Archives For Social Business

By Clint Oram, Co-founder and CTO at SugarCRM

Think you know who in your organization is part of your customer service team? Think again. The fact is that almost every employee is potentially customer facing in today’s social era, compliments of Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, to name a few.

Fifteen years ago the customer relationship management dynamic was entirely different and much more finite. Back then employees in just a handful of departments engaged with customers through traditional channels — email, phone, chat or face to face. But the landscape evolved and direct lines of communication to customers have been extended to everyone in an organization — even back-office or “invisible” employees — via social channels. (Here at SugarCRM, for example, several of our engineers might blog for us, and these blogs are read and commented on by our customers.) This practice is not unique to SugarCRM. Many companies encourage their employees to responsibly engage with customers via Google+, Twitter or other social channels.

Unfettered access to a range of employees is a major benefit to customers who want to consocial-customer-care-1nect with company representatives apart from those in the marketing, sales or customer service departments. Today’s customers want to make a human connection with “regular people,” and know, like and trust those they do business with. Social media facilitates this type of connection. But the challenge is ensuring customer engagement is consistent and effective across the company regardless of which communication channel is used. It’s also important to provide value to the customer in each interaction, so having critical, up-to-date customer information at hand is critical throughout the customer journey.

In a recent article on ZDNet, best-selling author, Paul Greenberg, argues that customer’s voices, amplified by social media these days, makes them feel entitled to an amazing customer experience at the speed of light and woe to companies that don’t give it to them. He also goes on to say that if companies want to provide an amazing experience, they really need to understand, and be in close contact with, their customers. They need to be engaged with their customers. What a concept!

So, how do you stay ahead of this challenge and create a customer-centric culture at your company? Here’s a start:

  • Choose a CRM system that extends across the organization to all employees. With traditional CRM systems, we see that they are typically relegated to users in marketing, sales and support. If CRM was extended to everyone in the organization, imagine the customer relationships that could be nurtured and imagine the level of customer satisfaction that could be achieved.
  • Pick a CRM that is social-ready with an advanced user experience. Sugar helps you manage all social interactions with collaboration tools and contextual intelligence within a single dashboard.  This turns every individual into a customer expert by uniquely personalizing their interactions, creating a 360-degree customer view and driving true customer loyalty.
  • Recognize that great customer service is not solved by technology, but rather supported by it. Truly becoming customer-centric may require significant cultural changes inside an organization. Invest in this initiative. By getting every potential customer-facing employee to understand the value that they bring to the organization as a brand ambassador, and equipping them with the tools and information to facilitate superior customer experiences, the results will be overwhelmingly positive.

In our hyper-connected world, it’s imperative that all employees have the same access to customer information to deliver a consistent experience and avoid appearing fragmented and siloed. In essence, all employees can/should evolve into “customer experts.” This is how you ensure customer experience integrity is maintained in the 21st century.

This mission has guided SugarCRM throughout its decade-long history — well before the social media wave hit our shores. The company was, after all, founded on the idea that customer relationship management is more than marketing, sales or customer support automation. We have always inherently championed the individual, and emphasized that each customer-facing employee (these days that means everyone with a Twitter handle or Facebook profile) should be empowered to create extraordinary customer relationships.

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/

 

Leading organizations are increasing their use of digital mechanisms for the business processes of buying, marketing, selling, and servicing. To do this, many organizations are turning to IBM’s Smarter Commerce and IBM Enterprise Marketing Management. Marketing automation tools like IBM Campaign and Interact, along with Silverpop, are great for defining multi touch campaigns, cross-channel marketing across digital channels, and real time personalizations for customers on electronic store fronts.

But what happens when a customer – who may have received an offer driven from IBM Campaign – calls into a customer service center? Does the customer service agent who answers the phone – let’s say it’s John –  have a history of that customer’s past interactions, and have the right information to answer that customer’s questions? Even better, can the customer service agent reinforce an offer that may have already been presented to the customer via IBM marketing automation offerings?

What happens if a sales person – let’s say it’s Sally – is about to call on that customer? Sally could be an inside sales rep, or an insurance agent, or a personal shopper in retail. Does Sally know everything about her customer including the fact that that customer might have received an offer through email that was generated by a campaign management tool? To take that a step further – if a campaign management tool generates 1000 leads, does Sally know that seven of those leads are her customers, and does she know exactly what to do with those seven leads?

We know that IBM Campaign can precisely target a specific set of customers. But imagine if Sally, upon signing in for her work day, sees seven specific new leads that are assigned to her from that campaign, along with specific actionable information for those leads. Imagine if John, our customer service agent, was able to pull up a complete view of the customer as he was helping resolve that customer’s issues; and could even upsell the customer based on a real-time offer appearing in his customer service dashboard.

SugarCRM, an IBM Global Alliance partner, can help. Sugar is an innovative CRM system designed for every individual who engages with customers: sellers, marketers, customer support agents, receptionists, and executives.

r4_smarter_commerce.jpgSugar has integrations into IBM Campaign to surface campaign information into sellers’ daily tools, whether that be Sugar itself or IBM Notes or Connections. Sugar also has integrations to IBM Interact to present real-time offers to sellers and customer service agents. Sugar is the first major CRM solution to be validated for the IBM Ready for Smarter Commerce mark. DiGi Telecommunications is one customer using IBM Campaign integrated to SugarCRM to provide consistency across digital marketing programs and human sales and service representatives.

Organizations that integrate SugarCRM and IBM experience faster campaign-to-cash times,  more efficient marketing and sales processes, and higher customer satisfaction and value.

For more information, see sugarcrm.com/ibm, or come visit us at SugarCon, April 28-May 1 in San Francisco, or the IBM Smarter Commerce Global Summit 2014 in Tampa, Florida May 12-15.

CRM_Roundup_Banner_V4
Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will explore the power of social media within the enterprise in regards to CRM. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Is your business socially-enabled? Have you dismantled your company’s organizational silos? Does your organization possess to the tools that empower individuals to more effectively engage with their customers?

By department, the largest users of social media in enterprises are marketing (with 78% using social media to a moderate to great extent), IT (64%), sales (63%), and customer service (62%). The functions using social media least are operations (46%), supply chain operations (36%), risk management (35%) and finance (28%). (Deloitte University Press)

In order for a company to function effectively in today’s business world, every customer facing employee from customer service, all the way to the C-suite need to participate in the conversation in order to facilitate higher quality customer engagement. The following articles share studies and insights about integrating social media into your business, and also offer an opportunity to learn first-hand from experts within the industry on creating a consistent client experience from administration to sales.

Effective Social Media in your CRM: Loyalty
“Both B2B and B2C companies are relying on CRM to organise these insights about what customers are doing and buying, and to help establish predictive ability to know what and where to target next.” – Simon Chapman

Understanding who your customer is, what they care about, and what they like to do can help complete their 360-degree view to facilitate a consistent customer experience with anyone in the organization who interacts with the customer.

Don’t miss Simon’s track session on Social CRM at this year’s SugarCon – Register here!
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From Social Media to Social CRM-KAM
This presentation by IBM’s Friedel Jonker highlights the social business transformation that IBM underwent in order to help other businesses become  fully socially-enabled enterprises. Their journey investigates the early technologies of customer relationship management (CRM) and key account management (KAM) and later explores the importance of putting the individual back into the social enterprise. IBM defines a social enteprise as “any company or organization that has integrated and operationalized social media within every job function to generate and implement value driving ideas by smarter processes and technology.”
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CRM, Omnichannel and the Quest for Customer Intimacy
“CRM has promised to create a complete, holistic view of the customer, but failed to break organizational silos and to deliver better customer experience.” – Gregory Yankelovich

Gregory acknowledges the trend in global population growth as it is apparent that it there are no plans of it to slow down. As the global reach of the enterprise increases, the customer’s demands and expectations do as well.
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Creating Exceptional Customer Experiences with Social CRM
Sign up for this free webinar presented by SugarCRM, IBM, and Highland Solutions (4/10 3:00 p.m. EST) that will discuss: engaging Customer 2.0 and the benefits of being customer-centric, empowering employees with integrated social business technology, creating a consistent client experience from administration to sales, and more.
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Put the individual back into CRM and into the social enterprise. I hope this was helpful for you and your businesses wherever you are in your social business transformation. Got ideas for other great articles we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!

CRM_Roundup_Banner_V4
Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will contain some tips and tricks worth learning when it comes to social selling. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Recent studies show that social marketing has far greater rates of return than that of traditional outbound marketing.

Social media has a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing. (State of Inbound Marketing, 2012)

Here are a few tips and tricks to help get your organization on the path to being a social selling machine.

7 Ways Your Sales Team Can Get Results with B2B Social Media
“Are your salespeople actively engaged in social media as part of their lead generation efforts? If not, they (and your business) are missing out on great opportunities for researching potential B2B clients, building new networks and uncovering prospects by investigating their social media profiles.” – Jeremy Durant

Jeremy offers a play-by-play list of ways to encourage your sales team to embrace social media.
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Social Selling Dos & Don’ts
Lauren Barack offers her insight when considering the dos and don’ts of social selling. She highlights the importance of the quality over quantity of your prospects and shares relevant scenarios of making social selling work for you.
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How to Generate More Leads and Referrals on LinkedIn
Do you have 20 minutes to spend in the day? Follow these 10 steps to make the most of LinkedIn and prospect more effectively.
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Got ideas for other great articles we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!

We’re flying at 40,000 feet above the central California corridor on our way from Silicon Valley down to San Diego for what we expect to be an awesome Gartner Customer 360 Summit that kicks off tomorrow, May 1.

Understand. Engage. Deliver: Earning Customers for Life – that’s the theme of this year’s summit.  We’re really excited to be participating this year as a platinum sponsor. Gartner360CRMIt will be two-and-a-half intensive days chock-full of analyst presentations, workshops and peer interaction, giving business and IT leaders a complete view of the customer across the organization and across every touchpoint in every medium. Understanding what customers want, need and expect — and having the right people, processes, cultures and technologies in place to respond in real time — will be critical to every organization’s success, according to Gartner.

We agree completely. Our mantra is Every Customer. Every User. Every Time.

That’s the message we’re spreading, as a sponsor of this year’s Customer 360 Summit.  SugarCRM focuses its SFA messaging on empowering every sales user to be more effective every time they engage 1-to-1 with every customer. Sugar focuses on the point of interaction between a customer and sales professional. We enable sales professionals to have the knowledge and tools necessary to understand their accounts and prospects as individuals, identify what really matters and when it matters, and drive value and a superior experience every time they engage with their accounts.

We’ve planned multiple meetings with Gartner analysts, customers, partners and prospects over the next few days. Today, we hit the ground running attending the afternoon pre-event CRM Boot Camp.

Stay tuned as we’ll be sharing insights, perspectives and things we learned at this year’s exciting Gartner Customer 360 Summit.

Best,

Jay Mejia

Director of Communications

The shift from transactional selling to solution selling has turned business people into something akin to therapists. Today’s best sales people need to immerse themselves in their customers’ problems and create customized, long-term solutions to these challenges. They can’t just take orders for what they have on the shelf, but rather map their products to their customers’ pain points and unlock the value of their solution.

It’s the difference between saying, “Would you like to super size your French fries?,” and asking, “So you need French fries. Tell us more about the current lack of fries in your organization. Have you considered Belgian fries? If you had better fries, would you be better positioned to hit your goals?” Customer problems are far more complex these days, which means it’s your job to think through the in-depth answers.

Social selling tools, or “social CRM,” can help businesses understand these new and complex problems, and address them (and solve them) even before their customers can properly articulate them. By staying social with customers, you can identify and squash problems before they affect a business – something for which your customers may never stop thanking you.

Unfortunately, not enough companies make it possible for their employees to talk to each other in this manner, much less talk to customers: A recent study from IABC and Prescient Digital Media notes that 39 percent of companies don’t have any social tools on their intranets. On the other hand, research is showing that the benefits of this social interaction are real: An ongoing McKinsey & Company study is clocking such outcomes as increased market share and reduced time to market.

Social tools are a big help in gaining benefits like faster time to market and higher customer satisfaction, but they need to work in concert with each other to have any real impact. Random tweets and off-the-cuff blog posts that are not part of a larger customer relationship strategy will just become noise. Here’s a more cohesive, five step approach to creating an ongoing dialogue with customers and showcasing the good work that you do to ensure satisfaction.

Social CRM building block #1: Your social profile. If you haven’t done it already, create your LinkedIn or Xing (in Europe) profiles.  This is where you list your industry experience and tell the world why you enjoy selling what you sell.  You will be amazed at how often your prospects and customers look at your LinkedIn profile to see who you are, what you look like, where you went to school, how long you have been in the industry.  They want to know what makes you tick.  Why?  Because people buy from people.

Social CRM building block #2: Your blog. This is where you expand on the ideas you have been posting to Twitter and LinkedIn. Think of the blog as the online equivalent of giving a keynote speech at an event. You’ll profess your position on issues most important to your customers, and see if you can generate any interest (in this case, via comments on blog posts). Posting at least once a week will help your audience get into the habit of turning to your blog for guidance.  Starting your personal blog at wordpress.com is easy and free.  Figuring out what to post can be harder.  This is where you should focus more on being conversational than pontific and let your natural voice that you use with your customers come out.  What do you talk about with your prospects every day?  Well, write it up in a series of short blog posts.

Social CRM building block #3: Dialogue in the Forums. If your company doesn’t have a corporate forums site, it’s easy to start a Group in LinkedIn about your company or just your industry. Think of this as the Q&A session that follows your keynote speech. This is where the conversation really starts. Ideally, you and your team start these conversations with provocative questions, like: Why do we even need XYZ product? Why can’t anyone seem to solve such-and-such a problem? Then listen to the answers, and keep the dialogue going. Don’t waste everyone’s time with “soft” questions – you need to hear the dirt if you’re really going to uncover the customer problems you need to solve. For key members of the sales team, I’d suggest spending at least one hour a day on reading, developing, and responding to such questions.

Social CRM building block #4: Twitter: Here’s where you start getting the word out about the insightful conversations you’re having in the discussion forums, and the thought leadership that appears on your blog. Tweet out the best nuggets from the forums, engage in skirmishes (hopefully, polite ones) among the subject-matter experts and begin attracting attention for the community you are building. Posting at least once a day will entice your audience to connect and follow your online commentary. I suggest using HootSuite, a free social media tool, to help you monitor your social activity streams and quickly post to your social outlets.  I also like Paper.li for automatically tweeting content on a daily basis that I find interesting.

Social CRM building block #5: Internal social networks: This step doesn’t involve direct communication with customers, but it does help you disseminate the knowledge you’ve gained to the rest of our team. And by the “team,” I don’t just mean sales. When customers aren’t happy, it’s not just the sales people who should be getting nervous – it’s everyone from the CEO on down. Therefore, when you think about connecting with customers and understanding what makes them tick, you need to think about giving everyone access to these conversations. You can use internal social networks like IBM Connections or Jive to make sure that your colleagues have a way to share customer interactions in an always-on environment.

The end result of these social CRM building blocks is that you can uncover more effective ways to connect people with problems (that’s your customers) to the people with solutions (that’s you). It’s also the best way to cut through much of the noise surrounding customer needs, and let discussions bubble up about the real challenges that need to get addressed – and that will drive your business success.