I am convinced that experience is the starting point for any learning and I believe that this is particularly true for anybody interested in CRM and the service provided to customers.  This is down to the unavoidable fact that everyday we are all customers. We all have the capacity to learn from those experiences we have as a customer and then apply the lessons we learn to our own interactions with our own customers.

The experiences we have outside our own organisation can be used to change and improve systems, whether this is by changing the procedures we follow or by using the features of software in a different way or changing the technology available to our teams as they service customers.  It helps if you are using a product like Sage CRM which is very flexible and has easy to change features including workflow and screen design and again it helps that Sage CRM has many technology options which allow users to get the best out of the system.

I have just returned from a long family holiday and over the last few weeks I have had my fair share of good and bad customer experiences as I went with my family on different excursions. As we were separately enraged and delighted at the way different companies treated us I made a decision to learn from these experiences as a customer and see how they can be used to improve the service I offer to members of the Sage CRM community and my Sage colleagues who use the training resources I create.

I used a technique called critical reflection. A version of the diagram below maybe familiar to you from student days or from management courses.

As I considered different experiences as a customer I tried to do the following

Identify Assumptions.
These were the assumptions that I made and the assumptions the company had made. An example of this was my daughters use of an App on her mobile phone to navigate a tourist trail around a city. Assumptions had been made about the availability of WiFi and 3G access, the demand on battery life and mobile phone data consumption.

Assess the Experience.
Here I needed to consider how the theory related to the actual 'real-life' interaction. How the expectations had been met. In my daughter's case as she walked around taking photos and sharing these via the App to her Facebook page her battery died just after her data limit was exceeded.

Inform future Actions.
My daughter learnt a lesson about the demands of 'constantly on' mobile computing. She recovered from her disappointment by confiscating her mother's camera to photograph the different statues we had been 'hunting' and she added the 'sightings' to the App once we were back in our hotel. But this 'offline' behaviour removed much of the excitement and immediacy of posting and editing data as she roamed around the city. She has certainly learnt about the need to conserve battery life and ration her data.

From a Sage CRM perspective this has made me think about usage patterns for mobile computing and the options available for Sage CRM mobile users but that needs to be a topic for a future article.

I would be very interested in hearing whether you try and learn from experiences as a customer and then try to apply those to your own organisations systems.