Creating a Genuine Customer Relationship Management System
The Customer-Centric Paradigm of Interlink Business Solutions, Inc.
by Dino Kempis Ngo (Interlink)
The four aspects of a customer-centric organization
Our basic business premise is that customers are the financial lifeblood of every business organization, so that long-term customer satisfaction has to be the goal of all organizations. The focus of a relationship-based approach to doing business is an understanding of what the customer wants and needs and a view of the customer as a long-term asset who will provide a stream of earnings as long as his or her needs are satisfied.
To achieve this goal, we hold that all organizational activities must be centered around one thing - the customer and how to satisfy him. This customer-centric view of the organization can be described by 4 P's : Product, Process, Performance, People.
With this in mind, Interlink believes that to be a true customer-relationship based management system, each aspect of the organization must be strengthened and organized to provide the most efficient service to the customer.
The first aspect is the product. We ask ourselves what is the core competence or the essence of the product or service being provided by the company. For example, a third-party logistics provider specializing in direct transportation services may define its product as delivery service. A printing press company may either define its product as labels or printed materials. Or they may even define their product as graphic services. A trading company or a distribution company may define its product as the items they are selling, although another way of looking at it is that they are not selling items but are providing distribution services to enable manufacturers to reach the final consumers.
Regardless of what the product or service is, the first and foremost concern is how do we supply the product (or service). Secondly, how do we make sure that the product or service is available when the customer wants or needs it.
(1) We ensure that the equipment used to create the product (or service) is up and running. For example, the printing equipment must be maintained properly. The trucks or delivery vans must also be maintained properly. The company must be able to monitor the proper maintenance of its equipment
After ensuring that the service is made available, we put our sights on the processes that support the delivery of the service. They must be optimized, made efficient and fast.
(1) You make it easy for the customer to place his order by setting up an order entry system that can accomodate any type of communication with the customer (phone, fax, internet, etc.) Along with his order, what are his expectations? How quickly does he need it? What can we do to meet or even exceed his expectations?
The third aspect to consider is how well did we perform the service (or the Quality of the service). We define and then monitor the parameters that make a quality delivery. Offhand, we can cite promptness and punctuality, correctness in delivering the item and ensuring goods are in perfect condition. We must ask ourselves the following questions
(1) How do we ensure that service is performed quickly and on time?
The fourth aspect to consider is the people interaction.
(1) Did we handle customer complaints speedily and correctly? Were they resolved to the customers' satisfaction.?
It is our belief that attitudes and practices cascade down from the company to the customers. Satisfied employees produce satisfied customers. An employee-responsive HR department will create customer-responsive employees. Thus, we ask the parallel questions like:
(1) When employees ask about their leaves balances and availability, were they answered speedily? Was it convenient for the employees to interact with the HR dept.?
At the end of the day, employees must be empowered to be able to respond quickly, efficiently and respectfully to the customer
Meeting customer needs and wants
According to Maslow's Hierarchy will even consider his safety needs (home or shelter). After that comes the need for of Needs, a person's needs follow a certain order in terms of fulfillment from physiological to psychological. Meaning, physical needs (such as food and clothing) must first be met before anyone attachment or belonging (to a family). Only after all these needs are met would a person consider his need for self-esteem or self-actualization (his dreams, his ambitions, etc.)
It is our tenet that this concept finds a parallel in organizations and that any business transaction must meet the needs of the customer in a similar fashion.
The core product or service is the essence of what we offer. It fulfills the customers basic need, his "physiological" need.
The process (support services and systems) of the company caters to the customers' safety needs. The customer must feel secure that the products is supported by the company
The performance guarantee of the company shows the customer that the company cares about what happens to the customer. This basically meets the attachment and belongingness needs of the customer.
The people interaction skills of the company finally addresses the self-esteem needs of the customer. The company must show that it respects the customer enough to listen to him and respond to his needs.
With this in mind, we declare that the customer satisfaction can only be achieved when the company meets the self-esteem needs of the customer . Of course, this requires that the company must also meet the other three lower needs of the customer. Conceptually, we can show this as follows :
This implies that a true customer-centric organization will have to heavily develop their people delivery systems for ultimately, it is the people-to-people, emotional interactions that will create a satisfied customer.
You may have the best product, the best delivery systems and the highest quality product in the market but without the properly developed personnel, the pyramid will topple to the ground. The foundation of any customer-relationship management system is the people in the company.
Truly, it is the satisfied employee that creates satisfied customers.
Promoting Customer Satisfaction
To add value to customer interactions, we compiled a short but not necessarily comprehensive list of policies and practices which may be helpful in promoting customer satisfaction:
The genuine CRM System
Taking this into account, we declare that a true Customer Relationship Management System must encompass the total business organization. It is not confined to merely gathering data on present and prospective customers nor does a simple help-desk suffice. Rather, it is the sume of the different management practices initiated to improve efficiency, and quality supported by an information technology infrastructure. Practices such as quality circles, best practices, service-orientation, etc. The information technology infrastructure must embrace all these aspects, from production to sales to HR if the organization wishes to truly create customer satisfaction. In the end, the payback from increased customer satisfaction is their loyalty, ensuring a continouous revenue stream from them for years to come.