Customer experience fit for a king
Systems to address problems
Information systems perform various functions for organizations; functions like accounting, finance, purchasing, human resources and sales. Larger organizations sometimes opt for integrated systems that can handle all of these functions. In other words, their reaction is well established: address problems with systems, expensive systems.
This works fairly well when it comes to dealing with problems with clerical and well-defined tasks. However, with additional variables and complex situations, it becomes less efficient. Consequently, the success rate for the implementation of CRM and ERP systems is around 50%.
For the past several years, companies have found themselves in increasingly complex business situations. Their customers’ expectations have risen steadily and opportunity costs have never been so low. No customer wants to be reduced to an account number and few appreciate a dreary relationship involving account statements and the occasional superfluous email. More than ever, the customer is king.
Kings don’t care about systems
No one would dream of burdening a king with needless procedures. No one would dream of imposing unnecessary delays. No one would dare to admit they don’t know who the king is. An organization with 2,000 customers actually has 2,000 little kings and queens. And, with all that royal blood running through their veins, they don’t care about the systems.
…. for the most part, that is
They don’t care about the systems unless they get something out of them. They like to help themselves. They like to feel in control and be able to change their mind whenever they see fit. They want everything well-structured and easy to access. Luckily, they sometimes reward their trusty subjects when they’ve been helpful and loyal.
Information systems and loyalty
We often hear about customer loyalty. The opposite is rare—people just don’t think about a company’s loyalty to its customers. But what does customer loyalty mean? What role do information systems play in this alternate perspective of loyalty?
As a customer (aka “king”) of several companies, here a few conditions that the companies I do business with (alias “my humble subjects”) must satisfy.
1 – Tell the truth
A company that can’t give me verified, up-to-date information severely undermines my confidence in its abilities. No king would tolerate his subjects lying to him or being incompetent.
2 – Be available
In my mind, if a company takes a ridiculous amount of time to access my information, that company is disorganized and inattentive to my needs. Kings are typically not very patient and are rather selfish; you have to like them regardless of their shortcomings.
3 – Be proactive
A company that doesn’t keep me up to date on new developments and opportunities to make things better for me are missing a great opportunity to prove that they have my best interests at heart. Subjects who put their personal interests before those of the king are sorely lacking in judgment and may even be found guilty of treason.
4 – Follow the rules of etiquette
A company that contacts me in an inconsistent fashion, with white gloves at times and without even a greeting at others, throws me off balance and shows a lack of respect. No king would put up with such disrespect.
Value-added information systems
Every company has its systems. On its own, each system is worthwhile to the users in the related departments. But we need to look at the customers. Can they expect the systems to provide some kind of added value?
Where are the systems that are designed to meet customer needs by intelligently presenting information to them? Where are the systems that provide real value to customers and make their life easier?
Some companies with large customer service departments welcome this challenge with open arms and set up a portal (that costs millions) for their customers.
Whether these portals are successful or not, the intent to hand back control to the customers is admirable and deserves recognition, because oftentimes the behind-the-scenes work is an enormous feat. Small and medium-size businesses, who do not have the same financial means, are faced with a complex challenge.
It is frightening for them to give control back to their customers, as it means they need to change big things in their organization. But as the digital economy changes customer expectations, there really isn’t any time to lose.