Technology Management and Improving Department Performance
As the manager of a team of 25 customer service representatives our company, I've noticed the significant investments made in key technology, systems and processes are losing their effectiveness. Over the last year for example, the large investments in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and training have only led to greater confusion on the part of customer service reps regarding escalation paths. The investments in analytics are leading not to a single version of the truth, but literally dozens of them. The intent of this analysis is to identify the issues, concerns and incidents leading to poor technology management, in addition to defining strategies and techniques to improve my team's and the company's use of technologies. In conclusion I'll provide a strategy for turning this situation around in 6 months.
Identifying the Causes of Poor Technology Management in our Company
Most systemic to the dropping effectiveness of our information systems is the gradual decline in how they are used, and for which tasks. When the CRM system was first introduced the goal was to gain 90% or greater adoption over time, with heavy emphasis on customer service and sales. Today the percentage of all eligible employees using the system is less than 40%. The turnover in customer service, among the highest in the company, is one contributing factor, as is the lack of training and lack of updates in key customer records by sales. CRM has become in many ways an allegory for what has gone with technology management company-wide.
The second major cause of it systems and their enterprise applications not being used more effectively with a corresponding increase in customer satisfaction is the lack of continued integration investments between our older legacy systems and the data they have on long-time customer accounts (Ramrattan, Patel, 2010). Our customer service representatives can only see data back 18 months, which is only a small snapshot of activity for many of our customers who have been doing business with use for well over a decade. Frustrated, our customer sales representatives have been known to resort to lying to customers and say they can see their history back ten years and ask the customer what records they have. Best case, our best sales representatives have been taught by their managers to use the legacy systems through separate CRT systems in their cubicles the bulky, green-screen ones, to do screen captures of data from ten years ago for our largest customers. Obviously this does not work for every customer, our sales reps have time only for the top ten percent of customers to track this way. Data integration of these legacy systems to our analytics applications and reporting platforms would save literally fifty to a hundred hours a week in aggregate across the team of 25 customer services reps in my team.
The third major cause of technology management beginning to fall behind is the fact there really is no plan from one quarter or year to the next. CRM was the big focus to capture customer information and use analytics to plan strategies for increasing loyalty. Yet the plan was executed and nothing was mentioned after the fact. The overall effect of CRM literally going into a "black hole" of performance has been to erode the credibility of executives when they talk about large-scale it plans for the future. The entire companies, including my team of 25 customer service reps often ask what the pay-off of the massive CRM system implementation was and no one has any answers. There is no tie-back of investment to results from a technology management perspective.
Strategies for Improving Technology Management
What is most critical from a technology management standpoint today is the need for additional training on how to better use the CRM system and customize it for the specific needs of customer service representatives. The two most important action items that need to happen are first a refresh of how to use the CRM system through a series of trainings, and second, give the sales reps greater freedom on how they use the systems to do their daily tasks. For a CRM system to deliver the greatest possible benefit it must be stable enough to deliver useful information yet agile enough to change in response to user needs (Beldi,…