The Front Line Is Your Brand
I recently had the pleasure of attending a keynote given by one-to-one marketing gurus Don Peppers and Martha Rogers, Ph.D. As always, they made some terrific points about customer relationships. One story Martha Rogers told stuck with me.
One evening her Northwest flight missed its connection, which was the last one of the day. The airline promptly arranged for her to travel on the next flight of another airline. When checking in, Rogers requested an aisle seat. The agent said she could not accommodate Roger's request. Rogers explained that she is a platinum member of that airline's frequent flier program. The agent replied: "Not tonight you're not. Tonight you're a refugee from Northwest." End of conversation.
Like that airline, too many companies make significant investments in time, effort, and dollars to create a customer strategy that one bad interaction can damage or destroy. Rogers was forgiving, but other customers may have cut back or ended their business with the airline. "Except for that gaff, [the airline] has been pretty good to me and does a good job of customer service, if not one-to-one," Rogers explained to me after her speech. "The story just illustrates that a customer-strategy program is only as good as its front lines."
One company trying to help its front lines improve customer service is Saab Cars USA. In "Driving Sales" (page 30), Robert Henry, manager of eCommerce and CRM solutions, tells how the car company has increased customer satisfaction, and how it plans to parlay that loyalty into sales.
Saab is not alone. Some companies increasing their efforts to improve customer satisfaction are targeting performance improvements in the contact center. In "Service on Steroids" (page 40), Senior Editor David Myron discusses how training, workflow automation, and workforce management are melding to form a comprehensive performance-optimization strategy.
Other companies looking to optimize performance are focused on integrating CRM with their back-end functions. Despite its importance for creating a holistic view of the customer, integration remains a touchy subject. News Editor Martin Schneider demystifies integration in "Getting IT Together" (page 44).
Another key area of focus for CRM users and vendors alike is using CRM to support global business efforts. In "CRM World Domination" (page 36), Senior Editor Lisa Picarille reveals the hot international markets for CRM, including where to expect the most growth.