When I started my professional career as a frontline technical support analyst for a large software company, our call tracking system was essentially a glorified ticketing system. Though it was customized to fit our needs, still it did little more than associate a customer with their issue. Since that time, how customer issues are tracked and addressed has evolved dramatically.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) came onto the scene in the late 1980’s and became the new standard. It promised one place for storing and maintaining all customer information. Customer-facing teams–sales, service, and marketing–would no longer struggle with incorrect, out-of-sync data in siloed systems and would instead have one unified view of the customer sales and service interaction history, which in turn could drive marketing insights and actions.
That sounds great, but the problem with CRM is that it does little beyond providing a myopic, individual view to sales, service, and marketing. It is not focused on solving customers’ problems, and as a result does very little to improve the customer’s overall experience. And customer experience is the new battleground for business.
It’s time for a new approach to customer service. Enter service management, the next evolution of customer service. Offering many of the same benefits of traditional CRM, it goes further by creating an environment to:
- Engage the entire company in customer service
- Take customer issues to the teams who can resolve them
- Drive permanent and proactive solutions
Organization-Wide Customer Service
CRM creates a single repository for customer information to benefit the teams working with customers. While there are some advantages this brings, one could argue those benefits are more to the company than to the customer. The result is great visibility into customers, but not better service to them.
With service management, solving customer problems is the priority. Just as with CRM, customer service is still on the front lines, identifying and collecting customer problems. Problems are triaged and classified, again like how CRM works. But where service management breaks from CRM is to make it possible for customer service to easily take those collected issues and engage with departments beyond their walls. After all, customer service didn’t cause a customer’s billing error, it was a result of a problem in finance. By connecting the customer and their issue to the rest of the company with a common service management platform, those departments outside customer service not only work more cooperatively with customer service, but they have a greater awareness of customer issues and the role they play in the customer experience.
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