CRM is about Strategy, not Technology

Technology has taken its toll on society as a whole, we rely heavily on it in order to function. Between Facebook, Twitter and Smart Phones how often have you sat down with someone to have a real conversation? Technology has fueled impersonal communication to epic proportions. Most of us no longer even have a regular telephone for day-to-day conversations with family and friends. The overuse of technology has also affected customer relationship management, almost everything is automated and sterile.

Remove 'management' from the term and you are simply left with “Customer Relations”. Our business is relationships. Not just with our customers, but, with our sales team, our management and even the guys down in the mail room. Customer Relationship Management can certainly benefit from technology, but the CRM strategy is to use it for what it’s meant for: optimization. The technology available for CRM solutions streamlines the process, although, you still need to know how to handle people.

Effective Relationship Management
There is a concept presented where you do away with the whole sterile idea of Customer Relationship Management and make it Effective Relationship Management instead. This is a key strategy where the software aids you in the management aspect, but, you as a person make the entire thing effective. Using e-mail, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts are all ways that you can be effective at managing relationships. With this in mind none can be considered CRM, they are unique, we all use more than one and we couldn’t live without them.

CRM Strategy
Customer Relationship Management is started by the business itself and not one single person. The business has a singular purpose when it does this and it is to be consistent across board. Communication and interaction has to all be on the same level. Knowing and understanding the customer and their history aid in this. Once you define all of the variables you can then set out your goals such as increased sales, getting positive feedback and increasing leads.

Three Step Strategy Process
Since we are talking about CRM strategy and not technology, we need to discuss the three ways how to properly initiate the strategy. It is much simpler than it seems.
  • Determine the destination: Anything you do needs a destination and CRM is no different. Look at what CRM is and isn’t and what it means to you and your business. From that you can discern where you want your CRM to go. This can be anything from increased sales to doubling leads to having a lower escalation of issues. 
  • Status of the current CRM: Look at all of your past initiatives with CRM and analyze the failures as well as the successes. Make sure to look deeper to determine that those involved in the CRM program were pulling their weight. It is very important to have motivated individuals. Once you, and you alone, determine what went right or wrong you can then implement changes to improve and to meet your destination. 
  • Map it out: Once you know where you want to go and you know what to change or keep you can then create steps to get there. Create a list of things to do with milestone marks to getting them finished. This is your map to the promised land of perfect CRM solution.
Implementing Technology in your Strategy
Technology should never be the be all and end all of CRM. It’s an enabler as it enables you to do things quickly, efficiently and be organized doing it. CRM software takes away a lot of the stress that sales and customer service reps/ managers see on a daily basis.
  • Single application: Choose a CRM product that puts everything together in one location so that your e-mail, mobile apps and other tools are always available. 
  • Effective training: Never roll out the software without having everyone properly trained 
  • Optimization: Use a software product that has what you need and not what you think you need. Too many features weigh down the program and make it less effective as you try to implement all of them. 
  • Well defined strategy: Identify the best suited strategy and stick with it. Software is constantly being updated, revitalized and changed but a solid program never gets outdated. 
  • Multi-departmental implementation: Make it available to everyone who needs it. Many companies will announce the software and everyone will be excited. Then for whatever reason, it is passed out to a few divisions. Old software won’t talk well with new software. Everyone needs to be on the same playing field and at the same time.
Get started
You need to start small while thinking grand and also move quickly. Easier said than done, but, it can be done and will have far reaching benefits. Discovering the bigger picture, find critical things that need to be done and then break it down each to logical parts. Take out the stuff you don’t need and then focus on the stuff you do need. You will be implementing a high impact CRM solution quickly and effectively. Always keep your ultimate goal in mind while doing this and always allow your CRM solution to grow with the business.

Benefits of Cloud CRM in a Slowing Economy

The world of business thrives on new and fresh ideas and concepts. It is the constant innovation which keeps the markets excited and the consumer in anticipation. With the ultimate objective of achieving sustained growth, every business looks at all available options which can directly or indirectly assist in the same. Customer Relationship management or CRM has been a brilliant tool aiding the same objective. A wholesome integration of various business factions designed to promote growth and look at sales as a continuous engagement process rather than a one shot dealing.

CRM software, like all other tools and products has gone through tremendous changes and advancements. Starting off primarily as a database management system, it now is a powerful mechanism that organizes, synchronizes and manages information, giving unprecedented insight into client details and profile. Along with the utility, what has also matured is the way CRM solutions are being implemented and delivered. Technological advancement for any product focuses on ease-of-use and incorporation of features that bring in efficiency. Where once, a CRM solution needed to be installed on a desktop and required an IT professional to run and manage it, Cloud CRM now is offered over the internet, wherein, applications can be accessed as and when required through a browser. A third party service provider allows access to multiple users through a per seat subscription model for the service/application used, rather than licensing the software on their own. Two key benefits of Cloud CRM -

  • Ease of access as authorized users can use the application from anywhere.
  • Cuts down the tangible infrastructure and personnel cost and the intangible cost of saving time and effort of deploying and managing the systems.

The way a business is performing is intrinsically related to the economic conditions. Market sentiment plays a big role and affects every business, in a big or a small way. Markets are volatile in nature - they go through their bullish and bearish phases. During the buoyant phase, companies tend to look at more expansion ideas, implement their pending projects and have an overall confident approach. When sustainability is not really a matter of concern, achieving growth becomes the predominant factor.

However, it is during a slowing economy that corners are cut and concerns arise. Monitoring every deal and keeping a tight leash on expenses becomes increasingly important. Projects that require allocation of budget are classified according to requirement and importance and their implementation is time lined. But what still cannot be ignored is the need to grow and what becomes inexcusable is missing out on opportunities.

Cloud CRM along with being a technological advancement over conventional CRM models is a boon during a recession. When the economy is slowing down, cost management becomes extremely important for all businesses. With the evident deduction of various costs involved, Cloud CRM presents a perfect solution for companies who still wish to hold and maintain their market position. Since all the required applications can be rented out, reports can be generated and a close watch can be maintained over market and competition.

Small and medium businesses, freshly established endeavors are quite fragile and get affected by market conditions almost instantly. A dip in market will probably immediately reflect on their balance sheets. They on one hand cannot afford any extra expense, but on the other need to survive and be extra alert with competition. Cloud CRM saves them the cost and gives them the required information which enables them to hold on during difficult times.

When times are tough, the power of information becomes paramount. As opportunities get fewer, one cannot afford not having the required details, reports at the right time. Every meeting is crucial and lack of information is unaffordable. With the kind of accessibility to information that cloud CRM provides, this critical aspect can be taken care of. Since the applications can be accessed from anywhere through internet and do not require a dedicated set up, the authorized personnel can get the required details even if they come up as a last minute requirement.

Overall if we take a macro view of the economy, redundancy is unaffordable during recession times. Optimum utilization of resources and using the right information at the right time becomes critical. In Cloud CRM, with a third party implementation, only a single source needs maintenance and upkeep. The multiple users benefit out of the applications provided and can meet their requirements. This makes it an ideal resource utilization platform.

The utility of CRM solutions is unquestionable in today’s business environment. As the benefits keep rolling in, so will the advancements in technology. Cloud CRM, like all other concepts has been evolving and developing with increasing adoption. This evolution is assisted by understanding what becomes critical when markets fluctuate. In a slowing economy, CRM solutions can act as a market watchdog, alerting the organization about every possible available opportunity and strengthening systems within to keep a tighter control. Organizations can realize its full potential by exploiting the available resources to the maximum. This can help them sail through turbulent times; stabilize, and eventually strengthen their position in the market.

4 Benefits of Creating Ad Hoc Reports with a CRM Solution

Business reporting can be divided into two unique groups – formal and ad-hoc reports. With formal reporting the reports are developed by one group and delivered to a second distinct group for analysis. These reports, by their very nature, are generally time specific, such as quarterly or annually, are lengthy in nature and are designed with a particular objective. Often formal reports, also called management reports, focus on trending information rather than distinct data points.
Ad hoc reporting, alternatively, places the information in real time into the hands of the end users. Ad hoc reporting allows end users to get answers they need on questions they have designed. End reports contains only the information they required. With any ad hoc reporting solution the user needs to be directed. According to business analytics an ad hoc reporting CRM solution should:
  • Be intuitive – have a wizard based interface for report creation. 
  • Provide multiple types of reports – cross tabulations, pivot tables.
  • Provide a variety of easy to use charts and graphs. 
  • Be exportable to other systems as PDF, Word or Excel. 
  • Be interactive in its ability to drill down. 
  • Provide basic and advanced statistics and statistical calculations. 
  • Contain standard features for saving, archiving, editing.
Many of these features are drawn directly from the formal reports your management has been used to viewing. It is not unusual then, that they would require these same features in any report they would build for themselves.

Why use ad-hoc reports?
Ad hoc reports are an empowering tool for the end user. Not all end users have the knowledge or the desire to be able to design a formal report. They want information in real time to answer real time questions. With a web based CRM solution ad-hoc reporting system this is possible. The ability to use every day terminology makes most end users comfortable with the process.

Ad hoc reports are a convenient tool for the end user. Once a report has been created the user can then run the report on a schedule useful to them. They can adjust the report to include new economic or market factors as required. And, with web-based technology they can access their specific reports from any location.

Ad hoc reports are also productivity tools. Because the end user controls the information contained in the report the analysis of the data the actual use of the data becomes more dynamic. By analyzing specific client information a sales call is likely to be more productive than if the information remains unknown.

What are the benefits of ad hoc reports?
Actionable intelligence is the key to well informed decisions and ensures accuracy in meeting customer and partner expectations. Each organization has its unique sets of information that needs to be sliced-and-diced to formulate responses to critical questions as reports. An effective report usually ensures clarity for stakeholders to foresee outcomes from existing strategies, here are 4 vital benefits of customized reports:
  1. Efficiency: Gets the right information to the right people in the shortest amount of time. Timeliness of information affords timely decisions.
  2. Slice-and-dice: Facilitate customization not available in formal reports. By creating their own reports, users can solve problems unique to their customer environment or answer one time queries which would be impractical to build into a formal report. 
  3. Cost-effective: By allowing users easy access to a CRM solution the need to train on all underlying data is eliminated. By reducing the need for formal IT intervention the company saves time and money and allows the IT department to focus on more important data aspects of the firm.
  4. Share information: With web based technology, reports created by one user can easily be shared with others who may benefit either from the actual data or from the report format.
CRM solutions enable creating ad hoc reports quickly with options to specify filter criteria, visibility and type of graphical representations. Once configured, these reports will display real-time data for maximum effectiveness and can be added to a report scheduler for sending to relevant users with required data.

Is Social CRM a Fad or Trend?

Customer relationship management has grown to so much more than just software on a computer and a call center. It has evolved to become an interactive way to understand how organisations can deliver increasing value to their customers. With social media gaining popularity and wide acceptance, comes an entirely new way to interact with customers. You can talk with customers easily and succinctly and in ways they’re already using. Social CRM also offers customers a new way to be heard that doesn’t involve wait times, dropped calls or elevator music.

As technology evolves so must we and so must the business we run and how we touch base with the customer to listen to and fix their problems.Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even MySpace are fairly new. These things come in favor and then lose favor. They change, evolve and then people like them again. The point is that people are using them. Millions of people and many of them are probably your customers. Our world is now based on getting the most done in the smallest amount of time and doing it anywhere we may find ourselves. Keep this in mind the next time someone brings up social media and using it to service customers and promote interaction.

We all saw the explosion of social media in 2011 and how it was used to the advantage of businesses. You can take orders, connect with customers and fix their problems in a blink of an eye. In addition, social media provides you with an entirely new pool of potential customers. Even if you have a small company your services are now available to everyone with an email account or a cell phone that uses apps. The question still needs to be asked, “Will social CRM still be big in the next two years?” and the answer would be a resounding yes.

This is a new era of doing business and there are several trends that seem to be growing with no signs of slipping. People are getting comfortable with the technology and when that happens you need to expect sudden and unexpected changes and growth. Sales, customer service technology, marketing – all of it – will take a giant leap forward. The next three years will see exponential growth in usage of these channels which one needs to act on in order to remain relevant to customers. Go ahead and grab a QR Code (Quick Response Code) because they’re popular, everywhere you look and most people have a free app to read the things. Not to mention one simple thing: they’re free! They can link up to nearly anything you need it to including customer service.

Over the next two years you will begin to see integration between all of these technologies. Companies will create positions in their companies for those that specialize in social networking to deal with customers and their complains. According to a Gartner report social CRM software is going to be big business and it is expected to surpass $1 billion across the globe. CRM solutions alone are predicted to go far beyond those numbers hitting $12 billion by the end of 2012. That means that social CRM represents about 8% of the budget for CRM software. In 2010 this was only 4% so you can see already how far social media has come and how CRM is reacting to it.

The number of Indians on the internet is currently around 121 million, and increasing steadily by 5-7 million users every month. Facebook users increase by a huge 85% compared to last year - up to 34 million in June, 2011.

Do not allow yourself to be caught unawares. Be there, at the front lines, to attack this trend head on. Talk to your marketing and customer service staff and get their thoughts and opinions on the social media trend. See how many of them use Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. The number will be surprising from there you can begin looking into social CRM and how to utilize it. Soon you will be streamlining your business and will be reaching the masses all in one swift motion.

Secrets to Success in Modern Day Customer Service Management

When a customer has a complaint that they feel strongly about, your organization will hear about it eventually. Imagine being one of the people at Blackberry when their entire network collapsed or when Netflix decided to jump their fees. I am certain you can understand the issues those customer service management teams had in those instances. No business ever wants to be in their shoes. The goal of customer service and customer relationship management (not entirely the same thing) is to ensure that customers are happy. Their other job is to make sure that everyone else has all the information and tools required to handle the needs of customers.

Misusing information, being disorganized and hostile to customers and their needs is a guaranteed way to make it an uphill task to handle them effectively. When a customer comes to your organization with a complaint, it is important to find an adequate solution quickly - before it becomes the news of the day on Twitter! Prevent escalations when interacting with a customer and ensure that old cases do not become a thorn in your side yet again. Provide the correct resolutions to problems, share additional information than what is requested, build rapport and agents might find opportunities to up-sell/ cross-sell to the pleased customer.

When all else fails, listen!
When customers call the contact center about a problem or request, they can often be very heated and upset. This is understandable from their point of view. Many situations can be handled and easily defused if you simply use your listening skills and do not mentally filter their conversation to jump to conclusions. They may just have something to get off of their chest and you are going to be that sounding board. Customers may ask questions you shouldn’t answer or may even get in to personal details, but your ability to simply listen will satisfy a majority of them. Once they are happy and satisfied that you care enough to listen, they are more likely to be easily satiated with whatever problem they are having.

After ending or during a call, it is important to update the customer’s details by adding an appropriate disposition and category for a case or request and describing their temperament for the next person who might take a call. Creating open or closed activities related to the customer’s conversation, ensures they have more confidence in your organization if details are requested for their interaction history.

Share Customer Details across the board
Escalation of claims and reopening of cases happens when information is not shared. Customers get irritated over their information not being in the system or easily accessible. The solution is to make sure you have a CRM program in place that automatically generates and sends this information to every person along the line of communication which the customer may speak to at any given time. If there is a question then everyone will know what happened at what stage and who handled it.

CRM systems and sevice management solution ensure collaborations are enhanced through automated alerts, escalations and assignments. Visibility for records can be configured to ensure records are secure, yet available for all stake holders.

Eliminate Time Limits
One of the greatest failures that customer service makes is limiting how long an agent can remain on a call to increase cost-effectiveness. The agent is timed and asked to keep calls to a minimum time limit and then shuffle the call to someone else. If they fail to do this, they get into trouble because the turnaround on calls suffers. This causes agents to rush through an issue with a customer, thereby causing an escalation. In addition, it can also lead to mistakes which can result in the case being reopened

An effective CRM implementation ensures the agents’ interface is easy-to-use and creating, accessing or updating customer information is quick. Viewing a customer’s details securely and promptly with automated alerts for help and validations ensures lower call durations and more opportunities to build rapport.

Too many cooks..
Take a look at the customer service reps in your call centre. Look at how many of them may handle a single customer’s case. If a customer has to talk to more than one person then you are overburdening them with 'hold time' and making them repeat the complaint. It is this impersonal “just a customer ID” thinking that gets customers upset or irate, the probability increases for escalations.

When a customer shares a complaint, use the service management solution of the CRM software to assign them to an agent that specializes in their product or service. Allow the agents to give out their specific extensions and working hours, this will give a personalized touch and customers will feel that their cases matter. A CRM solution ensures other users within the same specialized team have access to the record and its related activities, when faced with attrition this ensures continuity and efficiency.

Empower CRM users
There are several ways to empower your CRM staff. One of which is encouraging them to continue doing a good job, but that’s not what I mean by 'empower' (though encouragement is not a bad thing). Your customer service staff needs to be able to handle a situation from beginning to end. The only way to do this is by empowering them with the ability to correct the situation - be it free shipping, replacement or whatever it is the customer wants. Give them authorization to make things right within reason. If a customer wants something different, then a manager should their final approval.

An effective service management solution facilitates automated responses with customized templates, tracking of approval requests and a centralized solutions database. Additionally, cases or requests can be created, updated and viewed on the go by any web enabled device, allowing senior management to analyze real-time information and pin point bottlenecks.

Customers have a need to be heard and feel like their business is important for your organization. In other words, they do not want to be just another customer ID. Ensure all details of a customer’s case or request are captured accurately using service management solution, share the record with all stakeholders in real-time to avoid failures in keeping SLAs and decreasing escalations. If cases are assigned to the correct users instantly and the solution provided is accurate, the chances of reopened cases are minimal. A positive experience will increase customer loyalty and negate churn.

Michael Klass

4 Ways to Ensure your CRM for Insurance is Future-proof

Keeping the Customer Satisfied
Insurance is a unique product – this product is personalized for each customer and that personalization is based on knowledge of each customer’s needs and their relationship to the company as a whole. As insurance options increase and customers demand more personalized service the ability to make a sale depends heavily on this first-hand knowledge of the customer. Historically, insurance companies faced little or no competition outside of their own industry. With the repeal of the Glass-Steagle Act in 1999, insurance companies now face competition from banks and brokerage houses. For insurance companies this meant that they needed even greater knowledge of their customers and what their customers desired.

With the current economic environment, impacting the ability and desire to invest, the insurance representative realizes how narrow the window is in contacting the customer, holding the customers attention and being able to cross sell or upsell products to that customer.To compete in this new market place the insurance company must have an intense focus on delivering superior customer service. To do this they must have superior customer knowledge.

Know your customer
Insurance, by the very nature of the product, needs a lot of customer information. The insurer would know the policies the customer has, the claims the customer has made, and where the customer is in the life cycle. What they may not know, however, is what other policies the customer holds with their company. The agent who is selling life insurance to this customer may not be the same agent selling automobile insurance to them. This fragmented information inhibits the ability of agents to cross sell or up sell to the client. In many cases where agents are working strictly on commission basis the incentive to “share” customer information becomes a dis-incentive, as information sharing can result in lost commissions.

With fragmented information how can the insurance company be guaranteed the customer receives the superior customer service required to maintain, retain and increase the value of the relationship? This is where a customer relationship management, an Insurance CRM, system becomes a vital tool in the strategy of the insurance company.

Predicting Customer Behavior
While most insurance companies and their agents understand the need for a single, real-time view of their customers very few have the ability to do this. Consider the ability to cross sell without knowing what your customer already has or needs – it’s like trying to sell car insurance to someone who doesn’t own a car. Although this is an extreme example, by not having a single real time view of the customer the ability to predict their behaviour and their needs diminishes significantly. With a CRM system in place this knowledge becomes available to all agents in the ecosystem of the organization. This concatenation of customer information moves the agency and it’s agents to a more holistic customer approach, which in turn can lead to increased customer satisfaction, customer retention and the ability to attract new profitable customers. Also the insurance company is able to manage the distribution channel in a smarter way which can prove to be a significant competitive advantage.

By mining the CRM database the company is able to profile their current customers based on past purchase, claims data and customer specific information. Overlay on to this readily available third party demographic information and the company will have a predictive profile. By using past customer information coupled with demographic information the insurance company can begin to mine areas of the population for new customers based on the predictive factors available through CRM.

This data mining can also be used in the cross selling or up selling of products to current clients. By using life cycle predictors and past purchase history it will allow agents to examine their current customer base by likely hood to purchase a product based on life cycle stage. For example, knowing the median age and income of the home owner insurance base will enable an agent to engage a customer potentially entering the home owner market prior to the actual requirement for home owner insurance. This proactive predictive approach enables the agent to provide the superior customer service their clients require in order to maintain loyalty to the company.

Keeping costs in line with growth
As the company grows, how can they continually maintain their profitability?

Predictive selling, as described above, will enable agents to spend the right amount of time with the right customers. By doing so, the agents are more likely to increase sales volumes while maintaining a reasonable cost for time and effort.

If, however, the insurance CRM system is not tied to the core systems of the company this can be a problem. The agents require real time statistics about both policy information and claims information. This means the CRM system must be tied to all other systems – the insurance CRM system must be updated with relevant information such as expert appraisals, medical information, and change in household status without the agent being responsible for data input. The reduction of the paper trail of this type of information will free up the agents for predictive selling – increasing profits while keeping costs within desired margins.

With integrated CRM in insurance, the company can predict the needs of its current customer base while providing solid leads for growth in the portfolio. This investment in the future will support the on-going development of the distribution channel and will return the investment dollars in future profits and customer retention.

Effective CRM Solutions can Help to Win the War for Talent

Talent takes a new role
The need for talent in any industry grows at a pace that is at par and often faster than its own growth rate. This is mainly because the industry undergoes a constant cycle of retirement and recruitment and there is the usual attrition rate that makes the retention for talent a true challenge.

Enter the computer and the definition of talent changes - the knowledge of the machine becomes a mandatory requirement in almost any industry. The transition towards the digital age brings with it a new type of talent searching in industry. No more is the industry looking for smart and charismatic personalities but geeks who can spend hours in front of their computers and make magic without getting up.

A clear divide
However, as is the norm, every new trend eases out in a while and today we have reached the point where the employee behind the machine is no longer the hero and there is a clear divide between the privileged senior management and the associates. So what creates this divide? And is it harmful or beneficial? Unfortunately this is a negative trend and it threatens almost every firm with more than 30 employees.

An ideal management is expected to treat all employees equally and create an atmosphere that is conducive to growth. However, in reality there is often a gap between the employees at the grassroots and the higher management aggravated by lack of vertical and horizontal communication within the organization. Companies often take too long to realize the lack of such communication and the result reflects in the attrition. So is there a key to check the attrition rates? Also is there a way to make every employee as competitive as the best of them?

Technically, the feats are achievable but the initiatives are tedious and human factors such as ego and lethargy are bound to get in the way. However, thanks to the development in the IT infrastructure, companies have the chance to transform every employee’s life and help him/her scale new heights each day.

Implementing the solutions
Distribution of information using state-of-the-art CRM solution is one of the biggest answers to the questions asked above especially in managing sales, marketing and service teams. CRMs provide the higher management actionable data about the performance of the employees. They not only help make sales and marketing decisions but also allow a company to perfectly understand its capacity. Employee strengths can not only be analysed but also developed if there is enough stats to support such a decision.

The performer of the month may not necessarily be doing everything right and the guy with the lowest ratings for the month might have an approach that can be the way of the future. CRM solutions can help spot trends in the performance of individual employees, teams and even the entire company as a whole. Stats provided by CRM solution can also help a firm decide on whom to place on the client front. It can help take justifiable decisions regarding lay-offs or expansion plans.

In brief, some of the biggest advantages of CRM in terms of HRM are:
  • Access to more actionable data
  • Better employee participation
  • Cost effective intra-vertical and horizontal communication
  • Smoother and more efficient client servicing
  • Availability of scientific and stats-based data during layoffs and expansion
  • Faster recognition of weak links and good performers
  • Secure customer and employee data 
  • Controlled attrition
Opportunities in Asia
In spite of massive populations, MNCs in Asian countries continue to hire experts from abroad at very high cost. This indicates that the war for talent is gradually shifting base towards the developing nations. The shortage of skilled manpower in Europe and the US however continues and human resources from Asian and African countries enter these economies in droves. However, the upper management layer has somewhat stabilized and the influx is mainly at the middle and lower levels.

For the Asian countries, implementing solutions that can help bring down attrition rates and also enhance client servicing can be the ultimate way to cope with global demands without help from overseas.

Also, investment in social sectors such as education and training can help enhance the quality of human resource in the nations taking on global technology projects. Ensuring that talent is retained, nurtured and offered growth is a challenge that every mid and large sized firm is facing or will face in the days ahead. The scenario will be even more dynamic in the Asian nations where the markets are squirming with opportunities.

Using CRM Software to Turnaround a Small Business

Businesses often perceive that implementing a CRM system only generates returns in the long term. Though, this could be true for a quick or out-of-box implementation, the right CRM solution could quickly turnaround a failing business and assist in gaining competitive advantage. This is all the more true in case of a small business.

Myra graduated from college in 2008 and soon after began working for a high-end boutique. She was from a mid-size town and the metropolis quickly inspired her to do more with her life. Combining her knowledge of fashion design and contemporary art, she decided to sell organically dyed t-shirts with trendy screen prints around the globe.

Year one was a disaster, she lost track of pending appointments, overdue tasks and the long list of prospective customers - no one could be held accountable! They were also facing coordination issues with external stakeholders. Many unintentional false commitments were made to customers and leads were lost to competitors in the first 365 days. By the time their ‘Autumn’ range of full sleeve t-shirts were ready to be shipped, it was mid-November; their customers (retail stores) rejected the consignments of supposedly du jour designs.

The following year while looking for prospective customers on a social network, Myra chanced upon an advert for Cloud CRM. It seemed ideal for her small business - she had eighteen employees at three different locations and a dwindling customer base. She also needed a tool to instantly capture social conversations as leads which could be assigned to the relevant location.
Eight weeks later, Myra’s sales had picked-up. She had better visibility for her opportunity pipeline and her teams were using the CRM’s centralized database to share lead and customer information in real-time. The performance of her sales team improved with better scheduling, activity tracking and appointment delegation.

It has now been 6 months since the CRM implementation, Myra’s teams carefully analyzes their competitors, collaboratively designs products with customer inputs and wins opportunities in record time without missing delivery deadlines. The Cloud CRM facilitates her to cost-effectively maintain a huge database of local and international customers. Additionally, she quickly finds local customers for their surplus stock of t-shirts. For her, working with Cloud CRM has allowed her to gain momentum through experimental yet effective campaigning using text messages (short code management) and social networks. Her products are based on customer needs and rarely generate negative feedback.

Myra’s calculations and research to find the right CRM solution paid-off, her business is growing and they have avoided a sudden death. With Cloud CRM, she now constantly plans new product lines using real-time analysis of historical data related to sales, competitors and feedback. The CRM solution is cost-effective and doesn't require any additional IT personnel or hardware. Her team now spends less time on non-core activities like updating activities on multiple systems and building complex reports. They have more productive time to design t-shirts, ensure optimal quality and build rapport with leads and customers.