Skip navigation
All Places > Partner Corner > Blog
1 2 3 Previous Next

Partner Corner

175 posts

CRM aka customer relationship management software enhances your brand's relationship with your customers.

 

In today's information hungry and want everything on fingertips age, it's important to understand your customers first. Because then only you will be able to serve to their delight otherwise you wouldn't be able to keep your customers for a longer time.

 

Once you understand your customers and their behavior, you can utilize your CRM to manage all customer-related information including their personal information, all sorts of interactions, etc.

 

With every shred of data stored at a single place, it will be easier for you to automate and personalize campaigns, nurture the lead cycle, enhance the communication between your customers, etc.

 

Whatever you strive to accomplish, it's dependent on how well you know your customers.

 

And surveys can be the best way to know your customers and take advantage of your CRM systems. CRM and survey is the best combination for enhancing the capabilities of CRM and expand your market reach. It helps you build strategies to make a win-win situation for business and customers.

 

Here is how a survey plugin can help you get the best out of your CRM and its data:

 

Lead Capturing & Enhancing:

 

Ever wonder why customers show interest in your products/services? What exactly caught their attention?

 

Surveys can be the best way to get such answers.

 

While conducting surveys you could ask some of the basic questions like personal information, their company size, budget for your services, their position in the company, areas of interest, and other predefined questions which might indicate their stage in the sales funnel.

 

This is also a smart way to keep your CRM customer data up-to-date which is one of the essential elements for any business. Moreover, any additional data on customers can help you bifurcate your customers in various segments of the sales funnel. Plus, it is easy to cover the users who are not into your CRM with the sharable surveys. This way, you can brodern the survey reach and can add new customers your business bubble.

 

CRM Survey tools can help you shorten the duration of your sales cycle and hence increasing the profit margins.

 

Pro Tip: While you send surveys to your customers to update their personal information and their requirements, objectives, make sure that you send pre-filled surveys with already available data using data piping feature in survey modules.

 

Optimized Feedback System:

 

There are important touchpoints in the customer lifecycle where you need to seek customer’s response. And surveys are the best way to do so. Surveys have been a huge hit with the companies which give more weight to customer satisfaction. These surveys can be a great way to generate fruitful results from the collected feedback.

 

By integrating SugarCRM survey module to your SugarCRM, you can define a set of questions for various types of surveys to be sent at major events. Those touch points can include post-purchase, after customer service, upon renewal, and even after cancellation.

 

When you pay attention at multiple points you can enhance the quality of the customer journey. It might strengthen the weak points your customers face which can add delight to their satisfaction. This step would allow you to create personalized plans for sales, customer success, support teams, and marketing teams to understand and target the customers efficiently.

 

With such feedbacks, you can easily set performance benchmarks for your teams to achieve making your organization an effective ecosystem where everyone is on the same page.

 

Transparency on Customer Behaviour:

 

A smart and automated approach to tackle your customers’ response is through surveys. If you get a negative response from your customers, you can send an automated email which says “How can we help you?” The sooner you respond to their negative feedback, the easier it is to reconstruct your brand image with them. Also, the customer would think twice before leaving your brand.

 

You can set key indicators to help you bifurcate them before sending out surveys. When a customer is done filling out the contact forms or surveys based on the gathered information, your sales team can send out a personalized response. And if the data indicates towards the bigger budget client, you could simply make some extra efforts to identify the possible business opportunities.

 

In short, when there is a sensible data in your CRM, your customers feel like you are conversing with them every step of the buying cycle.

 

Accurate CRM Data:

 

When it comes to Surveys, it helps you declutter your data at a larger extent. To do so, the key here is to conduct net promoter score surveys from your CRM. It is a great way to quantify your efforts and make sure to identify opportunities within your existing customer base. In Net promoter surveys, you identify any company’s happy as well as frustrated customers and further you can take actions accordingly.

 

You can collaborate with your support team & pre-define the emails/messages that go out to your customers based on their responses. For example, if the customer had a negative experience, your sales team can send them a support email. The same way you can ask customers to post a review if they had a satisfactory experience with your services. This way you’ll get great data to help you understand the quality of your services and how your business is doing in the market.

 

By sending NPS surveys through your CRM software, you can easily detect the promoters and detractors and set an action course accordingly. If a promoter is identified, your CRM can automatically request the customer to post a positive review on the site of your choice. In addition to setting internal benchmarks, the ubiquity of NPS surveys means you get to chase industry benchmarks.

Get the most out of your SugarCRM

Every company’s need is different. To make sure you manage your data in a better way, combine your business with SugarCRM survey module to effectively gain insights and opportunities for your business.

Customer Engagement is a huge word. And when you ask the business owners about what it means to them; they will come up with different responses. Not just that, they will also regale you with stories about their experiences with customers and their struggles to offer impeccable services. Well, just because such stories are enticing, does not mean they are an epitome of offering customer services. In today’s times, it is important to enable your customers to resolve their issues on their mobile phones independently.

 

A study conducted by Microsoft in 2016 (Global State of Customer Service) proved that almost 90% of US customers like to use self-service customer portals. The biggest reason behind this is – they want the solution to their problems at the earliest. And they do not wish to wait for customer executives to get back to them.

 

So, if you adopt a customer portal, it enables your customers to find solutions to their problems on their own. Also, if your resource is apt, it is sure to keep your customers coming back. That too, without any reluctance.

 

CRM Customer Portals: A Perfect Resource for Different Purposes

Let us say you have a SugarCRM system and WordPress Content Management System. You would need SugarCRM WordPress customer portal. It can come of great help as it will enable your sales team to resolve tickets easily and offer an exceptional customer experience. You can also offer your customers with a knowledge base about your products/services and give apt purchasing opportunities. Some of your objectives for offering SugarCRM customer portal could be:

 

  • Displaying information about company
  • Providing product information
  • Sharing service information
  • Offering credit and finance information
  • Giving pricing schedules
  • Resolving queries through tickets

 

As most of the CRM portals come with an intuitive navigation system and user-friendly interface, they make it easy for your customers to find the information they need. Whenever they want.

Offer Excellent Customer Engagement with SugarCRM Portal

Sugar CRM customer portal is a blend of WordPress CMS and SugarCRM. It is a self-service customer portal that enables customers to create customized dashboards, generate tickets, update data, and find the information they want. If you are a SugarCRM user, you and your team can get an access to customer cases, meetings, calls, accounts etc.

 

Here are some of the major features of this portal:

  • Secure Sign-in – Safe login for your customers to the portal
  • Role based accessibility – Manage SugarCRM module accessibility and keep your data confined to WordPress User Groups
  • Module layout configuration – Create portal layouts for different modules in SugarCRM
  • Portal Customization – Give a name to your portal, choose themes/colors, set logo, and add a profile picture
  • Knowledge Base – Share your articles and other content with your customers
  • Access to Invoices and Contracts – Enable your customers to view quotes, contracts as well as invoices. (Downloadable in PDF format)

 

Who All Can Use It?

Customer portal provides customizable options for different businesses to create their portals according to their domain/industry. All you need to do is share the specific requirements of your business and customers and the developers will build it accordingly. Some of its industry applications are given below:

  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality Industries
  • Ecommerce
  • Travel Industry
  • Manufacturing Industry

In today’s DIY era, customer portals can offer huge benefits to businesses and helps strengthen customer relationships. If you want to bring smile on the face of your customers, it is the right way to go. And there is one for every business out there. All the best choosing one for yourself! 

Growing your business is a worthy goal and more often than not, a must - if you aspire to get beyond that barely-getting-by level.

But doing that can be terrifying because so many things can go wrong. That’s why you need great allies in researching and planning your next steps in order to succeed. So what can you do to turn your business into the income-generating powerhouse you envision? 

The most important step in turning your prospective buyers into buying customers has to be generating leads. But this can be tricky! Reaching out to uninterested people that you know very little about and that don’t know you, can become demotivating. But thanks to Social Media and smart CRMs, you can easily build up a customer profile, efficiently qualify your prospects and follow-up in a timely manner. 
 
Here is a list of great ways to help you increase your lead response. All of them are being successfully used by us here at W-Systems and other businesses across the world, and if applied correctly, they can work for you as well.

let's do this gif

1. Integrate CRM with Marketing Automation

As a business owner, you know how important your customer relationships are to your success. The idea of integrating your CRM system with a Marketing Automation software is certainly easy to agree with. But is it that simple?

It’s common knowledge that the Sales and Marketing departments don’t always get along. Sales teams swear by CRM, while marketing departments swear by Marketing Automation. As they’re both critical to business growth, they just need a way to enable knowledge exchange and to do that, they first have to figure out a sales and marketing system alignment. 

By integrating CRM with Marketing Automation, users can transpose marketing leads directly to an actual revenue number. Successfully integrating their unique capabilities can be a game-changer for your company.  Once these systems begin working together, they will provide your sales and marketing teams with lots of powerful factors that will lead to your company’s growth and success.

2. Implement a Lead Scoring System

We mentioned above the importance of aligning marketing and sales. But how can you know the quality and value of each lead? Which leads should be prioritized and followed up immediately, and which need extra nurturing?

Enter Lead Scoring, the missing link between marketing and selling. Lead scoring allows you to assign a specific value to your leads automatically thanks to your Marketing Automation, and then make this information readily available to your sales team via your CRM integration. You can rank prospects using a score that indicates their perceived business value and susceptibility to buy, in order of priority.

Missing piece on puzzle

Lead scoring is only possible when both marketing and sales departments agree on the ideal definition of a customer profile, establish a list of characteristics that are most important for that target customer and assign values to them - like company location, company size, how they interacted with your content, etc.. Once this is done, marketing can focus on generating qualified leads and sales can work to close them. Lead scoring enables salespeople to turn their attention to higher-quality leads and reduce the lead response time. Pursuing qualified leads can increase sales productivity and enable better revenue for your business.

3. Setup Email Notification Workflows

Workflows enable users to automate repetitive tasks to help increase efficiency and ensure business processes are followed. 

email automation animation

You can configure your CRM system to send email messages to users when workflow-related events occur. Here are some examples of how you could use this: 

  • Notify the assigned user when their leads’ scores get over a certain value (i.e. the salesperson gets emailed when a lead's score is over 30).
  • Notify the assigned user when a new lead is assigned to them.
  • Notify an assigned user when their lead participates in a high-value event, such as attends a webinar or downloads a whitepaper. 

4. Automatically Log Calls and Emails in the CRM

In this day and age, communication is everything and everywhere. 

woman checking mobile phone

Figuring out how to use communications solutions with your CRM is going to not only grow your business but also improve your customer success.

Many CRMs come with telephony integration allowing users to make inbound and outbound calls and they also enable voicemail and email automation. You can now record and automate calls, emails, or calendar directly from your CRM allowing your sales team to spend more valuable time talking to customers instead. 

5. Track Lead Response Speed

How do you measure your sales follow-up? Is there a tool that allows you to track lead response time in hours? 

the answer is yes gif

The answer is Business Intelligence (BI)! BI solutions enable users to generate reports that benchmark how long it takes to follow up with a lead that has contacted you either by phone, email or by filling out a form. 

If you want to convert more visitors into leads, it is important to respond to them as quickly as possible while you are still top of mind. By measuring your lead response time in your CRM, you can see how your team is generating more leads, how fast they reply, and which messages convert the most prospects to leads. 

Now that you’ve set up a way to track how your sales team operates when it comes to following up with leads in a timely manner, you can easily adjust their methods. For example, if your team usually generates more leads during morning time or in a certain weekday, make sure they respond to your leads’ messages or calls on those exact hours.

Concluding Thoughts

Give all of these solutions a try and let us know what worked best for you. We are always here to provide you with more information and help you find an effective solution for your company's sales & marketing needs.

Even though we live in a world that’s dominated by rapidly evolving technology, plenty of businesses are still very skeptical about every new advancement. For instance, old-school tactics are surprisingly common in sales. These “traditions” include paper contracts, siloed recordkeeping, and in-person only interactions.

Meanwhile, companies that embrace modern sales technology see results that would have been impossible when using traditional sales tools. As a result, the organizations that insist on sticking to the old methods are quickly becoming obsolete.

If your sales teams is having trouble keeping up with the times, you’re in luck.

Here are 11 technology resources that will help your company greatly improve at sales:

  1. Use Your CRM to Improve Sales Funnel Visibility

 Most sales organizations have poor visibility into their sales funnels. This method can make it difficult to know where any given prospect is in the sales process. While this problem is very significant, an even larger one is that it’s much harder to identify bottlenecks that impact the entire sales process. By tracking the customer’s progress, a well-designed CRM can dramatically improve the overall visibility into your sales funnel.

  1. Level Up Your Team with Virtual Learning

The success of every professional is contingent on continuing education, and this fact is even more applicable to sales professionals. We’re living in a golden age of online classes, workshops, and webinars, and your organization has every reason to take advantage of it. If your team members need a little help with their cold-calling techniques or want to improve their closing rates, why not provide them with access to today’s best virtual learning tools? It’s certainly cheaper than a sales seminar, that’s for sure.

  1. Switch to the Cloud

When it comes to their customer and prospect data, sales teams can be pretty territorial. The idea of sharing that data makes them feel uneasy, as does uploading every detail to a shared platform (where it can be sliced, diced, analyzed, and reported on). But the benefits of a cloud-based approach include collaboration, real-time insights, mobile access, and other integrations. These advancements actually make sales faster and easier, and result in better prospect interactions and more closed deals.

  1. Invest in Data-Driven Insights

By the time most sales reps—or even most sales managers—notice a new customer trend, it’s usually too late to proactively respond to it. But when all sales data is available to be analyzed with the right tools, these trends can often be spotted early. This tactic allows looming catastrophes to be averted, and undiscovered opportunities to be exploited.

  1. Embrace Collaboration

The best people in your sales organization may never have the opportunity to be in the same room—or even the same country—at the same time. But by using collaborative tools, you can create a true brain trust of talented, capable people who can collaborate to accomplish tasks and tackle ideas that were once unthinkable. A well-designed CRM solution can allow your best people to tag-team problems, learn from each other, and improve results across the board.

  1. Lean into Video Conferencing

If you think video conferencing is just for remote workers, think again. By using tools like Slack, Skype and FaceTime, you can fundamentally change your business for the better. Instead of investing thousands of dollars in cross-country and international sales meetings, you can virtually build face-to-face relationships. Your teams can also be anywhere, meet any time, and instantly share documents and resources. Better yet, reps with colds can keep their germs at home, but still contribute to sales meetings.

  1. Refine Your CRM

Most companies treat their CRM implementations as a “one and done” kind of thing. They never take the opportunity to further refine their workflows and processes. However, even the best CRM solutions can benefit from the occasional tune-up. For example, a small annual investment in streamlining the user experience can result in serious ROI improvements, and it steadily decreases the costs for training new hires on an easier-to-master CRM.

 

  1. Adopt Mobile Sales Skills Tools

It’s hard to overstate the impact of the iPad in closing face-to-face sales deals. Today’s reps don’t need to dig around in a briefcase for the right contracts, then laboriously fill in the same details across multiple copies. Today’s field reps have everything they need to close the sale, right at their fingertips. The forms self-populate with customer data, and handy prompts show the customer exactly where to sign. Payment can even happen on-the-spot, which makes it that much faster for the rep to get their commission payment. Everyone wins.

  1. Automate Your Follow-Up Messaging

How many sales have been lost because a rep didn’t promptly respond to an email? By automating your follow-up emails, you can do more than send out the occasional reminder to a would-be customer. You can personalize replies, track response rates, utilize A/B test language, and do countless other things that will ultimately result in improved sales.

  1. Improve Customer-Facing Technologies

If your company has an online customer portal, don’t overlook its potential as a tool for driving sales. By tracking user actions, you can glean valuable insights about their needs. For instance, you can find out which products they’re searching for, and which pieces of sales and marketing content they download. This tactic can create more opportunities to cross-sell and upsell, and it can also help you understand purchasing cycles and buying priorities.

  1. Create a New Center of Gravity with CRM Integrations

Your sales team’s entire workflow is centered around one or two key pieces of software. For instance, perhaps everyone uses a shared Excel spreadsheet, or heavily relies on Google Calendar to manage their meetings. These tools are the “center of gravity” for your company. In many cases, they’re being used for tasks they really weren’t designed to handle. But by integrating these programs into your CRM, you can access all their functionality and use the right tool for the job.

Learn More

Have more questions about the best technologies for improving sales at your company?Contact Intelestream for a free consultation.

A major part of any CRM implementation is migrating data. This process involves getting input from multiple departments, creating processes, and (of course) your data.

Since migration is so challenging, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. But don’t fret. You can tackle migration one step at a time.

You’ll be able to navigate your way through the successful migration of CRM data by sidestepping these common pitfalls:

Data Pulled from Multiple Sources

Before you migrate your data, you need to identify where your data lives. So check in with all customer-facing teams, and find out where they store their data. This data might be in a CRM system, Excel files, Google Drive, Desktop, Dropbox, emails, or an old-school file cabinet.

Once you find all the data, you need to determine which location has the most accurate information. If you try to cobble together data from multiple sources, it could be a difficult undertaking.

Consolidation is a major task, and it’s prone to user error. It is possible to successfully navigate migration via this route, but prepare yourself for complications and headaches. Instead, figure out which source is the most accurate, and go from there.

Additionally, don’t make the mistake of setting up the new system like the old one. Remember, you’re making a change for a reason.

CRM Data Migration

No Clean Data

One of the most important goals of CRM data migration is having clean data, which involves detecting and removing any corrupt or inaccurate records from your files. Remember, your CRM migration partner is not responsible for cleaning your data; you are.

To correctly clean your data, you need to have dedicated team members who understand the process and have enough time to complete the task. It’s not just about finding the most accurate data source and transferring it over to the new system.

For instance, some team members may have logged a secondary phone number in the email address field because there was no other place to put it in the old system. If you transfer that information as is, it will end up in the wrong data field, which could lead to more confusion for your team.

So you can save yourself trouble down the road by allocating the time to qualified team members. Then you can take things one step farther by normalizing your data, which will create easier user input, easier filtering with normalized values, and generate more meaningful reports.

Lacking a Point Person

Who’s overseeing your data migration? Who’s in charge of making decisions? Sometimes, it’s the same person. Other times, a point person presents information to the decision-maker. Either way, you need to have a true CRM project manager who focuses on migration. If the CRM data migration is delegated to an undedicated employee, your timeline will keep getting pushed back. Even worse, it may never get completed.

Look for a candidate with the following attributes:

  • A passion for meeting deadlines
  • Appreciation for the project
  • Good management skills (time and people)
  • An understanding of the new system
  • Knowledge about the goals of the new system

Misunderstanding Team Roles

Once you establish who your point person is, determine who else is involved in the migration process. The project manager will be working with designated stakeholders, such as sales members and members of the IT department.

Many project managers factor in every possible stakeholder, but this decision is a mistake because it weighs down the project too much. You need to put a process in place that determines who the decision-makers are, and how much of a say they have.

Not Sticking to a Timeline

While there may be small adjustments to your project timeline, too many companies get into the weeds during their CRM data migration. Instead, go through your process, migrate your data, and go from there. You can keep things moving if you set short- and long-term goals.

Looking for more information on CRM data migration? Download our white paper today!

The first-ever survey was a census conducted in 3800 BCE in the city of Babylon. We’ve come a long way since then. Surveys give us measurable statistics of public opinion which would otherwise be difficult to make sense of. As business practices become more and more customer-centric, surveys become integral parts of decision-making.

Online surveys have optimized the methods of surveying to be better suited for the internet age. You can obtain critical information by offering small incentives to the person that you’re surveying. Surveys impact everything from the market research to day-to-day decision making.

Even a simple survey can be beneficial in many ways. Increased ROI, enhanced customer experience, a better understanding of targeted customer segment, and proper knowledge of customer buying habits and current trends. It is possible to gather all this data and take an informed decision based on it.

Why you need the proper tool to conduct online surveys

Did you know, you can add a survey plugin to your SugarCRM?! This lets you use your CRM database to conduct surveys. A survey tool is more than a fancy toy for your analysts. The right survey tool will enable you to get specific details dynamically.

It can be an overwhelming experience to choose correctly from such a wide range of tools. To ease the process for you, we have listed out 8 must-have features in an online survey tool.

 

8 Must-Have Features in an Online Survey Tool:

Skip Logic:

 

Skip logic lets you ask questions based on the previous responses of the prospect. This makes the survey more dynamic. You can collect information that is specific to a particular customer segment. It may even help you to identify new customer segments.

For example, you may ask the gender of the customer. After that, you can use skip logic to ask gender-specific questions. It is an elegant solution for when you’re surveying a diverse set of individuals.

 

Real-Time Feedback: It is important that your survey tool updates all information in real time. This enables you to take prompt decisions.

It is necessary, particularly in today’s time and age, as clients have come to expect instant response from companies. Delayed feedback may lead to unsatisfied customers which in turn leads to poor rep among your prospective clients. Prompt action will take you a long way.

Data-Piping:

 

Data piping to and from CRM are important features. Data-piping from CRM lets you fetch data directly from the CRM and fill it in the survey automatically. Similarly, data-piping to CRM automatically updates the data in your CRM based on information acquired through surveys.

Data-piping makes it convenient for both your users and you to manage information. A person is likely to abandon a survey form midway if there are too many questions. Data-piping helps you avoid that by reducing the number of questions asked to a certain extent.

Advanced Search Filters: Once you have acquired the required data, you need to be able to analyze it in detail. You can use the same survey to understand multiple areas of interest. All you need is a search filter that lets you search and sort the data based on different factors.

 

This may include partial searches or searches for entries without a specific value. This way, you can easily navigate through the large records. Which is near impossible in some cases where the number of people taking the survey is huge.


Net Promoter Score:

 

When you ask a customer to rate you on a scale, there are always going to be an ambiguity in the data. NPS allows you to categorize the customers into three segments based on ratings on a scale of 0 to 10. People who gave a rating of 0 to 6 are Detractors, 7 and 8 are Passives, and 9 to 10 are your Promoters.

This helps you get an idea of network effects by putting a number on how likely a customer is to recommend your product.

 

Exportable Data: You may need to have the data handy in specific formats or print when documenting or presenting it. It should be easy to export the data in the required format from the survey tool itself. It is a simple feature that makes life much easier for anyone involved with the analysis, reporting and decision making that goes on in the firm.

It is equally important that you’re able to update the exported copies with up-to-date information from the real-time values in your CRM.

Survey Automation: Any competent survey tool will allow users to schedule surveys or trigger them based on certain user actions. For example, you might want to take a survey about quality and experience when a customer makes a purchase. This is only possible through CRM survey tools integrated with the CRM.

Survey automation is a must when the number of people signing up for your survey is large. If you try manually sending each and every survey form, you’ll probably end up in a huge mess.

Multiple Question Types: Based on the question, you may require different formats for answers such as text, radio buttons, check boxes, rating scale, etc. It helps keep the survey interactive while extracting the required information in formats that are easier to process.

A text response might be better suited for certain responses such as subjective messages but it may not be suitable for gender or food preferences where a multiple-choice question would be more appropriate.

 

Conclusion:

If we tried to make an exhaustive list of features, it would probably be endless and as such a vain exercise. However, the above-listed features are absolutely necessary for a modern survey tool. Without them, your surveys might become difficult to handle, particularly in large numbers. So, make sure that the survey tool you choose has everything on the checklist.

Another important thing to keep in mind before investing in any CRM survey tool is that there should be no 3rd party integrations required to operate the survey tool. There are many survey modules in the market like SugarCRM Survey Module specifically designed to integrate with your CRM.

According to Gartner, there will be more than 25 billion connected things by 2020. It means the Internet of Things is going to be a huge connected network between people-to-people, people-to-things, and things-to-things. It is not only connecting with us more, it is also changing the way we live. Whether we prefer to notice it or not, yet IoT is transforming our surroundings and will keep on doing it.

 

Now, let’s talk about CRMs. In earlier days, the focus of CRMs was to reduce the cost around customer acquisition, retention, and servicing them. Now, it has customer portals that look after saving time and resources along with cost cutting. It also strives to provide quality of services to customers. Sugar CRM facilitates enterprises by enabling them to build customer portals to better their engagement.

 

Blending Automation with Convenience
So, IoT is changing the way people live and Sugar CRM is changing the way enterprise work. Now what if they both work together? This synergy will create an environment of predictive and preventive functionalities that send alert for future actions. Such a system will notify your customers in advance before they face any problem and provide a service or solution to the issues they might face in the near future. IoT will decode the buying pattern of the customer in real-time, and it will help the SugarCRM Customer Portal or application to include them in the right marketing campaign.

Is it possible?
Yes, it is possible to use 'Internet of Things' and integrate it with SugarCRM Customer Portal and applications. The major three components of IoT can generate huge benefits for organizations if it works in sync with CRM. These three important components of IoT that your Sugar CRM solution can optimize are:

  • Sensors
  • Wireless Internet Connectivity
  • Computational Capability at the Device i.e. Data Processing Capability

3 Different Scenarios Where IoT is Taking the Customer Experience to The Next Level.

  • A customer’s hearing aid instruments battery is malfunctioning. There is a need for it to replace that within next few days. Here IoT will notify about the status of the machine. This will allow the staff to inform the customer proactively and update him. They can communicate with them that the instrument’s battery is having some issues, and it needs replacement soon. It will help a customer to replace the battery, and they will not face any problem while using the product.
  • A customer’s hearing aid instrument is under warranty period and not working properly. Again, IoT will help the company to know about this issue. Hence, the customer service representative can call the customer and talk about it. Or they can straight away replace the instrument since it is not working properly and it is under warranty period.
  • The customer is not using certain new incorporated features of an instrument because of some reason. Here, IoT analytics will come into the role and will raise an alert. Now the support team can call and ask for a session or training. So that he/she will get awareness of those new features and customer can start using it.

How SugarCRM Takes These IoT Alerts for Next Level Customer Experience?

  • Company can design their Sugar CRM application to share this data. It can also trigger informative information that certain features of the product are in use for a one time. SugarCRM application will integrate this information and will send a notification to the team.
  • The flexibility of Sugar CRM will also allow to render this information in another manner. It also drives the system to generate a service case where the system will register a support call automatically to the customer. The system will assign it to a service representative automatically, who will make a call to the customer to update the problem, or ask for other services.

In any of the way, a customer will be happy that the Product Company is taking a preventive action, and providing service promptly before they face any issue. It will help you to gain the customer’s confidence in your services, products, and increase their satisfaction level as well.

IoT with SugarCRM can also help sales and marketing functions in multiple ways. Real-time data generated by IoT will you to help understand in numerous ways. It will tell you usage of the product, buying patterns of the customer, opportunities for cross-selling and up selling, deciding flexible pricing, etc. Your sales team can analyze the IoT generated data to decide future campaigns by knowing the right customers.

It will help them reduce the cost in terms of market research. This data can also help the marketing function to identify those customers, who are not using your products anymore. For such customers, you can run separate campaigns, or invite them for trade shows and product launch programs, and try to retain them.

So, why wait? Leverage the power of IoT and Sugar CRM and get the best out of your business. It will make the work flow faster and user friendly. This will also stay helpful for your staff and assist them to boost their productivity.

View Source: Sugar CRM and IoT: The Synergy That Will Drive the Next Level Customer Experience 

When it comes to software, every business has a unique set of needs. In an attempt to create the perfect solution to those needs, most companies end up cobbling together a collection of products that includes a CRM, an ERP, a sales and marketing suite, and an email solution. While these individual pieces function just well enough to get the job done, the companies who use them don’t realize just how inefficient it can be to switch between these tools.

In the course of an average day, salespeople switch from their CRM to their email hundreds of times. Each time, they lose a few precious seconds of productivity while the software is loading and they’re reorienting themselves to a different layout. When you multiply these seconds by dozens of employees, those seconds quickly become hours (or even days) of needlessly lost time.

But when you connect your company’s most essential tools through software integration, you’re doing more than streamlining workflows. You’re saving your company serious amounts of money. So how do you fully integrate these tools to yield the greatest possible benefits for your business?

Make It Fit Your Needs

Combining your software should make things easier, not harder. Connecting two platforms isn’t that helpful if your ultimate result isn’t a simplified workflow. Ideally, you should integrate your software in a way that allows your team to share and update between both tools.

Any platform integration should start with a thorough examination of your company’s processes, and you should look for opportunities when integration makes the most sense. Once you know where the disconnects are, it becomes easier to identify the integrations that will provide the best results.

Streamline Your Processes

If you want to understand the least efficient parts of your company’s software setup, here’s the best place to start: Find the people who have to deal with that software every day. Then ask them about the most frustrating issues they encounter when using these platforms. Since they know exactly where the cracks and roadblocks are, get their feedback about how their workflows can be improved.

If the current workflow requires them to manually enter the same new customer information into two systems (for example, your ERP and CRM), they will be the first people to point out how inefficient this process is.

Get the Most from Both Platforms

When it comes to integrating your company’s most-used software, boosting worker efficiency isn’t the only benefit you’ll get from integrating your company’s most-used software. You can also improve your operations across the board, which provides your employees with new insights and tools. By removing the barriers between these various systems, your teams will have everything they need in one place.

One great example of this consolidation involves integrating a CRM solution (such as Sugar) with a sales-and-marketing platform like HubSpot). Need to see which types of marketing initiatives are resonating with a specific customer? If you simply select a HubSpot dashlet within Sugar, all of that vital marketing data is right at your fingertips.

In fact, we offer this exact integration here at Intelestream. It’s called HubSpot for Sugar®.

Conclusion

By utilizing software integration, you’re doing more than just improving the efficiency of your workflows. You’re changing the center of gravity for your business. You’re helping your teams succeed in ways that would never have been possible before. And that’s a smart investment for your business.

The more you know about marketing automation (MA), the better it sounds. What’s not to like? It’s a software solution that takes care of the most repetitive and mind-numbing parts of managing your company’s marketing work.

Marketing automation provides you with real visibility into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, which allows you to pinpoint exactly what works (and what doesn’t). So for any company looking to maximize their results, it sounds like the perfect solution.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that every marketing automation solution isn’t the perfect fit for every company or use case. Since your company’s needs and goals should inform your decision-making process, we’re going to zoom out a little, and explore some of the finer points of marketing automation you might not have thought about.

Get the most from both your CRM and your marketing automation software. Read our Total CRM whitepaper.

  1. There’s more to marketing automation than email blasts.

The best automation tools allow you to fine tune every part of your marketing process—from A/B testing every element of your communications to writing content that targets prospects along specific stages of the pipelines.

  1. It delivers great results for businesses of every size.

Even relatively small businesses with specialized products for niche industries can benefit from MA. Are you worried that your company just isn’t big enough to see real benefits from marketing automation? If so, think again. Some marketing automation tactics actually work more effectively with small and midsize businesses.

  1. Automation doesn’t mean your marketing is on autopilot.

Marketing automation is about eliminating tedious tasks, not letting a machine captain your ship. It allows a marketer to have more time to test ideas, explore new options, and scale operations. But there will always need to be a human hand at the helm.

  1. Time is money, and marketing automation saves you both.

Marketing is a detail-focused job, which requires extensive planning skills and a strong creative streak. The more people they reach, the better the company’s bottom line will be. If a technology helps streamline workflows and other processes, it will directly translate into more revenue.

  1. The more streamlined your marketing process is, the more efficient your operation becomes.

Many companies don’t prioritize their marketing technology. While the rest of the company is using modern ERP and CRM technology, the marketing team is stuck using tools that date back to the days of print media and slow everything down. By fully integrating a new marketing automation solution with the tools used by other teams, the entire company gets a major efficiency boost.

  1. Marketing automation takes the headache out of both tracking and targeting.

Without the right tools, it’s hard to identify customer segments. It’s basically impossible to follow prospects as they move through the funnel. So if you have a properly-designed marketing automation solution, you can accomplish both of these goals right out of the box, and you’ll have deep insights into every aspect of your customers.

  1. It scales with your business.

Before the advent of marketing automation technology, scaling your marketing operation was a challenge. The only option was to hire new people and give them a bigger budget. Today, one skilled marketer can handle the same amount of work that used to require a dozen or more people. MA makes it exponentially easier to scale the marketing side of any business.

  1. Lead qualification becomes a stress-free process.

The less time your sales team has to spend on qualifying leads, the more time they have to make sales. By automating the first several interactions with potential customers, marketing automation software essentially allows leads to qualify themselves.

  1. Real-time monitoring allows you to quickly respond to changes and challenges.

When something isn’t working with your marketing, you need to know about it as soon as possible. By properly setting up the alerts and dashboards on your marketing automation software, you’ll be able to see and respond to trends and changes long before they become serious problems.

  1. To learn more about your customers, test everything.

Even tiny tweaks to an email or social media post can result in double-digit changes to conversions. By using your marketing automation tools for A/B testing, you can discover exactly which messaging, images, and CTAs generate the best responses from your customers.

  1. Great results require quality content that is delivered at the perfect time.

When a new prospect enters your company’s marketing funnel, he or she actually takes a guided tour through your company’s most compelling selling points. Marketing automation allows you to target exactly what these prospects learn during each stage of the funnel. This benefit weeds out the prospects who aren’t ready to buy. It also sends the ones who are ready to the sales team.

  1. Results are only as good as the quality of your data.

For any marketing automation solution to work as planned, clean data is essential. If you have dirty data in your CRM or related databases, it’s imperative that you work with your software implementation partners and scrub it until it shines. As your marketing operations bring in data about new leads, that information must also meet the highest possible standards, cleaning it up before it passes to other teams.

  1. Your competition is already doing it, or they will be soon.

Every company is looking for an edge, particularly when it comes to winning new customers. For companies that rely on emailing, digital advertising, retargeting, or social media to bring in new business, marketing automation tools are huge advantages. If you aren’t using marketing automation to drive your results, you’re only making it easier for the other guy to reach them first.

marketing automation

Twitter has revolutionized the way brands engage with audiences across the world. It’s inclusive algorithm lets you identify and reach out to numerous customers across the world, thereby increasing brand awareness and engagement in leaps and bounds. According to a recent study, Twitter was one of the most lucrative outlet when it comes to increasing website visits through social media. The fact that tweets appear everywhere irrespective of whether or not a consumer is associated with your brand helps this cause, and the added SEO juice it brings is just the cherry on top.

But the true benefit of Twitter lies in how it helps businesses offer world-class customer service. Customer experience has cemented itself as the number one priority to drive business growth and businesses left, right, and center have hopped onto the bandwagon, making customer service an absolute necessity for companies looking to float. But how do you make the most of Twitter and its capabilities to ensure it makes a positive impact for your business? Well, with a Twitter Integration with SugarCRM.

Social CRM is no secret, and you can take a look at our comprehensive take on Social CRM and its benefits. But for today, we’re going to focus entirely on how a Twitter Integration with SugarCRM can help you revolutionize customer support and consequently improve customer experience. Let’s begin!

Quick Response Time

The constant mainstay in every customer experience strategy is the response time. Integrating Twitter with your SugarCRM will help you churn out all brand mentions and conversations inside your SugarCRM, from there you can automate a number of tasks i.e. initial contacts via direct messaging, replies, and more to improve your response rate. Let’s say someone has a below average experience with your brand, integrating your Twitter with SugarCRM will help the latter track and identify when a user talks about your brand and help improve the customer experience. This information will be fed through SugarCRM to you in real-time and you can then take necessary actions to retain or reward the customer based on the situation. You can also use chatbots to automate this initial process if you’re serving to a range of audiences. In this particular case, the chatbot takes care of the customer by analyzing his problem and giving him the satisfaction of knowing that the brand took the issue under consideration. While the chatbot contains the customer, you can work on finding the right solution to his problem. However, if you go about doing this without integrating it with your SugarCRM, you’d have multiple queries every minute and absolutely no mechanism in place to organize and deal with them.

Monitor Brand Mentions and Engagement

With SugarCRM, you can fetch out brand mentions, keywords that are associated with your brand, as well as phrases and comments. This might not seem so much but when you factor in the fact that these mentions could be in the hundreds of thousands, you begin to see the picture that all this data could be directed into the CRM to find meaningful insights and details about customers and their experience with your brand. Perhaps some customers might be having an issue with your website layout, which is something your web team might not consider as an issue. Monitoring these conversations and mentions of your brand can help you identify issues with your product, services, and support that you might otherwise be oblivious to.

Connect with Influencers and Brand Advocates

You can also use all this customer data to good use by identifying brand advocates in your customer base. These are everyday people who are regular users of your products and services. With meaningful insights into their behaviors, you can up-sell and cross-sell to them in ways that seem natural and convincing. You can also monitor industry experts and leaders and engage with them in real-time when they mention your brand.

Over to You!

Twitter Integration with SugarCRM can help you make considerable strides in your attempt towards a more improved and inclusive customer support and experience. The features of this integration highlighted above make for a compelling case in this regard. As 2/4th of the customer base find their footing on social media, it’s only logical that you put a system in place that lets you gather insights in your customer’s perception of your brand.

According to Gartner, CRM hit a major milestone at the close of 2017 when it became the largest of all software markets. While projections show that this won’t be changing anytime soon, companies struggle to find value in their CRM, thus concluding they invested in the “wrong one,” and begin to search for the right CRM. It’s a lot like Goldilocks and the three bowls of porridge – but the just right option doesn’t seem to exist.

 

Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

 

 

I regularly speak with companies that are on their second or third investment while searching for this just right CRM solution. What they don’t realize is that they may already have it. Oftentimes, taking a closer look at processes and other internal factors can improve the value of your current solution. But there are instances when it really is time to make a new investment.

Here are five common reasons we hear from organizations considering switching CRM systems and what you should consider before switching, too.

  1. “Everyone hates our current CRM solution.”

This one is a popular complaint – particularly, from salespeople if they’ve never used technology as part of their sales position.  They often feel like CRM is intrusive and time-consuming. Senior leadership needs to decide whether you should put a stake in the ground and make CRM required.

 

However, you also need to consider people and their processes. If your current solution doesn’t align to your team’s process, or if they don’t even have a process, then you might have missed the first step of implementing a solution: mapping out your team’s sales process.

 

 

It’s not as hard as you might think to map out your sales process. That first step is so worth it! You can then look to how a solution can make you and your team more effective. There’s gold in the hills – if you’re willing to do this work upfront.

  1. “We have very few people using our CRM solution.”

Let me guess: the sales leader hasn’t bought into the solution. Or if they have, they aren’t holding the team accountable for using it. If you’re thinking about switching CRM systems, and none of your team is using the old one, what will change when you move to a new one? Is this really going to motivate employees to use CRM?

 

 

There are instances whereby the mere mention of a specific solution’s name will leave a bad taste in your mouth. In these cases, maybe switching is the right move. But before you spend another dollar, let’s consider how to get your sales leader to hold the sales team accountable for using your current solution.

 

 

First, you need to sell the value of CRM to your team. This means that you need to show them how your current solution can make their jobs easier and how they can save time by automating tedious tasks.  You also need to make sure your solution works with your team’s other technologies such as email or marketing software and accounting software. Regular training is the key. Make sure your team is getting the training they need and remember that everyone learns differently. 

If you’re looking for an incentive carrot, take, for example, BrainSell’s spiff program. If one or more BrainSell salespeople close a sale in less than the average days it normally takes, then they get a spiff.  The only way to track your average closing period and get that spiff?  Use CRM.

 

 

We have a saying here at BrainSell: if it’s not in CRM, it never happened. We can’t claim a commission if it’s not recorded in our solution.

  1. “Our CRM solution is too big for us and we don’t use all of the features.”

Believe it or not, this happens. Someone wanted a fancy Mercedes and they only needed a Chevy. Either they were over sold (a good vendor won’t let that happen) or they over bought. You need to know your true requirements before buying.

 

 

Sometimes it’s better to spend a little money upfront and have an expert review your requirements, your process, and even your CRM users, to make sure you know what you need from a solution. It depends on your business’s unique current situation which solution is right for you.

 

 

If your solution is too large for your business’s needs, you need to check if it has a downgrade option, where some features can be turned off.

 

 

But first, you need to reevaluate your business. Maybe the features you don’t use can have a big impact on your business’s improvement? Those features were designed for a reason. Often times, if you take a closer look, you might find a hidden return on investment in those features.

  1. “A new person is leading our projects and they want to switch to a CRM solution that’s more familiar to them.”

For businesses with clients in place with your current solution, switching poses a big risk of losing a client that has a new stakeholder. If your solution is operating as expected, then switching for the sake of one person’s familiarity strikes me as a potential financial hit for the business as a whole. Consider these ramifications:

  • Users will need to learn a new system, and thus, a change in management is likely.
  • The risk of bad data migration is a cause for serious concern. Data can be corrupted or lost during this process.
  • The cost to migrate data from one solution to another is usually expensive, even when done right.
  • You may have to use and pay for two different solutions for a period of time while migrating data, which adds to the ultimate cost of the switch.
  • Users may end up rejecting the new solution anyway and this may put current business processes in peril. Yikes!

Of course, there are good reasons for why a new person would want you to switch! They may have concluded that you’ve outgrown your current solution, that more CRM horsepower could advance the company, that the current solution is too old, or that it’s time to follow the crowd to the cloud.

 

 

Companies in this position need an objective third-party resource to help with the decision to switch or not.  Partners who have multiple products in their portfolio can be an excellent resource. An independent consultant who has no allegiances to any one vendor is also an option – but this is hard to find. Even the large consulting houses have partnerships with the larger CRM vendors. (You know who you are!) Yet, smaller consulting companies probably have limited experience with multiple solutions.  

  1. “Our CRM solution is too expensive.”

If you simply don’t have the funds, then that’s that. But in the business world, “too expensive” should be directly related to return on investment. If you are only looking at the cost of the solution without considering how you can create a return on investment in the solution, then switching CRM systems or dumping it is short-sighted. It’s likely that businesses in this position need to review their financials and then determine how they can achieve the return they hope for.

 

 

With more than 25 years of experience, our unbiased approach to CRM consulting can help you decide if switching CRM systems is the right choice or if some reevaluation is all that’s needed. Struggling with finding your just right option? Contact us!

Customer relationship is of paramount importance for a business to grow and keep a strong footing. Business 101 tells you that your customers are your biggest asset, and periodic interactions with your clients are a must to keep yourself in their mind. However, if you’re an insurance agency, chances are you seldom manage to interact with a client. Why is that? Because most people buy an insurance policy and literally forget about it. This makes it twice as hard for insurance companies to cultivate and understand their clients or their habits to market their insurance policies. This is where a SugarCRM comes to rescue. Sugar can provide deeper knowledge of clients, strengthen current accounts, resolve issues and basically hold all your bits and pieces of data together.

Here are the key benefits of Sugar for insurance agencies.

CLEAN AUDITING:

Auditing histories can make or break a company. One of the most important factors to compete in the insurance industry is an excellent track record with regulatory bodies. If a client’s putting their money in your organization, they want to know you’re clean. Command the trust of your customers by using a Sugar that handles data and transactions with a build in feature. Analyze any record history, view summaries, track user activity in real-time.

TRACK PROGRESS:

Sugar comes with numerous built-in report features. It covers all basic reports i.e. revenue, client lists and campaigns etc. But certain industries have certain specific needs. Sugar certified developers came up with metrics specific to insurance companies i.e.

  • Policy Status
  • Premiums Status
  • Client Applications
  • Policy based on coverage
  • Agent Progress

All these features present a streamlined view of the day-to-day processes of an insurance company. You can view detailed charts for analysis with a click of a button.

BOOST CUSTOMER SERVICE:

Like we said, insurance agencies seldom manage to keep in touch with clients. With a Sugar, you can close this gap by implementing it on your service team. Find all the data on your clients in one place. Target those midway through their policies with giveaways and rewards, educate them about the value of their insurance policies. Keep track of their life events to maintain cordial relationship with them. Make the most of SugarCRM custom fields to customize the UI with life events, policy status fields and more to keep your organization always a step ahead.

OPTIMIZE AND AUTOMATE WORKFLOWS:

A lot of paperwork, authorizations and attestions go into creating a policy and registering a client. It can be a tiresome affair if you have a big client list. Finding which client is at which stage could seem like finding a needle in a haystack, and the last thing you need are missed deadlines on policy renewals or premiums. Sidestep all of this with Sugar where you can track clients at every step of the decision process. You can also make use of SugarCRM integrations to automate repetitive tasks i.e. follow-up emails and billing procedures; or provide self-service features to help them follow their claims.

OUR TWO BITS!

It’s pretty evident that in today’s age of highly competitive cut-throat competition, Sugar can give you an edge in every aspect of your organizations management. Keep an excellent track record with regulatory bodies, track all your client in one place, automate workflows and keep your clients coming back for more with an improved customer service. What more could you possibly need?

In case you do,

Contact Us at Rolustech, a SugarCRM Certified Developer & Partner Firm. We have helped more than 500 firms with various SugarCRM customizations and integrations. Get your FREE consultation session now!

The first of 4 quarterly releases from SugarCRM is here. Sugar Winter ‘19 is packed with improvements and updates across the board, with a number of new functionalities stacked in the middle. Titled Sugar 8.3, this new release builds upon Sugar 8.2 by introducing new features in core modules as well as some simplistic updates here and there to further intensify the user experience.

Let’s break down all the major features introduced in Sugar 8.3

New Features in Product Catalog

Sugar 8.3

The Product Catalog Dashlet in Sugar has evolved to include a number of new functionalities in Sugar 8.3. Introduced in Sugar Winter ‘18, the Product Catalog Dashlet now has the ability to add Quick Picks, Reports. And Records. Let’s take a look:

Product Catalog Quick Picks Dashlet

The Product Catalog Dashlet can get clustered pretty quickly if you’ve got a number of different variables in play, but that’s all taken care of now in Sugar 8.3 with Quick Picks. The Product Catalog Quick Picks Dashlet quickly lets the user access recently used line items as well as those the users have marked as favorites. This simple new feature can save users valuable time and improve the overall experience.

Quick Picks isn’t the only new update to the Product Catalog. In Sugar 8.3, you can also mark Favorites through the Product Catalog list view.

The Product Catalog Dashlet is one of the best time-savers in the Sugar platform and this new update will surely delight Sugar users.

Product Catalog Reports

The Reports Module now displays your Product Catalog as well. This helps you get a visual representation of all the products in your inventory in the shape of reports.

New Features in Advanced Workflow

Sugar 8.3

Sugar 8.3 includes a number of new updates in Advanced Workflows across the board. Advanced Workflows serve as a core feature in SugarCRM and help organizations automate complex tasks and processes. Here’s a breakdown of what’s new!

Process Validation

In Sugar 8.3, you can validate advanced workflows for their functionality and sublimity before putting them live. The Process Validator imports process definition designs and picks out errors and issues along with sequencing mistakes.

Admin Configuration

New Process Auto Save and Auto Validate options have been added to Sugar’s System Settings with a designated panel called “Advanced Workflow”. The error number of cycles setting has also been relocated in Sugar 8.3.

Module Relationships

New Module Relationships have been created in Sugar 8.3 that let you add related records as well as the ability to relate it to a target record. You can also change the value of one or more fields on the target record.

New Comment Log Field

Sugar 8.3

The Bugs and Cases module has a new entry called the Comment Log Field. Sugar users can access the Comment Log Field to view these snippets to ensure everyone is on the same page. Sugar Administrators can use the Comment Log Field and put it in other modules apart from Bugs and Cases Module. This comment log ensures that customer information is present right in the confines of the Sugar record.

Rolustech is a SugarCRM Certified Developer & Partner Firm. We have helped more than 600 firms with various SugarCRM integrations and customization.

No doubt Sugar dashboard is a powerful tool for regular Sales Management. Special diagrams like Pipeline or Forecast, reports diagrams and filtered list views help to see the current state of sales, to analyze opportunities and quotes portfolios from different viewpoints. Report drill down option gives the possibility to examine any diagrams segment and look into details in a second.

But what do you do if you look at the pipeline or any other similar diagram and see that the portfolio was significantly changed? 

Some of the opportunities could be shifted to the latest period or, vice-versa, to the earliest one, some of the opportunities had changes in the amount or/and stages. But which changes exactly and what exact amount of change? That is a question. If you manage the dozens and hundreds of opportunities, the receiving of answer needs a lot of time, doesn't it?

You can make this part of sales management work easier and more efficient if you use TimeLine Viewer, a special Sugar add-on for collecting and managing significant changes in your data.

First, add the report based on TimeLine data to visualize the structure of significant changes in your portfolio and add a particular diagram to your Sales Dashboard.  It helps to be aware of the existence of changes that had impact on your portfolio, as well as how many of them took place, and who is responsible for them.

Second, add special "My TimeLine" dashlet to the dashboard and configure a dashlet filter to display just a restricted set of business events (stage changes, change in the amount and probable date of the close).  It gives not only the possibility to view each particular change that had impact on your pipeline but also to collaborate with teammates in a quick and easy way in the context of the particular event.

Finally, add Collaboration dashlet to Dashboard to quickly review your teammates' answers directly from dashboard.

With these improvements, your Sales Dashboard would look like this and you will be able to manage all pipeline changes directly from the dashboard.  This is a piece of cake. 

If you use Sugar Enterprise, we have another good piece of news: you can view TimeLine feeds on your Sugar mobile as well, because Sugar Enterprise allows extending regular Sugar Mobile.

 

Enjoy the work in Sugar,

Integros

By Elizabeth Mankowski, CRM Practice Director, Highland Solutions

 

 

Like many consulting firms, Highland Solutions groups our team into several practice areas. The CRM practice distinguishes itself from the other Highland practices by focusing only on CRM (of course!) and by supporting multiple active clients instead of a single client’s custom development initiative. These clients range in size from family-owned custom fixture businesses to global manufacturing firms.

 

We have a small but experienced team of dedicated CRM experts at Highland Solutions who support about 25 clients. So how do we do it? Here are 6 guidelines that help us work at a sustainable pace while delivering excellent work to our clients.

 

1. Prioritize often

We do a diverse range of work for our CRM clients, which often includes:

  • New CRM implementations
  • Major enhancements for an existing client
  • Production support requests
  • Upgrade testing


This work varies in its predictability (how far in advance can it be scheduled?) and its unknown risks (how well can it be defined before we start?). As a team, the areas of greatest risk are usually prioritized higher, as shown in the matrix below.

Image by Jeff Blanchard

We take time on Monday mornings to review the week ahead and rank by client and type of work. 

 

2. Limit work in progress

Highland is a people-first organization. We are spouses, parents, friends, and caretakers, as well as technology professionals. Like you, we have a limited number of hours in our day and we don’t spend all of them working. When we are working, focus is critical to quality and completion. Context switching between Jira stories, client meetings, and internal tasks can be taxing, so we limit the number of stories assigned to each team member at any given time. We use Jira quick filters to highlight what’s assigned to whom at stand-up.

 

3. Maximize work not done

This is driven by the Lean principle: minimize or eliminate any steps that do not create value for the customer. We often ask ourselves, “what if we don’t do this for the client?” and we ask “what if we don’t do this today?” Then we weigh the consequences in dialog with our clients and help them evaluate when a request is a “must have” or a “nice to have.” We like to remind each other, “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

 

4. Shorten client feedback cycles

We don’t prepare a large requirements document up front. We educate our clients on Agile software development during our kick-off meetings, and we shepherd our joint team through a rapid story definition, implementation, and demo cycle. We present changes and enhancements to clients early and often, and we turn around feedback quickly.

This shorter cycle keeps the information fresh in the minds of Highland team members and our clients. Our clients are often busy sales and marketing professionals with day jobs that are not configuring CRMs. Keeping their focused attention and reminding them frequently of what we’re doing on their behalf results in more valuable feedback for us and a better end product for them.

 

5. Specialize but have a back-up

We can’t afford to have every team member become an expert in every client’s CRM, so generally there are one or two experts per client. That said, some cross-training provides benefits when we need to spread out testing tasks or when a team member takes time off. We also use a secure tool to save and share credentials, ensuring we can access clients’ Sugar CRM environments without passing around usernames and passwords on post-it notes.

 

Photo by Bridgett Colling

 

6. Communicate

From internal daily stand-ups to weekly or bi-weekly client demos, the importance of communication cannot be overstated. We are committed to being transparent and open with our clients and with each other. Occasionally we will miss a deadline or misinterpret a requirement, but frequent check-ins ensure that trust remains high and corrections are timely. Every CRM engagement is a partnership, and candid communication is the strong fiber binding us together.

 

 

Taking the best from Agile methodologies, lean principles, and about 50 years of collective technology experience helps Highland’s CRM team keep our day-to-day workload manageable while still delivering high value to our clients.

While these guidelines help us manage our work today, we’re always improving our process and tweaking it as our needs change. If you lead or work on a team that’s managing multiple clients, leave me a comment and let me know how you’re applying Agile or lean principles to your work.

 

This post was originally featured on the Highland Solutions Journal