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agriflo is the result of years of design, implementation and planning. It is a consolidation of a number of widely deployed technologies from Sage Software [www.sagesoftware.com] and other technology providers, and is built on a fully modern technology platform, utilizing best practices to allow businesses in this market to move beyond traditional business models and into the future - as seamlessly as possible.
Have 5 minutes? Watch this informative introductory video on "What is agriflo?". It will tell you more than this written blog could! And then after watching it - make plans to come down to our agriflo launch event, happening November 15, 2017 from 4-7pm at the Shark Club, City Place, across from the RBC Convention Centre, where the Grainworld Conference is being held. Food and drinks are on us! See you there.
Mr. Colin Chambers explains what a CRM Business Process Review is, why its beneficial, and how you can get started with a FREE review today.
In the past, client communications was written down and stored for future reference. Then computers started to be used in the workplace and excel spreadsheets were designed to store client information electronically. With advancements in technology, database software enabled many capabilities that made these previous organizational techniques obsolete.
Your organizations’ client database has done a good job of storing information about your customers and letting you retrieve the information when needed. When you convert to CRM software, your database will change to an entirely new level.
CRM software offers a range of capabilities designed to manage customer data and interactions, and to automate marketing, sales and customer support. This short list of features provides an overview of some of the things CRM systems can do for you:
Contact Management – communications with contacts
Sales Team Automation - automating follow-up plans, order processing, and even inventory management and order tracking
Sales Forecasting – Predicting and analyzing sales forecasts
Email Marketing - integrating email marketing plans with sales force automation
Online Collaboration between Work Groups - marketing, sales, customer service, and other departments can all access and update the CRM's centralized information storage
In some companies CRM systems are expanding to include basic ERP features. At a minimum, many company executives are looking into integrating their CRM with their ERP implementation.
Converting prospects into clients requires an understanding of the prospect's needs and a consistent effort to remain top-of-mind. Timely follow-up is critical for success. Your sales team can assign prospects to a predefined contact plan. The system will automate tasks, such as email marketing campaigns, and notify sales people when they should make a phone call or schedule a meeting.The consistency and the standard provided by CRM software will turn more prospects into clients than ever before. With predefined plans, the negative impact of differences in skill level among your sales force can be reduced.
Marketing is most effective when it targets a specific client base. A Customer Relations Management system will let you segment prospects and customers. This way your marketing and sales department can customize your marketing message to speak directly to different groups. It will enable you to create specific marketing campaigns for specific groups.
Customer Relations Management software will allow your sales team to respond quickly to your clients. When order processing is incorporated into Customer Relations Management System, employees in service, sales and accounting will have instant access to a client's order status. This way any number of employees can answer questions or address order problems.
The ability to provide more personalized and targeted service to your existing customer base typically improves experience and increases loyalty.
CRM software will improve communications among your employees. Your staff in different departments will have easy access to centralized information. Centralized information will increase the level of service provided to your customers. When employees in different departments feel more connected, it will be much easier to work together as a team.
The fastest-growing group of CRM users today are small and medium-sized organizations. Small to Medium sized companies are capitalizing on the closer relationship they have with their clients by using Customer Relations Management System to make that connection even stronger.
For more information please contact us.
Providing great customer service is a challenge for many businesses today.
Companies like Amazon and Zappos have raised in the bar in terms of what customers expect, and there are an increasing number of tools and technologies that businesses people can use to improve their support.
So, we asked 14 customer service and customer experience experts this question:
What's the biggest customer service challenges today's companies are facing and how can they overcome it?
Here's what they said:
Too many companies focus myopically on the infrastructure and technology to support voice of the customer (VOC), customer experience (CX), and enterprise feedback management (EFM) and neglect their greatest customer experience asset and feedback source: competent, customer-focused, and engaged employees who are both capable and inspired to consistently provide superior customer service.
A majority of companies employ capable workers who possess adequate job knowledge and demonstrate sufficient job skill. These employees know WHAT to do and HOW to do it.
Where most companies fail (and where the consistency of customer service quality routinely breaks down) is they stop there, assuming that employees are now equipped to consistently provide exceptional customer service.
How can they overcome this challenge?
What these companies overlook is the need to define and share the organisation’s purpose, which informs employees about their highest priority at work.
Employees need to know WHY they are doing WHAT they are doing HOW they are doing it.
Instead of just being given something to work ON (duties and tasks), employees must be given something to work TOWARD (purpose).
The result is a workforce that is not only capable of providing superior customer service, but inspired to do so consistently.
For most companies, the biggest customer service challenge today is meeting diverse customer expectations in public on diverse channels – email, live chat, telephone, face-to-face, and social media.
If you think far back in history, interactions with customers were local, one-to-one, and face-to-face, advances in travel brought diverse customers to businesses and companies then had to meet more diverse expectations. Telephone introduced the challenge of understanding people without seeing them.
Email brought the challenge of understanding emotions and communicating well with no tone of voice. Now with social media, companies face all those challenges with the extra pressure of doing it in front of the world.
To meet this challenge:
The degree of change that all service operations are facing is unprecedented.
It is clear that choice, availability, responsiveness and personalisation are all pretty much engrained in customer expectations.
Yet few service organisations have delivered the corresponding responses in terms of omni-channel, 24x7, real time and tailored customer journeys.
Budget allocation, business cases and ability to change at speed are still holding back the mainstream. A few are finding the real start point is about changing mind-sets and behaviours in the first instance.
As has been said before in many other contexts, 'you have to be digital to do digital'. This costs nothing apart from the willingness to leave behind familiar ways and learn new habits. The real challenge right now is us.
The customer’s expectations are changing. They are smarter and demand a level of service that is no longer compared to your competitor, but to any good customer service provider.
In other words, you may be in manufacturing, but you are being compared to the great experience your customer had with the restaurant they ate at last week, or the hotel they stayed at on their last business trip.
So, the first challenge is to meet the every changing and demanding expectations of the customer.
Another big challenge is technology:
Are you keeping up?
Do you connect through channels other than the traditional phone support?
Customers are enjoying “self-service” solutions that go beyond a website with a list of FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
Customers want information fast, which is why they like instant chat, videos, and other solutions that help them get the answers they need without the hassle of calling a company and being put on hold while waiting for a CSR rep.
The challenge is knowing what’s right for your customer and your industry.
1. Many companies are still struggling to achieve a single view of the customer. Customers are walking into stores, placing orders online, calling companies when they have a difficult problem, self-serving and interacting with firms via the web and social media.
In their minds they are having ‘one’ conversation albeit across multiple channels with one organisation.
The challenge for firms is to integrate all of these conversations into one system, integrate that with order and account history as well as equipping staff with the right tools, training and authority to be able to deal with every and any customer problem or question that comes their way.
Companies know this, customers expect this but yet many firms are still struggling to pull this off.
One of the main reasons is that many firms are attempting wholesale and complete transformation and encounter too many problems along the way with legacy systems, culture, management style, staff skills etc etc.
However, perhaps firms should try to go slower in order to go faster and further in their efforts and start with a ‘pilot’ approach in one or two areas of their business where they can trial, test and learn from a new approach, adjust and then scale one they have it right.
2. Re-evaluating the role and value of customer facing staff. If we assume the above challenge is right then there is an additional challenge that comes out of that and that is how we recruit, organise, train and reward our customer facing staff.
In many organisations, retaining an organisational structure that is very silo based, is very focused on risk minimisation and limits the autonomy and responsibility of staff acts as a real hindrance to delivering then sort of service and experience that organisations want to deliver.
BT and Avaya in a recent report: SuperAgent 2020: The Evolution of the Contact Centre stated that:
“The primary function of the Contact Centre will be largely complex problem solving because products and services are becoming more complicated and more customers are using web, social and mobile self-service to do the simple, transactional stuff."
This type of 2020 scenario doesn’t seem to be the domain of employees that are paid, on average, 30 percent below the average UK salary.
Isn’t it time that we re-evaluated the role of customer facing staff, for us to give these roles the appropriate level of respect and value that they deserve and then recruit the right people, equip them with the right skills and tools and reward them well?
Many companies want to be customer-centric, but few actually plan or provide for that. They are challenged by viewing customer service as a purely reactive exercise.
Organisations focus on putting out fires instead of never creating them in the first place.
The best companies see proactive customer service as an important function in their organisation.
Having a customer experience mission is a key part of this. Ordinary mission statements saying things like "to be the best" aren't directing everybody in the organisation with how to delivery exceptional service to customers.
The well-known service leaders have missions that see serving customers as part of their core mission. Zappos and Southwest Airlines missions, for example, don't dwell on products or shareholders at all.
They both focus on providing service to customers.
If an organisation doesn't share this sort of focus, customer service will always remain an afterthought.
Service reps will be left to clean up very big messes again and again. And organisations will never stand out as being customer-centric.
I think a big challenge for customer service is making sure it’s an integrated part of the end-to-end customer experience. Customers don’t like to repeat themselves.
When an interaction starts on the web or an IVR and then transfers to a live agent, don’t require the customer to start from scratch.
Unfortunately, my research finds that about 80% of companies suffer from this “touchpoint amnesia” – forgetting customer information during a multi-touch experience.
The right technology can help, either by using one platform or through integration. However, it’s not just a tech issue.
Most large organisations also find customer-centricity hampered by a lack of cooperation across organisation silos.
Each department or function does its own job but sometimes treats one customer differently in marketing, sales, purchasing, and service.
Senior leadership, sometimes with the aid of a chief customer or experience officer, can help foster better collaboration and an improved total customer experience.
Customer service is about human interaction and solving problems. Often times under very stressful situations.
CSRs are usually under pressure to quickly solve the case which can make empathic interaction a challenge. But, empathy is number one. To be able to understand the emotional issues impacting the customers experience.
An additional challenge to ensuring that you have high-quality interactions with customers is in the area of empowerment.
If you want your people to act like it’s their business, make it their business. Empowering your CSR staff will lead to them never losing a customer over a stupid rule.
The biggest challenge lies with conquering the mindset of trying to drive customer service costs down, particularly using technology.
If the desire is to "win" the customer service wars in a niche (and to profit from the victory), the winners will be those who hire enough PEOPLE, amd train those people properly, recouping those costs through improved sales, lower customer acquisition costs, and better retention.
People CRAVE human contact. The winners will be those who build relationships, even if the process has short term financial hits.
Let's look at this question from the end and work back toward the beginning.
Assume that a problem has been overcome. That creates requirement for success #4: the ability to implement a desired change.
Going backwards one more step lands on #3: having a clear picture of the change you want.
Stepping back one more time gets to #2: finding the sweet spot between what customers truly want and what the business can deliver authentically well.
Finally, we arrive at #1. Its requirement for success are being able to listen to customers accurately and having the corporate will to do so.
In my humble opinion, the biggest challenge is #1 – getting the organisation to truly listen to what customers want and act on it.
Many brands I've worked with (successfully) have a predisposition to use ROI (return on investment) which is biased toward doing things the way that's best for the company – not necessarily best for the customer.
As a result, many cool ideas don't make it pass the first consideration cut because they don't meet a back-of-the-napkin ROI threshold.
That's too bad because I've seen data that shows many customers (especially those of commodity brands) truly want the businesses that serve them to do so differently.
There's lots of opportunity. The first challenge to overcome is to provide inside innovators with the latitude to listen to their customers' needs –then to do something about it!
The techniques to overcome this first challenge are proven and pretty straightforward.
11. John Ragsdale: vice-president of technology and social research for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA)
TSIA surveys members about top business challenges, and we categorise all of our member inquiries to track which business challenges are generating the most questions.
While there are some interesting strategic and technical issues on the list of “what’s keeping people up at night,” including knowledge management and the retiring workforce, shifting service operations from supporting on premise to cloud technology, optimising renewals, and improving adoption of self-service, the number one challenge by far remains a more tactical problem: understanding key performance indicators (KPIs) for support services.
One of the key values of TSIA membership is benchmarking.
We track hundreds of operational and financial metrics from our members, show them how they compare to their industry peers, and provide guidance on how to improve problem areas.
Understanding which metrics to track, how to calculate them, what ‘best practice’ ranges are for the metrics, and how to move them, continues to be the #1 issue technology support operations are dealing with.
There are a number of underlying problems here.
Though metrics such as response time, resolution time, first contact resolution rate, operating margins and retention rates are common to all support operations, there aren’t any recognised standard definitions.
Most support managers were promoted because they were good support technicians, and as I experienced early in my career, there isn’t always much training provided to new managers on the science of support and the metrics involved.
Add to that the challenge that most technology companies have rapidly grown through acquisition and mergers, and information required for metric calculations may be spread across a dozen or more systems.
In my conversations with support executives about service technology, CRM remains a hot topic.
Not only picking the right solution, but also how to increase adoption by employees, how to standardise processes and data capture across global enterprises, and how to optimise reporting to automate metrics programs.
Having a good metrics program in place is critical to calculating ROI for any new technology purchase, and unfortunately, many companies don’t have a strong enough understanding of “before” metrics to accurately calculate the business impact of new processes or tools.
Here are some high-level guidelines to better understanding of support metrics and improving a metrics program:
Services and products have become commoditised. Competition is stiff and companies like Amazon are consistently reinventing ways to provide better and faster service.
When consumers evaluate your company’s service delivery, they are thinking how quickly and easily it was to do business with the Amazons or Zappos of the world even if those businesses are not direct competitors.
The companies that can deliver personalised service will be able to create and build relationships to positively impact bottom line revenues and profitability.
Organisations can meet these new challenges by employing technology used to enhance, not diminish that relationship.
Make sure any features added make it easier for the customer to do business and help provide a more customised experience.
Training and coaching for representatives must include teaching them to be welcoming, listening to underlying emotions, as well as what the customer is saying, and leaving the customer with the feeling that the company cares about them as an individual.
The right technology, coupled with the human-to-human touch, is a winning strategy.
There is an ever-greater emphasis on improving the customer experience as competition intensifies, margins shrink, and buyers more actively compare suppliers.
In this digital and social age we now live in, based on their last interaction, your customers are probably sharing how your company treated them—positively, negatively, or indifferently.
Instead of just meeting, talking about, and guessing what the customer experience is, make it a point to experience being your customer, so you can better understand your customer experience.
You may be delighted or disappointed with the results, but either way, you’ll be a much more effective champion for the voice of the customer within your organisation.
I think the biggest customer experience challenge organisations face today is getting executive buy-in.
Without company leadership committed to changing the culture and changing the company's focus to make both the customer and the employee experience priorities, there's no moving forward.
Companies might have localised or departmentalised efforts, but those will be silo'd efforts that translate to silo'd experiences for the customer. Without executive commitment, you'll never get resources - human, capital, or other - to execute on your customer experience strategy.
The most effective way to get executive buy-in is to build the business case. Identify your objectives and then align the outcomes and benefits tied to each. Clearly, the stronger the business case, the better.
Your outcomes may be customer retention, account growth, new business through referrals, culture change, etc.
Benefits might include cost savings and other efficiencies. Communicate objectives, outcomes, and benefits to gain buy-in.
To support the business case, show some quick wins, which can be achieved through service or account recovery examples or by listening to customers at a specific touchpoint, making improvements, and showing ROI.
To help build your case, focus on what's important to the customer as well as to the business; use a critical touch-point or moment of truth as your stepping stone.
Providing great customer service means never letting a customer down, and according to these experts it's more important than ever. Great service is what today's customers expect, and it's the key to building lasting relationships that will help grow your business.
If you'd like to learn more about how an integrated CRM/ERP solution can help you, check out 5 must-read reasons why CRM enables better customer service.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it on social media.
By: Bryan Collins, Originally Posted June 30, 2015.
Reposted from original source here.
A sophisticated CRM system can deliver enormous benefits, from increasing customer satisfaction and generating sales leads to boosting profits and slashing operating costs. A CRM system works by gathering information from multiple data sources and storing it in a centralized location. Once these sales leads and consumer data sets are integrated, this information is then analyzed to enable tailored marketing campaigns, superior customer service and improved decision support.
Consider, for example, a sales associate in a luxury goods retail store. The moment a customer walks in the door, the customer service representative can access key information from a Web-based CRM app using a tablet PC. Details might include a customer’s buying history, product preferences, marital status and loyalty program membership. Using these data points, the sales associate can then provide a tailored customer shopping experience, as well as take advantage of any up-sell opportunities.
As a result, Radu recommends that leaders take the time to consider what business problems they want CRM to address, what business processes CRM will impact and how the system will grow with the company’s needs. Only by answering these questions can organizations begin to implement a CRM solution worthy of adoption.
The flipside of poor customization is tailoring a solution to a point where it’s no longer recognizable. Most CRM solutions feature three primary applications: sales force automation, marketing and service/support. For the most part, vendors tend to consolidate these three functions into a single, comprehensive suite, along with a string of other complimentary functions. But that doesn’t mean a company has to take advantage of every aspect of a CRM system, from its call center tools to campaign management features, all at once.
Despite numerous hurdles, there are steps companies can take to drive CRM adoption. This blog post explores the top 4 strategies for gaining CRM acceptance.
These days, data lurks in all kinds of systems, from payroll to sales automation. Getting a CRM solution off the ground requires that these disparate data sets be migrated and then integrated into a single CRM system.
“It’s very important for marketing to work with the same data as the sales force,” says Radu. Consider, for example, a marketer who decides to send a “Come back soon – we miss you” promotional email to every customer that hasn’t made a purchase in the past six months.
However, what if a sales team had already contacted 90% of the company’s lapsed customers within the past two weeks as part of a sales initiative to reactivate old accounts? By failing to properly integrate a marketing automation database with a sales database, a company risks inundating customers with repeat messages, all of which can embarrass employees and
impede CRM adoption.
One way to avoid such an occurrence is to hire a systems integrator. These experienced thirdparty providers can help organizations with key integration, deployment and implementation processes. What’s more, a systems integrator can enable a company to develop a master data strategy that determines which systems contain the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Overworked and overwhelmed, many salespeople view the introduction of a CRM system as one more task in an already hectic day. Says Radu: “Salespeople don’t want to sit and punch their information into a CRM system. They see that as administrative work and not as something very important to their job. Rather, they think as long as they have a relationship with their clients that will turn into business.”
Instead of wasting energy trying to convince sales of the business benefits of CRM, many organizations are tying compensation directly to the use of a CRM system. Greater incentives are offered for early and deep adoption, such as higher commission rates and bonuses, whereas laggards are paid less if they refuse to use the system. It’s a simple approach but one that can have an enormous impact on adoption.
A CRM system needs to be where its users are in order to drive adoption. For this reason, many organizations are testing out mobile CRM applications. In fact, according to research firm IDC, 37 percent of the world’s labor force, or 1.3 billion workers, will identify as mobile workers this year. And Gartner reveals that, 80 percent of businesses will suffer revenue loss by not supporting Web-based customer service on mobile devices.
The good news is a growing number of vendors are making their CRM platforms available on mobile devices, including SAP, Salesforce.com, SugarCRM and Sage. These apps work by allowing employees to access and log critical data, regardless of where they are, using a tablet, smartphone or laptop computer.
Case in point, a salesperson in the middle of a face-to-face negotiation can call up information on new product promotions or access updated pricing details to sweeten the deal. What’s more, these in-the-field sales reps can enter information about a client or prospect remotely. Not only does this save them hours in manual account management but it allows marketers with access to the same CRM system to review up-to-the-minute details to better shape campaigns.
Other features include the ability to view upcoming events, access contact information from a single repository and log activities for fast referral.
However, before purchasing a mobile CRM app, it’s important to determine whether it’s best to go with a mobile version of an existing CRM system, create a custom CRM app or purchase a mobile app that integrates with other CRM systems. Mobile versions of existing CRM systems are excellent for tech-savvy workforces that are comfortable handling robust features.
Sales and marketing are often at odds when it comes to determining what they wish to accomplish with their CRM system. But if there’s one thing they can agree on, it’s the value of big data. By crunching customer data, from demographic information to buying behavior, marketing teams can better customize their communications and promotional offers. For example, a marketer may wish to deliver a digital coupon to shoppers’ smartphones the moment they step foot inside an electronics store. By delivering an incentive-to-buy at the precise moment of making a purchasing decision, a retailer can significantly drive sales.
In addition to generating revenue, analytics can also help cut costs. Consider, for example, a marketing team that perpetually sends out email messages offering deep discounts to every single one of its customers. But what if a small percentage of these customers were loyal shoppers, willing to pay full price for products. By diving deep into data, retailers can discover which customers should receive coupons and which customers would be willing to pay full price for a product regardless of incentive.
Leveraging these bits and bytes of information to increase sales and cut costs can spur widespread adoption of CRM among both sales and marketing teams. Unfortunately, a staggering 50 percent of marketers agree that data is the most underutilized asset in their organization, with less than 10 percent saying they currently use what data they have in a systematic way, according to a Teradata Data-Driven Marketing Survey 2013. What’s worse, about half (48 percent) of all marketers are still just using data on an ad hoc basis, while about a third (33 percent) have embedded it systematically or even strategically into their standard processes. That has to change for organizations to glean great value from their CRM systems.
A CRM solution can deliver better customer service, streamline marketing efforts and serve as a powerful sales tool. Yet a resistance to change can cause employees to balk at CRM’s benefits, thereby curbing widespread adoption. Luckily, there are steps businesses can take to earn CRM the respect it deserves. Integrating data silos, compensating employees for usage, deploying mobile CRM apps and introducing analytics are all ways organizations can make CRM a revenue-generating asset.
We can help you accomplish all of these things, and more. Contact us.
CRM is the core of modern customer service departments. In today’s competitive environment your organizations future and reputation is measured by the quality of the customer service you provide. What makes for a good customer experience? What do your customers perceive as a superior experience and how can your organization achieve its best results?
Defining what makes up a good customer experience can be challenging: it involves how your organization delivers its services and products in a way that is most efficient, cost effective, and is most humanly satisfying. While that seems simple to understand, you need to consider the industry your organization in, the size of your company, your organizational culture, the number of employees, and the quality of your employees when defining what is necessary or you to provide the best customer experience possible.
The impact CRM can have in improving customer experience is large – and is a very rewarding investment. CRM will make your company’s operations more efficient. It can increase the administrative efficiency of your organization by as much as 20-25% provided that you select an implementation vendor that specializes in CRM implementation and customization. It is important that your CRM solution is tailored to fit your business. Not that your business fits the CRM solution. CRM increases efficiency by centralizing customer information such as demographics, geography, location, interests, source, products and service history, and much more. Customer segmentation allows you to promptly provide your customer service representatives with the information they need to provide the best customer service possible.
A properly selected and implemented CRM system should also be a cost effective choice for your organization. Your initial investment can be returned to you in as little as 1 year. This is accomplished by providing an efficient user interface that reduces the time spent on the phone, on site or in person by your employees. Your customer service team will have access to the information they need, when they need it, information such as communications logs, previous complaints and solutions, purchase history, delivery preferences, location of the customer, and much more.
Your customer service team is there to satisfy your customers and make their experience as smooth and comfortable as possible. Understanding them – and their needs leads to a long lasting relationship. This can be as simple as ensuring that when a customer phones your organization they don’t feel like they have to repeat themselves regarding problems they previously explained, but have not been solved yet. If a customer has to repeat themselves multiple times – its evidence that you are not providing the customer experience that you could – if your staff were properly equipped. A properly implemented CRM solution allows your customer service team to quickly check history and inform your customer about the progress of a specific solution. When your customer feels like your employees understand them, and that is accomplished by having all information is centralized and made available – your CRM system will already be returning results for you.
CRM can also be used to help resolve problems or to repair a damaged relationship. This could be as simple as advising some alternate products or services that match the customers, or providing a special discount at the time of a call. If one is not happy with a particular purchase an up-sale or alternate-sale recommendation might be a perfect solution for that customer.
When a customer has a satisfying experience with your organization, their experience will make them loyal to you and eventually your CRM system impact in customer service will increase your revenues, organizational efficiency, reduce the staff needed for repetitive and unrewarding tasks. CRM benefits everyone.
Author: Aylin Barnes
For more information about our services in CRM and ERP please contact us.
CRM Systems is a full-service professional service provider of end-to-end ERP and CRM solutions for the SMB business market.
We are experts at what we do.
Contact us today for more information.
CRM Systems serves all of the United States and Canada with particular emphasis on the south-western USA, Ontario and western Canada.
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