Customer experience is an increasingly important task for any business, especially in retail banking. The sector is still working to repair its reputation in the wake of the financial crisis. New technology increases the avenues of engagement and customers are becoming more connected, more demanding and less forgiving. With new players entering the market, they are also faced with more choice. Banks need to place customer experience at the front and center of their operations to make sure their customers remain their customers, as well as to protect a reputation which can quickly become fragile, especially when exposed to online communities.
In this whitepaper, Imad Alabed, Aptean’s Senior Director of Pivotal CRM and Knova, discusses how the right Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can be used to drive a better customer experience and maximize customer ROI. In this challenging and uncertain future, those institutions which adapt most successfully will have an edge.
The prediction business is a tricky business. It is a challenge to separate the signal from the noise when you are looking at the trends that are shaping the market. For me, this challenge is compounded by the rapid pace of innovation in both the core Customer Relationship Management (CRM) space and the adjacent technologies that influence the core.
If we quickly look back to 2016, the continued investments in mobility and social integration have created a wealth of new, rich data and opened the floodgates with regards to interaction channels that are available to customers. There has also been continued investment in analytics with a real focus on turning insights into actions. The evolution of these areas has created a springboard effect in the trends for 2017.
The first trend that I see shaping the CRM landscape in 2017 is personalization. Our workforce is continuing to evolve into an incredibly diverse, multi-generational, multi-cultural body. The way that people interact with CRM solutions varies wildly depending on background, experience, and expectations. The concept of “off the shelf” or “out of the box” has been fully obviated. The coming year will see a demand for CRM solutions to enable deep personalization across four key levels:
Effective personalization drives a sense of ownership at all levels, and that ownership translates to adoption, utilization and achievement of the true CRM value proposition.
The second trend that will dominate CRM in 2017 is simplification. CRM solutions have become part of a standard technology ecosystem over the past several years. Over time, the solution is modified, extended, and enhanced based upon the changes required by evolving business needs. However, these modifications tend to be additive in nature. The continual cycle of additive changes creates overly complex data models, confusing screens, and complicated processes. Organizations with CRM implementations that are over 3 years old should take the time to do a deep review of all aspects of their system with a focus on the following questions:
There are two very specific benefits that a simplification project will provide. First, simplification leads to higher adoption and lower costs of ownership. Simpler solutions are more approachable and easier to embed in a user’s day to day life. In addition, simpler solutions reduce overall training (and retraining) demands as well as reduction in overall user support costs.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, a simplification project paves the way to both predictive and prescriptive analytics. The effectiveness of machine learning and advanced analytics is fully predicated on the quality and consistency of the data that is provided to the algorithms. The adage of “garbage in, garbage out” is fully realized in the world of advanced analytics. Organizations that focus on simplicity will create cleaner, more focused data sets to teach the modeling algorithms, thus deriving better output. Over time, additional data can and should be added to the models, but it is best to start simpler.
The final trend in 2017 that bears some focus is delivering CRM though alternative user experiences. By now, mobility is a given. It is incredibly common to walk into any coffee shop in the world and see people on their smartphones, their tablets, or their laptops interacting with CRM solutions. The innovation that will come to the forefront in 2017 is leveraging voice and chat driven interactions with CRM tools. The recent evolution of natural language interaction in the consumer space through tools like Alexa, Siri, and OK, Google, has created an opportunity for users to interact with CRM solutions in the same manner. From simple use cases, like searching and retrieving information, to more sophisticated scenarios, such as dictating meeting notes or updating records, voice based interactions will change the way people interact with CRM technology.
Similarly, there has been rapid innovation in artificial conversational entities, more commonly known as ChatBots. These bots allow for deep interactions with CRM systems through non-traditional interfaces like Skype from Microsoft. Like voice based use cases, ChatBots enable both simple search and retrieval functions, as well as deeper navigational and data manipulation opportunities.
The value proposition for these alternative user experience models is that there is absolutely no learning curve for a user to be efficient and effective while interactive with a CRM system. The ability to frame questions and drive actions using speech or plain text prompts will drive significant reductions in total cost of ownership. Additionally, these new modes will decrease the informational time lag that is inherent in most CRM systems today. Access to real time user updates will allow organizations to react more quickly to opportunities and challenges in the market.
In conclusion, 2017 will be a transformative year for the CRM space. Advanced technologies like machine learning and natural language processing are opening the door for an explosion of new capabilities for the CRM market. However, organizations need to take the time to thoughtfully prepare for the adoption of these technologies. This year, companies need to take the time to re-think their overall CRM goals and drive simplification efforts through their solutions. Once the solution has been rationalized and simplified, the road forward to enable personalization and alternative user experiences will be much clearer.
As consumers continue to change the way they engage via social media, businesses must also adjust their approach to their customers. The use of private social networks like Everyme and Yammer, as well as messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, are on the rise. The messaging apps combined have almost 3 billion users, while the social networks count 2.3 billion users. Consumers are moving between private and social channels and engaging in multiple modes of communication. As a result, businesses are looking at how to engage within dark social, the social sharing that occurs outside web analytics. Chatbots are the future of interaction within these private channels.
Chatbots are a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) capable of interfacing with both humans and other technology. These programs go beyond interactive voice response (IVR) systems to give companies more flexibility in the way they answer customer questions and increase the percentage of questions they are equipped to handle. They will be able to quickly understand the contextual request or problem rather than forcing the customer through a series of selection menus to understand the problem. They are quick to access and available from desktop and mobile devices. Rather than force users to stop what they’re doing and open another application, chatbots allow companies to inject themselves into the places where people are already communicating.
As organizations look to enhance their relationships with customers, the ubiquitous Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system must evolve to meet the demands of both the customer and the CRM user. The software must move from an internally focused information warehouse to an externally driven engagement tool, designed to build relationships based on what is important to both customers and users.
Bots and Your Customers
Consumers are moving away from the browsers and apps to chat platforms for simplicity and convenience. Market research has found that 62% of people who downloaded messaging apps were still using them 12 months later, compared to just 11% of users of other apps, and daily sessions within messaging apps are almost five times greater than all other apps. Over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed, and that number is expected to reach 3.6 billion within a few years.
Gartner predicts that by 2019 requests for customer support through consumer mobile messaging apps will exceed requests for support through traditional social media. Since chatbots are not downloaded, they should provide a smooth experience for consumers. Rather than searching a website, consumers would engage the chatbot within their preferred messenger app. Content delivered via a chatbot would also be more relevant to the consumer. With social media integration, chatbots have a rich data source to understand user habits around when they check their device, what their interests are, and what event are scheduled, so bots can deliver updates, information, and recommendations that encourage engagement.
Chatbots could become the first interaction a consumer has with a business. For example, a customer utilizes a chatbot to check on their account balance and transfers funds from one account to another. In return, the bot might suggest that you set up an automatic transfer based on your past history of transferring similar amounts around the same time each month. The next interaction might be an inquiry about the current mortgage rates and the loan process. From there, the conversation thread would be transferred to a loan officer, to offer more in-depth information about credit qualifications and completing the loan application. At each step of the process, the conversation threads would be recorded in the CRM system, allowing greater insight into the customer.
Bots and Your Employees
Chatbots also have the potential to serve as a virtual personal assistant for the employee. A chatbot is a perfect tool to help develop the 360° view of the customer. Chatbots can be integrated into a company’s own enterprise chat application, connecting and gathering information from across company-wide applications like CRM systems, Support Ticket systems, or even ERP systems. Such an integrated bot will give you all you need with just a few typed commands. Chatbots have the potential to resolve the data leakage issue in CRM. Garbage In/Garbage Out, as it relates to data, becomes less significant due to automation and smart AI. Potential results include increased customer retention and more accurate revenue forecasts. Chatbots add to the mobile experience as well. The information exchange becomes easier and more productive if you can access data within one mobile app.
Continuing the banking example, a chatbot within the CRM would provide the loan officer with the number of applications currently in underwriting, along with the list of priority tasks for that day. Rather than launching the CRM software, the service representative could tell the chatbot to attach the conversation to the customer record, which saves time. As machine learning continues, bots will enable the user to take action directly by presenting pertinent workflow scripts. For example, when a quarterly update on a key customer relationship is required by the executive team, a bot can present the user with a link to launch a workflow enabling a quick, efficient update script. Such an engaging experience surpasses the current “login – search – retrieve – act” paradigm of today’s enterprise solutions.
Customers want organizations to react to their needs more quickly; to be able to maintain those speeds as the organization grows; to have someone engage with them when they need to connect with the organization; and to have experiences that are tailored to their needs. CRM users expect the same from their systems. While computing tools such as the AI chatbot can automate some job responsibilities, the technology won’t be a replacement for most employees as it isn’t equipped to handle complex tasks. People and smart machines work better together. Chatbots have the potential to allow an organization to increase revenue, streamline internal processes, and improve data exchange across departments.
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 the situation.
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 initiate workflows.
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.
The Altro Group business structure consists of two divisions: Altro, a leading provider of premium flooring and wall cladding systems for construction and transport; and Autoglym, which designs and supplies a range of premium car care products such as waxes, shampoos and alloy cleaners. Over 700 employees work within the Altro Group, which is headquartered in Letchworth, Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.
Since 2002, Altro has been using the Aptean Pivotal CRM system as a means of keeping its databases organized and allowing for maximum efficiency across the company. In May 2015, Autoglym decided to invest in a CRM system as a means of improving operational efficiency. In line with an organization-wide strategy to implement more technologies into work processes, Aptean Pivotal was specified as the solution to help with automation and coordination within Autoglym’s marketing, sales and customer care channels.
“Together with Aptean, we have open and candid conversations that have led to trusted communications. This, combined with the familiarity and confidence in the product itself, made it a natural choice for Autoglym and is what has made me into a Pivotal and Aptean advocate,” said Suzanne Symonds, CRM Analyst at Altro.
To learn more about how Autoglym aims to capitalize on the success that Altro has already experienced with Pivotal, click here to read the full case study.
Image what would have happened if we had all been treated like adults from birth. No assistance or guidance- just expectations that are challenging to meet. We wouldn't have gotten very far, and others may have been disappointed by our lack of progress. The technology and processes we use day to day, such as our CRM programs, need the same care and attention to flourish, just as we did in our own infancy, so they can provide the best experience possible for users, customers and the company overall.
The Infancy Stage
At the very start of its life, a brand new CRM system and program will inspire energy and enthusiasm for a bright future- something really exciting has arrived. Naturally, it will need lots of attention as it is introduced. Positive encouragement will help with user adoption, and regular check-ups around data quality, compliance and usage make sure it is developing in the right direction into a healthy system. During the infancy stage, the basics of the system will be mastered- and a few late night feedings and hiccups are to be expected along the way.
The Adolescent Stage
Now that the program has been established, and users have mastered a core set of skills, it is time to start school and introduce some challenges. They absolutely shouldn't be adult-sized challenges; they have to be appropriate for the development of the program. We wouldn't ask a group of school children to read War and Peace before mastering the ABCs. This is the right time to start evolving processes to the next level of complexity in terms of steps, tasks and requirements, and asking the system to provide insight back to the business to see what has been learned.
Management should lead by example and show how CRM can be used to run the business, giving users a role model by standing at the front of the class.
Now that it has reached adolescence, the program has already been built into the culture of the organization, but there can be a danger of complacency now that everything is up, running and working for the company. it is really key that leaders, especially the executive owners of a CRM program, keep setting the homework, and the users keep turning it in.
The Teenage Years
Often known as the most rebellious years, this is when an organization needs to start showing the business value and impact of the CRM program. If the users and customers see no value, they will start questioning why they are still using the system, and whether the investment has been worth it.
Teenagers don't like to be force fed; they want to be able to challenge the system. If their bike no longer needs training wheels, despite them being there from the beginning, take them off. If a process that was introduced in the CRM program's infancy stage is no longer an efficient one, it needs changing.
This is the stage in a CRM program's life when it could become disillusioning. The glitz and glamour of a new arrival has worn off, and the daily grind has set in. The executive owners need to show they are just as invigorated and energized as the first time they saw the program, providing focus and investment, and securing user buy-in, thus allowing the program to keep moving onward and upwards.
Now that the program has reached adulthood, it's time to expand. The changes and developments in this stage will be much less radical, but will have just as much impact. They can be made according to taste and preference; for example, if you start out with a sales automation program, this is the stage at which to bring in marketing automation that would provide richer visibility of prospect relationships. And just because the program has developed into a well-adjusted, popular member of the organization doesn't mean that expansion and growth have to stop. Your industry and customers are constantly evolving, and your CRM program should evolve in sync.
How will you know when it's ready?
Just like all children, adolescents, teenagers and adults, CRM programs will develop at different times. There is certainly no set time frame as to when your program should fall into one of the above stages. The time it takes to progress and evolve will depend on how you as a business implement the changes, as well as managing the processes, technology and people along with it. It will also be based on your customer ecosystem and the speed of your industry.
There could also be a danger of rushing your CRM program to evolve before it, and its users, are ready. We wouldn't give children sharp utensils to eat with when they are very small; the same way we wouldn't equip CRM users with tools that are too advanced for the stage are at. On the other hand, the program should not be stifled when it is ready to move on. Wrapping it in cotton wool in its infancy may preserve the existing functionality, but it will be left far behind as competitors and other aspects of the business get their driving permits and aim for the horizon.
Determine Your Stage and Take Action
In order to find out what stage organizations are at regarding their CRM program, they need to go through a critical self-evaluation. Three elements that need to be considered are:
Challenging and evaluating a CRM program across the three elements above, along with the four growth stages, will help to highlight any gaps, such as the users are at their rebellious teenage stage, but the system is still in its infancy. The first goal is to make sure everyone is on the same page before taking steps forward, and then to have a clear road map to advance and evolve the entire program with all elements in sync.
Expecting a CRM program to have intelligent and well-established processes right from day one is a set-up for a disaster. Making sure it's nurtured and well cared for as it grows with your company will make sure it provides everyone from executive owners, through users, to customers with the experience and service they expect and deserve.
Remember “back in the day” when we actually knew dates and phone numbers by heart, read a physical map for directions or even stopped and paid a quarter to use the payphone. Thanks to digital disruption – a term coined by Forrester Research, all of this information is now at our fingertips. The phrase “back in the day” seems irrelevant because we are living fast and in the moment, always one step ahead. Technology can help us to make smarter, timelier decisions.
However, sometimes our fast-paced, digitally advanced lifestyles can create quite a bit of noise and distraction. The distraction takes away from our attention span and before we know it, we’re subconsciously moving on to the next step before even finishing the last one. As a consumer, we know we do this. As a seller on the other hand, we need to think about slowing down. That doesn’t mean get rid of distracting technology. It means understand how to use technology to your advantage with your target demographic and get back to the basics with your customers. It means ensuring that the customer experience is consistent and fluent across customer touch points. How do you get attention and attract people to your community and/or your website? Once they’re there, how do you keep them interested? You may have the tools, but consistency is the key.
Identify your customer touch points
It is critical to recognize your customer touch points by tracking your customer journey and determining the key touch points where customers connect with your brand. While there’s no one-size-fits-all list of touch points, it’s important to include points across all channels. Here is a set of examples for home builders:
|Before Purchase||During Purchase||After Purchase|
|Word of mouth||Open house opportunities||Service calls|
|Community involvement||Promotions||Follow ups|
|Advertising/Marketing/PR||Phone/Email interaction||Handwritten thank you notes|
Identifying key customer touch points and staying consistent each time provides a user experience that your buyers can appreciate. To identify the touch points that make sense for your brand, take a second to step out of your role and into the customer’s shoes. When you walk yourself through the customer’s journey and understand the total customer lifecycle – attract, sell, service - all the pieces should become pretty clear.
The easy customization capabilities of a modern CRM system can be a blessing and a curse. As simple as it is to tailor the software to a company’s unique sales process, it’s equally easy to pollute the database with data fields and expect sales reps to capture everything from a customer’s dog’s name to his favorite college football team. Once you throw in the fields that marketing and customer service organizations want to track as well, you’ll end up inundating your sales reps with a data entry nightmare they’re sure to avoid. Instead, follow these simple guidelines and let your salespeople get back to what’s most important – selling.
Understand what you want the end customer experience to be
Each brand has a different target audience and offers a different customer experience. Maybe you’re selling a quite home in a retirement community or showing a five bedroom, three bath family home in the suburbs. Maybe you’re selling a studio loft in the heart of the city. Each market requires a different experience. They key is consistency –
Gartner analyst, Brian Prentice’s report Applying Digital humanism to Customer Experience Design, published May 12, 2015 suggests that “chances are that the customer would share more information with the employee than the organization as a whole. The opportunity for an organization is to apply digital workplace strategies to empower its staff to create connections with its customers that are impossible without meaningful connections existing between people.”
Finally, please take a minute to slow down
It’s no longer “back in the day”, it’s the twenty-first century and digital disruptions aren’t going anywhere. Don’t fight against technology to stand out, work with it instead. Use technology to understand the customer life-cycle but add in a few simple, personal touches along the way, like a quick follow-up phone call rather than a standard email or maybe even a handwritten thank you note. It may be important to know the name of your customer’s dog or their favorite college football team but I would argue that it is more important to create separation from the noise by differentiating yourself. It’s important is to slow down and know what will give your customer an experience that will not only encourage them to spread the word, but will also have them coming back.
 Help your buyer find their dream home with a tailored customer experience| Residential Pros, Matt Keenan, Feb 9, 2015
2016 CRM PREDICTIONS, AS PUBLISHED IN CRM MAGAZINE -
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions are entrenched standards in today’s modern, enterprise ecosystem. Organizations and users have come to expect that their CRM system is a core part of day to day responsibilities and in many cases serve as a key system of truth regarding a wide variety of business metrics. Unfortunately, the value, impact, and accuracy of the CRM system comes into question as employees compare their experience with their CRM system with technologies that they use on a daily basis in their personal lives.
With that challenge as the backdrop, we look to the top trends emerging in 2016 to answer the challenge. Trend predictions are useful to investigate as you look ahead to how your organization should operate in the upcoming years. What to do with these predictions in 2016 will be the key to your organization’s success this year and every year in the foreseeable future.
CRM solutions will be forced to become more intuitive as users demand an interface that includes best-practice usability from the current market leading consumer websites, thus eliminating the need for lengthy training to learn how to use the system. Users no longer need a training course or extensive manual to complete an online purchase, book a flight, etc. Instead, the user will be able to perform these simple tasks easily within their system. Designing CRM solutions with an experience that empowers the user is an important shift toward the increased adoptability of CRM solutions.
MEASURES OF PERSONAL VALUE
Simply collecting a vast array of numerical data from a CRM solution won’t make businesses smarter or salespeople more productive. CRM ROI will no longer be viewed primarily on the organizational level as the “Age of the User” is now in full effect. The user will determine the true value of the CRM solution based on their individual productivity gains and insight it brings to their job each day. Successful CRM solutions will be measured by the personal value they bring to the user first and the value they bring to the organization second.
MICRO-MOMENTS OF PRODUCTIVITY
In the digital age of things, relationships between machines and people are becoming increasingly competitive. Smart machines (i.e. smartphones, tablets, etc.) are acquiring the capabilities to perform more and more daily activities at a fast pace. The best CRM solutions will become integrated into the daily work life of a user, almost taking on more of a co-worker role rather than just added technology, allowing the user to access and input information whenever and wherever. In this mobile and hyper connected world, the user expects to have quick and seamless access to CRM data and analytics whether from their smartphone, tablet or desktop. The top CRM systems will deliver micro-moments of productivity and insight at the user’s point of access, enabling them to move at an extraordinary velocity. Adapting to the fast-paced user environment is critical to being proactive and making impactful business decisions.
With significant changes in the user’s personal adaptation of their CRM solution, there won’t be much rest in the year ahead for CRM professionals. Instead rather, there will be a fresh crop of new opportunities to consider. Keeping user experience, personal value of the solution, and the pace in which the digital age contributes to in mind will keep CRM professionals at the forefront in 2016.