Tune your CRM to be responsive (or be doomed)

Velocify conducted a secret study of how select (presumably popular) companies respond to sales leads from their websites. What Velocify did was quite simple – they just went to the company websites, navigated to the forms that clearly spelled out that the visitor is interested in company products/services, and waited for a return call, or email. The companies have acknowledged on public forums on using marquee CRM products (saleforce.com, Oracle, MS CRM et al.). 

Although this is not a measure of the effectiveness of entire CRM process in itself and may even be statistically proven to be insignificant with multiple tries, it indeed is a good way for a quick check on how CRM helps companies to be responsive.

The results from the survey were not encouraging. You can read the entire report by registering on Velocify, but the notable summary was –

  • 13% of inquiries went unanswered
  • More than 25% of inquiries never received any calls
  • 11% received calls in a matter of days rather than hours

2% received calls within minutes, while 20% got a call within 2 hours. Optimally the response time should be less than 2 hours as per Velocify.

Rest of the research deals with how speed to email differs from the above statistic (no surprises), and how Salesforce.com measured better than other CRM vendors. Yeah, statistics.

But, the interesting part for us is how and why would companies not respond to sales inquiries?

Basics of CRM solutions dictate that *any* customer touch point is integrated with CRM – for both process and technology. You loose business and customers if you don’t do that. And frankly, with the automation we can put in place, it is quite surprising if you decide not to implement these.

 

If I had to put together a 5-point sales system inquiry requirement for CRM, it would be:

  • Email acknowledgement for an inquiry form must be instantaneous
  • Return phone calls are queued for the agents to be picked up, and prioritized over cold-calls
  • Emails are sent acknowledging the call/providing details for getting further help
  • Follow up emails (and/or calls) through the sales process
  • Automatic assignments (and reassignments), notifications and escalations for response requests

 

Ok, so what exactly does it translate in technology –

  • Any and all customer requests should be going through a “sales” or a “service” request

 

The technical process is far simpler than the business process looks. Once you capture the customer inquiry as a service request, rest of them fall into place:

  • Integrate web form and CRM seamlessly (this happens with a few clicks in modern CRM systems like Salesforce.com)
  • Integrate CRM with CTI for call handling, use the Service Requests as the queue for manual call handling
  • Create canned email responses based on service requests
  • Track status of service request that is going to tell you acknowledgement time, response time, and time required to close the request
  • Finally, measure everything. You don’t need Analysts to come back with data from a customer’s perspective. You MUST know how you are faring with customer responses through various channels at any time

 

So then, what else would you do to be responsive to customers?

 

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