CRM software programs designed for small to mid-sized companies are used primarily for contact management and sales pipeline management. This is because the lion’s share of CRM solutions sold in this market only offers this level of functionality and that’s it.
One company that is differentiating themselves from the pack is Commence Corporation. Commence has an online CRM solution that offers advanced functionality for customer service. This is appealing to mid-sized companies that have mastered the use of CRM for managing account management, contact management and sales, and now want to focus on providing world class service to their customers.
Excerpt from ‘Sales, Customer Service, and Marketing Top Technology Investment Priority List’ | Forrester Blog
To do this, businesses need the ability to assign and manage service tickets, and maintain a historical view of customer service interactions. Commence CRM software does just that. The customer support application is seamlessly integrated with the account and contact management database. Simply open an account detail and view the complete service history as part of a 360 degree view of their customer profile.
Customer service and support solutions are typically unavailable from low-end competitive offerings servicing this sector of the industry. Other mainstream and enterprise products offer this, but at almost double the cost. Learn more about the customer support and project management features in Commence CRM at http://www.commence.com/crm/crm-software/.
During the past decade the CRM industry has seen a consistent migration from desktop CRM solutions to CRM online. There are several technology and business changes that are driving this migration beginning with the growth of the mobile workforce. The economy has created an environment that often includes sales and service personnel who work from remote or home offices. In addition, many of these people travel quite a bit and require access to customer data while on the road. They are not tethered to a desktop PC like office personnel and as such, access to customer data can be very difficult.
Another challenge facing companies today is a lack of standardization. Unlike years ago where people standardized on desktop PCs running a Microsoft operating system, today’s workforce may be using Apple Macs, tablets or smartphones like an iPhone or Android device. New devices are entering the market every six months and people simply expect that they can use these devices to access their data. It’s not an unreasonable request but it’s much more difficult to achieve with desktop software than with CRM online systems that are designed to support remote data access.
Is desktop CRM dead? Of course not, because not every company has remote employees or requires remote access. In addition, many desktop database applications have been tailored to meet unique business requirements that CRM online solutions do not provide without additional programming. As the industry continues to evolve and new mobile devices enter the market it does appear that CRM online software programs will continue to be the solution of choice into the future.
An article on Forbes.com provides advices on why you need CRM and how to get everyone in the company to use it: Why Your Small Business Needs CRM
A CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is probably one of the most valuable systems that any small business can implement. It is as important as the people that are hired and will have a more significant effect long term than any one employee.
Recent studies show that companies with a fully utilized CRM system can increase sales by 29%. But, any system is only as valuable as the information that goes into it. How do you get everyone in the company to use it and provide real time data?
You can read the full article here, courtesy of Forbes.com.
Contrary to popular belief all CRM software programs are not alike. Everyone wants a CRM solution that’s easy to use. But let’s be honest if the solution is that easy to use, could it be because it simply does not do very much? That is perfectly fine if you are a very small business or have basic CRM requirements. What if you need more? Let’s say you want to:
Follow-up on Leads – automate how you capture, distribute and follow-up on new business opportunities or leads
Manage the Sales Process – implement a formal sales structure and manage the sales process from introduction to closure
Access Customer Information – provide high quality customer service and store the complete customer service history by implementing a ticket management system
This is all possible, but you need to select a CRM solution that can offer this level of functionality. Then once you find one you may quickly realize that you cannot expect to achieve a high level of results without getting some help. These systems offer robust functionality and often require some training and professional guidance.
Commence Corporation has created an onboarding program that consists of their top rated CRM software complemented by customer specific training and professional services. These are live interactive coaching sessions with an onboarding rep who can advise you on how to implement the system for your specific business workflow. The onboarding program is a small investment in time that really pays off with faster implementations, a personalized system that’s easier to use and increased user adoption. With results like these, customers quickly realize the maximum value from their CRM software.
If you really want to improve how you market, sell and provide service to you customers don’t expect to get it by downloading some cheap CRM solution over the Internet. You need a functionally rich top CRM solution matched with world class customer service. What differentiates Commence CRM from other solutions servicing the small to mid-size business sector is the company’s professional staff. This team averages 15 years of industry experience in marketing, sales and customer service. Very few CRM solution providers can provide this level of experience to their customers. This is the reason so many customers have realized extensive value with Commence CRM.
Image “Motivate Written On Blackboard” courtesy of KROMKRATHOG 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.
During the past two decades small to mid-size companies relied on contact management software to manage customer relationships. These programs were designed to operate on desktop PCs assuming employees are primarily at their desk networked with others within the organization. The internet and cloud computing has introduced a new breed of CRM software that enables businesses to access vital customer data anytime and from anywhere. Access to customer data is available from any device (PC, Mac, tablet, smartphone) making these new CRM solutions perfect for today’s mobile workforce.
CRM solution providers like Commence Corporation are making the transition to web based CRM software easy for those customers ready to take advantage of cloud computing. First, the company provides a data migration service that enables the migration of contact data into the Commence CRM software. This allows customers to begin with a solid database of contact information versus having to manually key in thousands of names, addresses and telephone numbers. Perhaps more importantly is the comfort factor once customers learn how Commence CRM works.
There is significant difference between contact management software and CRM software. Contact management software is designed to manage individual people or contacts, whereas CRM software is designed to manage companies or accounts. Because CRM is account centric much of the filtering and reporting is designed around accounts as well. Commence CRM enables you to manage both contacts and accounts and you have the flexibility to view, search, report and even add customer fields to the contact database as well as the account database. You can manage them jointly or as separate databases. Why does this matter? Because companies that are used to managing a contact database can continue to operate in a similar fashion with Commence CRM. Commence CRM simply takes customer relationship management to a much higher level while providing the flexibility to access data anytime, from anywhere and from any browser capable device.
Customers using older contact managers such as Goldmine, Maximizer, ACT! or Avidian will find that Commence CRM offers the right mix of functionality, flexibility and price to get them to the next generation of Customer Relationship Management.
Image by bingbing on Flickr under Creative Commons license.
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.
CRM. Marketing automation. What’s the difference? And why in the world would you ever need both?
Great questions. While Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools and marketing automation systems are complementary, they both serve different functions that only reach their full potential when paired together. A CRM is primarily a sales tool, focused on collecting data about existing customers and managing new customers and sales opportunities. Marketing automation, on the other hand, is the marketing counterpart to your CRM, focused on lead generation and personalized, one-to-one communications powered by the data collected through prospect and visitor tracking.
To break it down even further, your CRM is essentially a database. Marketing automation is the tool that allows you to execute on the information stored in that database. Integrating the two systems allows you to sync information bi-directionally, meaning that an update to a record in your CRM will automatically be made in your marketing automation tool as well (and vice versa). Having this steady “communication” between the two platforms is what makes this connection so powerful, while also ensuring that data is always consistent.
Learn more about how you can increase your marketing effectiveness with marketing automation and get the free Marketing Automation Success Kit. Click the link below to check it out.
Why Marketing Automation is the Perfect Complement to Your CRM | Pardot.com
Selecting the right CRM solution for your business can be a challenging exercise. You don’t want to select a CRM system that you will quickly outgrow and at the same time you do not want to purchase one where you will be paying for functionality that your staff will never use. Yet this is often the scenario for many companies.
“We are getting a lot of calls from both camps” says Tom Gibson, sales manager at Commence Corporation. “The small businesses either did not have the time to do a proper evaluation or perhaps simply misunderstood what they were getting with the low cost solutions now on the market. The low end CRM products traditionally offer little in the way of flexibility or customizability and this is by design.
The solution provider simply cannot afford to take telephone calls or add the functionality these customers desire at their low price point. These are out of the box solutions and either you like what they offer or you don’t. What is clear however is that there are a large number of companies that are unhappy with what they have and are looking to change.”
“Many of the mid-size customers that call us had selected Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce.com and are paying quite a bit of money for their solution. Almost all of them indicate that they are simply not using the functionality they thought they would and as such, are looking for a capable but lower cost solution. Commence CRM fits the bill nicely for these people.” says Gibson. “We are that middle component in that we offer much more functionality and flexibility than the low end CRM systems, but not the complexity and cost associated with Microsoft Dynamics CRM or Salesforce.com. We have been positioned as that middle market CRM solution from day one” says Gibson “and it’s a good place to be. Of course we would rather earn this business in year one, and in many instances we are, but we seem to be getting more and more calls in that second year when the big renewal invoice is presented to these customers and they decide they need to change CRM vendors.”
More information about how Commence CRM stacks up to the competition is available here: http://www.commence.com/crm/crm-review/
Image courtesy of opensourceway 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.