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KMF

Key-Factors to Consider in a CRM Implementation for Customer Service Success

Currently, most organizations are implementing a cloud-based CRM system for better scalability, high availability, and improved performance. There are several market leaders in cloud-based CRM solutions, such as Salesforce, Microsoft Dynamics, Zendesk, Pegasystems, etc.  However, when selecting a platform or implementing a solution, it is important to focus on the below factors, if the organization is aiming to provide best-in-class customer service.

Robust Ticket Management

Effective ticket management is the heart of any Customer Service. Therefore, the below features must be considered while implementing a CRM.

  • Efficient routing – Based on the type of customer inquiry or issue type, the inbound call/chat should be routed to the agent/department, particularly skilled/trained to handle that type of ticket. Automation can be used to configure such rules, which may include language-based routing, country/region-based routing, priority-based routing, or simply routing based on the topic.
  • Service Level Agreement – Again automation should be used to apply Service Level Agreement (SLA) to a ticket to specify a commitment that must be met by the customer service team to resolve the issue. The rule may vary by the priority or issue type. Based on business requirements, the workflow should be set up to pause the SLA, while the agent is waiting for some response from the end customer. Since most of the SLA rules are based on business hours (as opposed to calendar hours), it is important to set up an appropriate schedule to indicate weekends/holidays, while associating them to the SLA.
  • Concurrent ticket – Based on the agent’s expertise, it is often required to handle multiple tickets at the same time. For example, chat agents can pick up more than one chat, while temporarily idle on one or 2 chats. The system should allow setting limits on how many concurrent tickets an agent should handle.
  • Collaboration – Often complex issues require inputs from multiple agents and guidance from a supervisor. A live discussion forum/chat room can help them to collaborate instantly.
  • Knowledge-based articles – Depending on the issue type, relevant knowledge articles should be automatically made available to the agents to provide better assistance. 

Channel Integration             

Customers prefer to interact from any channel of their choice. In order to provide a consistent experience across all channels and at the same time enhance agent’s productivity, it is important to integrate appropriate channel connectors to the CRM platform.

  • Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) – CTI is an integral technology used in a high performing call center to act as a bridge between the telephony provider and the CRM. Using CTI, the caller is automatically identified from an inbound call with a CRM screen pop. Call control (answer/hold/transfer/conference) features are included in CTI as well. IVR (Interactive Voice response) can be used along with telephony technology to collect relevant data and intelligent routing.
  • Email– Incoming customer emails constitute a large volume of offline tickets in any call center. For efficiently managing emails, below are few key considerations for any CRM implementation.
    • Intelligent parsing of the email content, based on keywords and route them to appropriate queues.
    • Automation, to set up auto-responses.
    • Dynamic email templates for Agents for quick responses.
    • Translation service, if handling multi-lingual customer base.
    • Ability to maintain a single thread of conversation with the customer retaining the context and history.
  • Live Chat – Live Chat is the fastest way to support Customers. Also, this is an efficient tool to manage multiple concurrent integrations at the same time. As the inbound chat comes in, the integration with CRM, will identify the customer automatically and bring up all the relevant data/past interactions, so that the agent has the history/context. Couple of key features to consider while setting up Live chat.
  • Similar to other channels, automation should be set up to route the chat to the appropriate agent/team.
  • Canned messages (greetings/thank you) should be pre-configured.
  • Real-time translation service should be integrated if handling a multi-lingual customer base.
  • Quick access to KB articles to link should be available to the agent.
  • Social – Social channels (such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp) are increasingly gaining popularity in Customer Service. Therefore, while implementing the CRM, an appropriate channel connector should be integrated (if not natively supported by the platform). 
  • SMS – Another common channel for ticketing is SMS. While 2-way communication is possible, SMS is also used for one-way notification/no-reply messages/surveys, etc. 

Operational Reporting

Real-time dashboards should be built to capture key performance metrics, such as Average Call handle time, Total Time to Resolution, First Response rate, Customer Satisfaction rate, etc. Based on these analytics, appropriate training should be conducted to further improve the productivity of the Customer Service Team.

Top Call drivers should be captured as part of the analytics to decide which features should be offered through Self-Help channels in order to deflect call volume. 

Predictive Analytics

It is crucial to capture the customer’s journey to predict his/her next move. For example, customer’s transaction history, past interactions with the business, abandoned shopping cart, etc. provide incredible insight on customer behavior and can be used to forecast the pattern/need of customer or risk of leaving. Using these analytics, businesses can proactively engage with the customer with personalized and enhanced support.

Self-Service Portal

A self-help portal is a single destination for any customer to get the necessary support 24×7, all by himself/herself. Moreover, this is a must-have tool to deflect call volume as well. 

  • Knowledge Articles – Based on the type of query they have; relevant Knowledge-base articles can be searched from the site. Also, they can have access to FAQ, a discussion forum to resolve issues instantly.
  • Ability to submit/view/ follow up on tickets – Customers are also empowered to submit their own ticket offline and have visibility to the progress on the same, through a self-help portal.

Chatbot

Another tool to automate customer interaction at scale and reduce cost at the same time is an AI-powered chatbot. To elevate customer support 24×7, a chatbot or virtual agent can offer the following key features.

  • Understand the type of inquiry or intent from the input utterance, using Natural Language Processing (NLP) unit.
  • Depending on the authenticated/unauthenticated status of the customer, provide support with transactional/informational query, simply using a backend API call.
  • Respond to the customer in his/her language, as automatically detected from the input utterance.
  • Escalate the chat with complete chat history to a human agent, in case, the customer is not satisfied with the chatbot responses.

Other Automations

  • Survey – It is a standard practice to send a customer satisfaction survey, upon resolution of a ticket. Automated workflows can be configured to trigger specific surveys based on ticket types and target audience, with controlled frequency.
  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA) – In order to improve the productivity of the Customer Service team, RPA applications can be integrated to automate several routine tasks (such as data entry, back-office operations) to significantly reduce the time as well as improves data quality, removes manual errors. 

Easy Integration With Third-Party Apps

So far, we have discussed the standard components of CRM implementation for Customer Service. Based on unique business requirements, there could be several additional third-party solutions needed. For instance, Decision Tree, Field Service, Screen share, Augmented reality, Gamification, Product recommender engine – there are numerous plugins available for ready-to-use. Therefore, the CRM platform should be flexible enough to support easy integrations with external apps.  Add/ remove/replacement of a third-party plugin should cost minimum effort.

API Suite

Last but not least, while designing the architecture of an efficient Customer Service solution, APIs in the CRM platform is extremely important to build seamless connectivity in multiple applications in the broader ecosystem. For instance, the customer service data needs to be extracted and updated in real-time by a back-office system. On the other hand, a technician needs to update a ticket after finishing some product installation at the client site, from an external portal. All these use cases can be easily and securely handled with real-time API calls. 

Conclusion

Finally, while implementing a CRM for efficient Customer Service, it is important to consider both the cost and complexity of each component to be integrated. The flexibility and ability to configure the platform are enormously important for the on-going maintenance of the solution. All of the following activities should be intuitive and should not have any IT dependency: Workflow/rule management, translation, knowledgebase content, agent permission, and editing dashboards.

Also, the technological landscape is changing every day. One component integrated today may become outdated tomorrow. The overall architecture should be flexible and modular enough to allow easy replacement of an element, if necessary. 

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