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Call Centers 2.0 is focused on business software solutions serving call centers and contact centers, including Help Desk applications, Customer Service Systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and Social CRM systems. This website includes market research, expert insight, peer advice and independent business software reviews and comparisons.



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Customer Service Receives New Attention in Down Economy

Customer Service Elevated in the CRM Equation

Bill Band of Forrester Research published a survey of 99 client companies in order to understand some performance metrics which might aid CRM projects. One research statistic that stood out to me was that customer service has pulled even with sales force automation (SFA) as the most frequently used module of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software systems.

Customer service and support came in at 67%, versus sales force automation at 66%. Three years ago, customer service would have trailed by a hefty double digit margin, but now that the economy is forcing companies to look at their existing customer relationships differently, and customer service has the stepped up go to market strategy – CRM software systems appear to be more decentralized and satisfying more customer facing staff.

There's no question that sales people and sales force automation systems have been the primary drivers for new CRM investment in the past. Unfortunately, many of those business software investments came with a traditional, IT-style fix-our-problems point of view - we need to make sales more efficient, so let's slap CRM software into place and that should fix everything that ails us. But prioritizing sales processes over all others also created a customer information silo; service, marketing, loyalty activities and accounting staff all directly impact sales, but many sales managers found it easier to imagine that sales somehow owned that data and operated in a vacuum. That failure to flex the business thinking is at the heart of a lot of perceived CRM implementation failures.

But with the global economy sluggish and new customers harder to acquire, service – a key component for retaining customers – has bubbled up to the top of strategy and CRM software (or at least into an equal position sales). This is a positive sign and something that customer focused businesses will keep in place after the economy finally stabilizes. Poor customer service can take all your CRM efforts and destroy them like a flash in a pan. Increased efficiency in sales should help you gain in total number of prospects and revenues, not simply keep pace with churn caused by bad service.

Another survey statistic that was a little surprising was that 35% of those participants polled were using the customer analytics module of their CRM applications. Whether that indicates that users still haven't grasped the value of analytics, or that there are deficiencies in analytics within the CRM products that are causing those polled to use other business intelligence (BI) tools, is unclear. But business and customer analytics are going to be key to managing all the information contained in the CRM – including sales, marketing, service and customer loyalty – in a coherent way. Customer analytics will be the real silo-buster of management information, but only when businesses realize it.


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