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

There is a central truth about CRM that is readily apparent in every customer contact center I’ve ever visited. While the data being captured from the daily interactions between customers and company may be in the name of Customer Relationship Management, it has little if any practical value, for there are no customer relationship managers.

In the center, the phone rings, the e-mail arrives. There’s a problem; fix it. Once the case is “Resolved,” quickly move on to the next. The center’s performance is measured in how fast the reps can respond to a case and how long it takes to close it. If a team thousands of miles away can offer equivalent operational performance at a lower cost, transfer the work to them. Everything in and about the center is transactional, focused only on the specific data needed to move cases from Open to Closed. If long-term profitability is a factor at all in performance evaluation, nobody in the center is aware of it. The result is that the real value in those interactions remains untapped and ignored.

The Sales team, in virtually all companies, “owns” the customer relationship. But for most, that “relationship” is only about the initial transaction. The customer buys a product, the sales rep receives their commission and moves on to the next new customer and sale. Maybe there is some aftermarket money to be made from options or services, or perhaps later from selling the customer an upgrade, but the real action is over. The flash and sparkle is done. The investment in gaining the customer is largely written off. While the company’s marketing literature may speak glowingly to the contrary, the truth is clearly demonstrated every day in the customer contact center. And the customers who call soon realize it.

In the SaaS (Software as a Service) ecosystem, where there isn’t supposed to be a front-loaded sales event, the ingrained tradition of Sales’ ownership of the customer still persists. What is being sold is still a product rather than a relationship. Down in the contact center, it’s business as usual. While there may be other teams peering into the database and mining it for answers later, what the customer encounters hasn’t changed in this brave new world of “CRM analytics” and “business intelligence.”

Is your company different? Please send me an e-mail about how I would recognize that difference if I spent a morning observing in your customer contact center. More importantly, tell me how your customers experience that difference and what measurable results come of that knowledge.

April 10, 2007