Rebecca Bradley, Director of Marketing discusses extending self service.
Employee and customer self-service has taken centre stage in recent years as organisations have looked at ways to drive down costs without compromising the quality of experience. The results have been mixed – from the loathed self-scanning at supermarkets to highly efficient online facilities that enable self-service access to key services out of hours.
Done well, self-service delivers quantifiable benefits to business and customer alike. From enabling employees to update HR details to providing customers with the ability to log problems online, even access credit information and order history, 24×7 self-service can be convenient for the user and offers the business the chance to significantly reduce costs by streamlining administration.
Good self-service is all about the experience. And the best way to enable that experience is to combine good processes with excellent information. For example, by integrating web self-service with CRM, organisations can automatically capture any information when a customer or prospect registers an interest on the web site. This enables the business to respond via marketing messages or use CRM’s case management functionality and workflow to deliver a rapid, controlled response to customer problems. Effectively the customer is now a user of the CRM system – they can input data, see data and manipulate data.
So how else could this self-service use of CRM be exploited to deliver a better customer experience? For any organisation that relies on customers providing information to instigate the interaction, self-service offers significant opportunities to streamline processes, reduce costs and improve the quality of service.
For example, most organisations that require some kind of application form – for investment services or grants, for example – have long, manual, paper based processes. Customers fill in the paper based form which is then sent to the organisation; the information is retrieved from the form and manually entered in the requisite system. This process is time consuming, demands a great deal of customer commitment to address data inconsistency.
In contrast the self-service model is far more efficient. The customer completes the application forms online and the information is automatically dropped into the CRM, triggering a workflow. Data quality issues can be addressed by offering customers drop down menu selections, while any free text input is automatically flagged for proofing as part of the CRM workflow before the application is progressed to the next stage. At every stage the application has the correct information and is approved, before moving onto the next stage.
Self-service clearly reduces the time taken to handle applications. Done well it improves the quality of information and transforms the customer experience. Even better, by using a CRM system to manage this process the organisation creates a full history of every customer interaction. This provides the required accountability and tracking, as well as enabling the business to analyse the application process and flag up any areas enduring unacceptable delay – and transform management reporting. With the right approach self-service can do far more than simply cutting costs.
You can contact Rebecca at Rebecca.Bradley@cpio.co.uk
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