CRM: Customer Success | Call Center
CRM – Customer Success & Call Center – This particular Domain is broken into two distinct categories – reflecting the evolution of how Service Providers are viewing the concept of customer service.
The first component is focused on the concept of inbound Call Center customer service. This has is an established proven approach to handling high volume, in bound customer service inquiries from customers.
Historically, the service provider industry has witnessed a number of successes, and unfortunately legions of failures in implementing this model. We all have vivid memories of that great tech support person we talk to, or that interminable wait we had before speaking with someone we could not understand.
More recently, the second component of customer service has evolved, which we call Customer Success. Where Call Center approaches are inbound and reactive, Customer Success approaches are outbound and pro-active. If a customer notices they have a problem and call a service provider to tell them about it, that is a classic Call Center Scenario. If a service provider is monitoring customer success and notices something that may negatively impact the customer and they pro-actively reach out to that customer, then that is a Customer Success Scenario. Typically, there is a service provider agent who is working with the customer to resolve a problem or an opportunity, with the difference being point of origin, and responsiveness of the service provider. Let’s look at each in detail.
The CRM – Call Center domain is focused on the concept of a call center, or a similar group of employees that are responsible for managing customers. This could be a large inbound call center that is fielding calls for new service creation, or existing service maintenance.
Alternatively, it could be a small group of outbound callers who are reaching out to prospective customers to buy a product or service.
In the B2C service provider space, this domain is often a central component for new customer creation, and for ongoing customer care. Success or failure in this domain has a dramatic impact on the overall customer experience. Companies that have the appropriate people, process, and technology in this domain typically become market leaders with high customer satisfaction, low churn, and high upsell/cross-sell rates. Companies that fall short in this domain are subject to scathing ridicule in social media, and often find themselves struggling to acquire or retain key customers. Key indicators in this area include net new customers, customer satisfaction (CSAT or NPS), first call resolution (FCR), average handle time (AHT), and customer churn.
In the B2B service provider space, this domain is typically used by a small number of resources that are responsible for customer care, including basic maintenance of customer and services, bill inquiry, logging trouble tickets, and supporting simple adds and changes. Typically, the primary customer acquisition is managed by Sales resources (reps and sales engineers (SE)), who are working in the CRM/Sales Force Automation domain.
Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is perhaps the most consistently misused term in our industry. The ‘Customer Relationship’ that is being managed by a software category is an exceedingly broad term that must be narrowed in order to make sure we are comparing similar software. ATG breaks CRM into four distinct categories, based on the channel that is being used to manage the customer relationship. The categories are:
Salesforce Automation - SFA
The tools used by Sales teams to manage sales people, prospects, and opportunities.
Customer Success | Call Center
The tools used by Customer Service agents (historically in a Call Center environment) to manage customers.
The tools used by a service provider’s customers to manage their own services or accounts.
Partner Relationship Mgmt.
Tools used by a service provider’s Partner to manage customers.
Customer Success/Call Center Components
Customer Creation is the process of creating a new customer within the company. This is a critical process that often invokes several other domains including Provisioning/Inventory (for qualification and inventory), Configure Price Quote (to set up complex services and pricing), and Contract/Order Management (to ensure business policies are enforced).
The key to this process is providing an exceptional customer experience while obtaining the information necessary to ensure the product or service will be effectively provisioned (or fulfilled) and that billing will be effective and occur in a timely manner. ‘Garbage in – garbage out’ is in full force. If the customer is created with incorrect data, the downstream processes will be negatively impacted.
Customer Maintenance is a process unique to the Service Provider space.
Companies in this space typically keep careful track of Company Lifecycle Duration (typically the number of months or years that a customer retains their service) and Average Revenue Per User (ARPU – which tracks the dollars that are spent per month with the company). Companies that are able to keep their customers longer and raise the average revenue per month over time, typically become leaders in their space.
Customer Maintenance includes a broad set of process service modifications including up-sell/cross-sell, suspension, and disconnect/cancel. Customer Maintenance is closely related to the sub-domain Customer Service, which handles important though not service-impacting customer requests.
Order Entry is the process for creating a new service for a customer. Often this is the first and only service for a customer though in B2B it is very common for customers to have multiple services, each requiring effective order entry to capture the necessary information to provision and bill for the service effectively.
Order entry can be direct with a customer or it can be a ‘swivel chair’ exercise where the employee is entering the order from a previously generated quote or contract without direct interaction with the customer.
In the former example, it is important to capture the information in an efficient manner that provides a positive customer experience while gathering all the appropriate data at one time. In the latter example, the focus is on quality and completeness. The customer is not waiting on the line, but relying on the information being complete and correct to ensure accurate provisioning and billing of the service.
The Up-Sell/Cross-Sell process is the central method for increasing Average Revenue Per User (ARPU), which is an essential growth metric for most service providers.
Up-selling is the process of selling more of a particular service. For example, increasing internet speed from 6 MB for $25/mo to 18mb for $45/mo would be an example of a typical up-sell.
Cross-sell is the process of purchasing a separate product or service from what they had originally. For example, if the customer originally had internet service then expanded their purchase to include phone and cable.
The combination of up-sell and cross-sell is primary methods from driving more revenue within an existing customer base. Another common phrase is ‘wallet share’. Many service providers have a goal of increasing the wallet share from their customer base, which is often done through up-sell/cross-sell measures. The concept of ‘bundling’ or ‘packaging’ is a method for accelerating up-sell/cross-sell.
Up-sell/cross-sell can be done at time of customer creation, or over the course of the life of the customer. In the context of a call center, many agents are compensated specifically for up-sell/cross-sell as they perform their typical customer care. “Thank you for you updating your credit card information, did you happen to notice that we have expanded our internet offerings in your neighborhood and are offering a special 3-month free during the summer?”
Call Center Customer Service is typically done via inbound calls or chat sessions. Typical customer service requests include bill inquiry, trouble ticket management, simple disputes and adjustments, changing contact information, and technical support.
Case management is a key sub-domain of Customer Service. It is a broad term that can included Issue Management, Trouble Ticket Management, Exception/Approval Management, and Dispute Management. It is simply a mechanism for creating, managing, and completing requests initiated by, or on behalf of, a customer.
Case management allows cases to be captured, distributed to the necessary individual(s) or team(s) for resolution, while providing visibility of ongoing status. There is typically a strong audit trail to document what was done, when, and by whom.
Effective case management provides an excellent opportunity to take a potential negative with a customer and turn it into a positive.
The evolution from reactive Customer Service to proactive Customer Success is one of the most profound changes that is impacting the service provider industry at this time.
Another core component of modern Customer Service environment is Knowledge Management. CRM and Knowledge Management were once considered entirely different disciplines, with the two sharing little but perhaps the same data warehouse hardware and a vague understanding that both efforts were meant to improve business efficiency and customer satisfaction. It has become clear, however, that the two disciplines were really working toward the same goal, and that to deliver continuous improvement to business clients, they would have to start speaking the same language.
Thus CRM, KM, and data search-and-retrieval solutions are converging – out of necessity and out of customer demand.
KM focuses largely on finding the right solution to a problem that requires detailed insight, be it locating the right expert at the right time, or ensuring that the solution to a complex problem can be written once but reused many times. It is not difficult to understand why that capability is of great interest to CRM strategists. Industry estimates suggest that upwards of three quarters of variable support costs come from the time and energy put into the resolution of customer support inquiries, rather than routing and post-call management.
Better KM/CRM integration can help companies navigate complex support problems more easily. Many manufacturers, such as computer companies, sell a single product that may incorporate dozens or even hundreds of other components. Being able to cross-reference the entire collected library for technical support and conflict resolution can make the difference between first-call resolution and a lingering headache.
Finally, as described in the Customer Maintenance sub-domain, Customer Success is emerging as a key enabler of differentiation for forward thinking Service Providers. The evolution from reactive Customer Service to proactive Customer Success is one of the most profound changes that is impacting the service provider industry at this time.
Payments & Adjustments
Call center agents are often in a position to manage inbound requests for payment or to handle disputes that may lead to credit adjustments to the customer’s balance. For payments, this could be receipt of ‘one-off’ payments, changing the method of payment (i.e., from credit card to check), or simply updating credit card information.
Adjustments are changes to the customer’s accounts receivable, or balance. Adjustments that are in the customer’s favor, end up being a ‘credit’ to the a/r, hence are called credit adjustments, or simply ‘credits’. Credit memo is another term that is used.
An adjustment that is made which is not in the customer’s favor and adds to their balance, is called a debit adjustment. Although rare, it can be used to correct erroneous bills or to handle other things – a penalty for not sending a set-top box back, for example. Some service providers have a concept of a ‘dispute,’ which is simply a higher order object that opens a case which will be investigated but could lead to a credit adjustment.
Detailed: People | Process | Technology
But there are other areas involved as well. The Sales, Product, and Finance-Billing groups make key contributions on an on-going basis, and the I.T. organization, as is true with every domain in the ecosystem, lends a hand when called upon.
Key Vendor AlertThe CRM – Customer Success/Call Center domain consists of two types of software platforms – Customer Success and Call Center. The vendor summaries below are segregated by software platform.
Key Customer Success Vendors
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Privately Held
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
Key Call Center Vendors
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
HQ: Redwood Shores, CA
Company Type: Public
HQ: New York, NY
Company Type: Privately held