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CRM going Social

There has been a lot of buzz over the past couple of years about this new concept of marketing called as “Social Customer Relationship Management”, this blog aims at putting some light on the Concept , how it works, and how the data is gathered and fed into CRM systems to do further analysis.


*Concept – Social CRM & Social Media Marketing

Social media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Face-book are amplifying the voice of people in the marketplace and are having profound and far-reaching effects on the ways in which people buy. Customers can now research companies online and then ask for recommendations through social media channels, making their buying decision without contacting the company. People also use social media to share opinions and experiences on companies, products and services. As social media is not as widely moderated or censored as mainstream media, individuals can say anything they want about a company or brand, positive or negative.

Increasingly, companies are looking to gain access to these conversations and take part in the dialogue. More than a few systems are now integrating to social networking sites. Social media promoters cite a number of business advantages, such as using online communities as a source of high-quality leads and a vehicle for crowd sourcing solutions to client-support problems. Companies can also leverage client stated habits and preferences to “hyper-target” their sales and marketing communications

What Data to gather and How?

With access to such a huge resource of real-time prospective customer data, marketing communication’s need to be planned and executed properly. Advantages of undertaking this strategy are High-quality leads & to provide user-friendly, cost effective and participatory platform for customers to find instant solutions to their problems.

Customers looking for a product or service would express their views on an open platform, where other members help in, by providing more information and adding personal experiences, helping in short-listing the best fit for his requirements.

Companies could monitor these discussions and suggest their product and services to people looking for them; they should start profiling these new contacts to understand them and their future needs better,

They could also add current customers to their company’s online community and increase fan following, this increases brand loyalty and ensures repeat sales. Various social engineering techniques can be used to study each customer better, this would not only help cross selling other services to that customer but also would generate a database which on analysis would give valuable insights on changing customer preferences, and hot industry trends.

How it affects company’s overall CRM strategy?

Social CRM will mean different things to different companies, the goal is to first understand the business challenge and then to make a SM supporting strategy to reach that goal, different companies would want different things and a sound strategy to achieve that goal needs to be formulated before the company enters into Social CRM.

Data gathered over time from such sources could be fed into company’s CRM infrastructure, and can later be used to analyse for better decision making.

NOTES:-

*Source Wikipedia.org

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DISCLAIMER: – IDEAL CRM, blog post is a personal collection of  Research Oriented information, Focusing  on CRM and Customer-Centric Web strategies, comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent views of  coAction.com ,Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes. This Content may not be used for any other purposes, in any other formats or media. The content on blog is provided on “as-is” basis, coAction.com shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or the use of this blog.

 

CRM on CLOUD

CRM:

Customer relationship management is all about putting your customers first, understanding the needs of your clientele and designing Products and services which meet those requirements is all but a easy task, finding new customers and engaging the existing ones for them to keep coming back for more is a planned and intelligent approach, using tools like CRM which provide flexibility, seamless collaboration of information, creative thinking in rules and policies, abundant storage and much more is a important part of a company’s marketing strategy.

The Cloud:

Cloud computing has become a important part of this process with most vendors offering CRM solutions on the cloud, such solutions are now much more affordable for the masses. As a metaphor for the internet “The Cloud” harnesses the processing or computation power and storage capacity of multiple computers and servers, such services commonly known as SaaS, do not require the end user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that actually provides the service.

Cloud Computing

Image courtesy – Wikipedia.com

Advantages of using Cloud Computing in CRM implementation:

There are a lot of advantages in running a business application which operate’s from a remote server that can be accessed via “The Internet” aka “The cloud”, with cloud the end user can simply log on to the business application generally using a web browser to gain access to the CRM system, generally paying a small monthly fee for the service, the user can avert financial expenses in setting up the infrastructure and maintaining it, security patches, computer viruses and system crashes are all taken care of by the vendor, software updates are also provided by the vendor and are updated at the server side from his end.

Not only can business avoid financial waste but they can also track their employee’s performance and maintain a collaborated systematic database which post analysis will help business in understanding their customers better and hence formulate better workflows and administrative policies.

Hence CRM implementation via cloud computing (HOSTED CRM) provides all the benefits of On-premise model, but at a much lower cost and minimal infrastructure and maintenance staff. Not only that, the model also provides troubleshooting in a contained and secured way making sure that no virus contamination reaches the end user ever.

Disadvantages of using Cloud Computing in CRM implementation:

Cloud computing application is hosted and is heavily dependent on Network connectivity, and requires higher bandwidth to run the SaaS based applications. In case the network goes down the company loses its access to its business applications running on the cloud.

Some more disadvantages of cloud computing are being addressed to by each vendor in their own way, concerns about Data Security –

How the data is transported form user end to vendor’s server?
Is it encrypted to avoid interception?
What happens once the data reaches the vendors server? Is it stored encrypted?
What is the strength of the encryption algorithm used?
How often is the data being backed up? Etc.

Information Security in CRM

Customer Relationship Management software is a centralized database of various kinds of information, safe and secure storage of which is of utmost importance to the company, it contains information which is sensitive in nature and needs to be protected.

Information about the company’s customers is saved in form of Customer’s Profile, these profiles form an important part of the database (name, address, contact details, previous conversations, purchases, etc.), and such details are very sensitive in nature as customers privacy is at stake,

Sales team’s from other (mostly competition) organizations are constantly on a lookout for new leads to sell, this database of customer profile is of a lot of value to them and would go to any limits to get access to it, Data digging is hence one of the most common type of cyber crime. Data digging happens when data is stolen from a database, usually done by employees who have access to such database for financial motives, to sell it in the open market to make a quick buck, in some cases competitors hire professional hackers to hack into a system and manipulate, delete or steal data.

Such Unauthorised access and Data Alteration can cause considerable harm to a company; data available on CRM includes Accounting information, Email record, internal chat conversations, list of current tasks, and other such sources of information. All available in a hosted platform on the internet, this is prone to malicious activities like hacking, interception during transit causing un-authorised access and theft of confidential information.

To ensure safe transit and storage of information CRM vendors follow security policies, which provide a combination of role-based and object-based settings to ensure restricted access to information based upon User’s role or Organizational Policy. A user can also be allotted more than one role to provide access to additional information using a combination of 2 or more user policies. Restricting access is good way to ensure that confidential information remains restricted to appropriate users.

For Small and Medium sized businesses with small infrastructure looking at setting up Information security in their organization, following is a quick checklist to keep in mind for a basic setup.

Step 1:- A Team of qualified professionals. Candidates with a good understanding of how the CRM enviournment works and basic security practices.

Step 2:- Infrastructure {Software and Hardware}.

Step 3:- Policies and Procedures, including procedures for Data Backup and Emergency Restore, policies regarding Information Management, Data routing, Storage and Security {Antivirus, firewalls, Encryption, Cryptographic kernels, etc}.

Step 4:- Compliance and Upgrade, once the setup is done team should make sure that the policies are followed and procedures do not have any loopholes,  regular patches and upgrades to discovered problems should be made to avoid any hacking through backdoors.

It is highly advised to follow the above mentioned instructions at organizational level,            although most CRM companies would provide hosted services with standard security technology like Secure Socket Layer (SSl) to form an encrypted link between the browser and the web server, and then store the encrypted data in secure servers.

For companies with bigger size, in terms of employees and core infrastructure it a totally different affair, multiple offices situated nationally or globally requesting real-time collaboration of information, Management and Storage becomes a mammoth task. Such companies usually have a dedicated Information security department, with multiple teams to focus on different aspects, sharing responsibilities.

Such companies generally use CRM systems which are highly customized, and made specifically to fit company requirements,  further customization is added as per policies are formed and problems are discovered.  These customized CRM packages usually employ a mix of different technologies for effective protection and efficient management of data. Here is a checklist of things of major concern.

1)      Storing Customers Profile data.

2)     SSl secured web servers to ensure safe access by Users (employees), which may be using different technologies like PC, mobile devices, PDA and laptops.

3)      Troubleshooting various problems in CRM applications and Making role based users (SQl 7.0), storing this data.

4)     Continuous maintenance of infrastructure (Upgrading, Updating, Patching) and making new policies to ensure safe and secured enviournment.

Choosing a CRM vendor wisely can evade much of the trouble for companies both small and big alike, Information security team should do a thorough analysis of the services offered by vendor and the platform they use, preferably choose a platform which the company workers are already familiar with, if not, then what kind of staff training dose the vendor provide? Security aspects of the service should also be kept in mind, a background check on the vendor can help a great deal in understanding not only the product offered (previous versions, security issues, patches, etc) but also the service support offered by the vendor company in terms of  regular updates and security patches.

NOTE: – Hope you found this information useful; please feel free to leave comments below.

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DISCLAIMER: – IDEAL CRM, blog post is a personal collection of  Research Oriented information, Focusing  on CRM and Customer-Centric Web strategies, comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent views of  coAction.com ,Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes. This Content may not be used for any other purposes, in any other formats or media. The content on blog is provided on “as-is” basis, coAction.com shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or the use of this blog.

Do the current CRM offerings scale with the dynamic business process?

If not, then what are the shortcomings in the existing CRM offerings? Do the current CRM offerings scale with the current business practices in Marketing and Sales? What more are companies looking for in CRM offerings to retain the competitive edge?

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Answer : – During the discussions on this topic in linkedin’s – CRM experts forum,  i came accross some intresting point’s, the following blog is a summary of all the note worthy points mentioned by CRM expert pannel, please feel free to use this CRM research resource and do leave your comments.

Some views on this topic by experts

When it comes to CRM product offerings and how they affect the continuiously evolving and dynamic business processes, most of our experts agreed to the point that CRM implimentation is about conceptulizing and then implimenting various business concepts in CRM to suit day to day needs.

Now in order to be able to conceptulize there has to be a deeper understanding of, firstly the business needs and secondly the CRM itself, it has been a view that CRM is still a loosely used word and stake holders in the organization need to have a better understanding of it to be in a position to harness this resource effectively.

With that said we all know how difficult it can get to jot down the best CRM which will be ideal for your company needs, most of the CRM offerings include all the basic functions, namely Sales, Service or Marketting, customer profiling, etc. Or even all of them clubbed with other functions in an enterprise suit.

Accordinig to our experts, the need of the hour is a product which not only gives the benifits of  a traditional CRM but also provide new age innovative ways to gather and use valuable data collected form CRM, this will lead to a valuable insight of business processes and would help increase ROI in CRM in both tangible and intangible form.

A Ideal CRM should go beyond Marketting/Sales and should have a strategic vision to give proper direction to business processes, it should have the ability to seemlessly integrate with other technologies used by the business (Finance/Logistics/ Billing, etc) and should provide a simple layout to collaborate this data.

CRM implimentation is a continious process and should evolve with changing business needs, apart from the very essential Social CRM (for lead generation), it should also provide integreated email, chat and discussions to help employees connect and collaborate at diffrent levels, facilitating easy exchange of information.

To conclude on previous points, companies should use the technology that is availaible to them right now, in order to do so they must first set the basics of data ownership and process management in place. Once this is done additional technology can be added as per requirement.

In a nutshell, once the company policies and praticies are set in place, management would be in a better position to ascess their CRM needs, after which required tools can be provided to match strategy requirements.

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Source link: – http://www.linkedin.com/groupItem?view=&gid=43621&type=member&item=37179491&qid=aa035ed9-1b2d-46df-8f52-df25fcd8454a&goback=.gmp_43621

What are Advantages of using a CRM?

November 2, 2010 2 comments

Following are the points listed during a recently held CRM related discussion on Linkedin’s CRM Experts group. I am very thankful to all the participants. Hereby am requesting visitors/crm-experts to further elaborate the post by commenting.

  1. Control
    1. IT automates the customer engagement process or your marketing activity.
    2. control them by way of providing purchasing influence and an easy way to access and purchase our products.
    3. Streamlined sales and marketing processes
    4. Higher sales productivity
      1. Higher overall profitability
      2. In Lead to purchase stage: Your CRM must identify first of all, when is average customer expected to buy. Once you find that out, it must identify at what purchase stage customer is. By identifying this, you can fine tune and send your lead nurturing campaigns, which can assist customers to make purchase decision quickly.
      3. In purchase to next purchase stage:
        1. Your CRM must identify when is average customer expected make next (second) purchase.
        2. Send product consumption email series, so that customer is able to consume your product or service completely. Make your customers aware of different features and how he can use your product effectively to get maximum ROI. This will help you to go to next level to offer your next product or next level of service or upgrade.
        3. Next product selling: Based on average customer’s next purchase time, build platform for the next product and with fine tuned message, help them to go for the next right product or service option.
        4. Manage complaint behavior: What kind of customers complaining what and where are they from. After how many and what kind of complaints, customers are likely to leave your service or not to buy next product – Your CRM should be able to deliver this information.
    5. Added cross-selling and up-selling
    6. Improved service, loyalty, and retention
    7. Increased call center efficiency
    8. Higher close rates
    9. Reduced expenses
    10. Increased market share
    11. Development of orgainization, process, IT and measurement (customer value,customer satisfaction, sales [up-sell/cross sell]) to support customer relationship.
    12. In a nutshell, using CRM will help you on operational side (same image for all users, sales & marketing automation… )
    13. Close loop between Marketing and Sales
  2. Understanding
    1. Understand customers analyzing data.
      1. Measurement is a key tool for engagement. What gets measured gets done.
      2. Sharing relationship intelligence, titbits of conversations, new leads past one.
      3. Be able to have a really good approach of sales forecast
    2. CRM solution can give you a real insight into who is in contact with your company.
    3. It can tell you the types of company you work with, the size and the type of people you are dealing with within it.
    4. It can tell you about the products you sell to each company – how regular their buying pattern, whether price or service is their key to future purchases.
    5. Business Intelligence from the Customer
    6. Segmentation, Targeting, Profiling, etc.
    7. Understand the interaction/transaction with your customer as well as identify the best ways to communicate (e-mail, direct mail, phone, etc.)
    8. it can help you to understand your business better (analytical) and/or it can enhance relations between concerned if it is made “collaborative”
    9. Understanding the customer needs, desires, concerns, and what they expect from the service/product provider.
      1. i.    Customers can assist, to some degree, with the transformational change(s) that may need to take place in the company.

CRM Architecture

October 14, 2010 1 comment

Sustainable CRM landscape with a concrete implementation roadmap.                                                                     

Operational Collaborative Analytical
  • Automation of certain business process.
  • Boost marketing activities and sales

CAN BE FURTHER DIVIDED INTO :-

1) Enterprise Marketing Automation.

Provides the management valuable company information about the business climate, competitors, and trends within the industry & other important variables.

Basically strengthens the entire enterprise level marketing operations.

Integration of various technologies used for on field and in-house processes can provide added advantage as data would be available for analysis.

2) Customer Service Automation.

Automation in customer service related processes, helps save time and resources, leads to better customer satisfaction.

Applications specially designed to help sales representatives gather maximum amount of data from the customer during a call.

3) Sales Force Automation.

it Involves automation in company’s sales processes helps make tasks easier and speeds up the sales process.

This is done by automating repetitive steps or special applications to help get work done at a faster pace and in minimum time,

 

Providing sales representatives added advantage to gather maximum information from the customer to help close the sale at record times.

 

 

Collaboration places emphasis on quick and efficient information exchange between different departments of the company to better the interactions it has with its customer.

 

  • This is done using a effective Business Intelligence Tool called CRM,

 

  • The main objective being to better understand its customers and their needs.

 

  • This is done collaborating different technologies used in an organization in one single platform,

 

  • This is Collaboration Platform consists of various applications help employees carry out day to day activities like – Task Management or handle multiple tasks using Project Management,

 

 

  • With a Desktop like User Interface it provides email application in the same window this saves time and effort as employees never have to leave the browser, giving sales representative extra time to focus on sales.

 

  • CRM Architecture is designed to be flexible enable ling businesses to Integrate new functions in the software to customize and automate according to requirements,

 

This helps a great deal as management can integrate different features specific to their business model and practices, sales can hence use relevant information panels in the same window to help completing tasks faster and more efficiently.

CRM analytics deals with analyzing data collected in CRM software, it is a continuous process which if conducted regularly  helps the management to

  • Enhance customer experience.
  • Develop new products/services.
  • Boost profitability.

Data affects profitability as it can be used to

  • Cross-sell products to their existing customers.
  • It also helps a great deal in retaining the existing client base which otherwise might stitch to other service providers.
  • Analytics help in keeping the customer more informed by providing them additional account related information if required and that too in the quick way and in real time.

Data can be used by the management for

  • Understanding the pattern of sales, inventory, and profits.
  • Better understanding of these elements would also aid in Fraud Detection, as any irregularities in such the pattern can quickly be detected using historical data.
  • It can also be used to develop new products and services, according to changing market needs and customer buying trends.
  • Management can use it for maintaining optimum levels of inventory; hence it also aids business risk management.

Companies can use this valuable resource to alter/tweak current business strategy, develop new more effective methods to work and plan for the future.

 

DISCLAIMER: – IDEAL CRM, blog post is a personal collection of  Research Oriented information, Focusing  on CRM and Customer-Centric Web strategies, comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent views of  coAction.com ,Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes. This Content may not be used for any other purposes, in any other formats or media. The content on blog is provided on “as-is” basis, coAction.com shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or the use of this blog.

CRM is not enough, its time to switch to ODBC

It’s time for some radical changes in Business CRM software industry, why?

With the Introduction of On-Demand Business Collaboration (ODBC) technology, working on   your company CRM just got a whole new meaning, equipped with a Hosted Collaboration Space {Task Management, Email Management, Document Management, Project Management, integrated Google calendar, other useful applications} supporting different user tasks, with dedicated applications for Sales, Support and Receivable’s Management, and  comfortable User Interface, ensuring optimum performance by the sales team and in time highest Return on Investment ROI.

ODBC’s Customizable User Interface provides different Micro and Macro level Business Intelligence Tools that help management optimize the Business sales cycle {Generate demand > Qualify Prospects > Close the sale > Deliver & Install > Provide Support } and helps better understand the Consumers Buying cycle {Gather Information > Evaluate Solution’s > Purchase > Take Delivery > Get Support }, with valuable insights in consumer behavior and their needs, data gathered helps immensely in fine tuning Sales processes before being sent to the Research and Development Team for developing new products or services to enhance customer experience and ensure repeated sales.

Another very useful concept of optimizing the different Routes or Channels to the customer is also sufficiently aided using ODBC technology. These Routes are basically an efficient combination of internal or external resources that move the customer from the beginning to the end of the Sales Cycle. this Routes-to-Market methodology also helps vendors plan, operate and optimize their routes, this is important because properly Optimized routes produce more revenue and profit per dollar spent on marketing, sales, distribution and customer service”,  meaning Highest ROI.

Management can use these highly customizable micro Business Intelligence tools available in ODBC technology to,

1)    Optimize Routes

2)    Sales process alignment

3)    Automate repetitive processes

4)    Use User Input

5)    Different System’s Integration

6)    Educate and empower all system users and hence add incremental improvements over time.

Each of these above mentioned concepts play a crucial role in determining the success of CRM Implementation in a organization and ROI time, to help those who are new to these concepts, I would like to elaborate a few lines explaining each of these new age ODBC based concepts,

Once the sales channels or routes have been established, the entire sales process needs to be aligned this means that the management must match the way people actually use the system and its outputs, this will help them make effective changes when people and processes change & simplify user screens, decision tree maps or indicators placed on the screen at different stages of a sale help make sales executives make a more alert and confident sale.

Management can also automate repetitive processes to help save time during a sales process; system can be configured to pop out different pop-ups with useful information or help gather additional customer data.

User, which in this case would be the sales representative is using the system first hand and might have useful insights, suggesting changes to make the process more user friendly, these suggestions should also be taken into account by the management.

If possible management should integrate different systems used in the organization, like mobile CRM used by on field sales representatives, back office staff, ERP software used in organization, this will provide management a complete 360 degree customer centric view, which would help them serve the customer better by designing policies and practices accordingly.

Last but not the least management should impart not only initial training but should conduct features training on regular basis to educate the employees on these changes, this would in turn make employees more knowledgeable and capable of giving valuable feedback, which can be further used to do Research and development and to include incremental improvements over time.

DISCLAIMER: – IDEAL CRM, blog post is a personal collection of  Research Oriented information, Focusing  on CRM and Customer-Centric Web strategies, comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent views of  coAction.com ,Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes. This Content may not be used for any other purposes, in any other formats or media. The content on blog is provided on “as-is” basis, coAction.com shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or the use of this blog.