5 Ways to Transition from Customer Experience Management to Customer Experience Optimization

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a strategic solution used by businesses for customer retention and acquisition. The major application of CRM software is towards identifying potential sales, nurturing and retaining current clients as well as luring lapsed customers back into the fold. With these aspirations, managers have traditionally used CRM solutions to build stronger customer relationships and manage the overall customer experience with their brand. But as customer activities go digital and consumer needs multiply, companies need to learn how to optimize customer experience to facilitate exponential growth. Loyal customers who act as brand ambassadors can take a company from start up to a large conglomerate. Here’s taking a look at the intelligence that one can be derived from CRM strategies to optimize customer experience.

Active listening for social networks
Social media is a rapidly growing medium. Consumers everywhere are talking and interacting on social platforms. In such a scenario, it is important for brands to listen. The social landscape offers an opportunity to gather such customer insight as is not available through any other source. With an integration of CRM applications and social media strategies, businesses can derive rich consumer intelligence to drive optimal customer relationships. The nature of the medium is such that it provides scope for customer engagement and 2-way interactions. CRM strategies can help support such interactions by providing the right questions to ask as well as when and where to ask them. Furthermore, CRM tools can mine through customer data available on social networks to isolate customer needs and wants expressed herewith.

Bespoke customer service
While offering customer service, agents face the crucial task of responding efficiently to customer needs. This task can be facilitated if they are provided with supporting information which is accurate - historical data of a customer's transactions and interactions, subscriptions, demographic data (such as address, income, age) and much more. With real time access to such data, customer care agents are in a better position to respond to customer queries and provide them with customized solutions. Furthermore, they can use this data to add a personalized feel to their interaction and make the customer feel special. In this way, customer experience is given a great boost.

Using data mining to identify the correct channels
CRM-fuelled intelligence can give managers ideas about which channels and platforms are best to reach the consumer. Customer usage of different mediums along with customer profiling done through data mining can provide a detailed understanding of which is the appropriate channel for targeting an assortment of customers with different lifestyles and preferences. For example, if a brand finds that most of its consumers are business people using Blackberry smart phones, it can build a mobile application specifically for such phones and the intended customers.

Co-creating products and services
What is the use of gathering customer feedback, if it is not used to facilitate change in the organization? Businesses need to respond to growing and/or changing demands in the market. If the customers are asking for an add-on or a new feature, these are changes that the organization must look into. Communicating such developments to the consumer is also necessary. This shows that the brand cares by listening to its consumers as well responding to their demands. Social media acts as a catalyst here to stay connected with the consumer. To make this work in their favor, companies must respond to customer feedback and demands with tangible solutions. These in turn optimize the customer experience.

Sharing real-time customer insights securely
Keeping the customers satisfied is not just about providing efficient customer service and targeted marketing. The entire ambit of any business is the products and/or services provided by them. All the core business processes are involved in this main activity. Hence, offering customer insight to each process for improving core operations can also help optimize customer experience. For example, client-facing employees such as business development and even HR should be included under the CRM strategy. Business intelligence provided through CRM in banking can help them optimize such interactions to build more profitable and sustainable relationships with the various stakeholders of the business.

In reality, CRM solutions are not about improving business activities in isolation, they are crucial for any CRM strategy to cover the entire scope of business operations. This creates a unified approach and work culture throughout the organization, ensuring that every customer interaction and transaction is carried out in a uniform manner. Consistency across the various departments and media channels employed by the business is important to maintain a strong brand reputation. At the end of the day, it is the variables such as brand reputation, responsiveness towards consumer, effective customer service and efficient consumer touch-points which will make or break the ultimate customer experience management.

Challenges for a Multi-Country CRM Implementation: 9 Ways to Ensure Success

A 360 degree view of customers is as crucial in local scenarios as in the national and international scene. With CRM concepts ramifying worldwide, coalescing offices scattered across the globe becomes important, and organizations must provide client-facing employees with a holistic customer view at all times.

With old CRM software - quotas, sales forecasts, dashboards, etc. are not easily transitioned across borders. Regional and global sales personnel are forced to manually compute how local-currency transactions pan out and compare against metrics at a higher corporate level. To avoid these hindrances, businesses should incorporate global CRM expansion in their strategies - it will empower them to provide superior assistance to customers, ease out complexity and multiplicity of operations, and streamline internal processes effectively.

March towards a triumphant global solution: Challenges
Numerous challenges arise while choosing and executing a tenable global solution and its consequent roll-out. First is to manage customer information spread across different repositories around the world. Often there is uncertainty about how to handle data gaps and multiplicity in information from a single client. Therefore, right at the start, it is imperative for organizations to define an unambiguous procedure concerning management of scattered customer data.

Up next are challenges in the area of processes. Organizations should know which processes are most pertinent and also those which differentiate them from competitors, then work towards institutionalizing these processes globally. Standard processes should replace local practices.

A customer-centric philosophy is critical. Efforts must flow from top to bottom – the CEO and other top officials should go all out in epitomizing global and cultural transitions in order to ensure success.

Global CRM implementation has inherent challenges like fluctuating variables, distinctive needs and seemingly indomitable obstacles.
  • In many cases, compared to their domestic counterparts, subsidiaries at international levels employ different processes and data formats. 
  • All CRM products do not necessarily support a multitude of languages, raising difficulties.
  • Since organizations gathering customer information across the world have to encounter various privacy regulations, security issues are usually a concern. 
  • Global CRM is also thought about in terms of software, raising questions about applications supporting internalization and displaying characteristics like UI translations, pliable currency tables, on-demand workflow, etc.
Experts say that organizations excogitating global CRM should initially keep their focus on specific, workable issues like SFA. If companies try to globalize all at one go, it is likely they will end up in a CRM morass.

E. Kolosky, a Gartner analyst, opines that comprehensive Cloud CRM Softwares has not been managed successfully and holistically by any global company and it will be a while before that happens.

En route to success
Global CRM requires clear objectives, data cleansing and re-engineering. Although there is no single correct archetype that applies universally, there are guidelines which organizations can follow to ratify an efficacious global CRM strategy.

1. Comprehensive Repository
A repository of customer information incorporating data of the entire organization and all its locations should be created. Incomplete, backdated data, and customer information that is too scattered, are all roadblocks. A system should be built to allow real time data access. 

2. Localize
Even with global expansions, most customers need to be served locally. Hence, Cloud CRM systems’ mid-point contact software must be in local language for customers and employees, and at the same time adhere to local security and privacy laws, management of currency related issues, and productive integration of local business processes.

3. Phased implementation
Compared to the impracticalities of implementing a global CRM solution at one go, phased implementation is a better approach. This is not only beneficial from the cost viewpoint but also ensures that every successive implementation is smoother. Progress should be monitored and corrective steps taken as and where necessary.

4. Single point testing
MNCs must begin with identifying their most successful and revenue generating country. Next, define a specific business process for that country/channel, which can be applied without any geographical constraints. A test program to start the CRM transformation can be implemented, and this pilot should ideally beget speedy ROI. The advantage is that risks involved in simultaneous implementation across all countries are eliminated, and things learnt in the test smarten up the organization when implementation goes global.

5. Collaborating with all stakeholders
Apart from external consultants and integrators, organizations should involve existing business partners. This collaboration benefits everyone, because business and channel partners offer valuable inputs from their expertise area and help acquire buy-in for new technologies and processes.

However, it would be necessary for partners to be given access to information which sales teams have. Even though this may raise eyebrows, it is essential for partners to feel motivated and put in best quality data from the customers’ side to the company’s client database.

6. Integration
Effective cross-channel integration helps all departments to be actively involved in sales and service through a single customer view, while enabling them to work better towards customer retention. However, this will backfire if channels function in silos. Integration between front office and back office systems is also a must.

7. User coaching
Industry watchers say that marketing, sales, and customer service personnel, all resist change. Hence, they should be made an integral part of the entire process and be given all necessary tools and information, in-depth training and great incentives. This will motivate them and enable them to understand technologies better. Managers should be trained too.

8. Myriad touch points
Customers are gaining technological exposure and wish to interact with businesses through online chats, e-mail, instant messaging, etc., making it important to offer a plethora of touch points to cater to the heterogeneous group of customers spread across the globe.

9. Selecting the right vendor partner
Success in global CRM implementation starts with selecting the right vendor.
  • Flexibility – Vendors must comprehend economic, technical and geo-political dynamism. This will ensure long term success and viability. Effective integration across product lines is a necessity. Some vendors depend upon inorganic growth as a means to cushion product competence. Solutions must possess ease in adaptability, while also being able to identify, engineer and operationalize fresh cross-channel integration requirements, data sources and varied applications.
  • Focus To reduce the tediousness of application customization, it is crucial to focus on vendor expertise in particular domains, in conjunction with industry-specific processes. A sure shot path to success is to possess vertical dexterity and intelligently invest in internal process experts.
  • All about geography - Organizations expanding to international markets have to carefully pick vendors with widespread experience in global end users. They must also be able to take care of business relationships centrally and at the same time effectively deliver local support.
  • Apportioned ticket response - It is important to provide support towards discordant ticket assignments, bearing in mind geographic variances and simultaneously offering customer visibility. This should be parallel with real time computation of operational performance.

A final word..
Real-time global CRM management enhances selling worldwide, and global visibility and support management gives customer satisfaction a whole new dimension. Standardizing and automating core functions of the Cloud CRM Software help free up various resources and those activities which differentiate organizations can be focused on.

In the past, there was a segmented approach without much attention given to having an integrated view of customer activities at global levels. However, with a global CRM solution in place, investments will pay off in all directions. A successful global CRM strategy encompasses people, processes, data, software, systems and cultures. Sharp focus, correct business practices and the right software can make global CRM implementation a roaring success.

With all the above pointers borne in mind, expansion and up-gradation of CRM solutions to the international level can be truly hassle free.

To know more about Cloud CRM Software, visit: www.crmnext.com

5 Effective Ways to Use Social Media for Your Business

The social media landscape has exploded within the last decade. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin have brought about a revolutionary change in consumer interactions. Social media is the new marketplace where customers discuss products, gain feedback, air their opinions and even make the ultimate decision of what to buy. As the social media landscape is constantly evolving, marketers need to be aware of how this can help them. They need to understand what consumers are looking for and how they search for it. What influences them to take their final decision. It is the inherent quality of social media to carry user-generated content (UGC), which makes it so popular worldwide.

Why is UGC so critical for today’s marketers? The answer lies in two words – reliability and credibility. Amongst the variety of brands available in the market and the different claims made by each, consumers are looking for a reliable source to simply tell them what works and what does not. UGC is considered more reliable and credible because it comes from actual users of the brand's products/ services rather than the brand itself. Hence, UGC is an essential tool that must be utilized by marketers to leverage their brand perceptions and image within the target market.

Nielsen’s latest study, Global Trust in Advertising, reports that 92% of consumers around the world trust family and friend recommendations over any form of advertising, while online consumer reviews are the second most trusted.

How to leverage social media for business gains
UGC is an essential tool that must be utilized by marketers to leverage their brand perceptions and image within the target market.

1. Engage your leads and customers 
One of the top benefits of social media is its huge impact on engaging consumers. Where traditional advertising mediums such as print, outdoor and television are one-way forms of communication, social media brings a unique approach to establishing a dialogue between the brand and consumer. Marketers have constantly used direct mailers and telephone to build such an interaction, but these largely fail due to the lack of consumer interest, as they carry a business purpose. On the other hand, social networks are innately just that – social. This means that the consumer is already present and active on the platform. All the brand needs to do is give a small nudge without shouting out the message.

2. Track your leads and customers
Getting social is not just about managing a Facebook or Twitter account. The added advantage of social over traditional media channels is the ability to track brand messages created by users. The proliferation of social media means that the consumer is no longer a passive onlooker. They are actively engaged in voicing their opinions. Tracking aims to discover brand comments and mentions by consumers. But its scope is much more qualitative than quantitative in nature. It is not just about knowing the ratio of positive versus negative comments. It is about analyzing the actual content to understand such consumer variables as perceptions, attitudes, emotions and opinions vis-à-vis the brand.

3. After-sales
The role of social media does not end with the sale. Marketers often struggled to maintain the delicate post-sales connection through tools like customer care agents and feedback forms. Large amounts of marketing budget are spent on research to understand and implement retention. Social media offers the most convenient way to stay connected with customers post purchase and maintain a profitable relationship with them. As long as this contact is engaging and/or valuable to the consumer in some way, it can be used to up-sell and cross-sell products.

4. Loyalists and detractors
As brand ambassadors are so crucial to a social media strategy, CRM tools are highly useful in identifying potential loyalists. Furthermore, CRM can provide valuable customer insight to help establish a two-way communication facilitating their engagement and positive feedback. Traditionally, marketers have always been on the lookout for opinion leaders who can become brand ambassadors. With the use of tracking software on social media, the identification of such opinion leaders as well as followers has become much more efficient and less complicated. On the other side of the spectrum, it is also crucial to identify the critics and reply to their comments and critique in a professional manner.

5. Targeted campaigns
One of the main objectives of CRM is consumer segmentation for highly focused marketing. CRM databases can be used to understand the different types of customers present in the social environment and divide them into clusters based on likes, needs, wants, online activities, attitude towards the brand and much more. Once these groups are isolated, each can be targeted with a different social media marketing tactic to increase likelihood of response. Instead of spending considerable amounts of marketing budget on high OTS advertising spaces and cumbersome direct communications, marketers can use the most cost effective and targeted social platform.

A combination of social media and CRM software is crucial for successful marketing. Implementing CRM into the social strategy will help brands deal with their clients in a consistent and pre-planned manner. It is important for marketers to have a well defined strategy in place before going all in – a strategy that integrates across all channels and all marketing tools to ensure that a unified brand image is presented to the customer. CRM solutions do this by ensuring that social media is used within the larger context of organizational reputation and company policies. This is the only way to ensure a successful social effort which brings in high returns on investment.

Are SMBs Penny Wise and Pound Foolish? 5 Ways Investing in CRM can Boost Profitability

The average entrepreneur running a small business often looks at CRM software as a 'luxury' that only large global businesses with an organized structure can afford. Though cloud computing has begun to change this outlook significantly, very few small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) have the mindset to invest and successfully implement a CRM solution.

Why CRM solutions improve performance
Cost-effective customer experience optimization
It is crucial to understand how a CRM software can enhance sales and optimize relationships without draining the company's budget and provide significant gains.
    1. Managing customer data: Data stored and processed through a CRM solution is more easily accessible and actionable. It can be entered manually, imported through Excel sheets, captured from social sites and collated through integration. This allows employees to focus more on core activities with real-time information at their fingertips. This saves a lot of time and errors in dealing with the customers. For small businesses, a database that is efficient and active can often be the difference between a healthy margin and a loss.
    2. Empowering employees: Successfully implemented CRM software gives power to the employees of an organization and can often make a small sized business model even more productive. Real-time information, Dashboards, forecasting, customization toolboxes and integration are some of the useful features that improve user performance. In certain cases, opting for a CRM solution instead of hiring an additional tele-calling team can be a smarter and more sustainable investment.
    3. Better ROI on marketing plans: With actionable data at one’s fingertips, the planning and implementation of an effective marketing or advertising campaign becomes easier. For SMBs, a CRM solution ensures optimal marketing strategies and enhanced campaign ROI by facilitating quick and accurate analysis of customer needs and feedback. Short Code Management and Online Lead Capture allow SMBs to reach out to larger volumes of people and efficiently capture information. Other useful tools like mailing lists, templates and mail blasters lead to cost-effective communications with audiences and ensure a consistent customer experience.
    4. Increase effectiveness of sales teams: CRM solutions ensure that salespersons can concentrate on their core activities and still keep top management in-the-loop. Mobile CRM and secure access to real-time customer information from multiple sources ensures a competitive advantage and better lead conversions. Also, ad hoc reports and clear pipeline visibility allow better tracking of performance and bottlenecks.
    5. Retaining customers and increasing wallet share: Enhance customer experience by avoiding escalations and reopened cases through effective management of call center staff and customer facing roles. Display a holistic view of customers to improve cross selling opportunities and successfully build rapport after providing an accurate resolution for requests and complaints.      
    Now is the best time to implement a CRM software for a small firm that is exposed to turbulent economic conditions. With customers and investors evaporating at a rapid pace, the effective and smart usage of customer databases and campaigns to retain, regain and convert customers can be crucial for a company. Though, every player will be vying to keep their customers happy at this critical juncture, a company that identifies, analyses and works on its customer data, always has an upper hand. A CRM software solution provides exactly that kind of data which is useful at this time.

    The SMB sector needs a boost to compete with larger players, something only sustaining relationships with customers and lowering costs of running their business will provide. CRM vendors need to develop solutions, modules and applications in line with the objectives of these firms.

    CRM vendors that understand the pulse of the industry in these testing times are likely to make new breakthroughs in the market. SMBs should be weary of vendors with a 'one-size-fits-all' way of implementing their solution. Every business has a unique set of requirements and strategies which should be carefully incorporated in the CRM implementation to ensure flexibility for future growth and higher revenues.

    7 Ways to Boost Campaign ROI with a Single Platform Solution for Marketing and Sales

    The concept of Marketing has witnessed dramatic changes for the last few years in conjunction with dynamic shifts in the economy. Focus has shifted from conventional means to concepts like Customer Relationships, Social Media, Digital Marketing, Social CRM and the likes - all of which fiercely validate the enthusiasm expressed by ‘marketing’ in new processes and technologies.

    CRM solutions with powerful marketing automation increases the effectiveness of marketing and sales. As a consequence, return on investment (ROI) is raised and customer satisfaction levels skyrocket, leading to worthier business dealings in the long run. The sales team is usually dependent on the marketing division to generate leads and assist in product improvements based on inputs from campaigns or surveys. On the other hand, in order to quantify effectiveness of their campaigns, marketing teams need to keep track of successful lead conversions. Efficient collaborations between both teams and additional inputs from customer services provides valuable customer feedback on existing services. This strategic imperative is actualized through integrating the marketing and sales automation component of a CRM solution.

    Marketing Automation tools integrated with sales management effectuate focusing on better targeted leads with higher chances of qualification. Being an integrated solution, effective marketing campaigns can be planned and customers are well nurtured to maximise the customer lifecycle value.

    Campaign management and optimization

    CRM solutions provide campaign management tools for streamlined creation and automation, triggering timely and personalized e-mail/ SMS/ web campaigns becomes easy. Additionally, organized customer data enables better targeting, making campaigns more fruitful. Overall response to marketing campaigns can be monitored and improvised by tracking ROI, click-through and open rates. Brand loyalty is built and inveterate customers are a natural consequence.

    Further, ROI on automated campaigns via varied mediums like e-mail blasters, text message campaigns, web capture etc. can be measured with the help of campaign management tools. They also assist in better management of traditional print and fax marketing efforts.

    Optimizing lead generation and customer retention through well targeted campaigns and personalized communication is the primary objective of marketing teams. Also, since it is important for organizations to clearly demonstrate campaign ROI, one of the biggest contributions of Marketing Automation is well defined objectives and metrics.

    Here’s how a single platform for execution of marketing and sales plays a critical role -
    • Optimized Campaigns can be created after an in-depth analysis of trends and customer needs, thereby generating leads with a higher probability of conversion. 
    • Data mining results can be used to segregate customers. Personalised and dynamic campaigns/offers can be created and surfaced on real-time basis. 
    • Target lists can be generated for e-mails, SMS blasters, printed material, etc. and sent with personalized content. These lists with their related contact details can be collated using dynamic or static mailing lists to reduce time consuming non-core activities. Personalized messages using different mediums can be sent at the right time using auto-populated templates. 
    • Capture Queries and responses through text messages (short codes) and websites can be automatically into the CRM system, enabling classification into hot or cold leads. Feedback from social networks can be pinpointed and captured too. 
    • Associate leads generated automatically with their campaigns to analyze profitability. Assess campaign performance instantly by reviewing expenditure and revenue generated through reports and graphs. A campaign's details page can also be studied for up-to-date information related to its success. Budgets and expenses show a consolidated picture about budgeted cost, campaign cost, actual cost, conversion cost, revenue generated and so on. 
    • Automated reports can be sent to relevant teams in the organization at a specific time on a daily/ weekly basis through a report scheduler to take intelligent decisions. 
    • Deduplicating records generated from campaigns to improve data quality of leads. Easily identify leads that already exist and merge their details or delete outdated record, thereby ensuring data consistency. Customize how to display results for suspect records.
    Execute multi-channel campaigns from a single platform

    Digital: Prevailing market conditions and customer behavior patterns are responsible for the tilt in advertising from conventional channels like radio, television, and newspapers to digital marketing and the likes.

    Almost all consumer-oriented organizations are incorporating digital marketing in their scheme of things and a smaller section of business focused organizations are looking at it as well. Digital marketing includes email and SMS campaigns, web, mobile device marketing and social network marketing.

    E-mail: Email campaign engines can be embedded within CRM systems and quality leads can be generated through emails. Marketing personnel can view entire campaigns, their functionalities and progress at one glance. To make sure resources are being wisely spent, responses are tracked and ROI calculated. Template creation becomes easy with formatting tools, image support, merge fields etc. Triggers can be set up to schedule appointments, product promotions, follow ups, registrations and multi-phase campaigns. Email blasts can be created that amalgamate data and contact information based on configured filter criteria, eliminating manual compilation of lists from fragmented documents. Unsubscribe requests can be handled, opt-in and opt-out lists can be effectively managed. Using company servers, limitless mails can be sent free of cost.

    Web: MA tools allow lead capture through web forms, which are then imported directly into the company’s CRM system. This optimizes company website’s lead generation capabilities. MA tools help create web forms for online marketing which can be customized using company brand, logo, graphics etc. Automated web marketing helps create customer records and leads generated are assigned automatically to the relevant sales people to increase win ratios. Apart from lead capture, forms can also be used for online surveys and event registration.

    A big advantage offered is that searches can be saved in either static or dynamic search catalogs, which can be used for reference in future campaigns.

    Mobile: Mobile devices are growing to be foremost access points to the web world in many countries. Understanding its implications, companies are taking serious interest in mobile marketing.

    Especially for marketing organizations that need remote access to manage their marketing activities, internal mobile marketing is of utmost importance.

    An effective CRM solution also provides short code management to enhance mobile campaigns and generate personalized automated responses.

    Social: Social media networks growing at breakneck speed have behooved social media marketing. Brand and reputation building, new product / service proposition testing, company goodwill, monitoring social media channels, marketing campaigns through social networks - all this and more falls under the purview of social media marketing. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are some well known social networking sites, from which MA captures lead/customer information and integrates it with existing data in the CRM system. In the face of current social and marketing predicaments, achieving a holistic view of customers is imperative, and this is what MA accomplishes.
    Note: Sometimes, digital and social media marketing is outsourced to external agencies to work on during the initial stages. This is because top management often faces pressure to cut down on marketing time and cost, manage budgets better, generate leads quicker, and effectively quantify performance. Only at a later stage, funds may be re-directed towards campaign and marketing resource management.

    The entire marketing process starting from defining objectives moving forward to include segmenting, timelines, metrics, lead capture, communication and follow up, marketing content development and management, examining sales opportunities created and finally measuring ROI - is hugely enhanced with the help of an effective CRM system’s Marketing Automation solution.

    MA tools ensure an organization's top management can-
    • Review campaigns with all their pertinent details (as mentioned above). 
    • Study real-time information through a single interface and analyze results using reports or dashboards. 
    • Gain a clearer perspective and quantify results on the basis of specific metrics. It becomes easier to forecast revenues and profits through clear pipeline visibility for new leads and opportunities. A campaign's contributions to the company’s bottom line revenues can also be assessed.
    Thus, significantly better ROI can be achieved through a common sales and marketing CRM solution. This can deliver higher and predictable revenues with a sharper focus on customer needs. It minimizes non-core activities and communications become consistent in line with company strategy and branding.

    CRM solutions with effective built-in Marketing components serve as icing on the cake by providing an additional value layer in the system.

    5 Key Reasons CRM Fails and the 7 Step Strategy for a Successful Implementation

    Under the current climate of continued economic uncertainty and government austerity; CEOs are shifting their focus and primarily concentrating on customer relationship management. They see it as the most important area of development in order to improve profitability of their businesses in the next five years.

    Benefits of a successful CRM implementation
    With ever-growing competition, the need for a sound CRM solution is not only a necessity but also the way forward.

    Let's look at some usual causes of why many CRM implementations fail to yield desired results:
    • CRM is a technology: Too much emphasis on technology sidelines the customer strategy. It needs to be remembered that technology is just an enabler and not a whole solution in itself. 
    • Lack of a clear strategy: The enterprise should have a clear vision and every division should be targeting the same outcome. A well-defined process should be in place with distinct touch points identified. Changing the CRM system is not enough; people need to be trained in accordance to its requirements. 
    • Wrong leadership: CRM is a business initiative; a business leader should lead it. It is not an IT venture; hence the right person needs to lead this project. 
    • Cleaning up old processes: Rather than revamping old CRM policies, re-engineer the processes to meet the growing demands of the business. 
    • Shortsightedness of the process: Some companies only look at short-term solutions. They need to focus on long- term benefits and design the system in a way that will not prove obsolete in the near future.
    With stiff competition in the market and the consumer more educated about his choices than before; it has become vital for customer centric enterprises to provide a vision to their customers and stakeholders. A well-developed and executed CRM system does just that.

    Let's look at seven steps to formulate a well-planned CRM system and how it can add value to an enterprise:
    • Tailor made approach: Look at the establishment from the customer’s eyes. It is not enough to tell the customer the value of the product or service being offered. They need to be shown what’s in it for them, how it will suit their needs. Create a customer experience and let them share the company’s vision. 
    • Develop touch-points for customers: Within the company all parts concerning the customer experience should be linked. There should be no gaps and a seamless course should be followed throughout every process and each touch-point. The effort from all business areas should be coordinated. 
    • Clear metrics: The key performance indicators should be well defined and measured timely. Realistic timelines and smart targets should be set. Do not deviate from the original blueprint. Though it can be developed but the focus should remain primarily on the initial goals. A good leadership should be in place to provide a sense of direction. 
    • Training employees: The staff should be trained in accordance to the CRM strategies. Define clear targets for them. Focus on customer centric solutions and motivate people to come up with suggestions. Providing feedback is essential to check gaps in knowledge as well as looking at ways to improve the process. Training should be ongoing and reference points should be provided if need be. 
    • Employee representation: Participation from employees is important. A representative from each business area should contribute towards the development of the CRM software solution. Their voice should be heard and valuable inputs should be implemented. 
    • Emphasis on quality: Monitoring quality is essential to maintain standards. Periodic checks should be made to ensure quality is delivered and maintained across the board. Build an immaculate customer data system. 
    • Continuous growth: It is important to make continuous improvement to the existing system. Feedback from customers should be taken on board and forums should be developed to assess them. Clear strategies in sync with CRM policies should be outlined for all areas of business. Employees should contribute to the development program and understand the importance of a customer centric approach.
    CRM software solutions should be seen as DNA of an enterprise and generates value when it is in conjunction with customers’ expectations. It spells out the USP of a company and turns a business into a worthy market leader if properly executed.

    4 Ways CRM Solutions can Boost Call Center Productivity

    As call centers become increasingly prevalent and in many cases are the front line of customer interactions, their effective management becomes increasingly important. Call centers are becoming more than just an "order entry vehicle", they are being used as a method of consolidating information services, making the order workflow more efficient, cross-selling and providing valuable customer information.

    Make an accessible and comprehensive customer 360 degree view
    The primary sources of information for any CRM software are inquiries generated by the customer, information developed by the sales force and company surveys completed by customers. The call center has the capacity to handle large volumes of calls at any given time and consequently can produce large volumes of information, especially for customer queries.

    Single interface for customer details
    'Customer relationship management' by its very nature is a customer focused strategy, concentrating on information gathering and satisfaction or 'experience optimization'. The data collected in a CRM software is integral to the call center’s activities and its success. Knowledge of customers, their preferences and purchase history, all lead to better management of relationships.

    Incorporating a CRM solution in your call center has following benefits:
    • Quicker resolutions for queries and requests.
    • Real-time activity management.
    • Better collaborations.
    How can CRM benefit the outbound call center?
    CRM software can benefit the outbound call center directly through the provision of customer information. This information has significant application in boosting customer service perceptions and in turn boosting customer satisfaction. By providing a holistic view of the customer information call center agents are more knowledgeable and able to provide quicker, better informed responses to the requests of customers.

    In an outbound call center, CRM software prepares the call center professional for their call, by providing customer history. Coupling a CRM system with a predictive dialing system has been shown to increase contact rates. The concatenation of these systems provides a user interface which populates the agent's screen with the relevant customer information. The agent is then able to update the customer information within the CRM system. By using this two phase system agents become more efficient at closing the sale and time is managed more effectively as a predictive dialer will eliminate busy, no answer and disconnected numbers.

    The understanding of the purchase history and purchase timeline allows the call center professional to recognize the customer's needs and enables the call to be made at the most productive time. These anticipatory calls are one of the most productive uses of CRM, allowing the call center to build customer loyalty and repetitive business.

    How can CRM benefit the inbound call center?
    In an inbound call center, CRM allows the call center professional to quickly build the profile of a new customer or enhance the profile of a customer calling in. The CRM system can be programmed to populate the most relevant marketing information automatically.

    The CRM system can then display to the agent a profile of the current customer or provide space to build their profile. By accessing or building this profile, the call center professional is able to assess the customers’ requirements as well as maintain their history. Again, this is the beginning for building customer loyalty.

    A CRM solution is also an essential feature in the follow-up, from both inbound and out-bound call centers. CRM software allows the call center professional to review what calls have been recorded and their outcome. In doing so, the call center professionals’ time in responding is reduced and a reduction in lead loss can be achieved.

    Reduction in training costs with CRM
    CRM solutions are, by nature, user friendly. This user friendly nature allows for a reduced amount of training for call center professionals. With all information on a customer within the system, the call center professional can quickly assess the customers’ requirements and provide them with what they need.

    The value of the CRM data can also be seen in –
    • Better routing of calls. 
    • Increase in First Time Resolution (FTR) rates.
    • Reduced missed calls. 
    • Cross-selling opportunities.
    By providing enriched knowledge through a CRM solution, the call center, both inbound and outbound, increases both efficiency and effectiveness. Coupled with predictive dialing for the outbound call center agent, CRM can reduce idle time and provide calls paced by the availability of call center agents. By pacing calls, the center also increases the number of customer contacts with agents.

    Increased productivity, effective cross-selling and dynamic deal management, all add up to improved sales and services with reduced costs. Also, the CRM solution ensures the overall customer experience is better, increasing the chances of gaining strong referrals and advocacy.

    Data Mining and Financial CRM: Enable Optimal Performance in 3 Vital Areas

    Financial CRM is a popular tool for gaining loyal customers and optimizing lead generation. With a motto to understand customer needs and build stronger customer relationships, companies in the financial industry have constantly adopted CRM solutions for sustained progress. When information from data mining is successfully incorporated in the CRM strategy, advisors can offer the most appropriate or profitable investment advice for individual records.

    Financial institutes like brokerage or distribution companies offer financial advice and solutions to a variety of clients on a daily basis. A large number of client interactions take place which offer valuable customer data. The copious amounts of customer data generated daily by financial institutes makes the use of data mining techniques a must within this sector. Data mining tools can go through the most complex and varied data to extract pertinent information, these results can be displayed for users across geographies through a CRM software.

    Understanding data mining
    Data mining is a process which involves technical analysis of existing data to identify patterns and relationships which are then used to predict behavior and possible outcomes. Complex algorithms and models are used to find out previously unknown correlations within the data. The aim of data mining is to focus attention on the most crucial and valid information for customer interactions. This aids informed decision making for improved product offering and customer service.

    There are several ways in which data mining may be useful in the financial sector. Here we highlight some of the major areas:

    Portfolio Optimization
    With the large amount of financial transactions taking place each day, companies are opting for dynamic portfolio optimization enabled through data mining.
    • Determination of optimal portfolio weights based on historical data.
    • Data mining sorts vast historical data and extracts the most crucial information to optimize portfolio performance.
    • Predictive models are created to deduce expected returns from a financial instrument.
    • Data mining is also used to provide different scenarios of possible risks and profitability from the portfolio.
    Risk Management
    Risk is a major factor in any type of financial planning. There are many types of risks involved in financial markets, including credit risk, investment risk, business risk and debit risk. Detecting such risks in advance using data mining tools is crucial to maintain financial progress and profitability.
    • Sophisticated data mining tools can sort through piles of electronic data and process it to detect financial risk. With the key component of risk identified, firms can take necessary actions to alleviate the risk. 
    • Market risk for individual financial instruments, such as interest rates or currencies, can be analyzed based on data mining models which offer different permutations and combinations of the risk factors. 
    • Financial institutions can also measure credit risk to identify possible bad debts as well as decide on interest rates for loans.
    An important application of data mining within the financial sector is to predict movement of trading instruments like currencies, interest rates or equities.
    • By analyzing historical data, data mining can help identify factors that affect market conditions. 
    • Analysts can predict when market rates will fluctuate and give precise recommendations on when to buy or sell. 
    • As trading involves prediction of only the short-term price changes of a product, data mining tools can help assist these decisions by providing valuable input on whether the product may be undervalued or overvalued. 
    • The job of a financial analyst is to pick up on trends, be it social, economic, political, technological or any other, that may affect the price of financial assets. Data mining can provide a highly analytical and organized approach to keeping up with such trends. By keeping a well-fed record of such trends and their effects, data mining applications can make valuable predictions about the occurrence and impact of such factors in the future.
    Access to information generated through data mining tools should be quick, secure and easily accessible to optimize performance and gain a customer’s confidence. When results from data mining are incorporated with an effective financial services CRM solution, the most relevant information relating to a lead or account is displayed for users, thereby optimizing cross selling, support and lead conversions.

    From customer profiling to hard core business processes, data mining and financial services CRM tools are crucial for financial services today. As the entire ambit of the sector lies within complex financial analysis and customer orientation, it is not hard to see how valuable the data mining approach can be within the sector. As economies plummet and customers become more aware and critical of their financial assets, analysts and advisors need to up their game to always stay ahead of markets and consistently provide the best advice.