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A CRM strategy should prioritise employee engagement and the customer experience
By David Beard, Sage CRM
The term "customer experience" refers to everything the customer perceives, interprets, and experiences while interacting with a company. These interactions can happen anywhere, any time and in many forms. Everything that the company or the people in the company say, show, or tell, will leave an impression of your proposition - even if you are unaware of it.
However, managing the customer experiences by only focusing on software is a blurred focus. The future success of your business' approach to customer experience depends on understanding how your customer processes should work and turning it into effective practice. The challenge is, like so many initiatives where people are involved, executing a project so that all employees really "get" the underlying business drivers. So, for me, the intersection of a CRM strategy & employee engagement is a fascinating area, yet often overlooked.
Why does it matter & why should you care?
The world in which we conduct business is increasingly frictionless - researching, sourcing & buying from alternative suppliers is as easy as a few mouse-clicks. So, in order to stay competitive and/or differentiate themselves, many companies choose to compete with knowledge-based skills - e.g. delivering service excellence to acquire & retain customers. Harnessing knowledge-based skills means having engaged employees - employees that are willing to invest the discretionary effort to see that their organisation succeeds. Indeed, a Journal of Applied Psychology article notes that “… employee satisfaction and engagement are related to meaningful business outcomes at a magnitude that is important to many organisations.”
So, what does engagement mean to employees ?
There are a number of outcomes that speak to me as being connected with a CRM project or methodology. Let's consider a few and how they should influence your planning for CRM success:
- Employees need to clearly understand the VISION of a company - what are the goals & how are they measured ?
- Employees need to feel their INPUT matters to that vision - that, where appropriate, they can help establish processes to facilitate goal achievement.
- Employees value & wish to exercise some element of CONTROL over the flow & pace of their jobs.
- And, within that control employees want to ensure they collaborate, working with trust & co- operation right across the company.
So, what does engagement mean in the context of a CRM strategy ?
In my many years of participating in, or reviewing, CRM initiatives, the best project deliveries are where three key outcomes are successfully addressed:
- The business drivers of the project are directly & visibly linked to a company's goals. Be it one department or an entire organisation, the outcomes that define "CRM success" are obviously connected to a set of company KPIs, and visible to all.
- The intended employees should have direct input to the way the CRM processes are to work. That means involvement from the initial acquisition (scoping requirements, being involved in demonstrations, etc.), through to the implementation cycle & then on to "champion" roles within the organisation. Lead by, and for people, that manage the customer experience journey as seen from the outside.
- Finally, where employees are willing to invest the discretionary effort, they need access to the right resources to do their job. As most business processes typically cross more than one department, enabling "good CRM" in just one department, scuppers any discretionary effort by one team. With that, collaboration falters & a typical customer journey is interrupted, with subsequent damage to brand value a distinct possibility.
In summary, every CRM strategy needs to have engagement and employees at its' heart. Anything less just dilutes strategic effort & spend on any CRM initiative undertaken.
How are you engaging with your business to get the best return on investment from your CRM project?
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