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Customer Interaction Points Help You Understand Customer Expectations

Why is understanding customer expectation necessary for delivering profitable services? Because it reduces waste, increases productivity, and helps customers get what they want quickly. Nevertheless, how do you collect and maintain information about what customers expect?

One solution is to extract this information from customer interaction points and store it in your customer relationship management (CRM) system.

Customer interaction points are any time a customer interfaces with your company, people, process, or product. It's when they call you on the phone, use your product, or even visit your location. By definition it's a point in time where a customer and your company come together, therefore it might be the most logical place to collect details about customer expectations.

Collecting these details and putting them to use is often the most difficult part. You already have nuggets of understanding about customer expectations hidden all over your company today. How do you mine these insights for a complete usable understanding?

A CRM software solution is the ideal place to bring this data together and make it useful. It's critical to provide access to your CRM system at all customer interaction points and train your employees on effectively using the system.

Let CRM collect details across company service areas, real-time as your company interacts with customers. Organizing customer expectations by interaction lets you address certain concerns around predefined events. These details give you a better understanding of customer needs at certain points of interaction.

To deliver profitable services, reinforce expectations that best influence buying behavior at interaction points where customers are most likely to purchase (by measure.) Understanding customer expectations is probably easiest in your service department.

If a customer calls for service on something they already own, they usually expect repair services. However, what does this same customer expect if they called their sales representative for pricing on a unit of higher capacity instead?

Knowing they already own a smaller unit changes customer expectations, are they replacing a broken unit, having capacity problems, pricing your competitors too, or even unaware of your repair services.

Would sales know enough about this customer to address their issue quickly? Would they make the right connections to get the customer exactly what they desire, or would they stay in a sales mode to sell them something new without fully understanding their expectations?

If you use customer interaction points to understand customer expectations, the sales person working with this customer would first identify with the customer any specific expectations, develop a picture of their desired outcome, prioritize expectations, and then offer a solution best for that customer. Because the customer is involved, your people don't have to make assumptions.

At the point of interaction, it's important not to assume, but to test assumptions with a carefully organized interview to review that particular customer's expectations. Only after prioritizing those expectations would customer-facing employee take action according to customers needs.

By identifying expectations early and tracking them in a CRM system, you'll equip all parts of your organization to exceed customer expectations as easily as possible.

/ interaction-points | customer-service /

By Justin Hitt at July 24, 2004 11:50 PM  Subscribe in a reader

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