Monday, 14 October 2013

Behavioral Aspect in Customer Relationship Management

In the last blog we have seen the role played by a "Leader" and the quantities that determines an individual as a "leader". Now we are going to see "how to understand and handle a customer based on his or her Behavioral aspect". The core concept of Customer relationship management remains the same in all industries but the approach varies from industry to industry. Let us see how it varies along with behavioral aspect of a customer. Before proceeding let us understand what is the behavioral aspect of a customer? A customer's behavior varies from person to person based on certain parameters like expectations which includes quality of service, time taken for providing a resolution, clarity in providing the information, return on investment etc.., family situation like his personal & official life status, financial status, work pressure, availability of time to understand the information or product etc.., domain  or technical knowledge. The agent has to understand the customer based on some of these parameters and then address his query or problem. But this has been lacking in today's customer support industry as the agents blindly follow the flow of  product information scripts to address the query which has been very well provided in FAQ's & product manual's & it is not much appreciated by a customer. Agent has to initially understand a customer behavior based on his tone, the way he put forwards his query, the pace as which he expects a resolution, his previous experience with their product which can be got only if an organization maintains a structured customer relationship management system in place. Accordingly the agent has to align his flow of conversation with the customer. Let us see examples based on industries
In Luxury hotels we have Front Office Professionals at the reception who has to address various queries on the services provided by their hotel like availability of rooms, laundry services, complimentary services which includes usage of hotel facilities, Breakfasts, transportation services etc to the customers. In this industry these professionals have to address customer's queries spontaneously and make the customer delighted as in hostel industry the growth of the business is based on the percentage of delightful customers. Here also hey have SLA's for corporate customer so expectation of service & professionalism are seem more in today's market trend. Here the customers put forwards his or her queries in varies behavioral aspect but the way Front office professionals handles the query decides the growth of that hotel but also highlights his smartness in handling a customer that add credits to his career growth.
In an IT industry, customer & technical support varies in terms of approach. When a agent provides a technical support he or she should understand the severity of the issues then have to check immediately if there is any work around for that incident. If not should proactively escalate the issues to the backend team along with that should simultaneously address the issue. This requires clarity in understanding the issues, understanding customer's behavior, domain knowledge, SLA (Service Level Agreement), escalation matrix etc. Agent should then document the issues clearly for future references. But the same industry has got Customer support which takes cares of Annual Maintenance contract, modification of Service Level agreement, clarifications on the support services, marketing management to up-sell new product or version etc. So in both support verticals understanding the customer's behavior is important and the approach to support varies as the time management & clarity in addressing a query or issue are important parameters in today's industry.
In the above two industries the concept of customer relationship management remains same but the approach to handle customers of various behavioral aspect has to be clearly understood by the support vertical of an organization. In both technical and customer support there will be variation in the approach of support workflow as each query or issue in both verticals are different. There is no book or research article says a standard approach has to adopted for various customer behavior. They only provide us guidance on how to handle a customer based on their experience. There comes logical approach of handling a customer which tells understand the customer's situation, value their time, think smart rather putting forward unwanted probing questions, proactive way of addressing an issue, clarity in providing information. These doesn't comes just by attending a training or certification but it comes through logical viewing of an issue or query.A same query will be put forwarded by customer in different ways based on experience with your product or service of an industry. If a person recommend a product to his friend and relative are purely based on his experience which is customer relationship management of that company. This customer relationship is continuous as it begin from the meeting the sales team to customer or technical support team. Understand a customer is must before the organization thinks of rolling out their product or service in the market.
Things to be kept in mind
1. Welcome the customer
2. Allow him or her to put their query or issue (No personal questions even if they are a well known customer as we can't judge a customer to be same at every visit)
3. Don't put much of sympathy questions. Customer won't encourage these statement if they are in bad mood.
4. Not to sell a product by making false promise or wrong information. If he or she not clear on the information check and provide the customer.
5. Don't say later versions you might/will get this requested feature. Marketing is a domain to analysis the customer's needs based on the market trend. But today marketing is calling customers again and again to sell their product after which they are left alone in the dense forest when it comes to support.
6.  Customer behavior varies most only after getting the product or service as he or she might not get their requirement but would have been told by marketing executive that you have this feature.
7. Customers today are most proficient in varies domain so try to understand a customer based on his or her situation and provide a appropriate resolution for his problem.

So understanding customer behavior is most important in every move of an organization. Aligning the support vertical is a must in every organization and periodic reviews will assist the organization in having a good relationship with the customer. A organization should have a team who keeps in touch with the customers mainly for corporate customer to give them updates on the value added services but also understand their situation in the market. If a customer is having a downfall and a company tries to up-sell his new product will land the company into problem as they will negative feedback on this team. This is important aspect in every industry. Agents or support professionals should remember the following

1. Personal review which tell about your experience with the customers on day to day basis. 
2. Have a mind set support is nothing but making a customer delighted even if he in bad mood.
3.Think twice before putting forward an information for even a simple query.
4. Request the customer if you them on hold or make them wait while you check for the information.
5. Clarity in speech is must in any industry as it doesn't forms a part of technical or non technical aspect of query.
6. Value customer's time while addressing their issue or query.

If these are brought into practice then handling a customer of any behavioral aspect becomes easy in any industry. Only the information changes within industries but the approach to support remains the same. We would understand the main difference between a customer and technical support along with the support provided by contact centers. Accordingly the alignment of support matrix has to made by the organization. Above all organization should compulsorily maintain customer feedback for their future reference accordingly to understanding a customer would be better. In the forthcoming we will also see some of models of customer behavior handling. I value your comments and suggestions regarding this blog.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Bhargav,
    There's something for you in here...