Do you choose to work from home? On the road? Or are you perhaps an employee of Yahoo!, obliged to head into the workplace to carry out your duties? There are all manner of reasons which might account for the huge increase in people that are working from home, whether out of choice or necessity. A couple of influencing factors include:
Whilst this all seems positive, not everyone is happy; as seen in the well-publicised issue with Yahoo! banning working from home for their employees, and new CEO Marissa Meyer has come out recently to explain the policy change citing aspects such as increased quality of work done from within an office environment. Clearly this is not a cut and dried case and I am sure experts will be holding heated discussions about the pros and cons for many years to come.
However whether you work from home or the office, one thing you always have access to is your hosted business applications. Selecting cloud-based software solutions and CRM software rather than on-premises is one way of keeping your options open. Even strictly office-based organisations can benefit – whether it is working late or at the weekend, being able to continue to work even if you are ill and do not want to go into the office, or if you are one of the many of us whose work lives are disrupted by the increasing adverse weather conditions that we have encountered over the past couple of years. As well as being office-based, you may also need to visit clients or engage in field sales which will take you out of those cosy confines.
It will probably be a while before we see any reports that suggest whether Yahoo! made the right or wrong decision to implement such hard and fast rules and I’m sure it will make for interesting reading. In the meantime, whether your business core values or purpose depend on productivity, innovation or collaboration, being able to access your office tools and business software anytime, anywhere can only be of benefit to you.
This article looks at the need to be able to see WHY your customers are buying as much as the What, How and When.
Standards in data capture are shifting. The traditional challenge has been to offer the ability to crunch numbers – volume of sales, leads converted, opportunity value for the current quarter and so on. This is not only valuable but essential information that relates to the performance of your organisation and individuals within. With this quantitative data, we can answer all those “What…” and “How Many” questions.
However using today’s possibilities to capture precise and detailed information you can go so much further, helping you to understand your customer’s attitudes and satisfaction as much as the numbers.
Multi-channel sales mean we also need to capture information to answer those “Where…” questions – how many sales are made through your bricks and mortar establishments, how many transactions are made online and so on.
The essential “Why” question however is still unanswered at this point and this is the real winner, as when you know why your customers are making certain purchases, you can start to predict customer behaviour and adjust your organisation accordingly.
Some ways of capturing qualitative data work better than others. A simple question or two at point-of-sale, or at the end of a support call will be considered as being less intrusive and easier to capture than a cold call for example. This information can then be fed into your CRM software and can then be reported upon and analysed. Common frustration points can be highlighted and dealt with and the aspects of your business processes which delight the consumer can also be focused on and developed to ensure you offer the best service you possibly can.
Good use of CRM software enables you to start to capture and analyse customer satisfaction with your product, service and process right from the suspect stage through to post-sales support, enabling you to keep them smiling all the way.
I am already reading articles proclaiming the death of social media. No, seriously I really am! OK, so once we have got over the attention-grabbing headline, we can start to look at what the author is actually trying to tell us. It seems that figures for Facebook usage (in certain countries) amongst teenagers has levelled off, if not actually dropped. The dramatists can look at this figure in any number of ways and read different reasons into it such as:
Whichever spin you want to put on it, I guess the take away from all this is that the world is turning ever faster. This is significant to anyone whose business relies on customer interaction on different platforms, whether face to face, on the phone, via email or other web platforms.
Hence using a CRM solution to track interaction becomes a very powerful tool. You have the ability to record all manner of information surrounding each interaction – the nature of the exchange, the method used and duration for starters.
It doesn’t stop there, as what’s the use of collecting and compiling data if you don’t do anything clever with it? Well, creating reports to show information surrounding your activity will give you a quick indicator of any changes that are taking place within your customer base. As well as the usual demographics that you track, being able to see where your customers are active in their interactions with you puts you in a great position.
The next time you read an article or blog post that proclaims the slow death or sudden boom in any particular communications tool, you’ll be able to look at your data and decide for yourself whether this is scaremongering or painting an accurate picture of the world around you and lets you know if you are focusing your attention to be where your customers expect to find you.
When the water of a river stops moving it stagnates and not only will a foul smell start to rise from the murky depths but its life and soul will die off. Just like a river, your sales funnel needs to keep flowing. It won’t suffice if you just pump your CRM software full of leads as this data will remain lifeless if nothing is done with it eventually clogging up your system with redundant records.
Once the leads are in place, one of the first steps is to qualify and segment them. Some leads might be easy wins and can be fished straight out and into your prospects and opportunities. Others might not be ripe for pulling out of the water but are still maturing, in which case a different mechanism needs to be implemented.
In a best practise scenario, your lead management should follow a structure that ensures nothing slips through the net. Action Plans can help by automatically scheduling calls and tasks to get the leads categorised and qualified.
The Lead status can be set and the leads scored accordingly, so that you can not only see which leads have been actioned, but which ones are hot and lucrative, lukewarm or stone cold dead in the water. Once again the action plans can kick into action and help with task assignment – hot leads will need to be nurtured a certain way, whereas those dead leads can be managed by different means. A solid lead scoring mechanism in place means you can start to really project your sales and make sure your workforce is prepared for the volume of business coming their way.
Make the most of your data with a healthy lead management process and data that flows freely through the funnel
It doesn’t matter how central or remote your business is based, you still need to benefit from fast and reliable communication channels, and one such business is Commander Centre who have been providing communications and technology solutions to meet the needs of Australian businesses for nearly 30 years. This is a great project for us at OpenCRM to be involved in and so we are very happy that Commander Centre have chosen to work with us for their cloud-based CRM requirements which give office and remote workers alike full access to their business database.
Coventry-based Serious Games International is a highly innovative company that specialise in games-based learning, virtual environments, data presentation and producing tailored solutions for their clients. This is a very contemporary technological environment and so we are delighted to announce that Serious Games International has selected to use OpenCRM for their hosted CRM requirements.
The KM Group is a news group that manages everything Kent-related. With a large umbrella of contact and company types to track and manage, such a company has the need for a sophisticated CRM solution which enable them to capture and segment data and so we are happy to welcome the KM Group on board as as customer of OpenCRM.
HSS are a UK based company providing software and designing, implementing and supporting hospital based information systems. Their Radiology Information Solution facilitates the safe and secure storage and retrieval of Radiology records. Being a company well versed in the need for data security, we are pleased to announce that HSS have selected to use OpenCRM for their hosted CRM software needs.
Traditionally the close of a sale might have been seen as the end of the sales journey; today it is often seen as one of the very early stages of the journey if not quite the beginning. Parallel to this shift in the typical customer relationship, sales marketing orientation techniques have been replaced by various models over the past decades and for many of you, relationship marketing is where you are right now.
I’m sure lots of you subscribe to the theory that the cost of customer retention is considerably cheaper than the cost of acquisition. Following the various steps on the lead nurturing journey, once you reach the point of sale, you have successfully convinced the customer to place their trust in your product or service. At this point you are starting to “know” your customer and satisfying their consumer needs becomes so much easier in terms of time and money spent than starting from scratch with a new suspect client.
Here’s where hosted CRM software becomes an indispensable business tool, as you can use the massive cloud storage facilities to build up a powerful database. Details such as products bought, contract start date and frequency of purchase are obvious examples of essential information but other specifics such as geographical location, gender, annual turnover and so on can really help you channel and focus your marketing activity to the benefit of both yourself (targeted marketing which will have a higher ROI than untargeted bulk mailshots) and your customer (receives marketing and product information likely to be of interest).
As with anything in life, if there are rules then you will find countless exceptions to the rule, and there are plenty of business models that live from one-time only sales rather than repeat business. Even in these cases the customer information collected during the lead nurturing process can be stored in your CRM software enabling you to best serve those prospects.
Whichever model you subscribe to, ensuring your customer details are managed in your CRM solution means you are well prepared in order to successfully plot and navigate and the customer journey – turning the traditional end into the start of a new relationship.