Technology enhances, not replaces service

Our final tip about getting the most out of CRM is related to the philosophy of delivering customer service. Many of us can relate to the frustration of calling a service provider, being told how we're an important and valued customer, only to then step through 3 lots of menus which don't really match our needs.

While there are good cost saving arguments to this approach to implementing technology, not many people could honestly say it improves service. The same can be said for many CRM systems, with the common distinction that they're mostly used by people - your staff - to deliver service to other people - your customers or stakeholders.

The most important key to successfully implementing CRM is to recognise that it is about people interacting with people. The technology is just a tool to enhance the quality, consistency and efficiency of that service delivery. CRM solutions alone don't make up for rude, poorly trained or uncommitted staff delivering bad customer service.

In line with this, CRM solutions should be evaluated for their ability to support your staff. Good customer service means harnessing the initiative, creativity and intelligence of staff, and reducing the impediments to their efforts, be it administrative burdens, motivation and morale or leadership. CRM should be seen as a tool for staff to enhance service, not a method of removing people - or substituting less skilled people - in the service process.

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