It's the Little Things That Count
CRM must stretch across all corners of an organization to ensure superior customer service.
For the rest of the May 2002 issue of CRM magazine please click here
I'm a believer that true CRM is a holistic business strategy. So for CRM to be successful--in the sense of long-term improvements in operations and profitable revenue--it must be pervasive, affecting every customer-facing area of an organization. This is what customers increasingly expect. During a recent trip, to the CTIA Wireless 2002 show in Orlando, I encountered a mixed bag of surprising service inconsistencies. Here are the best and worst examples of pervasive CRM, and my service ratings:
  • During the flight selection process at delta.com, I selected an itinerary and proceeded to the next screen. As a SkyMiles member, the fields containing my personal information were already populated. After adding my payment information I clicked to the final screen to confirm and book the flight. To my surprise, that is where I was informed that one part of my selected itinerary was not available, but it didn't say which. I had to start over, and if my next itinerary contained that wrong leg again, I would have to start over a third time. About 10 minutes before boarding the flight to Orlando an announcement informed us that there would be no breakfast served in coach, only beverages. Unbelievable. The flight is at 6 a.m., most of the passengers have been waiting in security and check-in lines since 4 or 4:30 a.m., and now are expected to sit with grumbling stomachs for another two and a half hours. For $600 round-trip, can't I at least expect a muffin with my juice? I stalked off and spent a gouging $2.50 for a puny muffin at Starbucks. (I was bumped to first class for this flight, and did receive breakfast. As this must have been some glitch, it can't count for the rating.) I arrived at the airport early for my return flight. Delta's customer service agent helped me arrange an earlier flight without incurring a fee for the change. Service rating: C+
  • I booked my Alamo rental car quickly and easily online. I needed to make a change the next day and was able to do so just as easily. Of course, I received e-mail confirmations for both. When I was picking up the car, a prerecorded announcement advised customers on the best time frame to return their car so they wouldn't have to rush to make their flight. Every person I dealt with was courteous and efficient. While driving on the BeeLine highway to return the car, Alamo had two billboards with directions. The company actually spent "advertising" money to make it easy for customers to find the car return (granted, it is reinforcing brand awareness). Service rating: A+
  • I stayed at a Quality Inn during my trip. I booked the hotel online, but made a change the following day with its call center. My online booking information was readily available to the agent. When I arrived at the hotel, however, the check-in clerk had not received the change. It took about 15 minutes to adjust that I was checking in one day later. When reviewing my bill at check out I noticed a $4.95 service charge. I was told that it was for the room's amenities: microwave, fridge, coffee pot. Nowhere was there ever a mention of this when I booked the room. I didn't need or use any of those things and would have booked a room without them if I knew I would be charged. I said this to the desk clerk. Her response was a blank stare. Service rating: D+ As you can see, low grades were afforded to firms that delivered an inconsistent message: We care about serving you when and how it's convenient for us. Will I use those vendors again? Would you? More important, if your customers are receiving such varying levels of service from your company, will they come back? Unless your firm is a monopoly, it's time to extend CRM throughout your enterprise.
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