Archives For customer-centricity

Note: The following is a guest post from Thomas Shields, Vice President, Marketing Program Delivery, BancVue.

An Empathic Challenge To Your Customer Journey!

All of us want to delight our customers, engage their interest and drive true customer loyalty. However, many of us are fighting an uphill battle and significant challenges stand in our way. The problem becomes particularly pronounced as we focus on growth.

The root cause lies in our perspective. There is a flaw in the way we conceptualize our customer and the value we bring them. shieldsWe almost always start by defining their journey by OUR milestones — simply because that is what we know. “We worked so hard on delivering the most brilliant, innovative product ever known to the industry. It truly defines perfection… why wouldn’t they want to hear about it right now?” Right?

The key to an effortless and truly graceful customer journey lies in our orientation, our ability to truly walk in our customers’ shoes and see our company, and our offerings, through their eyes. Let’s call it Empathic B2B. That perspective is totally unnatural for us because we are human and, in that way, are inherently biased by our own perspective.

Great companies know how to walk in their customers’ shoes and they build themselves around that. It sounds so obvious when you hear it – but do a quick gap analysis on how well you execute the theory.

  • Do you have a customer journey document that accurately captures the customer’s perspective?
  • Does the customer perspective lead and guide all your B2B efforts?
  • Are your customer onboarding processes written in words your customer would use, not your internal jargon?
  • Does your customer have the same milestones as you do in your sales documentation?

If you start to really peel back the layers you realize that we as leaders are sending conflicting messages to our troops. The primary message is “think on behalf of the customer,” but yet we fail to truly reinforce that at any point within the cultural and operational infrastructure we build. Too often, everything we build and say is “about them through our eyes” instead of being “about them through their eyes.”

So, how do you make this shift within your organization? Here are some tips:

  1. Go through an exercise and document your client journey from their perspective.
  2. Really challenge yourself to think like the client and forget your internal bias toward yourself.
  3. Include clients early and often. Choose some of your best clients (not necessarily those that love you the most) and talk to them. Validate that you have accurately captured their perspective and look for that sigh of relief or exclamation of excitement from them telling you that you “got it”.
  4. Don’t flatter yourself into thinking that you already know best because of your past experiences.
  5. Enlist internal champions to help you celebrate the transformation as a company priority and to make it a sustainable reality.

Once you’ve taken the above into consideration, start with your CRM system. No system should more clearly reinforce your customer’s journey than your CRM software. Use it to improve those metrics that define and reinforce the customer perspective for your team. Use it to reduce your customer’s efforts BancVue Logoon their journey, not yours. At our company, we used SugarCRM to achieve this. We implemented Sugar as a true enterprise application, spanning Customer Service, Finance, Legal, Marketing Operations, Sales, Technical Operations and Training.

We found the platform especially ideal thanks to its flexibility. We could seamlessly assimilate our customer’s unique journey into the rhythm of our business. It’s a shift in thinking that leads to improved internal processes and external relationships. And, it has shown results at BancVue.

BancVue has tripled in size since 2006, and Sugar paces the growth with new uses, customizations and integrations. We’re experiencing another period of explosive growth right now, and I know we couldn’t be successful managing that without Sugar.

Want to learn more about how we delighted our customers at BancVue? Read our case study and watch the video here: http://www.sugarcrm.com/casestudy/case-study-bancvue

About the Author

Thomas Shields is a heavy lifter. As VP of Marketing Program Delivery for BancVue, he lifts revenue and results for community banks and credit unions across the nation by managing the deployment of internal applications and the development of BancVue’s enterprise process architecture.

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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!

CRM_Roundup_Banner_V4
Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. We’ll be hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

What Forrester’s Predicted Customer Service Trends Can Teach Your SME This article is specifically targeted toward the SME. Forrester has recently published a report containing their predictions for the top customer service trends in 2014 but it may have been too heavy on the corporate jargon for those in the mid-market. Kelly Atkinson has hand-picked her favorite trends and translated them into more palatable words of advice. tweet_button

Simplicity-Minded Customer Experience “Simple customer experiences. Sounds logical, doesn’t it?” – Michael Hinshaw Michael Hinshaw starts by offering the suggestion to make a “promise” to simplicity to remove the complexities many customers face while dealing with businesses. Even though every business is different, Michael helps you think about what simplification means within the context of your own customers’ journeys as well as the supporting infrastructure and processes involved. tweet_button

Automation And Customer Intimacy It’s not what it sounds like. In this day and age, it’s all about knowing your customers from the inside-out. Customer intimacy is about establishing deep and trusted relationships. Dave Brock offers insight on embracing efficiency through automation while balancing customer intimacy and relationships. tweet_button

Are You Following These 7 Social Customer Care Best Practices? “Social care is the new norm, with 70% of businesses estimated to be using social for customer service by mid-2014.” – Aberdeen Group Learn what the best-in-class companies do to provide truly outstanding customer care. tweet_button

SugarCRM Celebrates Banner Year in 2013 as Company Redefines the Customer Experience According to Gartner Research, CRM will represent the largest segment of enterprise software by 2017. SugarCRM is putting the individual front and center, declaring 2014 “The Year of the Individual.” tweet_button

Got ideas for other great articles we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!

maglassWhen talking about the CRM market, a lot of numbers are thrown around. Analyst firms like Gartner and IDC do amazing jobs of calculating the annual spend in the market, which will be more than $30bn in a few years. There are lots of huge companies selling CRM software (usually among other technology pieces), and the space gets a lot of news coverage.

But while these numbers and the continual buzz in CRM seems impressive…is it really?

SugarCRM co-founder and CTO Clint Oram and I have had an ongoing dialog for nearly a year now, about how the CRM industry has – in a lot of ways – utterly failed to live up to its potential over the past two decades.

“Failed?” You ask?

Yes, a big #Fail.

What we have been talking about internally is that the CRM industry now serves roughly 20-25m end users (you can take a composite of all research and it usually ends up around this number give or take a few million users). Now, while this seems like a big number, let’s look at some other “relationship management” tools out there and their user counts:

LinkedIn (professional relationship management): 200m+ Users

Facebook (personal relationship management): 1bn+ Users.

When we stack CRM up against similar (yet admittedly consumer oriented) concepts, CRM falls down in comparison in terms of seeding its total addressable market. Clint calls this, “The Case of the Missing Zero.” And I agree, why aren’t we asking the bigger questions about CRM, namely: Why is this a 20m user market and not a 200m market today?

I think the answer lies both in looking at the success of companies like Facebook and LinkedIn, and also in the history of business technology. In short, CRM originated in a time before such life-changing trends as: the internet, social media, cloud, mobile…pick your buzzword. Early CRM was expensive, difficult to deploy, and benefitted management and not the actual front-line users of CRM – those who deal with prospects and customers. And a lot of expensive, traditional CRM deployments are now in place, lack the modernity expected by today’s workforce, which only exacerbates the issue. And, what’s more, nearly every traditional CRM providers’ offerings were built in this pre-web/social/mobile/cloud era and are thus ill equipped to meet the needs of the individual user.

But…there is hope. If we as an industry start focusing more on the actual users of CRM, and build tools that help them do their jobs, not simply capture data, we can bridge this huge adoption gap.These tools should be simple to use, mobile friendly, and not only make sense of the mounds of structured and unstructured data about every customer – but provide fast and valuable insight around this data to every user at every turn.

And by creating pricing that actually works with companies to put the software in more users’ hands – we can start seeing the true promise of CRM. This isn’t about selling more software (well, in some ways it is), but rather empowering more people in the organization who touch the customer. It’s not about having to make hard decisions about who does and who does not get to use the tools designed to improve the lifeblood of your business – your customers – it’s about giving everyone access to the information they need to provide better service, make more informed decisions, and simply promote better customer relationships.

We are making headway in this area, and made some significant announcements this morning to that effect. While it is early in what I feel is a transformative time in CRM, I am excited. By bringing innovation back into this industry in a big way, empowering more individuals in every company we serve, and simply helping make great customer experiences happen, I hope to see this industry find that missing zero (yes, everyone not just SugarCRM) and show what a difference great CRM can really make.

I think most of us here at SugarCRM are still catching our breaths after an amazing week in NYC. SugarCon 2013 was an awesome four days of great keynotes, discussions, customer stories, training sessions, evening events…simply put – it was our best event to date, and we are already dreaming scon13up ways to make SugarCon 2014 even better.

While there were tons of highlights, great moments, sound bites, press coverage, etc. coming out of the event, one trend became clear. SugarCRM has aligned with some innovative and insightful partners – all of us with similar visions of helping create more customer-centric organizations. Perhaps one of the most profoundly aligned companies in our ecosystem is IBM.

Our aligned visions took center stage on Tuesday April 9, as Larry outlined our vision for “Every Customer, Every User, Every Time” and how our product and services are working towards making that a reality for every Sugar customer. Then, following behind Larry’s message, Steve Laughlin, Vice President for Smarter Commerce for IBM’s Global Business Services unit, talked about the empowered customer era and told the 1000+ attendees how IBM is helping to make enterprises more adept at personalizing interactions and the customer lifecycle in general.

And then, on Tuesday, Tamara Duncan, client advocacy executive at IBM, talked about the importance of customer centricity on a panel led by Terry Jones, founder and former CEO of Travelocity. In addition to the main stage, IBM executives also presented two standing-room only sessions: one on social selling by Christopher Lamb, IBM Program Direct, Social CRM, and another on modern marketing tips by Chris Benedetto, Product Marketing Leader, Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM). In addition, SugarCRM solutions architect Charles Hicks presented an integration overview between SugarCRM and IBM Cognos BI to a packed house. It was refreshing to see two seemingly different companies in strong agreement when it comes to creating great customer experiences.

That alignment in culture and vision is already paying off. During the event, SugarCRM announced a key customer win with Sennheiser electronic GmbH & Co. KG, a leading supplier of microphones, headphones and wireless transmission systems. Sennheiser made the decision to go with Sugar due to the usability of Sugar and product flexibility, but also due to Sugar’s deep integration with IBM technology and products.

Coming away from such an amazing event, we are reminded of how strong an ecosystem we have, anchored by some heavy hitters like IBM. What’s more, it is even more invigorating knowing our vision for our customers’ success are so well aligned.