2 min read

The Truth About Your Customer Service

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All successful businesses have one thing in common. They ‘get’ their customers. Not only do they make sure the product/service is meeting their needs, they make sure that their relationship with them is unshakeable by providing the best possible customer service. So, what does that look like?

Well, here’s what it’s not. It’s not keeping your customers waiting for information, it’s not being passed around multiple people, it’s not missing deadlines and only explaining after the event, it’s not when the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing, it’s not blaming other departments when things go wrong, it’s not incentivising new customers and taking the existing customers for granted, It’s not providing information only when it suits you.

Sounds straightforward, doesn’t it? Yet UK firms that aren’t getting customer service right are losing £234 billion a year.  So what gives? Why is it proving so hard?

First of all, the service you think your customers are experiencing and the reality can be two different things and it won’t be because you’re not trying. One of the first things we do with our own clients is look at their existing processes. Yes, we’re IT driven but every piece of software and every application have the potential to enable or disable your team’s best intentions.  So we ask questions like:

  • How do your processes look?
  • Are teams able to communicate effectively with one another?
  • How easy is it to access and share information between departments?
  • How quickly and effectively can a client’s query be answered?
  • How easily can you spot a pattern in complaints or in product issues before they happen?
  • How do your customers want to interact with you?
  • What are your customer satisfaction rates?
  • What areas do your customers need you to work on?
  • Every process you have should be removing the barriers that prevent all of these happening.

How would you answer all of these? At the end of this month, we’re holding a webinar to look into exactly how Dynamics365 removes the barriers to gold standard customer service.  Not that long ago, CRM was a means to collect and store data, identify your best customers and prospects, send customer communications and to look at buying patterns.  Dynamics 365 has responded to the new age of customer expectations and has changed the customer service rules significantly.

Find out more information by watching on our Dynamics 365 for Customer Services webinar.

4 min read

Marketing Wins: Keep Your Customers Coming Back with CRM


A new blog on how the right CRM customer experience can retain customers, not just attract them. Read more

1 min read

Adopt CRM: your customer engagement journey

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In order to keep one step ahead in the modern marketplace, companies must focus on maximising CRM customer engagement.
Read more

2 min read

Insurers ‘should focus on customer experience’

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A new report has highlighted how UK insurers should perhaps be paying a little more attention to how they approach customer experience, after it was revealed only 16 per cent of customers feel it had improved over the last 12 months.

The KPMG Customer Experience Barometer suggested personal interaction, embracing digital channels and considering a new way of thinking in terms of retail could be three ways to go about bolstering clients’ experience.

Such recommendations were made after it was revealed that e-retailers performed better in the index, with well over half (53 per cent) of clients having extremely positive things to say about their experience of this. Not to mention that better customer experience actually contributes to lower cost-per-acquisition.

UK head of insurance at KPMG Phil Smart explained how addressing customer experience was indeed a challenge for insurers, not least as the market is continually evolving. Furthermore, with so many different rivals competing for the same market space, it can be hard for one insurer to stand out from the crowd over another.

Nevertheless, he went on to say: “Commoditisation hasn’t held online retailers back and insurers have much to learn from this sector.” Global head of insurance at the organisation Gary Reader reiterated Mr Smart’s about the value of being flexible, adding that insurers would need to be able “to deliver a high-quality and differentiating customer experience”.

A reconsideration of the approach taken by insurers in the UK is arguably needed after the report showed the UK’s figure to be notably lower than those of other countries. For example, in China almost two-fifths (39 per cent) of insurance clients felt there had been an improvement in their experience of working with insurers.

What’s more, Association of British Insurers’ figures show the UK’s insurance market to be the largest in Europe and third largest in the world.

The full KPMG report was based on a survey of 5,000 customers from 160 general insurers, leading banks, life insurers, utilities and e-retailers in the UK, the US, Australia, China and Germany.

2 min read

UK insurers ‘should improve customer experience’

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Insurers need to improve their customer relationships in the UK market in a range of ways, a new report has indicated.

A study by KPMG has found that the general experience of British consumers is better than it was, but leaves much room for further enhancement – something online retailing may help achieve.

Its Customer Experience Barometer found only 16 percent of UK general insurance policyholders thought firms had improved in this area since last year, a figure that drops to 13 percent for life insurance. KPMG noted that most other countries have seen much more progress, with 39 percent of Chinese consumers happier with their service than 12 months ago.

The same pattern was apparent when it came to the overall level of experience, with only 34 percent of UK general insurance customers and 30 percent of life insurance policyholders rating this highly, again less than other countries.

KPMG said one way British insurers can improve is by increasing their focus on better personal interaction with customers, the use of digital channels and the adoption of a “retailing mentality”. It noted that those who retail online do best in the survey, with a 53 percent approval rating.

Global head of insurance at KPMG Gary Reader remarked: “The greatest opportunity for sustainable revenue growth does not come from new products or geographical expansion, but rather from their ability to deliver a high quality and differentiating customer experience.

“Those that get it right will not only capture a greater share of new customers, they will also be better placed to keep their customers and extend their existing relationships.”

CRM technology may help with this as it means companies can keep closer tabs on their customers and use the data available to offer better services more geared up to their needs.

The importance of providing a good customer experience was highlighted in the EY Global Consumer Insurance Survey 2012 report, titled Voice Of The Consumer.

It noted that insurance companies need to improve their quality of service, communicate better, be more transparent with their products and reward loyalty.

2 min read

Customer experience ‘must be multichannel’

The atomisation of the customer experience has placed an increased amount of pressure on marketers, who now need to concentrate on a variety of platforms through which to engage with buyers.

In both the B2B and B2C sectors, people expect firms to have a unified presence online, in bricks-and-mortar sites and over the phone.

And according to the Eptica Customer Experience Multichannel study, more needs to be done to meet consumer needs.

“In an increasingly digital world, the majority of customers are choosing channels such as the web, email, Twitter and chat to communicate, engage and interact with brands,” said the report.

Fundamentally, this means firms are dealing with many more interactions through a variety of touchpoints, making the process considerably more complex.

CRM software has developed over the last decade to address some of these issues, although having talented and flexible marketers with the digital savvy to cope with a number of platforms remains crucial.

But worryingly, 32% of companies were unable to answer more than half of the questions they were asked online in 2013, while customers couldn’t find a solution for roughly a third of their queries over the web.

Only 41% of businesses were able to reply to emails accurately, with eight out of ten sectors now providing an email response more slowly than in last year’s report.

Social media saw major growth over the course of 2013, but results in terms of customer satisfaction remained relatively patchy.

“When it comes to customer service, the power has moved from company to consumer. Driven by increased competition, social media and always-on channels such as mobile, customer expectations are continually rising,” added the report.

Failing to meet these heightened demands can lead to a major drop in brand reputation and even see companies lose revenue as consumers prefer to utilise their more engaged rivals.

2 min read

Is brand experience important to consumers?


It can be difficult to convince executives of the importance of brand experience, given that it is a relatively hard thing to quantify or calculate a clear return on investment for, which places marketers in a difficult position.

However, consumers are increasingly influenced by this type of marketing, which can shape how they look at a particular company or service.

This, in turn, can mean they recommend it to their friends – which can be crucial in an age when advertising is increasingly treated with caution by well-informed shoppers.

Brand experience doesn’t necessarily need to involve dramatic PR stunts or friendly shop assistants. It also incorporates contact points such as calls and emails, which is where CRM comes in.

Personalising your approach towards customers can have a big impact on how they view your service or product, helping develop your reputation within a particular sector or consumer segment.

John Viccars, senior strategist with RPM, recently argued that the scepticism toward the benefits of brand experience needs to be addressed.

“I think brand experience is still daunting because many marketers think in terms of immediate reach. Based on my X budget, I can ‘push’ a message to Y amount of people,” he explained, writing in the Guardian.

He urged industry experts to consider the potential benefits of ‘consumer influence’, which can allow a message or positive experience to spread exponentially without any further investment from the marketer.

“According to studies by McKinsey, experiential brand experience is the most powerful form of word of mouth, driving activity accounting for 50 to 80 percent in any given product category.

“Brand experience is inherently social, it’s built on ideas that people want to spend time with and that people want to share,” he added.

For firms that want to embrace this element of marketing, investing in a CRM programme could be wise – but they need to do it the right way.

2 min read

Consumers ‘underwhelmed by brand experience’


The first Customer Experience Index from Forrester specifically focused on the UK has found that many consumers are underwhelmed by their experience with brands, suggesting more focus needs to be placed on developing these relationships if companies are to form long-lasting bonds with people.

Just six brands, all retailers, achieved a score of 75 or higher (suggesting that the overall customer experience was ‘good’). None managed to get above 85, which would represent an ‘excellent’ rating from the respondent.

Amazon came out on top with a score of 81, followed by the likes of Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Debenhams, reports Marketing Week.

Joana van den Brink-Quintanilha, senior analyst of customer experience at Forrester, believes retail performed better than other sectors because Amazon has forced other companies in that industry to up their game if they wish to compete effectively.

Mobile telecoms and TV service providers came bottom of the survey, meaning they have a great deal to do when it comes to engaging with customers. CRM and other software can help with this, although in some cases the problems may be attitudinal rather than technological.

“Lots of companies are still in ‘repair’ mode, focusing on how to fix broken experiences. Companies that excel in customer experience have moved on and are looking at ways to innovate and differentiate to provide services that customers haven’t even thought of,” Ms  Brink-Quintanilha told the news provider.

Although marketing can play a crucial role in improving the consumer experience, it needs to be focused and relevant if it is to rise beyond being a nuisance to create engagement.

“When marketing is disconnected from the things that matter most to customers, they will continue to be frustrated because their basic needs haven’t been met,” concluded the expert.

With the economic squeeze making the fight for new consumers increasingly competitive, companies will need to step up to the plate when it comes to engagement of this kind over the coming years.

2 min read

Microsoft Dynamics ‘to develop customer experience’


Ahead of Microsoft’s annual Convergence conference, taking place in Atlanta, the company has reiterated its plans to develop its Dynamic CRM software and highlighted the advantages it can offer to organisations around the globe.

Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice-president of Microsoft Business Solutions, highlighted the success firms such as Delta Air Lines, New Belgium Brewery, Lotus F1 and others had in using CRM to connect with their customers.

“Microsoft Dynamics is on the cusp of delivering a staggering wave of innovation to the market this spring that will significantly help businesses deliver amazing experiences,” declared Mr Tatarinov.

The changes put forward by the tech giant include a new set of mobile applications intended to make it easier for companies to link up with their customers via smartphones and tablets, in what is expected to be a major trend over the coming years.

Furthermore, a new cloud deployment network is expected to make it easier to utilise outsourced data solutions, making CRM an even more powerful tool in the corporate marketing arsenal.

“Businesses need the best solutions to keep up with the transformative changes taking place around the world,” added Mr Tatarinov, pointing out that the world is becoming more connected than ever before.

Consumers have higher expectations – 70 per cent of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are being treated, while 70 per cent of people form their opinion on a service or product based on their first experience with its sales process.

“Greater connections, more access to information and more interactions with peer groups have resulted in people being more empowered and more enlightened,” declared the Microsoft vice-president.

Fundamentally, this means firms need to concentrate on utilising technology and data to engage with their customers as effectively as possible, whether in the b2b or b2c arena.

CRM technology is one step in this direction; however, Mr Tatarinov also suggested that firms need to change their culture and approach if they are to make the most of the possibilities offered by the software.