A while back, I was working on a project for one of our customers in the electrical industry. The project that we worked on once again reiterated the benefits of ensuring that individuals are held accountable in an organization for their performance.
The customer we worked with is a large electrical contractor that provides electrical construction, building controls, and data networks. They were founded in 1944, and service both large and small customers throughout BC in the form of larger projects as well as smaller work orders.
This organization has an excellent reputation as providing outstanding customer service, recently reinforcing that reputation by winning one of Deloitte’s Canada “Best Managed Companies” awards.
One of the areas that this growing organization wanted to address was how they could systematically follow up on completed work orders to ensure that great customer service was being performed.
Difficulties Surrounding Custom Software Solutions
Houle had been exploring how to create a software solution that could assist them in doing this for a few years. Previously, a custom software solution has been written to help perform the follow up calls on completed work orders.
The custom solution ultimately failed when the complexities of a custom solution simply became overwhelming.
Not only did the interface have to be designed from scratch, but so did the integration into their ERP / accounting system from which the work orders were be drawn from.
Ultimately, the measurable metrics management wanted was to know how well they were performing on the ground in a form of customer satisfaction ratings.
To get those metrics, we were asked to design a follow up program that would allow a service representative to call down on work orders that had been completed and provide summary performance metrics on work orders.
As part of the metrics that were designed with the follow up program, management wanted to be able to decipher how groups (divisions) were performing and be presented with summary scorecard metrics.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Made Follow Up Easier
We decided that instead of creating a custom software solution we would use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to create the “follow up program”.
Some of the new functionality delivered with Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is the functionality called the dialog workflow. The dialog workflow allows you to easily create a process driven dialog that leads the user through a scripted conversation.
Once management saw the functionality available to them and how we could customize the ribbon screens and dialog boxes to their liking, they became excited about our recommended solution and how it matched their vision for easily obtaining concrete metrics.
As planned, we did end up using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM dialog workflow and completed the project.
The Microsoft Dynamics CRM dialog boxes nicely facilitated guided questions for the service representative to ask customers about the service they received on their work orders and give each division and service representative a rating.
Further, the workflow in Microsoft Dynamics CRM coupled with the dialog boxes allowed us to provide ratings on each work order which would then ultimately be reflected in a score card.
The Importance of Follow Through in Customer Service
If one of the scores resulted in a low score, automatic workflow would be sent off to a manager indicating that a work order needed to be followed up on.
Once the work order had been followed up on and the case resolved the service manager would then indicate the follow up work had been performed by clicking a “resolve case button”.
This would notify the service representative to close the case. The case that had been generated and marked “as resolved” would not close until the service representative that had initiated that case verified that the issue was closed.
From the management’s perspective the workflow allowed the organization to provide a full loop of accountability on the work that had been done.
The fact that we could use the Microsoft CRM dialog workflow as the solution greatly simplified the solution and made the solution much quicker to implement.
The solution that our consultants both envisioned in the discovery stages and implemented was well executed on. Just as important in any project, the consultants set reasonable expectations in regard to the budget and schedules that managed customer expectations.
Houle succeeded in putting in place a follow up program in a matter of months that they had contemplated for years and saw results quickly.
There have been a few follow up calls made where service needed to be followed up and it’s put everyone on notice that the organization is serious about making sure that excellent customer service is performed.
Further, executives and division managers now have easy insight as to how their divisions are performing on the ground.
Why Accountability is So Important in an Organization
From a business perspective, the emphasis on follow through once again reiterated the importance of accountability in business.
Jack Welch, preceding CEO at GE (General Electric) was famous for his emphasis on accountability. He believed that company culture was changed when people were held accountable for behaviour that was not endorsed at GE.
Accountability is critical in an organization because it sorts the good from the bad and it allows you to instill a culture of genuine effort and the traits that lead to high performance.
While not all agree with Jack Welch’s sometimes infamous emphasis on performance and accountability, his emphasis that accountability drives performance is universally accepted.
Accountability Helps You Create Your Desired Company Culture
Accountability helps you reinforce what type of culture you want to establish in your organization. In this case, metrics are the tools that help us reinforce those results.
Ultimately, accountability for results is the only form in which you can let an individual know whether he / she is on target or whether they need to make corrections.
As every business owner or manager discovers, there are those individuals in your business who make you money and then there are those individuals in your business who you lose you money.
As management, it is your job to discover which individuals are producing the results and promoting the culture you aspire to be.
This becomes progressively more difficult as the enterprise grows and company results are skewed by outside forces such as market conditions, geography, and company bureaucracy.
Metrics and follow up (as in the case discussed above), with the detailed qualitative and quantitative information they produce, assist in addressing the vast performance measuring complexities of a larger organization.
Not only do they allow you to determine who needs more personalized attention but just as importantly, who needs to be promoted.
This is all hangs on the indispensable assumption that you yourself are clear on what type of culture it is you want to create.
Just as important, it is critical that you yourself can model the characteristics and traits you desire to promote as a culture. Only once you can model the cultural characteristics needed to establish your company culture will you able to identify the traits you desire to promote in others (a bit of a deep thought to chew on I know).
CRM is Only a Tool, but a Good Tool It Is
In the end, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is only a tool to help you drive a culture of outstanding customer service.
Ultimately, good customer service requires a sincere desire from management to service customers’ in the best way possible and holding people accountable to create a culture of unselfish customer first thinking.
What CRM does well though is make spotting performance issues much easier.
Further, while it’s easier to recognize the quantitative benefits derived from customer satisfaction metrics, not many comprehend how beneficial qualitative information from activities such as captured phone call conversations can be.
Namely, while metrics highlight where the issues are, aggregated qualitative information (such as phone calls and comments) identify what the actual issues are to focus on.
The Results Are In
Within seconds, executive and managers can now can pull up a scorecard that highlights the customer satisfaction scores of various divisions, something that was impossible to do before.
Not only would have it taken them hours to try and get an assessment of all their people on the ground, it would have been virtually impossible to aggregate this information into a digestible amount of information at a quick glance.
Further, great stories have emerged about how certain individuals when performing their work orders have gone out of their way to provide excellent service.
As an organization, we feel privileged to work with our customers that have such a passion for great customer service.
What are the steps in a CRM implementation? What are the biggest causes of failure? How long will it take?