CRM in Europe: Does Your CRM System Have a Brain and a Heart?

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Historically, CRM technology focuses only on memory, gathering as much data as possible about each customer. It leaves out the brain needed to make decisions about the memories, as well as the heart needed to consider what it is the customer wants within the context of the interaction.

When we describe a human being, we often talk about the head and the heart, or, to put it another way, our intelligence, memory and emotions. We work hard to integrate these parts of ourselves, using our brains, memories, feelings and sensitivities to make judgments about what is happening in order to improve decision making and achieve better outcomes in our lives.

In essence, this is just what a customer wants us to dointegrate the head and the heart by delivering actions that intelligently make judgments about “memories” and take into account the individual’s intent and responses during an engagement. Unfortunately, traditional CRM technology has largely failed to integrate the head and the heart. Historically, CRM technology focuses only on memory, gathering as much data as possible about each customer. It leaves out the brain needed to make decisions about the memories, as well as the heart needed to consider what it is the customer wants within the context of the interaction.

Every Customer Engagement Contains Multiple Layers

We see European companies striving for a new level of customer engagement that integrates intelligence, memory and emotion. The goal is to make thoughtful, personalized and context-driven decisions about what to do, when to do it and how to do it for each customer during each interaction. Every customer engagement has four layers that need to be considered:

  1. Making judgments about which offer or action is best. Picking products for promotion and broadly segmenting customers is no longer sufficient as it leads to irrelevant offers. CRM must combine available information about the individual, the intent and the context of the engagement, compare this understanding to available products and then leverage real-time decisioning to zero in on the propensity that a particular product is the best one for that customer at that moment in time.

  2. Guiding the conversation based on the customer’s intent and what is taking place in real time. What should happen once the customer says yes, no or I’ll think about it to an offer? What should happen if the customer is getting upset or has expressed satisfaction? These responses should be used to automatically adjust the subsequent process, always keeping in mind the customer’s goals. CRM technology also has to be smart enough to know when it doesn’t know enough. If there isn’t enough information to make an informed decision, the software should recognize what is missing and change the process to ask questions that will fill in the blanks and keep the process on track.

  3. Accounting for contextual subtleties. This is particularly important here in Europe with so many cultures and languages. For example, a CRM system must but be capable of parsing Dutch language variations that relate to an individual’s age. An individual over 65 will answer a question using different terminology than a 20 year old. One of our clients, a large insurance company, needed to account for this language subtlety in its engagement decision making. Using knowledge of the individual’s age and the effect on language choice, Pega’s software determines the actual response regardless of the different terminology and guides the conversation appropriately using this information.

  4. Recognizing the communication context and determining the best way to respond. Given today’s multi-channel communications, a single response strategy will not work. Is the customer on a mobile phone? In the office with a sales agent? On the desktop accessing your portal? A decision needs to be made about how to best present information to the customer based on how the customer is connecting with the business.

Does CRM with a Brain and Heart Yield Benefits?

CRM that integrates the head and the heart may seem daunting  and far too costly. But this is not the case, as the project at British Gas illustrates. British Gas is creating an integrated marketing approach built on centralized decisioning. The company describes the path to this new type of customer engagement as rewiring the organisational brain to focus on personalised, relevant and timely dialogue with each customer.

By leveraging a decisioning hub, British Gas can scale to engage in consistent dialog across channels. The first phase of this project has yielded a double-digit increase in conversions in the first three months. The company is replacing multiple teams for managing channels and inbound/outbound engagements with a single decisioning team and a single set of business rules for holistically managing the customer relationship, increasing efficiency and reducing costs.

I think it’s a no-brainer when it comes to CRM with a head and heart. Using next-generation CRM technology to deliver experiences tailored to customers that make them feel the business “gets me”, adjust to the context of each engagement, offer goods and services that are relevant and timely and do so at scale can only lead to more customer loyalty, more revenue and more profitability.

To hear more about the evolution of customer experience, join us at CRM Evolved in The Netherlands.