Be Ready to Take the Heat

Turning companies into industry leaders requires the development of a new drive and vision to become the leader in customer satisfaction by delivering quality products and services through long-term, customer-focused relationships. Enterprises must be ready to take the heat when making changes to their CRM process. Along the way, your company will come face-to-face with some CRM truths: Feedback will be worse than expected. When Toshiba America Medical Systems (TAMS) first surveyed its customers, it had 419 performance alerts from 148 installations--that's more than three alerts per install. An alert was a score in any area of the customer survey that was six or less out of a possible 10. No wonder TAMS wasn't generating repeat business. When we took the news to our team, no one wanted to hear it--there was always some reason it couldn't be all about us. You are too close. Use third-party sources.
TAMS hired an outside research firm to conduct customer surveys, which added some credibility. A great resource in bad times (and now in good) is the independent analyst firm MD Buyline. As the undisputed authority in TAMS's industry, even the nay sayers had no choice but to pay attention to MD Buyline's data. There is no easy fix. TAMS knew it had to take steps to fix things, but when performance is that bad, it's clear that processes are really brokenIn addition TAMS had so many issues to fix it couldn't move forward, because we were busy fighting fires. Processes needed to be revised from end-to-end, which involved significant cultural changes in the organization. Directly link implementation to company financials. Bad feedback is one thing, but it's what that means to the bottom line that really matters. To make TAMS's case, we conducted an opportunity/loss study to quantify how much business our broken processes were costing us. This analysis showed that Toshiba was missing between $50 million and $80 million in annual potential sales opportunities-a figure that mobilized the company's senior management into immediate action. When you hit the point of no return, you must stay the course. Another motivator is that once you ask customers what they think, you must be willing to use that feedback to produce demonstrable results. TAMS effectively reached the point of no return just by opening the door. The moral here is if you don't really have the commitment to follow through, don't even ask. Unexpected results and benefits will bring enormous pride and satisfaction to your entire organization. Although resistant at first, once our team began to see positive data as a result of the changes, they experienced a tremendous change in attitude. It was painful, but the change was dramatic. Every two years an independent industry survey asks companies that they are considering purchasing from in the coming years. When we started this process, TAMS was named by only 32 percent of respondents. In the most recent survey, more than 70 percent said they were considering TAMS. Instead of being from the company that is always apologizing, our team now takes pride in the fact that it represents a company that turns things around. It believes in the company's vision to be the leader in customer satisfaction. The team is on their way to achieving the goal of getting more than 90 percent of the market to consider TAMS, and this new attitude helps everyone focus on meeting the needs of our customers-at every point in the experience. Because now, we can. About the Author: John Zimmer is vice president of marketing for Toshiba America Medical Systems. He has more than 20 years marketing and sales management experience. He has a BS in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and has been a featured speaker at several industry conferences.
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