An article on ecommercetimes.com discusses how to use the customer information captured into your CRM system to build strong customer relationships: Tap CRM to Give Your Customers a Pleasant Surprise
Customer relationship management may lead to smoother sales and service interactions between you and your customers, but it can also help you go above and beyond. Your customers are filling your CRM system with intelligence about their desires and their needs; it’s time to use that data to help cement your relationship with them for the long term.
So you have your CRM application in place and humming, collecting information about customers and potential customers and organizing it so you can use it. That raises a question: How are you using it?
Most companies pour it back into sales, marketing and support to keep feeding those machines, which is good. It’s the way you realize the value from your CRM investment.
You can read the full article here, courtesy of ecommercetimes.com.
Companies that do not currently use CRM software are often concerned about user adoption. They fear that CRM programs that are too hard to use will become shelfware, and they are probably right.
The problem with CRM solutions that are very easy to use is that they don’t do very much, and for the most part are nothing more than glorified contact managers on the web. Those that provide a high level of functionality are designed for larger companies and are often overkill for small to mid-size enterprises.
Becoming a top choice among small to mid-size enterprises
One company that seems to have addressed this concern is Commence CRM. This online CRM system strikes a nice balance between simplicity and value. Commence is a robust product offering that rivals many higher cost solutions and is modular in design. This allows customers to start with the basics for managing accounts and contacts, calendar, notes, activities, history and even integrate your e-mail. Then add additional functionality when you are ready.
Companies that wish to manage sales can add a lead management and sales pipeline management module for just a few dollars more per month, and those that want to do bulk e-mailing can add the marketing module as well. What’s unique about Commence CRM is how easy the additional applications are to use. The product is also available for use with an Apple Mac, PC or any mobile device or tablet. Commence CRM seems to be the perfect fit for those companies that want more than a simple contact manager on the web, but not the cost and complexity of higher end solutions that are cumbersome to use.
Image courtesy of Sujin Jetkasettakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
eMarketer.com recently published survey results about the impact of customer service experiences: On the Web, Customer Service Stories Move Fast
Fast and uncomplicated CRM responses keep consumers happy
When it comes to customer relationship management (CRM), digital channels present something of a double-edged sword. They facilitate communication between consumers and businesses, but also provide disgruntled customers with the means to quickly and widely broadcast their discontent with a product or service.
Dimensional Research conducted a Q1 2013 survey of US internet users who had recently interacted with the customer service departments of mid-sized companies. Interestingly, they found that among those who said they had had a positive customer service experience, more said it was because they received a quick resolution to their problem, rather than a desirable outcome.
You can read the full article here, courtesy of eMarketer.com.
Do a Google search for Best CRM systems and here is a sample of what you will get. Top 10 CRM systems, Best 5 CRMs for small business, Top 10 CRM Reviews, Top 40 Hosted CRM systems, Best CRM Reviews, 5 CRM services for small business, Compare Top 30 CRM Brands, … and there is more. The problem is none of these reviews highlight why these companies or products are the best. So I say, where’s the beef?
Most people today realize that these reviews are often done on a fee for service basis. Only the vendors who agree to pay a fee (to get the name and e-mail address of the person who downloaded the review) will be listed in the report, and that’s ok. People need to make money. But the reviews are always about who has the most features and functions versus what value the product provides to end users.
Today, businesses are typically trying to address three business challenges.
1) Data consolidation – They want to capture, track, manage and share information throughout the organization so that they can efficiently manage their customer relationships.
2) Improve Marketing and Sales Execution – Companies want to build brand recognition, generate more interest in their products or service, and manage the sales process from introduction to closure.
3) Improve the Customer Buying Experience – Companies want to maximize the lifetime value of every customer by providing a high quality customer buying experience.
I would like to know which vendor can help my business address these specific challenges, not that Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Salesforce.com are the two biggest players in the sector or that they have more features than anyone else. How does this help me? Perhaps these reviewers will get tired of the feature/function war and start producing some case studies to show how these products can provide value and a return on the investment people make in them.
Image by Paul Goyette on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
Resource Nation recently published an article discussing ways to increase customer loyalty: 4 Ways Mobile Technology Will Enhance Your Customer Loyalty
The Center for Retail Management at Northwestern University has reported that up to 15% of a business’s most loyal customers account for 55-70% of the company’s total sales (CRM Trends).
Given the exponential growth of mobile in the US – from mobile advertising to apps, websites, and more – it makes sense that mobile can also be harnessed to effectively enhance customer loyalty.
You can read the full article here, courtesy of Resource Nation.
The CRM software industry is highly competitive and while it may be a bit difficult to differentiate one product from another, the fact is that every CRM product available services a specific sector of the market. The CRM industry has three market sectors; large enterprise organizations, mid–market companies and small businesses. No individual vendor regardless of their marketing hype, product brochures or pricing policies does an effective job of servicing all three. Let’s analyze why this is.
The Fortune 1000
If we look at the Fortune 1000 commonly referred to as enterprise level companies they traditionally have complex business requirements. This may be associated with a large number of users, high transaction volumes, customized workflow requirements or the need for multi-language and multi-currency support. Due to the complex nature of these requirements, very few CRM companies can address them. As a result, the enterprise CRM software sector may be the least competitive of the three.
Small Business Sector
While the enterprise sector may be the least competitive, the small business CRM sector is perhaps the most competitive. Why? Because small businesses typically have just a few specific requirements. Some businesses simply want to store customer information. Others may want to manage the sales process more efficiently and some perhaps a bit more. They do not however have the complex requirements of larger organizations and as such, they can perhaps meet their requirements with a simple or basic CRM solution that they may be able to download freely over the Internet. Because it does not require more than a PC and a few hours of development time there are literally dozens of basic low cost solutions available for the small businesses community.
The Middle Market
The mid-market sector is the most challenging one because most of these companies need more than a basic CRM solution to meet their business requirements, but many do not have the complex needs of enterprise class companies. While they may not have hundreds of users they may have 100 or more, reasonably high transaction volumes and workflow requirements. This demands a flexible solution that can be tailored to these requirements. Small business CRM solutions cannot address these requirements and while the enterprise class CRM systems can, they are often too complex to use and too expensive.
What these companies are looking for is something in the middle. A CRM system that offers robust functionality, does not take an engineering degree to use, can support about 100 users with reasonable transaction volumes, and can be customized to meet unique business requirements.
There are only a handful of CRM solutions that match these criteria. The development of a system such as this requires a substantial commitment on the part of the vendor. You are not simply developing a basic contact management system here, but instead a fully integrated customizable solution that can grow and change with the customers’ changing business requirements. It has to be time tested and perform well with a lot of users and transaction volumes, but still be easy to use and affordable.
While there are a few good choices in the sector the one that continues to rise to the top is Commence CRM from Commence Corporation. Commence has been in the client management software sector for more than twenty years. The company has built a large loyal customer base and has developed a lengthy track record for delivering quality products and excellent customer service. Perhaps the one aspect of Commence CRM that differentiates it from competitive solutions is that Commence CRM has always been positioned for mid-market companies. The company states that its CRM solution is designed for companies that need more than a basic low cost CRM system but not the cost and complexity of enterprise CRM solutions. It seems to work because although Commence CRM is not a household name in the industry like Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce.com, the company competes very effectively against these two industry giants. For more information, ask for a free test drive of Commence CRM on the company’s website.
If you are a small business you may have minimal requirements. Perhaps you simply want to store customer information such as contacts, notes, history and e-mail. A basic low cost CRM solution may meet these needs. But it’s equally important to know what they do not provide so that you are clearly aware of what you will be getting and what you won’t.
Let’s start with perhaps one of the most important yet overlooked aspects of CRM software and that’s data security.
The majority of today’s modern CRM solutions operate online in a cloud computing environment. The proper protection of your data is paramount and it does not come cheaply. So if you are looking at a free CRM solution or one where the cost is simply too good to be true, chances are your data may not be as properly protected as you think it is. If you are alright with this then fine but don’t be foolish enough to think that you r getting a high quality service here because you are not.
Smaller companies often have no issue with enabling all employees with access to see all customer information, but larger firms often want to restrict this through the use of what is often listed as security or role permissions. The only problem is that basic low cost solutions do not offer role permissions so if you have any interested in establishing what employees can see or not see, you will need a higher end CRM offering.
Maybe you are not looking to integrate with other third party applications, but you may want to add custom fields, create customer views of information, generate custom reports or enable your staff to create a custom dashboard. This is not going to happen with a basic low cost CRM solution. Once again, this may be fine for your business but if it’s not, you need to step up a notch.
Most CRM systems offer a calendar, but traditionally it’s for managing individual appointments. Higher end CRM solutions may offer a departmental or group calendar so that you can manage the activities and availability of your staff.
Low end CRM systems typically offer very little in the area of reporting. You can most likely do a monthly or quarterly forecast but do not expect a customer report generator or a built in graphical reporting package that you will find in higher cost solutions.
Low end CRM programs offer basic functionality. This is by design and one of the reasons they are so easy to use, but growth and scalability should be of concern if you think your business will require more than they currently offer. Switching CRM systems can be disruptive to your business and cost you time and money.
If you are thinking about implementing a CRM solution do your homework and make sure you select a solution that will support your future business requirements. You may find some good solutions that cost only a bit more than the basic low cost ones.
CIO Magazine published an article providing 13 Tips to Get Business Teams to Use Your CRM System:
Having a great new customer relationship management system won’t be worth much until you figure out how to get everyone to use it. CRM experts provide tips on how to get members of your sales, marketing and customer service teams to actually use that expensive new CRM system.
You can read the full article here, courtesy of CIO Magazine.
Business 2 Community has an article asking Will Cloud-Based CRM Systems Really Improve Your Customer Service?
With cloud-based everything dominating the tech-world landscape these days, it’s reasonable to consider the pros and cons of migrating your CRM systems to the cloud. However, before you start exploring the nuances of cloud-based CRM mobile app options, scalability, or security features, keep in mind the most important question of all: Will cloud-based CRM systems improve your customer service?
You can read the full article here, courtesy of Business 2 Community.
CRM Buyer has an article outlining 5 Things That Kill CRM ROI Dead:
CRM is light years ahead of where it was a decade ago, but if it’s no longer a money pit, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily delivering the most bang for the buck either. Businesses can get better ROI from their CRM if they avoid some common mistakes: creating a siloed CRM system; letting sales and marketing squabble; ignoring reports; blasting messages on social media; and turning a deaf ear to customers.
We also provide these tips and resources for customer success that will help you with your CRM implementation along with our Commence CRM White Paper: Don’t Make a CRM Buying Mistake : 7 Points to Consider Before Selecting Your CRM Solution.