Working the Phone as a CRM Tool (1,572 words)
Residential long-distance telephone service provides an excellent example of the latter phenomenon; and one that, by the way, is likely to be repeated by the utility industry in the wake of deregulation. Much of the churn within the near-commodity long-distance business is generated by relentless competitive thrusts. These thrusts, in turn, require countermeasures that are reactive and rules-based, and that supplement existing statistics-based models that are anticipatory and predictive.
The call center, which is much better suited than direct mail for quick mobilization, is an effective way to implement countermeasures such as "win-back" programs. This is where the P/CRM call center strategies discussed earlier come into play. It is critical for the TSRs to have access to key customer information in an easy-to-digest format, and for the personalities, screen scripts and tone of the TSR presentations to be tailored to the characteristics of the human being on the other end of the phone.
6. Pursue ongoing, universal techniques for enhancing customer loyalty.
Although it can be difficult to predict the specific customers who will defect, this does not mean that preventive measures should be overlooked. Generally, for issues that are likely to erode loyalty, it is prudent to institute an ongoing program of detection and correction. Besides the obvious strategy of responding assertively and positively to the ill will that is engendered by specific service problems, it is important to constantly review individual usage patterns and determine if they are appropriately matched to existing service plans. These efforts generally preserve the long-term value inherent in sustained loyalty, which, in turn, more than offset any short-term revenue loss.
Direct mail and/or e-mail promotions can be targeted to customers with mismatched plans, with an invitation to call an inbound TSR for rectification. The TSR, supported by rules-driven, differentiating screen scripts, can work intelligently with the customer to identify a more appropriate service plan.