Archives For May 2012

Are you thinking about how to leverage “social” in your business?  Are you wondering how to use social collaboration tools to communicate better with your customers and your employees?  Are you preparing to become a social business?  Most SugarCRM customers I talk with are still at the front end of this journey.  Many are still trying to figure out why social CRM is relevant to their business.

Here are some thoughts to consider. The social business is the next step in how we, as a globally interconnected society, do business together.  A vibrant, energized social business is one that interacts with its customers everyday across every possible channel of communication.  From store fronts to telephones to Twitter, your customers want to know what you can do for them and they will engage in that dialogue in ways we couldn’t even envision in the past.

But why should your customers and prospects look to you instead of your competitor who is just one Google search away?  It’s simple.  Your best customers, your most loyal customers, will demand to have a relationship with you.  They want you to know who they are.  They want you to understand how your products and solutions can help them.  And once they identify with your solutions to their business problems, your vision for making them successful, you will gain their loyalty.

But how do you build that loyalty?  By building a relationship with your customers based on communication and trust.  The first step in creating a social business is to engage in a completely interconnected, actively engaged, “always on” dialogue around your business.  But once you connect, how do you build loyalty?  By building trust.  You must become an open business by embracing  transparency in how you interact with your customers, how you build your products, how you create an ecosystem around your business.

Customers want to know why you make the pricing decisions you make, how you are going to educate them on new products, what process you are using for creating and delivering your products and services.  Today’s “always on” customer has a world of data at their fingertips, but what they truly want is to buy from somebody truly knows their needs and gives them maximum value for the investment.

Here is a simple formula for creating a loyal customer base in this new age of the social business.  (Hint: it’s nothing you didn’t already know.)

Openness drives accountability.  Accountability builds trust. Trust is the foundation of a relationship.

An open, accountable and trusting customer/vendor relationship creates loyalty.

Because you are now communicating with your customers on a global stage with every word recorded, blogged, posted and retweeted around the world, you must approach your customers with openness and transparency.  By embracing openness and transparency in this “always on” dialogue between your customers and your employees, you will create a successful social business.    Because never doubt with Twitter one mouse-click away, your prospects, your customers and even your employees will drive force that openness whether you are prepared or not.

–Clint

At SugarCRM, we have embraced an open culture since day one. The reason why we chose to build Sugar as an open source product was because we fundamentally believe in the ideals of the open source way. Openness allows companies to more readily connect and build a relationship with their customers. While building a killer app may put the gleam in our developers’ eyes, solving our customers’ problems is what keeps the people at SugarCRM focused and driven.

After all, the purpose of a company is to create customers. And companies do this by connecting people with problems (customers) to people with solutions (employees). And our employees (we call them Sugas) really like to solve customer relationship problems.

So how does openness help build a better CRM solution? In three simple ways.

1) Focus on Users First. From the beginning, we designed the Sugar app first for the end users of the application. CRM applications have a long history of failed implementations due to a lack of adoption by the end users. Why is this? Because legacy CRM applications like Siebel and Salesforce.com have been traditionally designed for the buyer first, i.e. sales management. By embracing an open dialogue with our end users through the Sugar Forums, the SugarCRM development team is tightly connected with our end users and able to focus on solving their business problems. Our first design use case is around a customer representative getting ready to contact a customer and needing to prepare for the call, meeting or tweet. By ensuring the Sugar application is highly useful and useable, sales managers can then rely on the forecast, pipeline and issue resolution insight coming out of their Sugar application.

2) Built for the Open Cloud. The Open Cloud Manifesto is dedicated to the belief that the cloud should be open. The core tenets of the Open Cloud are that open standards and portability of applications across cloud platforms gives customers control and choice. Our customers demand control of their mission critical applications and data and require choice of their cloud platforms. From Sugar On Demand, a fully managed Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application to running Sugar on Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud platforms like IBM SmartCloud Enterprise and Amazon AWS, organizations in over 80 countries around the world choose SugarCRM for the flexibility of deployment options. Control and choice means all companies can design a CRM strategy without having to make any compromises in their IT strategy.

3) Leveraging an Open Ecosystem. Today’s most vibrant technology companies are those that get the power of ecosystems. The amplification effect of a large ecosystem of partners gives companies like SugarCRM, Google, Apple, Amazon and others a massive boost in delivering value to customers. However, we are seeing two types of ecosystems emerging: closed ecosystems and open ecosystems. The mobile phone market is a perfect example of this. Apple has built a “walled garden” ecosystem with iOS. Google however has built an open ecosystem with Android. You will find a similar duality in the CRM world with Salesforce.com creating a closed ecosystem and SugarCRM creating an open ecosystem. With an open ecosystem, our customers have more choices. From a wider and more varied choice of implementation partners to the power of SugarForge.org, the largest collection of open source CRM solutions on the Web, SugarCRM customers enjoy the benefits of choice and control not only in their cloud options but also in their ecosystem options.

A culture of openness here at SugarCRM has led to better CRM solutions, solutions better aligned to your needs and better aligned to driving your CRM success.

–Clint