Archives For SugarCRM

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 another 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 customer wants 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.

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 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!

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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!

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Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will revisit the some of the same social selling topics as our previous post but with more useful tips and tricks. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Selling through social channels (a.k.a. social selling) is not only an art, but a science. New social channels are emerging every week, only increasing the surface area of digital touchpoints a customer or prospect may have. Those who know how to leverage their networks and hone the power of social media are able to excel in the ever changing sales landscape.

Sales 2.0

Sales 2.0 – Source: Forbes

Salespeople are more likely to meet or exceed their quotas if they engage on social media.
(Dynamic Signal)

Studies have been done to prove this point and salespeople are missing the boat ride to sales success. The following articles will teach you how to be a social selling specialist in no time.

5 Steps for Creating a Successful Social Selling Strategy
One of the golden rules in social selling is to identify where your prospective customers are spending time online. Being able to recognize who your customer is, where they spend their time, and what they like to do can be the driving factor in what closes a deal. Seth Price writes a simple 5 step process for developing your own successful social selling strategy.
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How to Use Twitter Hashtags as a Prospecting Tool
Let’s face it, Twitter is a loud party and sometimes it is hard to hear through the noise. Beyond the clamor hides some of your most relevant and valuable prospects. Twitter can provide a certain level of audience targeting through their Hashtag functionality in order to reach and engage with your next customer.
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Social Selling Action Plan: Seek A Warm Relationship
Social media is no longer about what someone had for lunch. Your future customers are waiting for you to contact them in the places they spend the most time. Matt Foulger will teach you how to turn cold calls into warm calls, gain a 360-degree view of your prospect, push intelligence from social media into your CRM, as well as various social engagement methods.
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The 10-60-30 Rule of Social Selling
Social Selling is more about the approach rather than the use of a number of tools. Over the course of time, this has evolved into a daily routine. My experience has demonstrated that the different steps and tools must be interwoven with everything you do during the day.” – Mic Adam
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We hope you enjoyed this week’s edition of our Weekly CRM Roundup. Go to where your customers are. They’re waiting for your targeted, personalized, and meaningful engagement. Got ideas for other great articles and topics we should include in future CRM Roundup posts? Let us know in the comments below!

In addition to the awe-inspiring sights and sounds of San Francisco, we’re excited to be bringing Sugar University to this year’s SugarCon. Our top training instructors will be delivering quality training directly to you through live, hands-on instruction.

This is the place to start – or continue – learning best practices for end-users and administrators with Sugar through our extensive 2-day Discover track sessions. We’re also offering an additional Customer Training day, purely dedicated to our most-wanted training topics. Here is a glimpse into the training options available at this year’s SugarCon:

Sugar UniversityTuesday, April 29 & Wednesday, April 30
Discover | Becoming a Sugar Power User

Adopting Sugar 7
For those of you thinking of upgrading to Sugar 7, this session is for you. We’ll show you what’s new in the Sugar 7 release to prepare you and your team to make a smooth transition and get the most out of your upgrade.

7 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Sugar 7
Sugar is one of the most used CRM applications on the planet. The application has spawned countless books, web sites, blog posts and tweets about interesting things one can do with the platform. This session will uncover some of the coolest things you didn’t know you could do with Sugar.

Sugar Importing Basics
One of the first challenges in implementing Sugar is migrating your existing information for use in Sugar. This session highlights best practices that you can use to quickly get your existing data where it belongs – in Sugar! Learn how you can quickstart your Sugar implementation by importing data from other CRM applications, Outlook, Google Contacts, or any program that can save data in a CSV (comma-separated values) format. Clean data in Sugar becomes valuable information for your business.

“No Code Required” Configurations
This session showcases some of our favorite configurations for Sugar administrators. You will learn key configurations in Studio and Workflow that can be applied to real world scenarios in your implementation.

Getting Started with Reporting
As a newer Sugar user, one of the most critical features you’ll use everyday is Reports. We will provide you with basic information about the Reports Module, show you how to get started using Reports, and update you on enhancements we’re planning for future releases of Sugar.

Thursday, May 1
Customer Training Day

End User Getting Started
Get started by understanding end user features and functionality. You will learn Sugar best practices and how to enjoy the features most commonly used by SugarCRM end-users.
Audience: End-Users

Creating Reports
Become a reporting expert and learn how to create reports using Sugar. All major report types will be reviewed and you will be given the opportunity to create your own reports in class.
Audience: Adminstrators or End-Users.

Working in Studio
Learn how to create new fields (including calculated and dependent value fields), re-label existing fields, add-to and remove fields from page layouts, and create new module relationships.
Audience: Adminstrators

Building Workflows
Learn how to create workflows that streamline your business processes using on pre-defined triggers to generate automated actions and alerts.
Audience: Adminstrators

Register today for your chance to get live, hands-on training by Sugar experts in the most beautiful city in the world!

See you there,
Kevin Freitas