Archives For CRM

I read this passage in an article on CIO.com yesterday:

Most election prediction shops and public polls in recent days foresaw Republican Donald Trump losing the U.S. presidential race to Democrat Hillary Clinton.

They got it wrong, bigly. And the failed predictions could cast doubts on some hot technology sectors, including big data and customer relationship management.

Let me begin by saying this isn’t a political post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the value of clean data. No matter what side of the vote you come down on, I think we can agree something went terribly wrong with the almost all of the pre-election predictions. The reason, the forecasters were working with incomplete data. Which, led to a shockingly inaccurate (at least according to what the data predicted) result.

Relating this back to the CRM industry. If your CRM has inaccurate data, you will also get an inaccurate result. If you are dealing with dirty data, how can your CRM project be successful? How can your sales team be efficient and perform at an optimal level? Once dirty data enters the CRM, it can be painstaking to cleanse.

Luckily, intelligent CRM can help by automatically bringing in a broad range of accurate data for a more complete view of the customer. In so doing, the CRM solves a problem that has often been a stubborn obstacle to CRM adoption — the time-consuming effort of having to add, edit and update information in the system. Even more important than gathering a tremendous amount of accurate data, a product like Sugar Intelligence will use predictive analytics to sift through the data to enable the CRM to make intelligent recommendations for insights and best actions to take when engaging with customers.

It’s been said we are in the era of “big data politics.” Perhaps by 2020, we’ll have evolved to a political era of predictive analytics or even machine learning. But, I’ll save that for a future post.

A couple weeks ago, I was speaking with a journalist about all of the recent “artificial intelligence” announcements in the CRM industry. We both agreed the marketing and PR people have found their new buzzword, and the AI-craze is getting to be a bit much.

What we disagreed about, is how important predictive analytics and machine learning will be for the daily CRM user in the future. His take, “If I’m a salesperson who is good at my job, I don’t need the CRM to tell me what to do next. I can already anticipate when my key accounts need attention and prioritize my hot leads. The benefits of AI seem marginal at best.”

My counter argument, “You’re not really getting it are you? Data is gold, and there is so much of it out there, and the value of AI is that your CRM will automatically gather it, organize it, and make recommendations based on the data far better than any human ever could. If a salesperson is already good at his or her job, imagine how much better they can be with his or her own tireless personal assistant.”

Then, over the weekend I read this very interesting HBR article, “Customer Relationship Automation Is the New CRM.” The author, Clara Shih (CEO and founder of Hearsay), made the point that CRM must evolve and incorporate data analytics and machine learning to reach its full potential. She wrote:

“Just as Amazon proactively suggests to someone who has purchased a stroller that they may also want to buy the coordinating car seat, enterprise apps should proactively advise enterprise users on what the highest-value or most-urgent tasks are so they can prioritize them. Artificial intelligence and decision-support algorithms that can offer data-driven suggestions will unleash a new level of productivity among workers, allowing everyone to focus on what matters and to continually help one another improve.

Harnessing the power of machines to recommend actions and approaches allows every salesperson to become data driven, freeing their time to focus on the human trust and relationship aspects of closing business.”

She brings up a great point. AI in CRM isn’t about replacing salespeople with machines, rather it’s about making them more productive and freeing them up to do what humans do best, which is to relate to other humans. Granted, there will be a learning curve and a needed cultural shift so that salespeople learn to trust the data and the CRM’s recommendations. This shift is coming sooner rather than later, SugarCRM’s initial version of Sugar Intelligence will be available early next year.

Clara concluded her article: “The future of CRM is harnessing predictive data to become a proactive system. Sales reps who are able to leverage robot assistants are the ones who will thrive in this new world.”

Agreed! So, if the question is: Does the CRM Industry Need AI? The answer is absolutely.

(Editor’s note: this post was originally published by DestinationCRM.com)

How did we, as an industry, get to a place where so many CRM customers have buyer’s remorse after they invest in a new system? I hear about it on social media, in user forums, and in meetings with prospects: Customers feel like they’ve been duped.

It helps to take a look at how we got here. Basically, the big traditional CRM and enterprise software companies have quietly promoted a set of CRM assumptions that steer customers toward antiquated solutions that fall far short of meeting the real needs of customers.

The negative impact is palpable, and making the wrong CRM choice makes it difficult to differentiate your business, removes choice and flexibility, doesn’t help create seamless customer experiences, makes individuals’ jobs harder, and winds up costing a lot more than expected.

It’s time to debunk these myths, and empower a new breed of CRM that helps customers transform their businesses by building extraordinary customer relationships from the first engagement forward.

Myth #1: I need to choose the most popular CRM to keep up with my competition.

Doing the same thing everybody else does is actually a risk. Why? It’s a terrible way to differentiate your business—and isn’t that what you’re trying to do? Being better means being different. If you want to differentiate yourself, go with a CRM that will transform your customer relationships, re-energize your customer-facing employees, and help you provide a truly exceptional customer experience.

The companies that win in this era of empowered, intelligent customers win because they create better experiences and better relationships with their customers. But using the same old CRM is the best way to deliver the same old customer experience.

Don’t be afraid to demand more from your CRM than adequate, average, and the status quo.

Myth #2: The cloud is the future, so the deployment environment doesn’t matter—just give me a cloud.

Ten years ago, the vendors who invented cool new SaaS offerings had to create their own cloud infrastructures—because there weren’t any others. But that was a long time ago. It’s now time for CRM champions to get much more sophisticated and choose the deployment model that meets your business, security and regulatory needs. Today, there are modern clouds from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Rackspace, IBM, etc. These modern cloud environments are more affordable, flexible, reliable, and secure than any vendor’s proprietary cloud. Most importantly, they give you something you need and deserve: choice. And, don’t forget about private and hybrid cloud options. Those should be on the table as well.

Make your CRM deployment adjust to your business needs, not the other way around.

Myth #3: I have to buy different “suites” for the different departments in my business.

Traditionally, companies have been organized by function and department. The concept of CRM “suites” for different departments followed, and as a result, many organizations are often stuck in their old habits, using their legacy CRM technology to support separate, siloed business functions.

Buying multiple suites or clouds and development platforms to support sales, marketing, and service people increases complexity, cost, and time-to-market for your users. It also means you have to try to integrate different solutions, and that can be difficult, even if they are from the same vendor.

Instead, let’s look at the purpose of CRM from the beginning. What do you need it for? Isn’t it to build better relationships with your customers? Shouldn’t that apply to everyone in your company who interacts with them?

By making CRM available to all your teams, it ensures that no one in your company can claim ignorance and everyone has the latest on the status of your customer base.

Myth #4: When it comes to CRM, the sticker price is only the beginning.

For far too long, enterprise software vendors have gotten away with complex pricing models that make it very difficult to know how much your CRM is really going to cost. Vendors publish pricing that looks straightforward on the surface but requires a team of lawyers to really understand all the limitations and up-charges you’re going to face if you actually try to make the system do what you need it to do. These include:

  • Upcharges for system usage, which are often very hard to calculate and budget.
  • Charges for API calls, which equate to connections to other data sources.
  • Storage-based fees can balloon when storing large files such as PDFs or presentation slide decks in the system.
  • Charges for mobile access and more all make it very difficult to understand what your CRM solution is really going to cost.

There really is a better way. Simple and straightforward pricing should be the rule of the day so businesses can make their CRM initiative a strategic differentiator at a cost that works for them. Organizations should be able to make as many API calls as they want, store as much data as they want, and never be surprised by unexpected fees.

Myth #5: My CRM vendor can never be a true partner.

This one really bugs me. As an industry, we haven’t done a good job of being true partners that our customers enjoy doing business with. Sure, we need to make our products easy to use, pricing straightforward and deployment flexible. But even more important than all that, a CRM vendor should strive for an open and accountable relationship that creates trust.

Your CRM should be committed to our role as a trusted partner in your success, providing a holistic view of how you can balance people, processes, and systems to build extraordinary customer relationships—and steering clear of the above CRM myths is the first step in achieving this goal.

First-generation CRM vendors have sold a lot of software. But they haven’t helped a lot of companies build great relationships with their customers.

It’s time to stop accepting the conventional wisdom about CRM, and start exploring the power of being different.

Naming products is both an art and a science. Marketers work hard to come up with names that resonate with their target customers, maybe evoke a specific emotion, maybe tell you what the product does. Sometimes its a hit, sometimes its a miss. Heck, we named our company Sugar and then decided SugarCRM was closer to home. Either way, the name “Sugar” was stepping outside the bounds of normal back in 2004 and it’s been a hit for us.

It’s certainly fun to watch all of the companies out there name their new AI services. From IBM with Watson (that’s their founder’s last name, not Sherlock’s sidekick) to Microsoft with Cortana (which cracks me up as a Halo fan) to SugarCRM with Candace (Candace…candy…sugar…get it?), we are seeing a whole new set of opportunities for marketers to make their impact with compelling names and creating compelling identities. It was exciting to announce Candace back in June 2016 and describe the future of CRM and AI together.

Our friends at Salesforce joined the fun a couple weeks ago and announced their approach to CRM and AI. They chose to name their AI service “Einstein.” But I’m going to pause on the obvious for a moment. Einstein? Really?!

Personally, I think Marc Benioff and his marketing team have let their hubris finally get to them in a big, big way. To try and steal the “Einstein” identity away from Albert Einstein, one of the greatest legends of modern history, is absolutely ridiculous. It is simply yet another illustration of how Salesforce continues to lose touch with their customers and believe the hype they spout about themselves everyday.

My fellow marketers at Salesforce, this is beneath you. Here’s a wag of the finger at the Salesforce marketing department.

 

We can all picture a swan gliding calmly over still waters. As business people, most of us can’t help thinking of those two legs beneath, paddling tirelessly, navigating currents, rocks, weeds and the odd pinching crab.

In the business world, you need to paddle hard to be a swan these days. Consumers’ expectations of always-on, mobile-friendly digital services are crossing industry boundaries so that it’s not good enough to just be better than your direct competitors. Instead, your business is being compared with the best customer experience in every industry. If it’s too complicated to get something done on a small screen with tiny keys, then your customers go elsewhere.

Further, every industry is at risk of disruption by new digital-native entrants, whose business models are designed with a customer-centric digital strategy first, and who move with an agility that established businesses struggle to match.

Customer Experience

In the past, “customer experience” has been something you could bolt onto a business, but in this age of the customer, the customer experience goes to the heart of every business model.

Analyst group Forrester refers to the three E’s of customer experience; Was the experience effective in achieving the outcome the customer desired? Was the experience easy to complete? Was it enjoyable; or at least leave the customer in as good a mood as when they started?

Even if your business provides an effective service to historically loyal customers, if your competitors can provide a similar service that is easier and more enjoyable, then you are at risk of losing that loyalty.

The burden of complexity must sit somewhere

How do you make experiences easy and enjoyable? Unfortunately, it is often the case that the easier it looks for the customer, the harder your company needs to paddle under to the water to deliver the great experience.

Every business has to have structure and departments; it is why we often refer to companies as “organizations”. However, the particular idiosyncrasies of your organizational structure are not the customer’s problems. Customers don’t need to know that a particular interaction crosses three departments. The burden of this complexity shouldn’t be pushed onto the customer. They don’t care.

So how can you manage this complexity?

There was a time where the answer was to buy a fully integrated application that crossed all business functions. Unfortunately, the reality is that IT systems evolve at different rates; ERP systems that manage finances and warehouses evolve more slowly than CRM and Marketing Automation systems, and new social media management tools are released each week.

As a result, a fully integrated suite is likely to be really good in one area but result in a whole lot of compromises in others. These compromises may impact aspects of the customer journey today, or reduce your agility by preventing you from changing components in the future.

Best practice today involves favoring agility over efficiency. A highly efficient system that restricts your company’s ability to adapt to rapidly changing customer demand will ultimately cost you dearly. “Orchestrating” information systems so they share data through loosely coupled web-services or middleware layers provides the ability to deliver great a customer experience, and easily replace any individual technology component that starts to play out of tune.

No-one is an expert any more – make data driven decisions

It used to be that 25 years experience in an industry would make you an expert on how your customers behave. Now, customer behavior is changing so fast that you it’s dangerous to rely on these long-held “gut-feeling” type opinions.

Today we’re awash in data. Use what data you have, or start to gather the evidence you need to make decisions. When you’re unsure, run experiments; test ideas. Resist hubris, and be humble enough to accept that the accepted wisdom may no longer be true.

Understand Customers

Ultimately it is the customer that matters to every business. If you want to understand your customers, you need to embrace complexity and turn it to your advantage, use your Customer Relationship Management system to consolidate information and surface new insight. Who are your ideal customers of the future and why? What motivates them, what will their journeys look like, and how can you redesign your business to deliver the best customer experience?

Be the swan. Use technology and insight to focus on all the right questions, and create elegant, simple answers. Your customers will thank you for it.

 

 

Is your organization using Sugar to automate sales, marketing, support, or in some other unique way? Have you gained benefit from the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of the Sugar platform?

Then it’s time for your voice to be heard.

pi

Gartner’s Peer Insights is an innovative new concept from the analysis firm. Rather than have potential decision-makers hear only from analysts, who may or may not have hands-on experience with the software they recommend, Peer Insights gives potential buyers first hand analysis from actual users.

These reviews, combined with other steps in the evaluation process, can better equip IT and line of business decision-makers with the tools they need to best address their CRM initiatives.

Want your voice heard? Simply provide a review by clicking HERE.

We look forward to reading your thoughtful reviews!

Want to customize the SugarCRM Mobile app? Want to improve your mobile user on-boarding experience?  Looking to manage your SugarCRM Mobile app using Mobile Device Management (MDM)?

We are excited to announce Sugar Mobile Application Configurator Service (MACS). With Sugar MACS, Sugar customers can now create and distribute custom-branded versions of the SugarCRM Mobile app.

Additionally, SugarCRM mobile now also supports integration and deployment through industry standard MDM solutions.

Customize

Sugar MACS is very dynamic and is designed for easy customization. We are happy to say  there is no coding required..

You can add your company name and logo,  and select the color you want to be displayed in the background of the login, splash, and loading screens. With few simple clicks, you can generate a new executable that supports your desired look and feel.

Here is a visual example of what you can do with Sugar MACS:

The image on the right shows the customized version which as you can see is a lot different from the standard version on the left. 

Improve User Experience

Enterprise organizations can now provide a better on-boarding experience for their SugarCRM Mobile users.

Previously, users had to enter server URL, email address, password and possibly, other configurations as part of a one-time setup. These manual configurations are a barrier the adoption and success of your SugarCRM mobile app initiatives.

In the case of larger organizations, this may result in users calling IT support during first time login. If you document configuration info, it needs to be updated as you roll out new updates. Both of which you can avoid with Sugar MACS now

Instead, you can now preset the configurations and automatically set remotely using MDM. This simplifies the setup process for end users, and alleviates the help desk and documentation overhead.

In a recent webinar, SugarCRM did a quick poll asking end users how beneficial it will be to have configuration info like Sugar Instance URL preset on their SugarCRM Mobile app.  More than 70% of the respondents replied as useful or very useful.

Mitigate BYOD Risks

Although bring your own device (BYOD) programs have clear merits, they can also be fraught with security risks and device management issues.

Enterprise customers now have a better, more secure way to distribute and manage SugarCRM mobile app with MDM support. By using “app wrapping”, you now have the flexibility to manage who gets the SugarCRM Mobile app and when.

You can deploy your customized SugarCRM Mobile app in one of three ways

  • Using your preferred MDM solution
  • Publicly via the App Store or Google Play
  • Privately on your internal app store

 

Curious to know more about Sugar MACS?

Learn in under 90 seconds!

 

You can also check out this and other SugarCRM videos on SugarCRM’s YouTube Channel.

For more details on Sugar MACS, check out the documentation on SugarCRM Support Portal.