appsorangsThe title may be a bit confusing if you thought the words “customer” and “consumer” are the same, but I urge you to think again. There is a huge distinction in these two groups of people, especially as it applies to CRM. When we go to market as a CRM vendor, we essentially play both the “B2B” role of winning over decision-makers (“customers”), while also needing to win the war over user adoption (the true “consumers” of CRM). And oftentimes, the needs and goals of these two groups may seem different, if not diametrically opposed.

We have seen the types of issues than can befall firms that favor the “customer” over the consumer. In the smartphone world, Blackberry listened to the corporate IT “customer” while Apple favored the “consumer” and brought the iPhone to market – and we’ve seen how Apple’s fortunes have fared since 2007. Closer to home, we saw companies like Siebel Systems favor a complex, enterprise IT and CXO selling focus at the expense of the user experience. While some of the Siebel technology exists under Oracle, Siebel’s glory days are a distant memory in 2014.

At SugarCRM, we try to solve the “customer’s” issues (management-level decision makers) by meeting the “consumer’s” needs (the everyday end user) in new and innovative ways. By giving the front line, customer-facing employee tools they can actually use to do their job more effectively, a lot of benefits rise to the top. For example, with seamless and intuitive mobile tools, sales reps get a tool that gives them critical data when in front of clients. And, simple mobile tools ensure reps can add data when it is most fresh in their minds – not hours later. Therefore, data quality increases, as does revenue predictability – something management cares most about.

This is just one example of how designing for the consumer, and not simply the customer – makes sense. The symbiotic nature of “bottom’s up” design benefits everyone. When customer-facing employees actually want to use the system, management gains insight, predictability, while customer satisfaction and retention can increase (which means greater profit margins). I have seen sales teams that value the individual take this idea and run with it, to great success.

So, for those looking to begin or expand on a CRM initiative – it is important to ask yourself: Is the system I am evaluating designed for the decision-maker, or the everyday user? If it is the former, the long term benefits may not be as strong as you’d expect. But, if you choose a partner that designs with the consumer in mind, you are more than likely on the right track for higher adoption and more profound return on your CRM investment.

Gartner recently named SugarCRM as a Visionary for the second straight year in its Magic Quadrant for Sales Force mobile_combinedAutomation. Sugar’s innovative mobile user experience, and flexible deployment options were cited as reasons for the continued strong ranking.

Also, SugarCRM took home five awards as part of CRM Magazine’s annual Market Leader Awards thanks to the innovative nature of the software, as well as the way it empowers novel CRM deployments – such as Redglaze Group’s CRM Elite winning deployment.

All this recent recognition got me thinking: what does it truly mean to be a visionary when it comes to CRM? I think, in Sugar’s case, it comes down to three key differentiating points:

Innovative User Experience: Sugar has long been focused on user empowerment – making CRM a mission-critical tool for customer-facing employees, and not a simple data capture mechanism. Sugar’s ubiquitous, intuitive experience across all mobile and desktop touch points is a key differentiator.

Flexible Platform: Hands down, no other CRM provider offers such an open, extensible and scalable platform for CRM. The open nature of Sugar allows any user to customize and integrate with nearly any other data source or application.

Value: In a long-term CRM deployment, value comprises far more than just “what the system costs.” So again, when choosing a more open and extensible platform, the total cost over time is far less than a proprietary app or platform. The available talent around open, standards-based platforms is more abundant and less expensive, and the ease of extension given the lack of proprietary limitations generates greater lifetime value.

I believe that today, CRM is a market in transition. We are starting to see concepts like mobile, big data analytics and cross-departmental process automations shift from “nice to have” aspects of a CRM turn into “must haves.” In my opinion, only the most flexible, scalable, highly user-focused platforms, which provide the most value for the investment – will thrive in this new era of CRM.

Want to hear more about our visionary take on CRM? SugarCRM’s CMO Jennifer Stagnaro will be highlighting some great customer success stories aligned with our vision at Gartner’s Symposium IT Expo event in Orlando, Florida on October 7th.

 

 

The following is a guest post from Jeremy Cox, Principal Analyst, CRM, Ovum.  ext Jeremy Cox

It is always reassuring  when a firm takes its own medicine and uses some of the same portfolio of products that it recommends to its customers. I refer of course to IBM’s global deployment of Sugar, integrated with many of IBM’s Smarter Commerce applications, to support a 45,000+ strong sales force. IBM’s Smarter Commerce portfolio, provides  customers with the tools to create a fully integrated all-channel,  informed and joined up customer experience.  Sugar works together with the Smarter Commerce portfolio and provides the user-centered  interface into all relevant customer information to provide what Ovum calls smart, connected interactions.

The Smarter Commerce story is relevant to multiple industries, both B2B and B2C or combinations. Irrespective of industry there are several common attributes that have to be orchestrated in a coherent manner if firms are to gain advantage from the Smarter Commerce portfolio including Sugar. Every industry is under intense competitive pressure in the face of rising customer expectations, globalization and the impact of social and mobile on customer behaviors and preferences.  The ability to be persistently relevant to customers by providing them with rewarding experiences across any and all channels through which they want to interact with a firm is a massive challenge facing all industries. Some like retail are particularly exposed to disruption as Amazon extends its reach and capacity, or lower cost competitors reach out to customers with more compelling offerings.

The old certainties and ways of doing business call for much deeper thinking and a more coherent approach to omni-channel commerce.

Ovum has identified 8 attributes successful firms orchestrate to gain this level of coherence. These are:

  1. Visionary leadership that seeks to put the customer at the center and orchestrates the firm’s capabilities and improvement initiatives in a coherent, connected way in support of a common goal – creating value for customers. Without this silos will flourish and impede the customer experience.
  2. Visionary leadership is also responsible for an engaged workforce, the second attribute. A workforce imbued with a set of values that builds trust with customers as well as internally with colleagues and the ecosystem of suppliers and partners is a powerful force for fostering great customer experiences. It is not just front line employees that provide moments of truth, but back office, finance, supply and distribution personnel, etc. All can have an impact. IBM’s Smarter Commerce helps connect people and Sugar’s user interface that puts the individual at the heart of the design supports greater workforce engagement and as a result a great customer experience.
  3. The ability to collaborate across and beyond the organization  in the pursuit of value creation and delivery, for customers. IBM Connections together with Sugar helps leverage this critical attribute.
  4. Acute sensing capabilities that drive real time insight and predictive foresight helps everyone in touch with the customer to have meaningful and relevant interactions. It also helps customers who prefer to serve themselves to find what they are seeking with minimal fuss and maximum convenience. The combination of IBM Cognos ,IBM Interact which provides realtime recommendations, IBM Tealeaf and Sugar ensures the right contextual information reaches the right people at the right time and in an intuitive consumable form, irrespective of the device used.
  5. A seamless and integrated customer experience across any channel with no loss of information  provides the true 360 degree  contextual view of the customer. SugarCRM has long advocated a deeper integration with the organization to deliver this. This contrasts with the typical triumvirate view of CRM being – sales, marketing and service (often in that order). That ‘typical view’ adds little value and belongs to the old command-and-control industrial era of the 20th century.
  6. The ability to innovate continuously and refresh the value that customers receive is the other essential ingredient for persistent customer relevance . Firms which succeed at this draw on ideas well beyond the traditional product development team; from customers, partners and the entire workforce. But innovation is not just about new products. It is also about developing new ways of engaging with customers that add greater value and magic moments that turn them into raging fans.
  7. Lean, simplified and connected processes across the value chain or network. The omni channel experience absolutely requires deeper thinking and a more horizontal view of how value is created and streamed across the organization and its ecosystem of suppliers and partners. Simply grafting on new digital channels will lead to failure and frustrate customers.
  8. An adaptive enterprise architecture that provides a coherent visualization of how the organization works as a system to deliver its customer centric vision and goals, is also an important attribute. Tweaking existing business models is unlikely to be sufficient and old legacy systems and legacy thinking will impede progress.

IBM’s Smarter Commerce with SugarCRM supports these attributes either directly or indirectly.  IBM’s Interactive Experience practice can help firms design and think through the detail required to deliver positive and memorable customer experiences across any and all channels. SugarCRM’s services team works in partnership with IBM to help firms take advantage of the highly elastic capabilities of Sugar.

About the Author

Jeremy Cox is principal analyst in Ovum’s global Customer Engagement Practice. Jeremy joined Ovum in July 2012, and quickly established the broader customer-adaptive enterprise context identifying 8 core attributes that organizations need if they are to be persistently relevant to their customers: leadership, an engaged workforce, collaborative, sensing capabilities to generate insight and foresight, a superior customer experience, continuous innovation, connected and frictionless processes and an adaptive enterprise architecture.

@jeremycoxcrm

http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jeremycox/

 

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will help give you the tools and insight you’ll need to get the most out of your partner programs. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

High-tech vendors rely heavily upon their channel partners, to the tune of approximately $1.5 trillion in annual sales according to ZS Associates.

A direct relationship with a consumer is always the most valuable. In order to get there, though, you need the slingshot and momentum of other well-known partners. Often many more, depending on the business you’re in. (Alex Rampell, CEO TrialPay)

Given that channel enablement is vital in any technology company’s success, enterprises often face challenges in succeeding in their partner programs. Consider the following articles as a toolkit to jumpstart or polish your programs to ensure channel success.

3 Ways to Boost Channel Partner Success
“As demands on business grow, more organizations are using partners and contractors to provide needed support and expertise.” Cindy Mielke outlines three actionable ways you can boost your channel partner programs.

Partner Selling
“Rejection is often a good indicator of the lead generation process’ effectiveness. If too many leads get rejected, it might indicate that they’re too raw going out the door and that better nurturing is needed. However, if an individual partner has a consistently high reject rate, along with a poor win/loss ratio, it might say something about that partner.” – Denis Pombriant

3 Steps To Successful Voice Of Partner Programs
“IT vendor-partner relationships prosper when they both communicate openly with each other,” says Erik Long, Principal at ZS Associates

Alicia Fiorletta helps to share ways on overcoming communication as a challenge for channel enablement.

We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of our Weekly CRM Roundup. We’ll be taking a brief hiatus from these weekly missives — in the meantime, you can still catch the latest and greatest in CRM industry news on Twitter at @SugarCRM.

As concepts like social media, mobile and big data add more and more information into the marketing mix, it is important for sales and marketing Summit Graphicprofessionals to embrace the concepts behind data-driven marketing. In today’s world, those taking advantage of the mountains of information available around our customers are the ones who will not only survive, but thrive and bat the competition.

To help marketers gain more insight around data-driven marketing, AgileOne is holding a FREE online conference all day on May 9th. As part of the event, SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram will be speaking about how SugarCRM allows its users to delight today’s social customer.

The entire online conference is filled with great presenters and topics. Click here to register for free and join the conversation!

We here at SugarCRM are coming off an AMAZING week. In addition to gathering in San Francisco with our customer and partners at SugarCon, we sugarcrm-dashboardalso celebrated our tenth anniversary as a company. All throughout SugarCon, we talked about the Power of “i” and what it means in terms of empowering more individuals in the organizations we serve to be more effective every time they engage with a customer, and to simply perform their jobs better. A huge part of empowering companies to harness the power of “i” comes from the innovative user experience found in Sugar 7. We designed Sugar 7 with the individual in mind – aiming at offering a unique UI that gives users more actionable insight on every screen, as well as a more collaborative approach to CRM. In short, giving users what is most relevant to the tasks at hand – nothing more, nothing less.

Just before SugarCon, analysis firm Software Advice rated their Top 5 Favorite SFA Software User Interfaces, and I can say I am not surprised that Sugar 7 made the list. Here is what the author of the report told SugarCRM he was looking for when making their evaluations:

“When we were evaluating SFA user interfaces (UIs), we looked for designs that included intuitive, unobtrusive navigation systems; clear, aesthetically pleasing reports; and sensible layouts that make smart use of space to emphasize important information. Our favorites combine all these elements (and others) to make using the software both painless for the uninitiated and lightning-fast for SFA veterans,” says Jay Ivey, Managing Editor at Software Advice.

And while Ivey and Software Advice were not necessarily keen to our Power of “i” concept before writing the report, his description of why Sugar 7 made the cut speaks directly to the vision we hold around empowering individual users:

“We chose SugarCRM as one of our favorite interfaces for a lot of reasons, but we especially liked how easy it is for users to customize every aspect of their experience. With a wide range of drag-and-drop dashlets (which are basically widgets containing elements such as opportunity forecasts or contact information), it’s easy to make dashboards your own,” says Ivey. “Once you curate and arrange information to best suit your particular needs, you’ll find yourself wasting less time clicking through multiple screens to access what you’re looking for.”

The validation from Software Advice is not simply a nice kudos to a well designed product. Instead, it is a deeper validation of SugarCRM’s innovative vision in a marketplace that for many years has remained somewhat static. In my opinion, our refreshing approach to user enablement sets us apart, and it is great to see third parties agreeing as well.

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will focus on the most important aspect of your business: the customer, and how to create and maintain a culture that puts them at the center of your business. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Businesses are beginning to understand that becoming customer-centric can enable their employees to deliver an exceptional and consistent customer experience. In today’s ever-changing landscape of technology, consumers have nearly an infinite amount of channels they can use to reach you for service and support.

Customers are increasingly frustrated with the level of services they experience: 91% because they have to contact a company multiple times for the same reason, 90% by being put on hold for a long time, and 89% by having to repeat their issue to multiple representatives. (Accenture Global Consumer Pulse Survey)

Do you have a plan in place to make this transformation? The following articles offer a starting point to jumpstart your journey to becoming a customer-centric organization.

Source: Forrester

Source: Forrester

5 Steps To Create And Sustain Customer-Centric Culture
Forrester’s Sam Stern outlines in 5 steps how to create and sustain a customer-centric culture from securing executive buy-in to embedding customer-centric principles throughout the organization. This is an abridged version of Stern’s full report on how companies can transform their cultures to be customer-centric.
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Six Ways to Become Competitively Customer-Centric in 2014
As today’s marketplace continues to evolve, business owners are conscious of the newfound expectations customers have set out for them. “Companies that are able to place the customer at the center of their strategies will undoubtedly beat out the competition.” – Greg Lloyd
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The Evolution of Customer Service: Adapt and Adopt or be Left Behind
Customer service expert and SugarCon Keynote Speaker Shep Hyken takes you through the evolutional journey of customer service and support from his own experience. Catch him at this year’s SugarCon!
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We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of our Weekly CRM Roundup. You’re equipped to ignite your organization to extraordinary customer experiences.Got ideas for other great articles and topics we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!