CRM Optimization — Expand CRM to Boost Customer Service


  • Customer Relationship Management technology is a prerequisite for contact centers to grow customer satisfaction and customer profitability in tandem and at scale. This technology is the facilitator of consistent delivery, the replacement for manual labor, the process automation to improve the agent experience and the top tool to achieve call center cost savings.
  • But CRM is an under-utilized technology. Research findings published in the CRM Benchmark Report reveal that companies, on average, use less than 26% of their application capabilities. That leaves a lot of potential to use more of the technology you have to do more things a lot better.
  • CRM optimization advances the application to improve the most important customer service outcomes, such as improving the agent experience, customer satisfaction, customer lifetime value and customer retention.

4 Ways to Advance Customer Service by Advancing Your CRM

Delivering consistent customer service that meets rising customer expectations is tough. To do it right, you must solve the customer's problem and then feed the problem back to the origination point for root cause analysis and resolution at the source. Otherwise, the problem exacerbates.

The best run customer service organizations operate as a profit centers, offer fee-based premium services (i.e., concierge, SLAs, entitlements) and measure their financial impact via customer lifetime value, customer retention and revenue contribution.

These are important goals and there's no way to achieve them without CRM technology. But most applications fall short. It's not that the software cannot aid these processes, it's that it wasn't configured to do so.

And here lies the upside opportunity to optimize your CRM software.

Here are 4 techniques to advance your CRM technology, accelerate the most important customer service outcomes and increase user adoption, software utilization and technology ROI.


Use CRM to Improve the Agent Experience

The agent experience is important because it creates a ripple effect. An improved agent experience decreases agent churn, increases customer satisfaction and impacts downstream financial measures such as customer lifetime value and retention.

Recognize the agent experience and customer experience are symbiotic. Together they are effective in growing customer relationships and customer loyalty. Apart they delay and struggle to accomplish the simplest customer and contact center objectives.

Customer relationship management software can be designed to improve the agent experience. For example, the application can measure the agent experience with metrics such as Employee Satisfaction (ESAT), Employee NPS or agent health score.

Workflow tools can simplify, streamline and automate case-oriented business processes.

Laborious, convoluted, or non-sensical business processes are one of the two most frustrating factors for customer service representatives and quickly degrade the agent experience. The other factor is antiquated technology. Stepping up your CRM software can resolve both these factors.

CRM cloud platforms reduce the number of disintegrated systems, improving the user experience and delivering real-time analytics that aid agents. The top analytic tool is agent dashboards.

Contact Center Dashboard

They show what’s working and not working and when to intervene or escalate.

They aid time management and agent productivity by showing what should be done first, then next and so on. They rank key activities and metrics to prioritize action. Tasks and activities are not all equal and should not be acted upon in random order.


Use CRM to Improve the Customer Experience

Most companies think their customer experience (CX) programs are effective and they deliver good customer experiences. Independent data suggests otherwise.

A study reported on CustomerThink found that less than a third of CX initiatives are successful. And analyst firm IDC reported that 87% of companies say they provide excellent CX, but only 11% of customers agree.

CRM can help. When designed to do so, it can deliver differentiated CXs across channels and throughout customer journeys.

Customer Experience Architecture

CRM is the customer system of record and central location for customer data. The technology provides the data management, customer engagement automation and information reporting to deliver highly designed CXs at scale.

When the technology is properly configured with a 360-degree customer view, customer insights, personas and customer segments, and is the repository for Voice of the Customer (VoC), social engagement and other customer-specific data, it is the most empowered system to deliver relevant, personalized, contextual and even predictive CXs.

Improving CX is a big deal as it increases customer purchases, referrals, lifetime value and retention; all factors that deliver significant company revenue growth.


Use CRM to Support Customer Self-service

Most customers now prefer self-service channels as their first point of contact for many types of questions or cases. Most contact center agents prefer to offload remedial work and focus on more meaningful cases. CRM customer self-service tools and channels create a win for both.

Succeeding with self-service starts by using the right tool for the job. The four most used self-service tools are FAQs, knowledgebases, chatbots and communities.

Customer Self Service Topology

But one caution. The top challenge with customer self-service technologies is customer adoption.

Self-service tools satisfy customers when they are purpose built for specific customer support use cases and deliver expected results.

However, these technologies fail when they are more interested in reducing costs than satisfying customers and not maintained or kept current. Keeping self-service content up to date is the biggest ongoing challenge. If customers cannot quickly find what they are looking for or must sift through volumes of irrelevant or obsolete content the self-service effort fails.


Use CRM AI for Continuous Improvements

Many CRM apps offer Artificial Intelligence. But most contact centers don't use it.

That's unfortunate as AI adds value to most other contact center technologies. It makes call routing more efficient, case resolution more timely, virtual agents more conversant, customer sentiment more detectable and analytics more predictive.

AI works best when connected with agents. It aids staff productivity with guided service fulfillment, next-best-action recommendations, suggested knowledgebase articles, case resolution responses and personalized offers. The use cases are many.

AI for Customer Service

It can also measure trends, forecast staffing requirements and enable proactive customer support by identifying customer problems before they occur.

Among the Best-in-Class contact centers that do use AI, it is described as a game changer and driver of continuous contact center improvements. Contact center leaders are using AI to personalize customer engagement, deliver faster resolutions, lower cost to serve, increase customer satisfaction, predict at-risk customers and scale customer support operations.

The Point is This

A customer service representative is a tough job that is made that much tougher when struggling with under-utilized technology.

The CRM Software 2.0 movement applies optimization techniques and best practices to advance the application for continuous improvements to user objectives such as productivity and personal performance outcomes; customer objectives such as improved customer experiences; and business objectives such as increased customer acquisitions, share and retention.

The 4 examples in this post are intended to show how optimizing your CRM application can deliver significant and sustained contact center performance improvements. But these are only 4 examples. There are dozens more to explore. Things like social listening, voice of the customer, computer telephony integration, call routing, text and speech analytics, omni-channel customer support, AI-infused chatbots, workforce management integration, internal collaboration tools and predictive analytics to name a few.

That route to improve your CRM value is to identify and then prioritize those advanced use cases that deliver the biggest business outcomes.