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Welcome to my CRM software and sCRM blog.
This online forum and dialogue shares the experiences, lessons, learning and insight about the real world uses of Social CRM (sCRM) and traditional Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) applications.






Looking at Social Service Strategically

More Than Just Oil for the Squeaky Wheel

I'm typically a pretty soft-spoken consumer. It takes a lot to drive me to seek out a store manager to complain, or even to call a customer service line to raise my complaint. Actually, I don't even enjoy calling out bad service in 140 characters or less. However, I'm starting to change, and the numbers show I'm fairly typical.

Three years ago, The Center for Customer-Driven Quality at Purdue University revealed research study data which illustrated that 30% of customers received what they considered to be poor service, but all but 2% said nothing about it. However, that was three years ago. Now imagine how that the percentage of consumers has gone up as the channels through which consumers complain have become easier and more widespread.

In a discussion with Brent Leary, who is a CRM industry analyst, advisor, author, speaker and award-winning blogger as well as co-founder and partner of CRM Essentials LLC, he expresses a bit of skepticism about how enthusiastic businesses are in addressing customer complaints, even when they're broadcast to the world through social media. He describes it as the "squeaky wheel" syndrome – where the consumer who vents the loudest and the most prolifically will get attention, if only for marketing or public relations reasons.

In the same time, the broken customer service processes that set the consumer off in the first place remain broken, and there's a pretty good likelihood that there are other consumers whose attempts to gain satisfaction with your company's products are being thwarted, however, they're not broadcasting it to the world. Instead, they are simply reviewing your competitors website and wondering if maybe its processes are less irksome than yours. The research data suggests that for every "squeaky wheel," there are many more silent customers who will express themselves with their dollars at your competitors.

But every broken process is also an opportunity. Instead of thinking about those silent customer defections and breaking out in a cold sweat, you should take another look at customer service as an area where you can differentiate your company for competitive advantage. And, just as the consumer now has more social media channels to vent his frustration, service organizations now have more channels to go out and be proactive about servicing. The social service revolution may not be fully underway, but the tools for the revolutionaries are in place.

In order for that to occur, though, there's going to have to be a cultural shift around what customer service means to the highest levels of the business. Customer service centers can no longer be seen as a cost centers; they have to be viewed as an integral part of customer acquisition, customer retention, brand building and word-of-mouth referrals, among other things. Companies that realize this will get a big head start in the race to amass customers and their spending power.

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