We Don’t Need No Stinking CRM Solution
Some time ago I was visiting a friend at his company and we got to talking about the software that I was working on. I explained it was a web-based CRM system that could be used by any company (large or small) to help streamline their business. He said to me, “I don’t see how it could help us, we have half a dozen support reps and they handle our customers just fine”. I asked him if anyone had taken the time to actually calculate dollar-wise,how much supporting customers was costing the company. He wasn’t sure but thought the numbers were most likely reasonable.
That was the wrong answer – why? We often hear about how expensive it is to support customers and other close relationships that exist in day-to-day business operations, but what are some of the specific reasons?
First and foremost, let’s consider right off the top that you must commit to the expense of the phone lines and infrastructure, which depending upon the size of the organization, can be thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Once the lines are in, there is inherent waste in the form of productivity busters such as:
- documenting the details of the call, in some cases excessively
- “good-will” banter – while good for the relationship, it becomes a time drain across the support continuum
- inability to multi-task effectively
If someone within your organization actually took the time to calculate how much each call is costing your company in relation to how much your customers are paying you for customer support (or even as a percentage of time expressed as productive utilization), you would be amazed. Ever wonder why many large companies are moving their call centers offshore? Ok, so what are our options? Email! Yes, electronic mail, a proven form of effective communication almost since its inception. Except email has its problems as well:
- How do we control who is emailing our company? Are these people supported?
- Are the right people getting the emails? The ones who have knowledge regarding the questions being asked.
- Are the emails even being received at all. Is that person on vacation? Deleting them by mistake?
- How can this communication be monitored? We have no way of knowing what information is being relayed to our customers.
Solution, a web based CRM application. While some customers will always want to call, others can be asked to send their questions in via email or a web interface (possibly for a reduced support price). These questions can be turned into cases in a database that any internal CSR can access. Cases can be automatically forwarded to the CSR’s that have specific knowledge in certain areas. Customers can check the status of their cases without calling and tying up CSR’s. Other benefits include:
- Minimize transcribing time by letting the customer document their question or problem.
- Shorten the solution time by making sure the case is being sent to the correct person who can solve it.
- Build a knowledgebase of answers so customers can search it rather than creating new cases. Most questions and/or problems have been asked before and solved already, don’t waste time solving the same problem twice.
- Monitor all communication in and out of your company.
- No lost emails.
- Decreased calls
- Keep track of which customers are using support the most and adjust your billing appropriately. Decrease the cost for customers that become more self-sufficient.
- A happier customer base makes for a more efficient company.
In the end, I convinced my friend to try the system for free – if they found it useful they could keep it, if not, no harm done. Well, I would not be writing this article if there wasn’t a happy ending. Today, my friend’s company is heavily reliant on the system. They not only track their customers support time with it, but they use it to track the time of almost everyone in their business. Practically every daily activity is documented in the system. They love it, live by it and cannot do with out it.
CTO, Support Fusion, Inc.