Perfecting Service Management

Issue #7 Tuesday, December 3, 2003


topical index

Welcome to this edition of the Customer Centricity newsletter, where we explore ways you can improve the performance of your service organization.

In this issue we provide the second article in the series on avoiding the common pitfalls of CRM. Additionally, Bill Tobin, one of our associates, provides Help Desk Managers with his top 10 suggestions for this holiday season to position their function for improved performance in 2003.


In this issue:

Customer Centricity Delivering A Customer Service Workshop

Customer Centricity is again scheduled to present "A Customer Service Workshop" at Rivier College, in Nashua, NH. This event will take place on Thursday, March 20, from 5:45-7:45pm.

This program is sponsored by the New Hampshire Small Business Development Center.

We will discuss how customer service can positively impact the bottom line for any size organization. We will also address what companies can do now, in these tough economic times, to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.

This program is designed for any business that has significant customer contact, whether it is business-to-business or business-to-consumer. The program is a hands-on workshop designed to help companies improve the performance of their service organization. The workshop will discuss how delivering quality customer service can help address four major challenges business leaders face in today’s economic climate:

  • Increasing revenue when new customers are difficult to acquire

  • Maintaining customer confidence and satisfaction while reducing the cost of operating the business

  • Distinguishing themselves in the marketplace

  • Bottom-line - Meeting performance objectives through a focus on the SINGLE source of revenue: the customer.

The program will be held in Rivier College’s Education Center, Room 313, located at 420 Main Street in Nashua, NH. Admission is $25 and registration is required. A reduced admission of $15 is available for additional attendees from the same company. To register contact Rosemary Macmillan at Rivier College at 603-897-8587 or via email at


Avoiding CRM's Common Pitfalls - Part 2

(part 1 of this series can be found in Issue #6 linked below)

In the previous edition of our newsletter we introduced the series on "Avoiding CRM's Common Pitfalls", and we explored the first pitfall which is that of CRM being "Viewed as a technical, not a business problem". In this edition we will review the next 2 pitfalls, and strategies that you can use to ensure the success of your CRM initiative.

Driven from the top down:

Often CRM programs are driven from the top down. Senior management wants reporting on sales, the pipeline, forecast, etc. And, CRM is “sold as” the answer. CRM “can be” the answer provided other things are in place first. For example, in order to generate the information desired by senior management, your sales team needs to input quality information into the system. Typically, when users are asked to put more into a system than the benefits they receive results in a low adoption rate. Sure, you will get data entered into the system. However, over time you will discover that the integrity isn’t there as your sales team continues to follow their “tried and true” ways of developing and closing business. Human nature will prevail, and you will find your users doing the minimal required to show their “attempts at using a less than adequate system”.

STRATEGY: During the initial phases of your CRM initiative ensure that you “consider” the requirements of senior management, and meet the requirements of your front-line personnel. Management reporting will come, but ONLY after your customer-facing personnel are receiving value from the system. It has been said that users need to obtain 3 units of benefit from a system, for 1 unit of work that they put in to a system. If you don’t acknowledge this, your CRM initiative will struggle getting off the ground.

Lack of senior management involvement:

While CRM initiatives shouldn’t be driven “just” from the top down, as discussed above, senior management involvement is absolutely critical. Without senior management involvement, accountability for ROI (return on investment) will be non-existent and the program will experience scope creep as “everyone” tries to get their requirements in. With scope creep comes cost overruns and implementation delays. Both of these can be avoided.

STRATEGY: Ensure senior management involvement in your CRM program, to include:

  • Prioritizing high-level requirements. Your senior managers need to make the “tough” decisions about what will “go”, what will wait until a subsequent phase and what will not occur at all.

  • Placing accountability for the program's success on the shoulders of the senior manager(s) that are “signing up” to meet the numbers (increased revenue, operational efficiencies, customer satisfaction, etc.) that make up the ROI of your CRM initiative. At the end of the day, these senior managers are accountable for the success of your company's CRM initiative: no-one else! In our next edition we will discuss additional strategies for senior managers to remain involved for CRM success.

In summary, there are 6 common pitfalls of CRM that we are covering in this series:

  1. Viewed as a technical, not a business, problem

  2. Driven from the top down

  3. Lack of senior management involvement

  4. Not targeting the areas of highest adoption

  5. Driven by the IT organization vs. business leaders accountable for the numbers

  6. Trying to do too much at once

The next edition will cover items 4 & 5 in our list (above).

Previous Issues in this series:



Bill Tobin’s Top 10 List For Help Desk Managers During This Holiday Season

As the holiday season is upon us, contact centers supporting the retail industry lead the way in watching their incoming call volumes skyrocket. At the same time, the incoming requests and problems reported to contact centers in other industries may tend to slide downward. In the case of an IT Help Desk, their corporate customers/fellow employees (Human Resources, Finance, Marketing, etc.) have begun to utilize accumulated vacation time in order to complete gift shopping, attend holiday functions and spend some much-anticipated time with family and friends. One of the most difficult tasks for a Help Desk Manager is staffing during these potentially quiet times. The key word here is potential, as a Help Desk Manager must always staff for the unexpected. If you have a salesperson delivering a proposal to a key prospect and she cannot access her PowerPoint Presentation on the corporate network, you'd better have someone available to assist her, 24x7x365 days, if that is your service availability.

If you’re one of those Help Desk Managers that has a chance to step back and take a breath during the period between Thanksgiving and New Years, what do you have your analysts do when the incoming calls decline? How do you make sure your people don't become bored and watch the clock tick?

Bingo! This is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the reduced call volumes by assigning, or better still asking for volunteers, for some value-added tasks. The tasks you choose must be challenging and their value easily recognizable, not the mundane, time-fillers that the analysts may have witnessed in their past. This is a great opportunity to have your analysts pair off in teams and commit to a common deliverable. The ultimate benefit is that the chosen deliverables will keep their minds focused and their self-esteem high during slow times. The one gotcha you must look out for is not to try to change the world in six weeks. The goal is to enhance your help desk’s people, process and technology through a handful of short-term improvements, not to assign so many deliverables that your people/teams don’t succeed.

Here are my Top Ten suggestions to assist you in the coming weeks:

  1. Assess the quality of your job descriptions and make appropriate edits based on the past year’s responsibilities.
  2. Create a new-hire boot camp agenda, defining the daily technical and soft skill training requirements for new frontline employees, prior to promoting them to taking live calls.
  3. Create analyst incentive programs for 2003. It doesn’t have to be costly, but it does have to be effective, and fun!
  4. If you do not yet have an Operational Guide documenting your workflow processes, service level agreements and troubleshooting techniques, why not get the ball rolling. If you have one already that is a little outdated, what better time to bring your documents up-to-date.
  5. Create an operational escalation matrix, containing tier 1 and tier 2 contacts for each specific functional area supporting the help desk. Include a column for managerial responsibilities for each of those functional areas.
  6. Create or update your help desk marketing card, an important vehicle for informing your customers who you are, how to contact you, when you’re available and what services you provide. Distribute it on a glossy card, which can be posted in their personal work area.
  7. Perform workspace housecleaning; not just in your cubicles, but also in the overall help desk area. Pick up clutter around the fax and printer, rearrange clogged aisles, play musical cubes and let your analysts get a new physical view and perspective for 2003.
  8. Evaluate your call management system’s categories and sub-categories, by running a six-month query, sorted by those two fields. Eliminate those categories seldom or never used and add new ones that will help with your trend analysis.
  9. Are you using standard solutions or closure codes in your call management system? If so, run a “Closed Incident Summary Report” for the past six months sorted by closure code. Make adjustments eliminating those not used and adding new codes where appropriate.
  10. Give the support area on your corporate web-site a facelift. Start by taking thirty minutes at your next staff meeting and bring it up for all to see. Brainstorm improvements for twenty minutes and then look for a couple of volunteers to take the suggestions and run with them.

In summary:

  • As a team, identify the areas you want to improve
  • Ask for volunteers, or assign to teams of 2-3 people
  • Have each team report on their progress at each week’s staff meeting
  • Provide feedback and guidance
  • Have the entire team approve the enhancements
  • Document the changes and implement
  • Have a super holiday season and be thankful for the wonderful people you work with!!

If you have any questions or would like a sounding board with feedback for an idea, don’t hesitate to contact Bill Tobin at (617) 909-6682 or via email at the following address:



More About Customer Centricity, Inc.

Customer Centricity is a business consulting firm that partners with companies to improve the performance of their service organizations. We leverage our real-world experience to help our clients manage their customer relationships in more effective and satisfying ways.

Customer Centricity delivers on this promise by optimizing the interaction between people, process and technology to achieve higher levels of customer satisfaction and increased operational efficiencies. We provide:

  1. Comprehensive assessments to identify the actions that will yield the greatest return;
  2. Skills Training to enable customer-facing personnel to deliver exceptional levels of customer service;
  3. Design and Implementation of business process techniques to serve the customer in efficient, effective and consistent manners; and
  4. Identification of the appropriate business processes to automate, enabling companies to get the most from their investments in technology.

In addition to our core practices, we also maintain a network of strategic partnerships to provide end-to-end consulting across your organization with a commitment to seamless execution.

Click on the following link to see what our customers have to say.

To learn more about Customer Centricity:

call: 603.491.7948

send e-mail to: 

or visit our web-site:

In Closing

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Copyright (c) 2002 by Customer Centricity, Inc. All rights reserved.