Seven tips for successful customer relationships – regardless of the coronavirus situation

The coronavirus crisis has undoubtedly given digitalization a considerable boost. Given the hesitant consumer behavior during the “restart” of industry and trade, now, and no later than now, would be the perfect moment for companies to use digital technologies to make their customer relationships more sustainable and efficient. BSI, the software company that develops CRM solutions, shares what companies should be paying attention to:

Tip no. 1: Get your data in shape – and use intelligent technologies to convert it into customer knowledge

The essential requirement for targeted customer engagement is up-to-date data management in combination with the use of intelligent technologies. The data must be well maintained, consistent, be current, and, in particular, it must not be limited by departmental boundaries. That is the only way for intelligent technologies to be fully effective and to recognize “big data” patterns and references to current changes in customers’ lives. Companies can then take these changes to address each customer based on his/her needs.

Tip no. 2: Implement your omnichannel strategy consistently – but don’t overdo it

Considering the factors above, companies today have a variety of options to support their customers along their journey proactively and across channels. Messages and information should be consistent, however. And even if the temptation to implement a “surge” across all existing channels is strong: sometimes, less is more.

Tip no. 3: Make your customer the boss – and bring sales, marketing, and customer service to the same table

Companies without departments (and department boundaries, in particular) are hardly conceivable today – plus, sales, marketing, and service each have their own priorities, and of course, budgets. The dissolution of “silos” and the integration of data across departmental boundaries, however, is an essential requirement for the successful support of customer journeys. In the future, there ought to be only one “department” (or one boss), with which your activities are aligned – and that is your customer. Admittedly, that’s a huge challenge. But it is a worthwhile one.

Tip no. 4: Embed customer orientation in your business as a guiding principle

During their transformation processes, companies primarily focus on topics such as “New Work” (the new way of working in today’s society), agility, or process and cost optimization. Therefore, it is not surprising that these precise topics often dominate the internal communication. But if top management never or rarely mentions the customer – employees can hardly be expected to give priority to customer orientation. However, the customer’s satisfaction ultimately determines a company’s right to exist. Therefore, customer orientation must be deeply embedded in the corporate culture – and this must be visible to all. Why not show customer videos in your company’s lobby? Or, display customer photos in your meeting rooms to remind employees daily who commissioned their work?

Tip no. 5: Think about new business models – and when doing so, transcend boundaries (especially those in your own company)

Companies in all industries are in massive competition for customer patronage. Companies that can provide customized services to their customers at the right time will continue to be ahead of the game in the future. Increasingly, in the future, these services will be developed as part of customer-oriented ecosystems together with providers in other industries. Basler Versicherungen and Pfister Möbel already show us today how to do it right: Customers that purchase exclusive furniture from Pfister, the leading furniture company in Switzerland, automatically receive an offer for a four-year premium protection plan for all furniture they purchase from Pfister. The technology basis for their customer engagement is the CRM from BSI, which both Basler Versicherungen and Pfister use, in combination with BSI Studio, the marketing automation platform.

Tip no. 6: Make successful customer orientation measurable

Customer relationship management is a “discipline” that is critical to company success; yet, few companies measure customer satisfaction. Why not add customer contact and entrepreneurial initiative to employees’ performance evaluation – and reward it financially as well? To create effective incentive systems, however, companies need metrics that provide measurability to customer management performance.

Tip no. 7: Consider customer orientation to be everyone’s responsibility

Yes, customer orientation must be embodied and modeled at the top management level. And no, true customer orientation isn’t a task for the chief customer officer – instead, it is a process for which everyone in the company is responsible and is also a mindset that takes time. At the same time, it is a change process that has to have enormous internal support, and for which successes should be celebrated as well.

“With intelligent data analytics and cutting-edge CRM solutions, today’s companies can differentiate themselves in the market with excellent customer service and can wow their customers for the long term,” says Markus Brunold, BSI Managing Director. “With AI-based automation solutions, I can find out how customers respond to personalized offers. Thus, customers receive the best possible support along their individual customer journeys across channels. However, technology does not release decision-makers from their responsibilities: I myself will continue to have to define the content of my own brand, my own strategy, and my own purpose in the future.”