(Posted by guest blogger, James Taylor)
1:1 Magazine had an interesting post this week titled "Loyal to what" that discussed a challenge for companies trying to build customer loyalty. As the article says,
But what happens when those employees succeed a little too well -- when the customer ends up being loyal more to the salesperson than to the products and services offered by the company itself?
Clearly this is not what most companies have in mind. They are not trying to build loyalty to a specific individual, instead they are trying to create loyalty to the store or bank or brand. How to do this, how to manage the ongoing process of building and sustaining loyalty without unnecessarily transferring it to a specific employee is a challenge. One of those quoted in the article suggests
that companies institutionalize behaviors. "Starbucks has a huge employee training program, where they invest heavily to make sure it's a very positive experience. And yes you may love your barista, but if she leaves, the next one is going to be equally warm and friendly."
But what else can you do? Specifically, how can adopting enterprise decision management (EDM) help you increase loyalty and keep it associated with the company, not an individual.
The first thing to consider is why it is that customers become loyal to a particular person. Perhaps that person got something done for them or made them a really compelling offer. Perhaps that person took the time to read the customer's file and so dealt with them appropriately. Perhaps they just have a knack for making a customer feel loved. While there is not much EDM can do about the last one, there is plenty of opportunity for EDM in the overall management of customer loyalty.
If you focus on the decisions that customers want made about them (pricing, refunds, shipping prices and times, offers, loyalty programs) as well as those you want to make about them (cross-sell, up-sell, retention offers) and automate and improve those decisions using EDM you can do a lot:
- By automating decisions you can ensure that customers are not referred around the organization unnecessarily. The first person they speak to can act immediately because the system can deliver the answer without having to get a supervisor on the line. They won't become loyal to the individual who can "work the system" if the system empowers everyone.
- By embedding best practices as rules in a decision, every use of the CRM system can respond like the most successful, at least at some level. So the difference between the best and the worst customer service representative will be smaller making it less likely that one particular representative will become a customer's favorite.
- Using predictive analytics and statistically significant segmentation rules, customers can be treated more appropriately and in a more targeted fashion. Their wants and likes can be more accurately included in decisions made about how to treat them. Automation of this means that everyone can see the trends in the behavior and value of a customer and know what action to take. Trying to use dashboards and reports means that only the most analytically sophisticated representatives can do this, risking the transference of loyalty to them not the company.
- Automation means that the same decision can be delivered through any channel - at the store, on the web, in the call center. Consistency of treatment builds loyalty (assuming the treatment is not obnoxious) and knowing that you can get the same treatment from anyone keeps that loyalty linked to the company not to an individual. Instead of always coming to the branch to see a particular person they will know that they can use any channel and still get great service.
Great service and customer loyalty take more than EDM for sure, but EDM is a key component in a customer loyalty strategy that delivers loyalty to the company not to individuals. Other posts on this topic include:
- What's old is new - personalization is back
- Using EDM to make call centers work better
- Automating decisions for better customer service
- Using EDM to meet CRM challenges and use what you know about your customers
- New White Paper on Smart-Enough Customer Decisions
- Using EDM in the loyalty economy
- A refund story
- Customer Loyalty, EDM and "the corner store"