There are shared experiences throughout the world that share a universal lament regardless of language or country, and most recently, for me, that was car repair following a minor collision. Upon taking my car to my local dealer to check for damage, I was delivered the disappointing news that it was worse than it looked and that I needed to contact a local accident repair garage. So begins what I believe would be the nightmare of wrangling insurance companies, incessant waiting, securing a replacement rental vehicle, and working with the garage as the non-expert customer to finally receive a repaired car weeks later (if I was lucky).
But, to my surprise, it was a smooth experience—a phone call to the garage, and they guided me through the process. Next, a productive phone call with my insurance company led to a rental car delivered to my house. After receiving the replacement, my car was collected and taken for repairs, only to be returned a few weeks later, all fixed and shiny.
So, what was it that made an experience I was dreading into one I am happy to share? At the heart of it were three organizations with people caring about me as an individual, taking pride in their professionalism, and understanding that their objective was to keep me mobile and repair my vehicle.
Now, behind the scenes, there’s a process and infrastructure that supports this repair service. The insurance company and car rental company are established partners with enterprise systems for booking and sharing information. The accident repair garages are similarly connected with insurance companies to approve repair estimates and settle invoices. But each of these transactional processes is enabled by CRMs that support the staff and their customer interactions. The moral? Whatever back-office systems or processes may be in place, businesses need to invest in their people to deliver a personalized, human experience—one that shows empathy and understanding.
My car repair experience is no different than the experience of customers who interact with your organization. Customers crave personalized experiences and to feel that human connection with companies that they interact with all of which feeds into their experience with your company. Customers come to your organization to meet a need and you need the systems in place to handle the processes while you handle the relationship.
Behind the Curtain: Traditional CRM isn’t Working
Processes are part of how we optimize the way we do business and CRM makes that possible at scale. By automating processes and simplifying the customer journey, companies are readily able to dedicate more time to customers. While CRM stands for customer relationship management, I want to clarify that it is not a substitute for actual customer relationships that businesses have with their customers. CRM data holds the keys to customer information, but it does not replace the need for active relationship building within the customer base.
Instead of enabling customer experience, CRM has often proven a stumbling block as companies become so ingrained into the technology that they forget why they put it there—to make things easier for staff and customers. The question is, where did that breakdown occur?
Ask five different people what CRM is, and you’ll receive just as many answers. The purpose of CRM has been lost to businesses today and weighed down with over-analyzing customer data rather than enabling great experiences, businesses feel remote, systematic, and unrelatable to customers everywhere regardless of whether they serve other organizations or consumers. CRM which sought to help build relationships and keep vital information instead becomes a point of friction to sales with 53% citing it as a burden. In the current state, the majority of CRM systems miss the mark on building relationships and inhibit positive customer experiences.
Cost of Poor CRM for Customer Experience
To put it simply, most CRMs end up costing companies instead of helping them. When companies fail to provide outstanding customer experiences, churn occurs at a staggering cost.
The causes of customer churn are multiple but, in most cases, it comes down to a lack of relationship and visibility. There could be numerous entries within your CRM that talk about the customer, every business statistic, every contact, and potential details about the account but it’s not a substitute for the relationship that companies have with their customers.
Customer churn costs each mid-market company an average of $5.5 million per year, eating into the profit margin and driving up pressure on sales leaders to make up for that lost revenue. Without the correct data, sales cannot provide an experience tailored to their customer, leaving them feeling unsupported and unimportant in the sale.
It’s that gap that leads to the gulf within customer experience and causes customers to leave for competitors. When a customer’s experience is good, customers are more likely to stay longer, spend money and make positive recommendations, but when it’s poor, it only takes a single bad experience for customers to leave and to tell others all about it.
Fixing Customer Experience with Visibility and the Human Touch
To enable better customer experiences, the entire organization needs better visibility across the whole customer picture. This not only enables sales to build better relationships but helps marketing to tailor the right messages and customer service to have historical knowledge that builds trust.
The lack of a holistic view of customers prevents organizations from building relationships, and there is a significant shift needed to create superior customer experiences. How? It goes back to what I experienced having my car fixed following that accident—effortless and smooth experiences, backed by technology and process but guided by human interaction. No matter the market, people are at the heart of business, and that must be the approach that organizations take when it comes to customer experiences. CRM should enable customer experiences by existing in the background to support relationships rather than inhibiting them. To improve customer experience, the status quo must change to enable relationships backed by technology that just works.