Customer Service

CRM Vendors Fail to Practice What They Preach

CRM vendors — the champions of customer service best practices — received dismal ratings for their own treatment of online customers in a survey conducted by the Customer Respect Group and sponsored by Select Selling, a provider of sales methodology tools.

The Customer Respect Group has rated customer service in such industries as banking, airline and travel, telecom, consumer goods, manufacturing, food and beverage, healthcare and high-tech. This its first CRM survey, as well as the first survey it has done that was sponsored by another company, according to the research group, which added that Select Selling is not a competitor to the firms that were surveyed.

The CRM industry was among the lowest ranking industries in the customer service survey, Terry Golesworthy, president of the Customer Respect Group, told CRM Buyer.

Even the highest ranking companies — including Salesforce.com and RightNow Technologies, which placed in the top two spots — received mediocre scores compared to other industries, he added.

The irony is striking. “This is very much a case of the cobblers’ children wearing the worst shoes, Golesworthy remarked.

Responding Promptly

For instance, one measure in the survey was how quickly a company responded to an e-mail query. Overall, large corporations across all industries tend to ignore, overlook or otherwise flub some 16 percent of e-mail inquiries sent their way, Customer Respect Group says. In the CRM industry, that number was 27 percent.

“None of the vendors we surveyed were consistent in getting back to a customer,” Golesworthy said.

Also, he added, half of the queries did not receive automatic responses from the CRM vendors’ Web sites. Compounding the problem, only 29 percent had good FAQs on their Web sites for customers to reference.

Opt-In Policies

Privacy policies, or “trust issues,” make up another area in which CRM vendors were reported to be deficient.

On-premise firms, in particular, were very willing to collect information from the customer “that was heavily reused,” said Golesworthy. A typical example involved taking the e-mail address from a customer’s inquiry and sharing it with sales or re-using it for marketing purposes without permission.

“In general, when you ask a question via e-mail about a product or service, the assumption is that you will get an answer and that is it. You do not assume your e-mail address will be recycled for other purposes.”

The on-demand vendors fared better with the trust issues, Golesworthy said, but they fell down on their actual Web sites — many of which, he found, are not that easy to navigate.

In at least one instance, this appears to be deliberate. After the survey, Golesworthy contacted the vendors to let them know the results. One response from a lower ranked vendor was that its preference was to have customers make contact by phone instead of getting the necessary information from the Web site.

“In fact, they told me they were in the process of taking more information off of their Web site for that reason,” said Golesworthy.

Overall Findings

CRM vendors fared below average compared to other industries with an industry rating of 5.6 out of 10 — versus 5.7 out of 10 for all industries.

The CRM vendors and their overall CRI (customer respect index) ratings — out of 10 — are as follows:

Rank — Company ——— CRI Rating

— 1 —– Salesforce.com ——————– 6.7– 2 —– RightNow Technologies ————- 6.6– 3 —– SAP (on-demand) ——————- 6.4– 4 —– Maximizer Software —————- 6.2– 5* —- Oracle (on-premise) ————— 6.1– 5* —- Salesnet ————————– 6.1– 7 —– FrontRange Solutions ————– 5.8– 8 —– Pivotal ————————— 5.6– 9 —– NetSuite ————————– 5.5– 10 —- Microsoft ————————- 5.2– 11 —- AmDocs —————————- 5.1– 12 —- Siebel/Oracle (on-demand) ——— 4.9– 13 —- Sage —————————— 4.7– 14 —- SugarCRM ————————- 4.5

* Oracle andSalesnet tied for fifth place.

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