Before Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, customers basically had only two choices when they were dissatisfied with a product or had a question about it: either go back to the store or just suck it up and move on.
In the 130-odd years since the telephone came into play, customers have gained access to a very wide range of customer service options. Now we have call centers, the Internet, social media — multiple channels that have changed the very face of customer service.
Multichannel customer service
As a business, it’s imperative to make yourself reachable by your customers and potential clients through a number of different channels. You may have the best product in the world, but it won’t mean squat if nobody knows how to contact you to buy it.
Not only that, every interaction you have with your customers over whatever channel they choose should be consistent. As far as they’re concerned, they’re dealing with a single company; the channel doesn’t matter, whether it’s online, over the phone, or in person. They expect consistency.
This is what’s called multichannel customer service: providing a seamless experience to customers who reach out to you over whatever different contact options you’ve given them. For example, a customer who calls your customer service number expects you to know about the previous Facebook messages and emails he sent even if his correspondence was with a different member of your support team.
The tricky part here is in consolidating all of the information that come through each of these channels so that your entire team can easily access them. Without such a system, you’d end up with support staff scrambling to find messages on Facebook or Twitter and emails from three months ago. This is where the single customer view comes in.
The single customer view
The single customer view is essentially a complete profile of a customer made using information collected through your multiple customer service channels. It’s an extensive activity history, a running record of every interaction — from phone calls and emails to support form submissions — you’ve had with your customers from the very beginning.
All departments having access to the same information makes for an efficiently-run business. Not only does this view help with identifying your business’ most valuable clients, it can also help with customer targeting and retention.
The marketing team, for example, can get a clear picture of what went wrong or what went right with a specific campaign through customer interactions with the sales and support teams. Meanwhile, the support team can improve service levels by being able to quickly review previous communications with a customer all on one screen.
Achieving single customer view with all-in-one CRM Software
Unfortunately, not every CRM system is well-equipped to provide a single customer view for all of your teams and not just support. What you need is a system that connects every single aspect of your business, from sales and marketing through to billing and support.
An all-in-one CRM software makes the single customer view possible not just for support teams, but for every part of a business. Every single piece of information goes into one central location, making it easy for everybody to find business-critical data whenever they need it.
An inquiry that comes in through a custom web form on your company website, for example, should instantly be sent to whichever department or team it’s supposed to go. If the inquiry is about price, it goes to the sales team. If it’s for post-sales support, it goes to the support team.
The same goes for email. A CRM system that comes with a built-in Gmail and Outlook gadget allows you to instantly attach and assign any email you receive without ever leaving your inbox. This also works with email notifications from social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter.
If a customer calls to follow up on an email he sent two weeks ago, your support staff can immediately find it in the activity history once they pull up the customer’s contact page. No more wasting time asking the customer what they said in the email, plus your customer is assured that you really are paying attention to his or her concerns.
Knowing your customers is key to succeeding in business, making the single customer view invaluable when it comes to customer marketing, service, and retention. With a consolidated CRM software that lets you manage all aspects of your business, the single customer view becomes easier to achieve.