In choosing a CRM, how important is service, and how does service tie into cost?
When deciding on a CRM application—or actually for just about any software application—many companies consider “service” to be synonymous with “support.” This isn’t actually true, as service is the broader category that embraces support. Support is, however, very important. If you’re not getting great support, you’re not going to stick with that solution very long.
When it comes to CRM, an important question is: should the support ticket system be part of the CRM application? I don’t believe it necessarily should, as there are several different top-rated support ticket platforms available, such as Freshdesk and Zendesk. Why reinvent the wheel? The CRM should easily integrate with such a platform (like ours, Pipeliner CRM, can do), and you can have the best of both worlds.
Pipeliner also offers instant chat, our knowledge base and the product tour as additional support methods.
The Service Culture
Service and technology are very much two different things. An application can have the best possible technology, usability, and functionality in place and running smoothly. But unlike technology, service is something that is actually delivered to the customer. It’s not something that the customer is using, it’s something that the customer experiences.
While “everyone knows” how important service is, and we see it beautifully expressed in company mission and vision statements, the reality of service is—often disappointingly—a different matter. They talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.
An example just happened within my own household. We’ve had the same family dentist for the last 7 years. My son has a dental situation, so my wife called the dental office and asked if she could get an appointment. The receptionist rudely replied, “No. We have no appointments available.” My wife couldn’t believe it and pointed out that we’d been patients there for 7 years. Our son needs to be seen. It made no difference. This rude receptionist basically told my wife that she could bring my son in early Monday morning (when he was supposed to be in school) or wait until the end of the year when the first appointment was available.
A service-oriented culture obviously does not exist at this dental office.
Recommendations Follow Service
This dental office not only lost my family as patients, but my wife has now told all her friends about this bad experience, too. Which leads to the next very important point about service, and why a service culture within a company is so vitally important.
In this totally transparent digital age, recommendations are the currency. They follow a company and its products everywhere they show up. Recommendations are either gained through great service or lost through bad service. For that reason, it is incredibly important to train that service culture into every aspect of a company, especially those that touch its prospects and customers in any way.
Unfortunately, humans don’t necessarily naturally service people. They can be lazy, unmannerly, selfish, or surly. There can be a free-flowing passage between the heart and the brain—or it can be totally stopped up like a freeway at rush hour. People sometimes are, but often they’re not, capable of putting themselves in the shoes of their customers. That is why they must be trained, and management must constantly put attention on it.
Technology is not the hardest thing to change within a company—it is the human beings who deal directly with prospects and customers. That is why a company must embed service directly into its genetic code, which is how we’ve operated at Pipeliner from the beginning.
Of course, this service culture begins at the top; management must set the ultimate example. It’s similar to parents setting the example for children—if the parents set the example, the children will follow. Management is the “parents” in the company.
Relationship to Cost
Service—along with functionality and usability—is related directly to cost. When a company provides provide great service, people will generally pay for it. Just think back to the last time you were in a restaurant: if you had a great experience, you left a good tip. If not, you most likely didn’t.
Cost correlates with what the customer receives. This means the technology, usability, functionality, and how customers are treated, which is service.
When selecting a CRM, take a look around and see how other customers are responding to it. Take a look at the reviews. Actually contact some users, if you can. The more you will be paying for that CRM solution, the more important it is to look for detailed feedback on it.
Another vital aspect—related to cost as well—is transparency. Know exactly what you’re getting, what features and service will be provided for the money paid. This is another very crucial factor when it comes to our digital world, because a reputation for non-transparency will spread rapidly, and potential customers will soon know about it.
A fantastic example of how not to be transparent is given to us by cell phone providers. In their contracts, there is fine print that it would take a Ph.D. to understand—and generally, you don’t understand what it implies until you get your bill, and see pages of charges that you never expected and cannot understand at all. It’s totally infuriating! All these bizarre charges wouldn’t matter so much if they were made clear right up front, and the user understood them. It’s no surprise that cell phone providers are now offering “zero down” to attract customers.
At Pipeliner, we have always applied cybernetics, the science of simplicity, to make it possible for users and potential users to easily understand our CRM application as well as our charges. Simplicity certainly makes for transparency, and for cost-effectiveness.
A great quote along these lines, attributed to Albert Einstein, is, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
When looking for and selecting a CRM application, ask these questions as they relate to service and cost.
- What kind of positive reviews is this CRM product getting?
- Specifically, what do users say about service from this CRM provider?
- How highly do customers rate the CRM provider’s support?
- How transparent is the solution? Can you easily tell how it will work for you? Can you also tell exactly what you will be charged for?
- Compare cost with functionality, usability, and technology. Is the return on investment fairly obvious?
Stay tuned for the rest of our practical CRM section criteria!