The HotLine Magazine Archives
For The Profession of Cloud/SaaS Product Support
By Mikael Blaisdell

Many companies these days want to be perceived as being “Customer Centric.” The rewards of customer loyalty supposedly to be gained through attaining such status certainly seem impressive. It’s understandable that senior management teams and contact center executives would want to jump on the bandwagon and talk of customer centricity initiatives of their own. Unfortunately, the moves being made and the path being followed are mostly transaction centric rather than truly being about a mutually profitable and therefore continuing relationship between company and customer.

The Data That Matters

Do you know how much money your company makes from its relationship with each of your customers and/or customer groups? And do you understand why those customer segments are profitable? Are you clear about exactly how those relationships contribute to the total value of your company? If you do have such precise knowledge, it came by dint of your own personal hard analysis work and digging for data — and that’s not sustainable. You got it largely in spite of your technology instead of because of it.

The reason that the needed data is hard to come by is not hard to see. In the customer contact center, all of the technology suite is designed to optimize the handling of support/service transactions. The driver is the realization that there is no economic benefit to anyone from a break/fix incident. The longer it stays open and unresolved, the more money is wasted. So when something breaks, and the customer calls, e-mails or visits the self-service website, the focus is on getting the incident resolved as quickly as possible before immediately going onto the next case. That’s transactional efficiency and cost containment. It’s not profitability or customer centricity. Fixing problems doesn’t add economic value to the customer or to the company.

Why doesn’t a contact center case management system report on costs and profitability? Why is there no up to date financial data about the value of the knowledge in the knowledgebase? Companies have made huge investments in training customer support representatives and in developing knowledge content. Where are the ROI analyses and profitability data for those content resources? They aren’t available, for the simple reason that no one asks for them. They are not the basis for the management of the customer contact center. Senior Management doesn’t factor in that data when evaluating strategic progress for the company.

The Importance of Focus

The failure of CRM was due to the fact that the technology being delivered under the name of Customer Relationship Management was about sales force automation — the finding of new customers — rather than delivering the data needed for long term management of continuing income streams. The probable failure of most Customer Centricity initiatives to deliver on their promises will be due to the same cause: the lack of technology designed to collect and report on the right data, to enable Management to clearly understand the nature and function of company/product-as-a-relationship over time.

The current absence of true customer centricity technology is a significant barrier to success for companies wanting to redefine themselves as being customer centric. It’s also a significant opportunity, waiting to be seized. The pieces are all there, needing only a savvy and sufficiently farsighted software manufacturer to put the package together and bring value to their customers. Is that you?

November 29, 2007