CRM: Customer Service has two distinct categories that make up this domain which reflects the evolution of how service providers are viewing the concept of customer service. Customer service has evolved a new component called customer success. While call center approaches are inbound and reactive, customer success approaches are outbound and proactive.

Traditional scenarios could include a customer noticing a problem with a product or service and calling the service provider to resolve it. A customer success model could entail a service provider monitoring their customer’s experience, noticing something that may negatively impact the customer, and the provider proactively reaching out to that customer offering prevention or resolution of the issue.

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The second component focuses on the concept of inbound call center customer service. This is an established proven approach to handling high volume, inbound customer service inquiries. There have been several successes in the history of the service provider industry 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.

The call center category represents 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 and 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 additions and changes to service. Typically, sales representatives and sales engineers manage the primary customer acquisition and are working in the CRM: SFA domain.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is perhaps the most consistently misused term in our industry. The customer relationship that is being managed by the software category is an exceedingly broad term that must be narrowed 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.

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Sales Force Automation (SFA)

The tools used by sales teams to managed salespeople, prospects, opportunities, and pipeline
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Customer Service

The tools used by customer service agents (historically in a call center environment) to manage customers or prospects
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Commerce

The tools used by a service provider's customers to manage their own services or accounts.
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Partner Relationship Management (PRM)

Tools a service provider's partner to manage customers or prospects

CRM: Customer Service

Customer Success Call Center

Customer Creation

Customer creation is the process of creating a new customer within the company. 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 plus that billing will be effective and occur in a timely manner. If the customer is created with incorrect data, the downstream processes will be negatively impacted.

Customer Maintenance

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 can 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, disconnection, and cancellation. Customer maintenance is closely related to the sub-domain customer service which handles important though not service-impacting customer requests.

Order Entry

Order entry is the process of 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 to 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 to provide 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.

Up-Sell, Cross-Sell & Expansion

These sales processes are the central methods for increasing average revenue per user, an essential growth metric for most businesses using a recurring revenue business model. These businesses also focus heavily on annual contract value.

Up-selling is the process of selling more of a particular service. For example, moving from 6 MB internet speed for $25 per month to 18 MB for $45 per month is a typical up-sell.

Cross-selling is when a customer purchases a separate product or service in addition to what they had originally anticipated buying. For example, if the customer originally intended to buy internet service, but the sales representative convinced them to purchase phone and cable services too, the sales representative successfully performed cross-selling.

Expansion is the process of broadening the selling engagement with the customer to additional locations, business units, or channels. This process is not independent of up-selling and cross-selling, but it refers to specifically growing the size and buying power of the customer. For example, if a sales representative is selling software to the accounting group at John Deere in Missoula, MT, and they expand the sale to include the sales team plus two other locations, they have achieved expansion. A good CPQ application assists this process by allowing many child accounts, groups, and locations to be quoted at once.

The combination of up-selling and cross-selling is the primary method of 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-selling, cross-selling, or both. The concept of bundling or packaging is a method for accelerating an up-sell, cross-sell, or both.

Up-selling and cross-selling can be done at the 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-selling and cross-selling they perform in their typical customer care.

Have you heard a cross sell like this before?

"Thank you for using our cable services and updating your credit card information! Did you notice that we have expanded our internet offerings in your neighborhood and are offering free service for three months if you add it to your plan now?"

Customer Service

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

Case management is a broad term that can include issue management, trouble ticket management, exception or 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 and distributed to the right individual or team for resolution while providing visibility of its ongoing status. There is typically a complete 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.

Knowledge Management

Another core component of the modern customer service environment is knowledge management. CRM and knowledge management were once considered entirely different disciplines, with the two areas sharing little in common 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 to deliver continuous improvement to business clients, they would have to start speaking the same language. Thus CRM, knowledge management, and data search-and-retrieval solutions are converging – out of necessity and out of customer demand.

Knowledge management 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 knowledge management and 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.

Customer success is emerging as a key enabler of differentiation for forward-thinking service providers. The evolution of reactive customer service to proactive customer success is one of the most profound changes that is impacting the service provider industry.

Payments & Adjustments

Call center agents are often able 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 (for example 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 accounts receivables, 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.

People, Process, and Technology of Customer Service

People

As might be expected, the customer success and customer service organizations are the torch-bearers for the CRM: Customer Service domain. Nearly all things related to the customer pass across their collective desks.

But there are other areas involved as well. The sales, product, operations, and finance groups make key contributions on an ongoing basis, and the IT organization, as is true with every domain in the ecosystem, lends a hand when called upon.

Customer Service

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

SALES

Product

FINANCE - BILLING

OPERATIONS

I.T.

Process

ATG maintains a set of 99 key business processes to support the management of customers and revenue for service providers. Forty-one of these processes originate or are impacted by, the CRM: Customer Service domain functions. Below are the key processes that are touched in CRM: Customer Service domain, categorized by the organizational unit that owns the process:

SALES

Cross-Sell Processing - Initial Order

Selling a customer an additional product or service from what they had originally requested at the time of ordering. This process is separate from Cross-Sell Processing - Ongoing.

SALES

Partner Ecosystem Management

Overall category for Management and integration of any of third-party resellers, partner, or add-on marketplace business models and oversight.

SALES

Quote - Product Configuration

Configuration of features and attributes of products and services prior to a sale. Typical in a custom solution environment.

SALES

Quote - Product / Service Discount

Configuration of product and service discounts relating to certain criteria (e.g. volume discounts, geography, trying to win the deal, etc.).

SALES

Quote - Product / Service Pricing

Configuration of features and attributes of products and services prior to a sale. Typical in a custom solution environment.

SALES

Up-Sell Processing - Initial Order

Selling customers a better product or service than they originally expressed interest in, at the time of order.

SALES / CUSTOMER SERVICE

Order Entry - Call Center (Inbound or Outbound)

Creating a new service for a customer originated by internal users such as an inside sales organization. Or a customer support group wants to create new orders for an existing customer. Includes capturing the necessary information to provision and bill for the service effectively.

SALES / CUSTOMER SERVICE

Renewal Processing

Methods used to renew a customer's services, may be manual or automated. This could apply to the renewal of maintenance and support for Perpetual products, or renewal of a subscription term for Cloud products.

PRODUCT

Bundled Product Introduction Process

Configuring and introduction of a bundled product or service to the product catalog and supporting systems. Includes definition of product/bundle attributes, pricing rules (usage, recurring, non-recurring), discounts rules, product/service lifecycle, revenue recognition, and reporting attributes.

PRODUCT

Entitlement Processing

Management of active products and services within a customer account.

PRODUCT

New Pricing Introduction - New Construct

This process is for creation of a new pricing construct for an existing product or service. For example, creation of a monthly subscription where previously there had only been annual.

PRODUCT

New Product Introduction Process

Introduction of a new product or service to the Product Catalog and supporting quoting, ordering, contracting, provisioning, ticketing, invoicing, payment, usage, and revenue recognition systems. Includes definition of product attributes, pricing rules(usage, recurring, non-recurring), discounts rules, product/service lifecycle, revenue recognition, reporting attributes, and bundling concepts.

PRODUCT

New Product Introduction Process - Mobile

Configure attributes and introduce new products and services, with specific focus on making the product available on mobile devices.

PRODUCT

Promotion & Discount Introduction

The configuration of standard, pre-defined promotions and discounts of products or services.

OPERATIONS

Inventory Management - Logical

The process a company uses to manage the consumption of non-physical asset inventory levels including inventory creation and deletion.

OPERATIONS

Inventory Management - Physical

The process a company uses to manage the consumption and replenishment of tangible inventory levels.

OPERATIONS

Proactive Customer Notification - Operations Focus (CC Expiry, Payment Received Notification)

A proactive approach to notify customers of pertinent payment information, particularly keeping Credit Cards current to limit number and impact of reject processing.

OPERATIONS

Professional Services Automation

Tools and processes related to management and deployment of professional services.

OPERATIONS

Quote - Product / Service Approval

Configuration of required approvals for products, services, discounts, and pricing configurations prior to the sale.

I.T.

Cross-Training of Monetization Ecosystem Components

Process for training organizational resources

FINANCE - BILLING

Bill Run Operations

Tasks and functions associated with initiating and maintaining the billing process, including bill cycle management, usage file management, payment batches, credit card rejects, etc.

FINANCE - BILLING

Billing Setup Process

Tasks and functions associated with setting up the billing processes for given products and services.

FINANCE - BILLING

Credit Card Optimization

The overall optimization of credit card processing, including the establishment of Payment Gateway profile, keeping CC current, managing rejects, chargebacks, etc. Optimizing revenue, and reducing risk and fraud is paramount here.

FINANCE - BILLING

Credit Card Processing

Methods to receive credit card payments including authorization, payment gateway, processing, interchange, and credit card success/failures.

FINANCE - BILLING

Dispute / Adjustment Processing

Settling disputes/adjustments regarding customer payments or account. Key process for clients that are operating in a Balance Management or 'On Account' environment.

FINANCE - BILLING

Invoice Finishing & Delivery

Typically, billing engines produce raw invoice or statement data. Often, external applications are used to package this data for presentation on a paper invoice, electronic distribution, or alternate media. Most billing engines have rudimentary invoice presentation capability.

FINANCE - BILLING

Payment Processing

The steps taken to process different payment methods from customers.

FINANCE - BILLING

SOX/Regulatory Compliance

The ability to provide proof of internal controls to prevent fraud and material misstatements.

FINANCE - BILLING

Subscription Management

The processes a company uses to manage complex customer subscription attributes, including recurring billing, IN Proration (service sign up), OUT Proration (service disconnect/cancel), and associated usage, recurring, and non-recurring processing.

FINANCE - BILLING

System Auditability

Provides assurance that source system data is accurate, and a paper trail exists from a transaction to financial statements.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Case Management Processing

A key aspect of Customer Service used for creating, managing, and completing requests from the customer. This process can include creation and management of cases by end customers, internal agents, and partners.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Cross-Sell Processing - Ongoing

A central method for increasing Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and is the process of selling additional product(s) or service(s) to a customer during the customers' entire lifetime with your company. This process is separate from Cross-sell Processing - Initial order.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Customer Inquiry

The process of routing customer questions & concerns to the right solution and tracking the outcome. Often referred to as '360-degree view of the customer.'

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Knowledge Management

The ability of a business to identify, create, and distribute information quickly across their customer base, organizations responsible for managing customers, and other key areas of the organization.

CUSTOMER SERVICE

Up-Sell Processing - Ongoing

A central method for increasing Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and is the process of moving a customer to a better or higher version of a product or service throughout their lifetime with your company. This process is separate from Up-Sell Processing - Initial Order.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Customer Usage Monitoring

Tracking and recording customer product usage throughout a billing period and life cycle. Closely related to daily usage processing, this process can be used by Customer Success agents to find customers who are experiencing problems with their product usage, are not using key functions of the product, or are nearing billing thresholds.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

New Customer Onboarding

The process of creating a customer account, properly provisioning products and/or services, and communicating welcoming messages.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

NPS / CSAT Monitoring

Process of tracking, reporting, and following up on customer satisfaction metrics, by customer segment or product.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Retention / Churn Monitoring

The process of monitoring customer turnover.

CUSTOMER SUCCESS

Social Network Monitoring

A way to track social media traffic and information and gather the "Voice of the Customer."

ALL

Daily, Periodic, or Ad Hoc Reporting (ETL, Report, Dashboard)

Movement of data between domains to create a single source of truth for reporting and dashboarding. Includes key metrics such as revenue analytics and other KPIs

Technology

The CRM: Customer Service domain is the cornerstone of customer experience. This domain handholds the customer throughout their entire lifecycle with a company, from a salesperson’s first interaction with them via knowledge management functions, through the buying process to service delivery and case management.

There are two different software platforms for this domain, with the obvious delineation. Both customer success and call center software is available in the following formats:

  • Multi-Tenant Cloud
  • Single-Tenant Cloud
  • Salesforce.com Native Platform
  • On-Premise Software

Key CRM: Customer Service Vendors

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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1999
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.salesforce.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Salesforce Service Cloud provides a seamless customer service integration for the Salesforce platform. Salesforce Service Cloud allows one location for all customer service related interactions to take place. Also, Salesforce Service Cloud creates a central knowledge management solution to expedite providing answers to common issues.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

TARGET MARKET

Salesforce targets organizations in many industries and of any size.

CUSTOMERS

  • American Express
  • Adidas
  • US Bank
  • T-Mobile
  • Intuit
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2006
HQ: Redwood City, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: cloud.oracle.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Oracle Service Cloud enables clients to deliver web-based customer service, support through an omni-channel contact center, and service in the field. Oracle Service Cloud also contains a knowledge management platform to ensure all knowledge is effectively captured and held in a single space for internal and external users.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

TARGET MARKET

Oracle Service Cloud targets organizations of any size and industry.

CUSTOMERS

  • Kohl's
  • Nestle
  • Cincinnati Bell
  • Kent County Council
  • Barcelo Hotels & Resorts
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2010
HQ: San Bruno, CA
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.freshdesk.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Freshdesk is a subsidiary of business software company Freshworks. Freshdesk is an online cloud-based customer service software providing refined helpdesk support by utilizing smart applications. The software helps users keep track of conversations, resolve issues, increase productivity, and improve efficiency across one secure, customized platform.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

TARGET MARKET

Freshdesk targets organizations in many industries. Target organizations are any size and have a need to provide sophisticated digital customer service and support resources.

CUSTOMERS

  • American Express
  • Schneider Electric
  • HP
  • Pearson
  • Harvard University
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2007
HQ: San Francisco, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.zendesk.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Zendesk is a customer service platform designed for companies that want to make customer relationships more meaningful, personal, and productive. Zendesk begins by providing support and then helps businesses evolve to self-service while maintaining guidance by Zendesk. The combination of products offered allows businesses to be more reliable, flexible, and scalable. Improved customer experience is built from increased communication and data utilization.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

TARGET MARKET

Zendesk targets organizations in many industries and are any size.

CUSTOMERS

  • Uber
  • Slack
  • Box
  • Shopify
  • Groupon
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 1975
HQ: Albuquerque, NM
Company Type: Public
Website: www.microsoft.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides self-service support, empowers teams with rich AI drive tools to enhance productivity, optimizes services with leverageable insights and analytics, and delivers proactive service with IoT that will alert and correct problems before customers have even noticed. Microsoft Dynamics 365 is an all-in-one solution powered by AI that will earn customers for life through connected support channels and seamless end-to-end customer service experiences.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Service CRM
  • IoT Signaling & Alerts

TARGET MARKET

Microsoft Dynamics 365 targets organizations in many industries and of any size.

CUSTOMERS

  • VISA
  • Coca Cola
  • Accenture
  • Adobe
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2001
HQ: San Ramon, CA
Company Type: Public
Website: www.five9.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Five9 provides cloud software for contact centers in the United States and internationally. It offers a suite of applications which enables the breadth of contact center-related customer service, sales, and marketing functions. It also acts as a hub for omni-channel engagement between the businesses and their customers. The software enables companies to manage the end-to-end customer experience in a single unified architecture.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

TARGET MARKET

Five9 targets SMBs to enterprises in many industries.

CUSTOMERS

  • Open English
  • Phone.com
  • Booker
  • Innovative Vision
  • NetSuite
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ESSENTIALS

Founded: 2011
HQ: San Francisco, C
Company Type: Privately Held
Website: www.intercome.com
Delivery Method: Cloud

OVERVIEW

Intercom Customer Support software delivers high quality customer support at any size or scale of business. Intercom allows for issues to be solved one-on-one with an agent, offers a self-serve will common repeated questions, and acts proactively to get ahead of problems before customers reach out. Over 30,000 companies utilize and trust Intercom to deliver a conversational customer support that has been Top Rated for its capabilities.

PRODUCT & SERVICES:

  • Customer Service CRM
  • Custom & Resolution Bots

TARGET MARKET

Microsoft Dynamics 365 targets organizations in many industries and of any size.

CUSTOMERS

  • Facebook
  • AWS
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Udemy

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