Measuring customer service with CRM

CRM is more than just sales force automation. A complete CRM solution will have to engage cutomers, negotiate business transactions, fulfill orders and ensure customer satisfaction.

Is customer service measurable?

Well, the people at SAP certainly think so. Regardless of the industry that they operate in, “we can customize our CRM to fit their needs because the way each company deals with their customers is different,” enthused Satyavrath Krishnaswamy, SAP’s business development director for CRM in Asia.

Also, customer point of contact with the company is different - some prefer the phone while others use the Net a lot more - but that should not be a handicap once the front-end of the company is well integrated with the back-end on the CRM.

Is CRM more than just Sales Force Automation? YES

The customer who interacts with the company via the phone, the Net or in a remote location should not be inconvenienced just because their data is kept by another department or person. In a centralized CRM system, customers’ information can be made easily accessible to those who handle customer service – and a component of their appraisal should be measured by customer retention.

The issue, as Satyavrath puts it, is not with the technical capabilities of the system but rather the integration from the online sales to the back office logistics operations.

“One famous case of irreconcilable differences in customer service was the 1999 Christmas e-tailing fiasco – we saw how the front end of many Web sites was taking orders without checking whether the back end has available stock. There was no one matching the orders to the delivery schedule and neither was there a mechanism to inform customers if they can’t fulfill the orders,” said Satyavrath.

“A lot of people who rushed to put up Web sites were burnt. Those customers who didn’t get their orders sent in time for Christmas were scarred by the experience and the entire sales force automation vendors got a bad rap.”

This is what a CRM system should deliver – from engaging the customer and negotiating business transactions through fulfilling orders and ensuring customer satisfaction. It is more than just automating your sales force. It is about automating your company’s entire customer service!

ISM Inc., a customer relationship management (CRM) consulting and analysis firm, has named mySAP CRM as one of its Top 15 CRM software packages for 2001. The Top 15 selections are featured in ISM's ninth edition of "The Guide to CRM Automation".

Of the 12 customers who signed up for version 2.0c last year, Satyavrath is happy to share that Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (Australia) and Stateline (China) have gone live.

"We designed mySAP CRM to manage the complete customer relationship online," he explained. “Purchasing managers can enter or change their forecasts directly into their company’s systems via a Web store, then make the changes visible to all affected suppliers in their own portals."

This can happen only when front-end Web store systems are accessing the back-end database, with full interaction from suppliers and partners, from operative CRM to collaborative and analytical CRM. “Our customers now have for the first time, through the Internet, cover all the bases with their customers, their final consumers and their suppliers because CRM to us is not like a plug-in SFA that do not talk to the supply chain. Plug-in SFAs are like islands of information that are difficult to coordinate and it demands a lot of interfacing.

SAP has a total of 22 different desktop interfaces that is role-based and creating new functions like how to measure effectiveness of marketing programs with the same fields and user policy as a company’s application software creates a consistent user interface that disrupts the least people.

This is relevant to a sales manager who can see which customer has responded to their marketing promotions and act accordingly in the follow-up with confidence “so that a customer who already has a superior product from the company is not offered an inferior one. It’s simple logic but many CRM systems do not capture that information or they just can’t,” he added. For fulfilment to be successful, information should be reflected across all sales channels, be it the sales manager, portal, call center.

This is key to why mySAP CRM integrates with for supply chain management, business intelligence, e-selling and product life-cycle management. “It may sound like everything but the kitchen sink, and believe me – operational CRM by itself is nothing without analytical and collaborative tools – and building long-term customer satisfaction is the goal,” Satyavrath surmised.