Holistic CRM

MyCustomer.com
6

In the UK, the number one complaint among staff is that they're spending too long in the office, and this is certainly true when compared to their European counterparts.

But while it could also simply imply that Brits are a nation of unmotivated, unambitious lazy bones, if you look a bit closer, it becomes clear that it's not so much the length of the working day that's the problem for people, but the inflexibility of companies' working practices.

According to research commissioned by Bristol-based communication systems provider Call Centre Technology, a massive 81 per cent of those questioned said they would be willing to work above and beyond the call of duty.

But this applied only if they were able to leave the office within standard working hours so they could spend more time with their family and relax somewhat before addressing any urgent work from home a bit later on.

Some 64 per cent of those surveyed reckoned that their productivity would rocket if they were allowed to work in this way, and eight out of ten employees even said they would be prepared to contribute towards paying for enabling technology such as wireless LANs to let them do this.

Which is all very fine and dandy, you might say, but what has this got to do with CRM? And once again, it boils down to the magic H word – that is, holistic.

Ian Campbell, a director at Fujitsu Consulting, sums it up beautifully in the Relationship-based Enterprise, a book he co-authored with colleague Ray McKenzie.

"We talk about the relationship-based enterprise rather than the CRM-based enterprise because, how you view the management of relationships across the organisation and beyond and how you maintain and develop them, is vital to obtain bottom line benefits," he explains.

"Within that, clearly your relationship with customers is important, but so is the relationship with suppliers and employees. Our premise is you need to handle all three well. If you don't take your staff management seriously, it doesn't matter how much you spend on CRM, you're not going to succeed with your customer strategy," Campbell adds.

For example, an organisation can throw vast amounts of money at shiny new CRM systems, but if a call centre agent feels undervalued and is having a bad day, they are unlikely to care much about how a customer feels.

And if they happen to bite that customer's head off during a phone call, no amount of expensive state-of-the-art computer systems are going to make the recipient of such attentions feel warm and fluffy, which means they end up with a bad impression of the company.

Not an easy one. But Campbell reckons the way round the situation is to support the employee lifecycle in the same way that many organisations currently try and support the customer lifecycle.

Rather than acquiring customers, developing them and servicing them, it's about attracting or hiring an employee, developing or training them, and managing them.

"You may use different words for it, but the endgame is retaining both," Campbell explains.

But this does not mean to say that he advocates going out and spending loads of money on the new so called employee relationship management (ERM) application suites that various CRM vendors such as Siebel are trying to push these days to boost their revenues.

(Just to make things more confusing, such packages are also variously known as business-to-employee (B2E), human capital or HR management systems.)

"The best reason to do ERM is CRM, but it's not a fundamentally new set of packages - its newness comes in improving staff access to information via an employee portal," Campbell says.

"If you're already using an ERP or CRM suite, ERM will most likely be an add-on rather than a separate implementation, but whether an organisation goes with it or not depends on value judgements. If a company sees staff as a key asset, it will think seriously about ERM, but if it doesn't and simply sees them as an overhead, it won't," he adds.

ERM is traditionally considered to cover everything from HR-centric activities such as hiring personnel, performance management, training and the self-service management of benefits, to productivity issues such as travel and expense reporting, procurement and the provision of corporate information and services, generally over an intranet.

But retaining staff doesn't magically happen just because you make the business processes involved in handling them more efficient and you boost their productivity.

Tim Osborn-Jones, author of a Henley Management College report dubbed Managing Talent – Towards the New Psychological Contract, believes rather that the answer to this conundrum lies in a complex mixture of subjective and objective factors.
"Companies have to offer a competitive salary and benefits, but this isn't enough on its own. Most people are affected by ‘soft' benefits such as a desire for self-fulfilment, a sense of accomplishment and having fun and enjoyment at work," he explains.

But Osborn-Jones adds: "Putting in a mixture of policies to manage staff relations is a complex and sophisticated operation and while it may be appropriate to use a valid IT system to handle some of them, if companies think they can manage the whole thing by pressing a few keys, they're mistaken."

Share this content

Replies

Please login or register to join the discussion.

avatar
11th Oct 2002 20:36

Very interesting thoughts. The role of employee motivation as a key factor in CRM has not received enough attention. The proverbial CRM-system-equipped call centre staffed with people on minimum wage who are rewarded based on call quantity rather than quality is a classic.

At the risk of antagonizing behavioral psychologists - and with apologies to Abraham Maslow - I explored this theme in detail in my book just out "The CRM Project Management Handbook - building realistic expectations and managing risk", and proposed an analogous "CRM motivational triangle", which starts with job security, working environment, job satisfaction, job relevance to CRM, and finally converging to CRM itself in all its splendour.

At the end of the day, it really is common sense. People are not going to spontaneously embrace CRM; they have to be motivated to do so. It’s not sufficient for a company at executive level to buy into CRM, then preach the gospel to the rest of the people and expect them to embrace it too. People will only buy into CRM when it has relevance to their jobs and is rewarded as such.

Michael Gentle ([email protected])

Thanks (0)
avatar
14th Oct 2002 13:41

"People will only buy into CRM when it has relevance to their jobs and is rewarded as such."

I've seen CRM initiatives frittered away as employees dug in their heels, knowing that the compensation and reward plans weren't going to change just because they bought in to/out of CRM.

What has been your experience (or the experience of those you write about) in engaging HR and VP's of Administration in successful CRM?

Paul Baker
North Bay, Ontario

Thanks (0)
avatar
By rob.m
30th Oct 2002 12:19

(I should start by declaring that I also work for Fujitsu Consulting, as Mr Campbell.)
In support of the case, I have an anecdote:
I attended the lunchtime seminar at the recent Call Centre Expo at the NEC, and the head table was populated by a number of industry worthies. There were some interesting comments, starting from whether call centres were getting away from the sweatshop tag (the view was yes, slowly), and moving to employee motivation (reward, qualifications, etc). There was also some discussion about the role and acceptability of technologies such as IVR, predictive dialling etc.
At the end, each worthy had a final thought to leave. I was stunned by one, who said he couldn't understand how anyone could think there were sweatshops when all this new technology was being deployed to make life wonderful.
The floor was no longer open to comment but, had it been, I might have been able to point out that technology is usually implemented for the company's benefit (more calls, less latency, lower cost, etc) rather than the poor individual with the headset on. The result is that there is even more pressure on the person handling the voice element - they have less slack between calls, no opportunity to relax while the niceties are dealt with, every(?) call is straight into the nitty-gritty. And, the technology is probably keeping close measures on their performance.
There will be claims (some with genuine cause) that the employee is left to deal with the more interesting stuff, enhancing job satisfaction, but I think the balance falls more on the side of the battery hen perspective.

Thanks (0)
avatar
11th Oct 2002 20:36

Very interesting thoughts. The role of employee motivation as a key factor in CRM has not received enough attention. The proverbial CRM-system-equipped call centre staffed with people on minimum wage who are rewarded based on call quantity rather than quality is a classic.

At the risk of antagonizing behavioral psychologists - and with apologies to Abraham Maslow - I explored this theme in detail in my book just out "The CRM Project Management Handbook - building realistic expectations and managing risk", and proposed an analogous "CRM motivational triangle", which starts with job security, working environment, job satisfaction, job relevance to CRM, and finally converging to CRM itself in all its splendour.

At the end of the day, it really is common sense. People are not going to spontaneously embrace CRM; they have to be motivated to do so. It’s not sufficient for a company at executive level to buy into CRM, then preach the gospel to the rest of the people and expect them to embrace it too. People will only buy into CRM when it has relevance to their jobs and is rewarded as such.

Michael Gentle ([email protected])

Thanks (0)
avatar
14th Oct 2002 13:41

"People will only buy into CRM when it has relevance to their jobs and is rewarded as such."

I've seen CRM initiatives frittered away as employees dug in their heels, knowing that the compensation and reward plans weren't going to change just because they bought in to/out of CRM.

What has been your experience (or the experience of those you write about) in engaging HR and VP's of Administration in successful CRM?

Paul Baker
North Bay, Ontario

Thanks (0)
avatar
11th Oct 2002 16:48

"If you don't take your staff management seriously, it doesn't matter how much you spend on CRM, you're not going to succeed with your customer strategy."

Yes. CRM technology that enables a motivated, well-trained, and incented staff.

Get HR on-side for a culture change, and you're more than halfway home. Or ignore them at your peril.


Paul Baker
North Bay, Canada

Thanks (0)