existing surveys to see where there are gaps in service delivery versus expectations. This will help you evaluated where you fall on the CEM maturity scale.

Create action alerts: Customer interactions and customer feedback often reveal unexpected revenue opportunities or unforeseen issues. Responding as quickly and efficiently as possible is essential to exceeding customer expectations in these situations. Being proactive—for example, using CRMI’s Action AlertsSM—can help get to resolution faster. Action Alerts include a full description of the situation and a predetermined escalation procedure, which allows an employee to act on the alert as quickly as possible.

Partner for profit: This methodology is designed to encourage key accounts to think of you as a value-added partner. The objective is to establish an ongoing, proactive relationship with your most profitable customers by consistently communicating the value of the products and services you provide. This approach typically results in retaining and growing key accounts and generating new business referrals. The goal of this approach is to help your customers get the most from your products and services.

 

Download our Account Management Strategy Infographic

 

Account Management is one of 12 elements that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.

12 Technologies That Support CEM

The foundation of a customer-centric culture is a structured, measurable customer experience management (CEM) strategy. Companies can support and enhancing those strategies with enabling technologies. There are 12 types of technology that can play a key role is managing, interpreting, and improving various aspects of the customer experience.

Work Force Optimization
We all know it takes engaged employees to deliver consistently superior customer experiences. Take the omni-channel approach to employee-customer engagement by tapping into phone, email, online chat, social media and other methods of direct customer interaction. Based on the appeal of video games, mobile apps and streaming content, gamification has also proven to be effective in engaging employees for greater performance. The key is to balance the needs of agents and customers to optimize productivity and CX.

Field Service Management
Although an increasing amount of customer service is done remotely and/or online, there is still a considerable amount of direct customer service performed in the field, either at customer locations or a company’s own field service centers. Starting with initial contact with the customer, where field service incidents are created, it’s important to provide tools to both support the resolution and to allow customers to stay informed/provide feedback and ultimately be satisfied with the outcome.

Help Desk Management
Help desks generally are internal operations that assist employees and business partners to manage their various IT assets. Start by hiring and training good employees who are inspired to provide exceptional support. Have a well-defined Service Level Agreement (SLA) in order to provide optimal, first-level support service to all departments. Make it a priority to develop a helpful culture where issues are tracked end-to-end and nothing slips through the cracks.

Knowledge Management—Self-Service—Remote Support
These three CX technologies are inter-related. Knowledge Management (KM) sets the framework and strategy for an organization’s culture and processes that management uses to install enabling KM technology that fits with its corporate politics. Self-service portals offer authorized users an omni-channel approach to getting the information they want to solve their questions and operational issues. And of course, remote service and support typically are functions of KM and self-service.

EFM—Business Intelligence—CX Certification
These three CX technologies are also inter-related. EFM systems handle customer data collection and analysis based on that data. Business intelligence tools dig deeper to perform more advanced discovery, apply predictive analysis to help define future customer behavior and/or business impacts, and provide extensive enterprise reporting. CX certification training is gaining more importance as organizations recognize the need to be certified in the principles and tactics of effective CX training to best leverage the EFM and BI outcomes.

Big Data—Text Analytics—Speech Analytics
Clearly these CX technologies are joined at the hip. Big data is a way of aggregating and examining the huge amount of CX/CEM data collected to uncover both obvious and obscure patterns and inter-relationships. With text mining and analytics technology, you can analyze text data from the web, social media, comment fields, books and other text-based sources to uncover insights you hadn’t noticed before. Speech analytics has a similar intent as text analytics, but it works with unstructured spoken words to determine frequency of comments and sentiment to measure positive, neutral and negative remarks.

Sales Force Automation
SFA was the application that essentially launched CRM decades ago. The idea is to build a database of every meaningful detail about customer purchases, demographics, and needs and wants so the organization can pinpoint what products and services a given customer may purchase in the future. SFA addresses the various tactical functions that affect CX execution.

Marketing—Social Media Automation
A natural extension of CRM and SFA, marketing and social media automation incorporates everything you need to know about your leads and customers in one place. Since social media channels have such an impact on marketing and customer relationships, it just makes sense to consider them together.

Innovative Inscription—Omni-channel—Intelligent Visual Communications
Customers expect omni-channel experiences through multi-channel engagement with vendors and suppliers. This is part of the evolution in customer buying behavior that has changed the landscape of traditional customer engagement. Understanding which customer experiences and touchpoints are driving the best results can be a challenge. Omni-channel platforms capture the importance of using multi-channel marketing to effectively reach, engage and convert your customers. Trial and error is typically a necessary approach to finding the right channel mix for each type of customer.

Online Community Forum Management
Online communities exist everywhere today, from general purpose channels like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to specialized communities we all know, such as CustomerThink, CCNG and CRMxhange. But managing these forums effectively is a matter of governance.

  1. Agree on your forum governance model. How involved do you want to be in managing your forum?
  2. Agree on intervention protocols. What kind of comments, questions and issues are going to prompt a facilitator intervention?
  3. Determine intervention procedures. What are your approval processes for releasing intervention content?
  4. Determine intervention responsibilities. Who is your primary facilitator/site manager?
  5. Ensure proper training for facilitator/site manager. Can someone with extensive customer service experience handle the site? Do they need specialist media training?
  6. Ensure community members know rules of engagement. Make sure the moderation rules are appropriate for your forum.

Professional Services Automation
Most organizations either have their own professional services team, use resources from a vendor/supplier, or bring in a specialized third party. Examples of PSA applications:

    • MSP/IT Services: Control IT Business
    • System Integrators: Provide Comprehensive Support
    • Software Companies: Gain Visibility Between Development and Support
    • Cloud Services: Manage, Monitor and Bill
    • Point of Sale Resellers (POS): Evolve to Retail IT

 

IVR/ACD Automation
We’re all familiar with these systems. They’re the anchors of contact center operations and some of the oldest examples of CRM technology. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) allows a computer to interact with humans using voice commands or tones from a telephone keypad. Technically, IVR lets the caller enter an “ID” or account code, then provides access to a database. This is where the “interactive” part comes in. For example, bank credit unions often have “phone bank” systems that allow you to conduct transactions. Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) systems answer incoming calls and allow the caller to choose a menu, group of extensions or singular extension to which the call is routed. Contact centers use ACDs to organize incoming calls into queues of callers waiting to speak with an operator or service person.

 

CX Technologies is one of 12 elements that comprise the CEMDNA Playbook Strategy.