Magazine article CRM Magazine

How to Make Millions "Delighting" Customers: Spurring Growth, Profitability with CRM

Magazine article CRM Magazine

How to Make Millions "Delighting" Customers: Spurring Growth, Profitability with CRM

Article excerpt

When Michael Bloomberg took over as New York City's mayor in 2002 he envisioned providing New Yorkers with better customer service, creating a "citizen-service" mindset among the city's employees. To achieve his vision, the city's IT organization chose to partner with Accenture, to deliver a 311 "non-emergency" service.

Indeed, acting upon Mr. Bloomberg's vision was no small feat, since the list of city services alone took 4,000 entries on 14 pages of the NYC telephone book. With an operating budget of $40 billion and more than 300,000 employees providing 900 different services for eight million residents, New York City ranks among the largest, most complex governmental organizations in the U.S.

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The new 311 system had to replace 40 separate call centers spread across 50 agencies.

Yet despite the many challenges, in nine months NYC residents were able to dial "3-1-1" to get information on any city service or file a complaint in any of more than 170 languages. Today, the Citizen Service Center provides callers with more personalized service, faster problem resolution and easier access to knowledgeable help.

By fulfilling Mayor Bloomberg's "customer centricity" mandate, the New York City initiative demonstrates the ability of "great CRM" to transform how an organization performs.

Originally focused on automating sales transactions and streamlining customer service, CRM today is about much more than operating efficiency and cost reduction. In fact, experts agree, the latest advances in managing customer relationships are also the most effective way to achieve a competitive edge, spur profitable growth and expand revenue opportunities.

Given the economic downturn of the past few years, skeptical executives may view the last statement as mere hyperbole.

Yet common sense indicates that focusing primarily on controlling costs and maximizing existing relationships is a recipe for stagnation.

As the economic outlook improves, companies must once again focus on innovation and growth.

Undoubtedly, the CRM industry has done time in a "trough of disillusionment" during which corporate customers, expecting ever-greater returns, bet heavily on CRM implementations that, in some cases, internal users didn't buy into, or didn't quite fit the customer strategies in place.

Organizations have come to understand that investing in extensive CRM technology solutions won't lead to new or better customer relationships. "Understanding that people and process issues are critical--making up at least 70% of the mix--is vital to CRM success," says Barton Goldenberg, president of ISM Inc., a leading market research firm in Bethesda, Md.

This may explain why so many organizations struggled at first to achieve their customer strategy objectives.

In addition to mastering the technology, they also had to change processes, gain buy-in from users and top management, and deal with a raft of internal cultural issues to successfully implement CRM.

"Organizations had to learn that CRM is really not about technology, it's a way of doing business," says John Freeland, global managing partner, Accenture CRM Service Line.

BECOMING CUSTOMER CENTRIC

New processes, organizational renovations and a clear understanding of the many people-related challenges are now enabling organizations to gain a solid return on their CRM investments, and drive clear business benefits home for corporate management.

In essence, organizations learned that to gain customer success, they must become customer centric. "The value of customer relationships is built on each customer's overall experience, through each of the different touch points used and their experiences over time," says Alton Adams, who heads the Customer Insight practice at Accenture.

This explains why smaller, isolated or limited CRM solutions and initiatives don't span enough of an organization to enable customer-centricity, and simply don't create the kind of customer loyalty most companies crave, he adds. …

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