As I was putting the wrappings on some work this late Friday night, I came across an article written by a consultant regarding Customer Relationship Management. As I read through her article, a thought hit me.
Customer Relationship Management — this goal of getting to know your customer better is, in its simplest form, to repeat the way business was done before the onslaught of the information technology age.
Before there were giant malls, online stores, franchises, self-service grocery lines, ATMS, international business trips and web sites, companies did business face to face. That was it. Companies got to know their customers in order to better service them. Corner drug stores, neighborhood grocery stores, tailors, gas stations and the like all operated on the same principal – the deeper the relationship with your customer, the more you sold them.
Over the past few decades, we have adopted milestones of technology and have seen the departure of this means of doing business in order to make way for handling thousands or millions of customers. "Grow big fast" was the mantra of the dot com days and the only way to handle that many customers was to treat them like a number – get them in , get them out and move on to the next customer.
As a result, call centers boomed as a way to handle the customers and soon they transitioned into contact centers as a way to handle more than just calls. Emails became yet another way to contact the business and soon after web chats. In order to stave off the growing costs of supporting these contact centers, self-service applications popped up on internet sites (FAQs) and self-service Interactive Voice Response (IVR). In an attempt to make automated customer interactions ever more real-life, speech recognition started to take over.
Then companies thought that they could handle even more customers, more cheaply, if they off-shored the contact centers to other countries – to India, China and the Philippines.
All of this effort, all of this technology, all in order to make more money. But the problem is we’ve forgotten about the customer relationship.
And now we are in a recession. What next? How do you make money now?
Your goal, if you own a business, are an employee in a business, or are trying to find a job in a business, is to remember your father’s way of doing business — with a handshake, a smile, and the question, "How can I help you today?"
Technology can help. Interactive Intelligence has solutions that make all of this possible and we’d love to talk to you about how to make that happen. But it must start with a change in your mindset about how you perceive your customers. Are you serious about building your customer relationships?
We are. How can we help you today?
Let me know your thoughts.