Forecasting the next customer demands

Information management is a forgotten aspect of predicting customer experience and customer satisfaction. How can you find out what customers are demanding from your organization without the necessary information directly from your customers? The importance of managing information is first organizing how the information is collected, analyzed and finally how the information is used to improve service. “Any firm that can master the complexity of information can master the complexity of multiple customers and products” (Davenport, 77). Management should be using the information to forecast the future customer demands, needs and wants the same way the weather people on television uses Doppler radar to predict the next big weather maker. The information should be used to predict the demands from customers. The reports need to be created with a value driver instead of just creating a report to show management reports are being produced. Report are only pages with numbers, unless the numbers can determine a conclusion to improve customer service.

Garbage in, Garbage out

The key factor for managing information starts with how the data is collected into the CRM database. The whole reason for a CRM tool is to improve customer service and customer experience and not about the data. The mistake most organizations make is focusing on the development of CRM tool and not focusing on what information is required for the reports produced.

There needs to be a huge investment of time and effort in selecting and creating a CRM database, deciding on categorizes and required fields. The query of which fields should be required should be determine by what information is needed for reporting.  If the field is not going to be used for reporting, then don’t make the field required. Keep in mind, more fields in the data the harder it will be to determine the parameters for the reports. The information in the CRM database should be organized to easily extract data for reporting. If there are multiple categories or fields that are required and no one understands what to put into each field will cause errors in the data and reports. For example, if there are multiple ways to categorize one product then each agent will select a different product causing misinformation about the products. This will cause unnecessary changes and focus on the wrong products and features.

Review reports

Managers create and review the same daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports because these are the reports they have been producing for years. A report should be created for one thing and that is to collect data that will improve service. If the report is not intended for this reason, then do not spend time producing the reports. Most of the reports produced never see the light of day because the reports never are opened or viewed. This especially true for the automated reports that are produced directly from the reporting tools. The reports become so redundant and looking at the reports become second nature. This is equivalent to driving the same way for years from home to work. There will become a time when you arrive at work or home and do not remember anything about the ride, unless something out of the ordinary happens. In some cases, the reports can be stopped for months before anyone even recognizes the reports are no longer being sent. If this is the case why are you wasting time scheduling the reports, using precious storage data and bandwidth to deliver the reports. Therefore, every company needs to review each report they produce on an annual basis.

Daily Reporting

There is no way any conclusions can be determined by reviewing data daily! This is like reviewing the stock market daily and making changes to your stock portfolio per the market reaction. This will make any sane person become insane looking at the numbers go up and down. If you make conclusions from the daily data will cause constant changes in processes, procedures, and staffing models. Constant changes to the process will make it impossible on determining what changes are effective? When you change processes there needs to be time for evaluation and stabilization. There needs to be time for information gathering to ensure the changes improved services. Daily statistics are useful for organizations that implement a new service desk or analyzing process changes but the daily reports are not useful for mature service desks. The information from several months should be used to determine trends to make concrete conclusions and changes can be made per the information gathered.

Information Gathering

When making conclusions, keep in mind that all information needed to make necessary changes do not come from the CRM tool ITSM suite or to improve service. This information could come from escalations to senior management. Also, suggestions from customers, which in most cases do not get documented because the agent closes the case. The reason the case is closed because the agent resolved the problem or gave the customer a workaround, therefore the suggestions is not documented. This information should be documented in your CRM database to be tracked through resolution. The customer would appreciate an update on their escalations to management and their suggestions.

Conclusion

The information gathered should demonstrate how well the overall IT department is performing. The information should demonstrate what products, applications or features are demonstrating the most difficulty for customers and what they want to see changed. Customers do not like multiply changes at one time, therefore you must prioritize the changes. The key is gathering all the pertinent information to make an informed decision on what changes will provide the biggest improvement to customer service.

 

References

Davenport, T. H. (1993). Process innovation: reengineering work through information technology. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.



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