Businesses are continuously looking for new strategies and
supporting technologies to proactively respond to today’s digitally savvy, empowered
customers. Customers know they have more
choices when it comes to where they spend their money, and they are demanding a
richer experience in return. Customer
Relationship Management (CRM) systems are the hub of a company’s interactions
with customers, as well as with CRM users.
The end goal of any CRM is to provide a well-developed customer profile
and derive actionable insight from available data. This goal must be achieved
in the most efficient manner. As enterprise
software continues to develop, the needs of the user must also be addressed and
our business systems must elevate their game.
Not only should intelligent process look for ways to improve customer
experience, but user interfaces must adapt to improve productivity.
“How well do we know you?”
Intelligent CRM begins with data; however, users can no
longer be expected to spend hours manually updating records. Integrating software across the enterprise
provides the basis of a robust customer profile. Rudimentary demographic facts such as
location, income level, education level, and marital status are combined with
order history and service tickets to form the foundation. Big data gleaned from social media services,
online activity, and information from customers with similar backgrounds provides
a treasure trove of additional facts that can improve the customer experience. The Internet of Things (IoT) adds another
layer of data. It is estimated that
anywhere from 26 to 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by
2020. For example, information from
sensor devices in a car can be collected by the insurance carrier, so that
rates are based on actual driving habits.
Knowing the customers’ social media habits, as well as their
demographics, provides deeper understanding into what that customer truly wants
from their interaction with your organization.
An engaged customer would share his experience with his social media
network; a less satisfied customer would browse competitor sites. All of these mechanisms provide millions of
data points to be compiled. The
challenge is sifting through the noise and pulling together complementary notes
to create a symphony. Based on the
wealth of information available, Intelligent CRM should be able to segment a
company’s client base, not only by the number of products purchased, but also
by the number of positive reviews shared online. The system will be able to prioritize,
categorize and route so that action can be taken on that insight.
As an organization learns more about its customers, the same
methodology should be applied to the users of its CRM system. Rather than pulling a variety of daily and
weekly reports to decide on the next action item, Intelligent CRM will push the
relevant information to the appropriate user as it happens so actions can be
taken to enhance the customer experience in a timely fashion. For example, knowing the teenager will graduating
from high school soon should prompt the system to send information qualified
expenses for the 529 plan and tips for avoiding potential penalties. If a high net-worth client calls the service center
about withdrawal fees, the system would immediately alert the advisor to reach
out to the customer. Noticing the
customer has also recently searched realtor sites would prompt the advisor to recommend
which account to tap for the down payment on that vacation home.
“How do we communicate with you?”
Intelligent CRM will also tailor the interaction for both the
customer and the user. Part of a
well-developed customer profile must include the preferred channels of
communication. The system should be able
to predict the best course of action, as well as the level of response
required. In addition, the intelligent
CRM system should respond in accordance with the time based expectations of the
preferred channel. Customers expect faster, more immediate acknowledgement from
the company when leveraging social channels. An anticipated service issue would
warrant an email outlining the next suggested steps, while a potential
grievance demands a phone call to determine the root cause and ways to remedy
User interactions should also be tailored. Future systems should not require logging
into the enterprise system to address customer concerns. Alerts should be sent in real-time via the
user’s method of delivery. The levels of
notifications could also be preset, based on roles, service levels, and other
factors. These subscriptions would
provide targeted information to the right person at the right time, avoiding
potential “alert fatigue.” Another
valuable mechanism would be the ability to interface with the CRM system
through those notifications. Shortcuts
embedded in the alerts would enable the user to provide updates, add notes, or
CRM software is about connections, cultivating the
relationship between the customer and company.
The goal is to manage the journey for both the customer and the user so that
the company can deliver consistent experiences based on that accurate,
real-time information. Intelligent CRM
ultimately becomes a virtual assistant that supports daily activities, helps
manage interactions, and drives revenue and growth.
Seven rules have been issued under
the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and the compliance dates for the
Preventive Controls for Human Food guideline has passed. FSMA requires that a written record be kept
of the entire Hazard Analysis and Risk-based Preventive Controls (HARPC)
plan. These records must be maintained
for no less than two years, and evaluated whenever there is a significant
change at the facility that might increase a known hazard or introduce a new
one, or every three years if no significant changes occur.
Most companies have identified what
needs to be done in order to comply, but for many the challenge of documenting
those efforts remains. Typically there
is no consistent format or approach for records maintenance, and too often key
information on the same topic or issue is different at different
locations. Information should be easily
accessible and usable across the organization to identify trends and to remind
to follow up on corrective actions and/or audits.
Three key points are the focus for
FSMA documentation: the supplier, the
facility, and the shipper.
Know who you’re buying from
For most food manufacturers, in-depth
knowledge of suppliers is crucial to ensure the quality of the product; now it
is also a critical step of your HARPC plan.
You must document not only the hazard your supplier is responsible for
controlling, but also the action they have taken to prevent or control that
issue. For example, an ice cream company
would want to ensure that the peanut butter entering their facility is not
contaminated with salmonella. Working
with certified suppliers would provide assurance that the ingredients meet
quality and safety standards. Certificates
of analysis from the supplier offer one form of documentation that the product
is within limits; in-house testing prior to use would verify those findings. Annual audits would also be necessary to
evaluate the supplier’s effectiveness in controlling the hazard.
“Trust, but verify” is the mantra
for this stage of documentation. A
thorough, written program that details your verification process is necessary
to meet FSMA requirements. There is
still time to ensure compliance; the supplier verification requirements take
effect March 2017. A fully integrated
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system would track supplier audits and link
the documentation to supplier records.
Proactive controls within an alert management system would prevent
ingredients from advancing to the manufacturing floor until acceptable test
results had been received. When you are
fully aware of your suppliers and their capabilities, you can better execute
when there is a quality or safety issue.
Many businesses already have
preventive controls programs in place; however the challenge now becomes validating
and documenting those processes and procedures.
Some businesses may have been following Hazard Analysis and Critical
Control Points (HACCP) guidelines, but may not have adequate documentation to
prove it. Companies with GFSI
certifications tend to have more complete documentation, but the format can
vary from sophisticated technology to manual logs. Continuing with our example of the ice cream
company, sanitation records would be necessary to prove the processing
environment would not allow listeria to contaminate the finished product. Listeria is found is soil and water, and
can be introduced into a manufacturing facility a number of ways. Floor drains are common sites of
contamination as they can be neglected by cleaning staff. Once introduced into a cold environment, it
can be difficult to contain, partly because the bacteria grows well at
refrigerator temperatures, as low as 40°F.
A thorough cleaning and sanitation program is required to keep listeria
out of the processing environment. Tests
should be run on the finished product to ensure there has been no microbial
contamination. A shipping hold would
prevent the product from being distributed prior to receipt of clean test results. Shipping documentation must be maintained
that would reflect such a hold.
“If it’s not documented, it didn’t
happen” is the call to action at this phase.
A written analysis of both the identifications of the hazards and the
controls to prevent or minimize the issue is required. Verification steps must also be designed and
implemented to ensure the HARPC plans are operating correctly. A manufacturing execution system (MES) can
record quality assurance tests, as well as cleaning and maintenance protocols,
while the alert management system can warn when control checks have not
occurred or when conditions are out of tolerance so that immediate action can
be taken. A detailed record of the full
scope of the plan, including the process, the proof, and the problem, must be
Know who you’re shipping with
The third area of documentation is
for shipment of the finished product. The
Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food rule requires that entities
engaged in the shipping of food and food ingredients ensure that contamination
and adulteration are avoided en route. In
order to ensure the quality of the product, the ice cream company in our
example would want to verify that temperatures are maintained throughout
shipment. In addition, a properly
maintained transport is necessary to prevent cross-contamination.
“Ignorance is not bliss” resonates for this
point. Many food manufacturers already
follow most of the requirements of the Sanitary Transportation rule; the focus going
forward will be on documentation, training, and validation systems. As with supplier verification, it is your
responsibility to document that you provided the shipper with detailed specifications
for transport, such as temperature and cross-contamination controls. All written procedures, agreements, and
training programs must be maintained for a year after use. While the compliance date for this rule is
April 2017, these preventive controls should be put in place as soon as
FSMA states that documentation must
be accurate, detailed, and legible; it must be created at the same time as the
activity being recorded; and it must be provided within 24 hours of the request
for review. An integrated ERP system
serving as a single source of truth for the company satisfies all of these
provisions, gathering documentation from an MES and an alert management solution. A robust ERP will give a food manufacturer
visibility and management of materials, quality, scheduling, and inventory
management in order to track specific orders.
At each step in the process, if a food safety risk is uncovered,
immediate action must be taken to recall the affected product. The traceability feature of ERP allows the
company to track a single ingredient or lot of finished product back to the
supplier, through the inbound carrier, and forward to the outbound carrier and
ultimately the distributor.
The FDA has stated their philosophy
is to “educate before and while they regulate.”
In keeping with this mindset, expect continuous improvement as these
regulations continue to evolve. Implementing
FSMA documentation provides an opportunity to encourage greater collaboration,
instill a broader business perspective, and build stronger relationships that
improve productivity and ensure food safety.