CRM History – The Evolution of Better Customer Service

There was a time when frequent flyer miles, loyalty award systems and credit card points were virtually unknown to businesses and consumers alike. CRM history shows that customer relationship management is the system that popularized consumer benefits such as this.

CRM history is indeed a brief one when it comes to the technological aspect of customer service. Although marketing campaigns and strategies go back a long way, most entrepreneurs used to rely on generic means to attract potential customers and gain loyal ones. Before the dawn of CRM, most companies were not ingenious when it came to having personalized customer relationships.

The Dawn of CRM

CRM emerged in the 1980’s and this early version was called database marketing. Database marketing wasn’t as intricate as the well-developed CRM of today. It mainly comprises of an organizations’ customer service staff interacting with a company’s clients. Although helpful, it wasn’t exactly a seamless process and information on the existing database tended to be unorganized, hard to track, update and retrieve.

The Rise of CRM

CRM history shows that the 90’s saw great improvement in terms of Customer Relationship Management. Companies began to see the benefits of offering perks to customers and potential ones in exchange for relevant customer information or for repeat purchases. Companies also began to regard customer service as a continuously evolving skill rather than a stagnant service to be picked up and used whenever necessary.

A Fully-developed CRM

Today, CRM has reached its full potential, allowing businesses to maximize their own potentials as well, to achieve superior customer service. More advanced tools are made available and innovation allows customization of software to fit a particular business or industry. Benefits enjoyed by customers such as bonus points and loyalty rewards are also advantageous to the companies that award these benefits: now they can easily track the behavior, spending history and patterns of their customers.

With CRM’s online capabilities, storage issues for huge databases can now be resolved, especially for big corporations. CRM software developers are now offering offsite storage of data and opening secure Internet mediums for staging CRM.

CRM is most useful for organizations whose success depend vastly on technology or customer service. That’s why a lot of CRM-based tools and software are utilized by credit card companies, the telecommunications industry and even the computer hardware and software sectors. From customer acquisition, to trouble shooting and encouraging customer loyalty, CRM will be a useful system to achieve these goals.

CRM history has indeed shown that something truly useful and effective can come a long way in such a short time. As long as businesses continue to thrive on effective management of customer relationships and as long as there are customers to satisfy, then CRM will also continue to develop and evolve to greater heights.

As shown by CRM history, customer relation management has indeed empowered consumers to choose the companies worth patronizing. CRM has made customer service a global interaction so consumers can now easily switch to better services if unsatisfied with current one.

Expectceed – The New Frontier In Customer Service

The next time you visit your favorite store, take a moment to think about why you are going there. If you are like many, it is probably because of the way you are treated. You see, every time we enter into a customer service situation we have certain expectations. In each one of these experiences, one of three things usually happens. Your expectation is met; it is not met; or maybe it is exceeded. Companies that strive to exceed your expectations are the companies that keep their customers coming back. The late Sam Walton once had signs posted at the customer service counter to remind everybody: “Give the Customer More Than He Expects and He Will Continue to Come Back.” This is why it is vital that all your employees understand how important it is to keep meeting the customers’ expectations and, more importantly, try to exceed them.

This is really not rocket science and, in fact, most of the time it is the very simple things an associate can do without adding any expense. Here is a very simple example. I stop at neighborhood bank to make a deposit. The teller completes the transaction and then asks if I would like to have a balance printed. Or, while going to the same bank to make a withdrawal the teller asks if I would like an envelope. Real simple, but in both cases my expectations were exceeded.

All employees can reflect on this more closely by following a 4-step thought process labeled “Expectceeding”. This process applies to all areas of customer service. This means Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, Treasury, and yes, even your delivery person. David Packard once said that Marketing is far too important to be left to the Marketing Department. The same can be said about Customer Service. It is far too important to be left only to the Customer Service Department.

The first step is to think about personal customer service experiences. Reflect on the good, the bad and the ugly. This exercise allows employees to think about what their expectations were before the encounter.

The second step is to build a list of what you think your customer expects when he contacts you. I call this The Customer Expectation Index. It is helpful to take this list and place checkmarks indicating whether these expectations are not met, met or exceeded.

The third step builds on the previous list by examining how your competitors handle these same tasks.

The fourth step allows you to examine the Index to see how these gaps can be bridged. The final outcome is a concise list of how to better meet your customers’ expectations. Hopefully there will be plenty of areas where you can Expectceed.

4 Tips To Surpass Your Competitor’s Customer Service

1. Think about the factor that makes your offer unique.

Study the competition. Compare your customer service with what is offered by your customers. What can you give to your clients that is better than your competitor’s offering? There have to be some features of your service that you can endorse as “unique”.

At times, offering the service to your customers that stands out requires the expanding of your operations and at times it requires revamping.

If you offer a service that requires giving estimates of the work to be completed in advance, and in the past you have just provided estimates to potential clientele verbally, you could emphasize that you offer an estimate in written and follow your written estimate.

Now that you have listed down all possible service ideas that might be used to surpass the service offered by your customers, it is time to consider applying outstanding customer service.

2. Study the listed plans and look at their achievability.

Can you actually assure that you will follow your written estimate at all times or offer a quicker turnaround time as compared to your competitors? If you are not confident or think that you can not do it, eliminate it from your list.

3. Select one or two of your exceptional service ideas and put them into practice.

By putting your customer service ideas into practice also implies that you need to let people be on familiar terms with that you are doing it. Mark this feature of your customer service in all the advertisements you run, together with your yellow pages inventory. Place it on your business cards as well as in your email signature. Make it a component of your greeting lingo after you answer the phone.

You have to make your service a major aspect of every advertisement as well, so people repeatedly relate it with your product or service.

4) Continue to be positive and keep collecting service plans.

Pay attention to your clientele and note what type of unique service they would like to have. You can do this properly, through forming a customer satisfaction response form that you include with each deal or placement on your website, or unofficially, by inquiring them regarding customer service ideas when they are in your supermarket or place of work. Outstanding service provided to the customers is service that is quick to respond to clientele’s requirements.