Customer Intelligence Across the Enterprise Can Ensure Customer Loyalty
May 05, 2006
By Susan J. Campbell, Workforce Management Contributing Editor
Anyone in business should be asking themselves, “Am I taking care of my customers?” If the person cannot answer this question affirmatively, chances are their competition will soon be able to.
Beyond the ability to answer the question provided above with a yes, businesses need to be able to effectively define what it means to take care of their customer. Does it mean that an order is filled on time and properly billed? Does it mean that a customer resolution is resolved quickly and smoothly? The answer to both of these questions is yes, but also no.
The ‘no’ fits above because the truth is that these things are no longer enough to ensure that your customer remains loyal to you. One of the biggest mistakes that a company can make is to assume that because a customer has never had any problems and has not contacted the company with a request, that the customer is happy and content.
Making this assumption usually means that the company hasn’t contacted the customer either. The result can be that the customer feels that their business is of no value to the company and therefore no loyalty exists. The chances of this customer switching to the competition if the right offer is presented? Nearly 100 percent.
In today’s competitive economy, a majority of companies have implemented applications such as sales force automation, contact centers or customer self-service sites on the Web. These applications produce significant amounts of customer data such as demographics, buying patterns and profitability. Inside this information, the organization can find the secrets to ensuring customer loyalty and decreasing the overall operating costs.
Therein lies the opportunity for organizations to capitalize on this information. The simple capturing does nothing if the enterprise cannot analyze this information and integrate it into its business applications. This can not only improve business planning, but will also enable the enterprise to right fit products and services to an individual’s preferences and buying patterns.
Organizations willing to incorporate customer data into their business processes can then create competitive differentiation as well as deliver exceptional service to their customers. The contact center can be redefined as the customer knowledge center becomes the strategic focus for managing every customer interaction and funneling the customer information across the enterprise.
Beyond the benefits of increasing customer loyalty, customer knowledge can also create more intelligent interactions with your customers. These interactions can be more efficient, saving time and reducing costs by creating faster resolutions. In addition, value can be added by using customer knowledge to maximize each customer interaction and initiate new business.
One of the most efficient ways to capture this data is to move as many processes or interactions as possible to the Internet or Web site in order to streamline operations, thus reducing operating costs. While research indicates that the majority of customers still prefer to speak with an individual by phone when a question or problem arises, significant amounts of valuable data can be captured in just one customer interaction via the Web that can be integrated into business applications across the enterprise.
Competition will continue to exist and become increasingly fierce as time and technology keep moving. The potential for a customer to make a switch will continue to foster, unless you create loyalty within your customer base and keep it as a focus in all strategies moving forward. You will then know for certain that you are really taking care of your customers.
Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit Susan J. Campbell’s columnist page.