Flows, data or quality: how to manage interaction with customers efficiently


Customer interaction software is often positioned in opposition to CRM systems. One of them is quantitative, while the other is qualitative. So users tend to prefer CRM systems to customer interaction software. But is this the ultimate solution to manage customer relations?

Customer interaction management software is valued for its quantitative functionality, which allows it to process data quickly and efficiently. But it is also accused of neglecting the qualitative dimension. In other words, it does not take the actual customer into consideration. The customer is treated just like any other form of data, or the customer’s loyalty is not measured. This type of solution is essentially oriented towards the management of the information to be processed by flow. The primary objective consists of allowing the application to integrate the information and, therefore, making the information available, no matter which channel it arrives on.

The goal of these solutions is to install optimal interaction, not to respond to the customer.

CRM lives up to its name: customer relationship management. By producing a customer ID card and a view of the customer’s dealings with the company, it provides the user organisation with a detailed view and enables it to manage the customer “files”. Usually, CRM software makes closer and deeper relationships possible between the organisation and its customers. Customers are not treated as a series of flows, but as a person with a history and a global existence, and with whom a dialogue can be built. Employees benefit from CRM, because it helps them to understand the profile of the requesting party. Customers also benefit from CRM, because their needs are better understood and the organisation shows increased interest in them.

So what is the ideal CRM solution?

But we must never forget one serious shortcoming of CRM: its limited horizon. CRM is limited to the information that we choose to enter or import. It is not designed to retrieve all the information that is needed to process customer queries, irrespective of their source in the company (or outside the company) or their format, nor to reconcile this diverse and dispersed information, so that it can be put into a context and create value. CRM often lacks information, which means that it lacks precision and does not allow its users to be reactive, or even proactive. This is one of the consequences of the expansion of (large) companies on all fronts since the 1980s, which has put the growth of their activity before the organisation of their data. Data has also been ultra-multiplied, as we all know. CRM software is not designed to collate and exploit a multitude of data sources, nor to analyse them and put them in context, almost in real time.

Moving ahead

How can the limits of CRM systems be overcome? Organisations could simply reorganise their information systems from head to toe by reviewing and unifying all their sources and their software. But this option is unrealistic, in view of the time required, the cost and the organisational implications. But, more importantly, because it does not meet the current demand for speed, fresh data and ultra-precision, in the face of customer over-information. So why not piggyback the CRM system on the flow management solution described above? Because information analysis will always fall short, as will the reconciliation of all the data to obtain a precise 360° view that is comprehensive, precise and in context, and that offers a genuine possibility for interaction between the company’s employees and their customers.

Therefore, the real alternative for organisations is to adopt solutions that do not call the existing IT infrastructure into question, while allowing them to make full and efficient use of these legacy systems. This solution consists of indexing, semantic, analytical and display software that adds value to the data. This is currently the only solution capable of effectively processing structured and unstructured data, irrespective of its sources. In this way, employees use a single interface to access the complete legacy environment, all the channels and all the systems. Furthermore, this type of solution opens up new possibilities, because it can index the web. An
d therefore enrich internal data to produce a richer vision of the customer profile.

Upwards and onwards

Collaborative functions further improve the service delivered to customers by enabling these 360° solutions to be extended to the entire enterprise. They allow employees to share full-scale information with one another and with customers, by allowing for call deflection, and the simple addition of notes and enrichment of the history. Tomorrow’s challenge? Real-time cross-selling and upselling based on extended 360° for greater anticipation and prediction. The publishers of customer management and interaction solutions absolutely need to enter the era of customer engagement [1]. In this way, they will allow companies to keep or to regain control of the perilous and demanding relations they have with their customers, against the backdrop of advanced disintermediation, with Uber, Airbnb and so on.

[1]EXALEAD develops this type of service with the EXALEAD OneCall application for customer interaction that integrates prediction (a proposal system based on algorithms). It sends actions directly to the employee, who can then propose them to the customer according to their profile, and avoid possible churn (reductions, guarantee extensions, etc.).