The Empowered Agent: A Customer Service Agent’s First Reflection On CRM

by | The Customer Experience

The Empowered Agent: A Customer Service Agent’s First Reflection On CRM

by | Dec 18, 2019 | The Customer Experience

Are your customer service agents empowered?

My name is Dan Simpson and I am a new Azamba CRM Concierge. I facilitate implementation of Sage and Dynamics 365 CRM systems by coordinating with my customers and our consultants to identify, prioritize, and solve problems. It is a customer-facing, hybrid service/facilitator role, somewhat like a hotel concierge.

CRM is a new term for me, but it is not exactly a new concept. CRM enables businesses to provide consistent, high-quality service to their customers.

Service is familiar to me. I have driven ride share cars and worked behind a few fancy cocktail bars in Chicago. While driving, I maintained an impressive customer service rating worth being proud of by constantly thinking about what my riders want and anticipating those needs whenever possible to provide an exceptional experience. Behind the bar, I strove to learn what my guest likes, to know my audience, so I can provide them with the experience they want, or better yet, an experience that’s surprisingly exceptional.

But while service is not new to me, CRM is. So far, I am super impressed.

54% of respondents say they have higher expectations of customer service than they did 1 year ago.

Microsoft State of Global Customer Service 2018

 

Even if you have never worked in customer service or sales, you might be able to imagine the kinds of software an agent would use to help you effectively solve your problems: all information relevant to you and the problem you are having would be right in front of them, magically.

Don’t ask me how. Wait, hold on. Yes, please ask me. I know this one.

What form of magic is being used to the empower the happy customer service agent?

Good question. Why, it is CRM, of course!

CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is software businesses use to, well, manage the relationships they have with their customers. But not only customers— also partners, distributors, suppliers, referrals, vendors, and any other business relationship one can define. More importantly, I have learned utilizing CRM is part of a business strategy that helps define and integrate best practices for business processes and procedures, something that is essential for all businesses.

Customer service agents should not be expected to dig through endless materials, wasting their own time and their company’s resources, nor should agents be expected to become Excel masters in order to find simple, routine customer data.

There is a better way. That way is CRM.

In my training at Azamba, I began to see the value of CRM systems, primarily Dynamics 365, the CRM environment my team uses. The more I learned, the more I wondered: how did anything get done before CRM?

For instance, what if one of my customers asked me to set up a meeting with one of our CRM Success Coaches?

To help ensure a successful meeting I need at least a dozen pieces of information: account name, the name and e-mail address of the customer, the Success Coach, Concierge, as well as half a dozen pieces of information about the account itself in addition to any meeting-specific info.

If that information isn’t centralized, I’d be stuck scanning spreadsheets, searching binders, notebooks and post-its, making a few calls, and/or sending an e-mail or two, just to find these pieces of information so I can set a meeting.

Alternately, using CRM, I can make an Account List view in Dynamics 365, which shows me virtually all this necessary data in a single view. I don’t have to jump around different screens to find what I need to set a meeting. Now, instead of 10 minutes to set a meeting, it’s 2. While that is only 8 minutes gained, Azamba Concierges set a lot of meetings!

56% of global respondents have stopped doing business with a brand due to a poor customer service experience.

Microsoft State of Global Customer Service 2018

 

Ok… Imagine. There you are.

Gosh golly, you’re at home having an issue with that thing you just bought that you maybe didn’t really need but really want to work. After you’ve exhausted all your resources, you give up and call a customer service agent to hopefully resolve the issue with your…whatever.

After a few minutes of automated back and forth that does nothing to address your problem, you finally reach a customer service agent. They ask you everything you were just asked by the automated machine, which apparently didn’t pass along your info to the agent (so, what was the point?). Your agent is in a bustling call center and they ask for a moment while they pull up your information.

Then, time stands still. All you can seem to hear over the din of the background noise is the intermittent loud hammering of a keyboard, apparently made in 1978 from the remnants of old drum kits. This is followed by a disturbing pause only filled by the background noise and the audible breathing of your agent. More hammering. Then, more heavy breathing.

In these moments, which last approximately forever, there is tremendous fear rising. You’re in a kind of limbo–a customer service purgatory. You begin to question your life choices.

Finally, you ask yourself, ‘Self, why does it seem like my agent has to use several different computers from different centuries located in different buildings to which they don’t have keys only to realize they still don’t have the information needed to resolve my problem?’

While it is possible an agent like this is using a form, or even forms, of CRM, it is clearer they are utilizing disparate, isolated sets of data in order to try to solve problems. CRM is not empowering this agent.

This customer service agent is unempowered, and likely unhappy. And now you’re unhappy, too.

96% of respondents say that customer service is important in their choice of loyalty to a brand.

Microsoft State of Global Customer Service 2018

 

Imagine. There you are again.

Gol’ darnit, you’re at home having an issue with a different thing and you pick up the phone and dial.

After an impossibly short pause, filled with light, friendly conversation, a different customer service agent has your information pulled up and almost seems to anticipate the problem you’re having, yet still takes the time to listen and understand the issues you’re having all while effortlessly referencing information relevant to your account and case. You feel understood.

Then, your agent takes a step-by-step approach to solving your problem. After a bit of troubleshooting, your problem has been solved, your thing is fixed, and you can happily go about the rest of your day. You feel relieved.

During exceptional customer service experiences like these, you don’t notice what’s going on in the background, do you? You are simply happy your thing got fixed.

CRM makes these interactions possible by empowering the people tasked with helping you.

People like me.

OnTrack concierge bellCRM lets me be the customer service agent that saves the day. I get to listen to, coordinate on behalf of, and help my customers achieve their goals.

CRM is what enables a non-Excel expert, like me, the ability to slice through account and customer data and communications like cutting through warm honey butter with a hot knife. For instance, I can drill down and find just about any customer interaction, instead of having to ask my team to dig up old conversations and report back on what was said.

CRM is how I keep focus on my customer’s needs. It is how I keep my customers happy.

Customers expect more from brands when it comes to convenience, resolution times, and agent expertise. Brands that deliver are rewarded.

Microsoft State of Global Customer Service 2018

 

Dynamics 365 allows me to have the information relevant to the problems I’m trying to solve on my screen at one time. I can pull up a custom Project view and get up to date on dozens of hours of coordination and work done by my colleagues, including a timeline of communications. This allows me and my team to make quick decisions and find actionable or relevant data more effectively, which helps me solve my customer’s problems more quickly. And the quicker I can solve their problems, the more opportunity my customers have to reach their goals.

I can even automate repetitive tasks and free up my own time so I can pay even closer attention to my customer’s needs. That’s the “Invisible Personal Assistant” the President of Azamba, Peter Wolf, talks about when singing the praises of CRM.

Most importantly, CRM empowers me to deliver exceptional customer experiences, which is what helps to differentiate Azamba from our competition. At Azamba, we believe we can help small and medium sized businesses differentiate themselves from their competition in the same way we have through smart CRM.

 

Dan Simpson is an Azamba CRM Concierge. He has spent the last 5 years in various customer-facing roles, facilitating a diverse set of projects and events, and providing consistent, high-quality service to his customers and clients.

Dan's goal is to anticipate and fulfill (or exceed!) his customers' needs so he can provide them with truly exceptional customer experiences.

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