This is the second of a series of articles focused on
the execution of CRM, directed primarily to software resellers, vendors,
and consultants. In our last article, we discussed ways in which the design
and implementation phases of CRM could be more effective if you took on
a more proactive role in the sales process. One of the main problems,
if not the most prevalent, is inadequate analysis and planning during
the software evaluation process. We also pointed out that at minimum during
the sales cycle, you should help your customer develop an Organizational
Readiness GAP Analysis, a CRM Strategy, and Critical Success Factors for
Prior to developing a CRM strategy critical success factors, it is critical
to assess the current state of the company in relation to CRM, both internally
and externally. The focus of an organizational readiness GAP analysis
is on the internal state of the company. In this article, we will begin
addressing the external environment and its effect on how you design a
CRM strategy, specifically the Voice of the Customer.
Let’s first define the external environment. It is made up of the
industry in which you and your client do business in: its customers, its
products, and the competition’s capabilities, strengths, weaknesses
and position. Why is this environment important? The goal of a CRM strategy
is to establish a differentiated position for your company by creating
and delivering value to your customers. To do this, you must know what
your customers want, what the market needs, and what your competition
is doing to fulfill these wants and needs. Otherwise, you are a ship without
The Voice of the Customer or VOC is the single, most important
part of analyzing the external environment. The VOC is a disciplined approach
that aids in identifying, understanding and prioritizing customer needs
and improves communications with customers. It ensures that customer requirements,
needs and behaviors are embedded into the CRM processes.
The VOC is a process of gathering customer information and feedback,
formally or informally. The VOC can originate from several sources: surveys,
interviews, focus groups, research studies, complaints, service calls,
observations, returns, etc. It is always a good idea to create a unified
plan for gathering this information during the planning stage of CRM as
well as going forward. Ownership of the VOC process must also be clear
and assigned to a manager that is well-respected. This allows for faster
identification and resolution of issues.
Analyzing the VOC should result in the identification of points of
pain, i.e. what areas or processes cause frustration, confusion, or
little value for customers? For example, if there are continuous complaints
about a company’s website always being down, then a point of pain
is the use of the website and an action should be taken to gather internal
data on website usage through the IT area. External feedback can then
be validated against internal quality data to ensure that this is a valid
point of pain so improvements can be justified and made to the website.
Once the VOC data and information have been gathered and points of pain
have been identified, it’s important to answer the following questions:
- How do the customers come into contact with your company?
- How well do you know your customers? What do you kow about them? Don’t
just limit this to contact information. Focus on demographic information,
behavioral data, potential for growth, etc.
- What don’t you know about your customers? Ask yourselves if
you know what your customers want to feel and remember.
- • Where does the voice of customer exist within the departments,
people, processes, and areas of the company?
To learn more about developing a CRM strategy and listening to the voice
of the customer, you may want to look into training and professional development
courses focusing on the voice of the customer. There are many techniques
that can be used to obtain the VOC and incorporate it as part of your
In the next article, we will cover the analysis of an industry and the
competitive environments and its role in a CRM strategy.
Dr. Nancy Rauseo is on the faculty of Florida International University’s
College of Business Administration where she teaches marketing and CRM.
Nancy holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Purdue
University and an M.B.A and Ph.D. from Nova Southeastern University. Prior
to her teaching career, she held various senior management positions for
over 20 years in the areas of sales, marketing and technology implementation.
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