For colleges and universities, student outreach begins with the first recruiting interaction and it must continue throughout the student’s time on campus and into his or her career as they become a potential donor.

CRM is the technology foundation that many colleges and universities use to focus on engaging with students and alumni. It enables schools to coordinate and track the student journey throughout their time on campus and beyond.

SugarCRM customer Fordham University uses Sugar to build relationships and boost loyalty among students and alumni. We caught up with Shaya Phillips, the associate vice president for information technology at Fordham, to discuss how the university gets a complete view of its students and empowers its staff by putting Sugar at the core of its student relationship management.

Check out the video:

SugarCRM is thrilled to report that our submission to the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework has been accepted. We are now certified.

First some background: the “EU-US Privacy Shield Framework,” was introduced earlier this year to succeed the now-invalid Safe Harbor agreement, which had been in place for decades. The Safe Harbor agreement allowed transfer of personal data from the European Union to the United States. Safe Harbor was invalidated by the European Court of Justice in October 2015 because of the perceived risk of US government spying on EU data.

The new arrangement, worked out earlier this year, imposes a range of new safeguards for transferring personal data from the European Union to the US:privacy-shield

  • US companies wishing to import personal data from Europe will need to commit to robust obligations on how personal data is processed and individual rights are guaranteed.
  • The US has given the EU assurances that the access of public authorities for law enforcement and national security will be subject to clear limitations, safeguards and oversight.
  • There will be a dedicated new Ombudsperson role in the US State Department to address complaints from European privacy regulators on behalf of individuals.

What does this mean for SugarCRM and our customers? SugarCRM has committed to applying the Privacy Shield’s principles and safeguards to EU-U.S. transfers of personal data. No action is required on our customers’ part to benefit from the protection of this framework.

The official Privacy Shield Website where you can find SugarCRM’s listing is here: https://www.privacyshield.gov/list

I am happy to announce a new podcast series from SugarCRM. This, among others to come, will be a series of short, but useful vignettes focused on forging a path to long-term CRM success.

The first series is titled: CRM Secrets Revealed. It outlines a lot of “secrets” (but for many of us who have deployed CRM – these are more truisms than secrets) that some CRM providers DON’T want you to know. The series represents the launch of our podcast channel: CRM Insights.

I hope you can tune in to these podcasts, and hopefully learn something new that can help your CRM evaluation or deployment. Or, simply sit back and be entertained during your commute or time on the elliptical!

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.

(Editor’s Note: the following is a guest blog post from Rachel Brink, the marketing manager at 3CLogic. It originally appeared on the SugarCRM Community)

customer-serviceFor most of today’s consumers, customer service plays a larger role in purchasing decisions than both price and product. And this fundamental shift has led many businesses to invest more resources in innovations that enhance the customer experience, including CRMs, Marketing Automation platforms, and contact center software. But despite an increased focus, there continues to exist a large gap—while 80% of businesses think they are delivering a superior customer experience, only 8% of consumers agree. How can organizations make better use of their data management and customer engagement solutions to streamline and automate customer service processes, and boost customer satisfaction?

 

1- Help customers help themselves

customer-service-channelsConsumers are increasingly gravitating towards self-service channels to resolve their problems and inquiries—in fact, self-service recently exceeded phone as the most used customer service touch point. Sugar Enterprise and Sugar Ultimate each offer a self-help portal, enabling customers to create cases, upload notes, track case statuses, manage subscriptions, and update account information. They also offer a searchable knowledge base where customers can find FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and product updates. Platforms such as 3CLogic’s contact center software also offer the ability to enable self-service via IVR menus—all of which will help decrease support costs, and boost customer satisfaction.

2 – Leverage client data to optimize queue management and call routing

While every customer is important, certain instances may require the need to prioritize specific incoming calls due to the client’s size, the urgency of their need, or their status (i.e. Premier Customer, etc.). When integrated with Sugar, 3CLogic’s contact center solution can automatically prioritize calls in the queue based on the clients’ information stored in Sugar records. It can also intelligently route calls to the individual best suited to address them based on a number of factors, including language, who the customer has worked with in the past, and the complexity of the case/agent skill level.

3 – Offer users immediate access to client records and cases

3clogic-sugar-integrationWhen assessing why certain cases were not resolved on the first call, customer service managers have found that more than half the time, it is due to the agent’s inability to quickly access customer information. But by leveraging Sugar in combination with a cloud communications platform, help desks can automatically populate agent screens with each client’s record and open cases upon every incoming call, facilitating fast and seamless customer support. Users will also have access to click-to-call functionality within each customer record or case for enhanced efficiencies.

4 – Automate the recording and documentation of callscrm-call-data

Less than ten percent of interactions are entered into the typical CRM, largely due to the fact that it is an extremely time consuming and manual process. And this lack of interaction data can inhibit service rep and managers’ ability to adequately understand previous as well as existing client issues. But by using a solution such as 3CLogic’s telephony platform, businesses can automatically save all call recordings and call details within each Sugar record or case, enabling reps and supervisors to better understand each customer’s service history. Call recordings can also be used by managers for coaching, and quality and training purposes.

5 – Measure, measure, measure

The only way to truly understand how your customer service team is performing, how satisfied your customers are, and what product or process changes need to be made, is by properly documenting all case information, interaction details, and customer feedback. Thanks to Sugar, this is quite easy to do using its reporting Module, offering actionable business intelligence including support team responsiveness, customer satisfaction scores, and incident frequency. Combined with call center data, managers can gain a better understanding of their team’s efficiency and where improvements should be made to cut down support costs and improve CSAT scores.

 

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.

The scientific method is an elegant one – always experimenting in the pursuit of the truth and accepting that new facts overturn previous belief. Our experiences shape and builds our understanding, and and it’s critical to never assume we know everything.

Great marketing is borne of this mindset. Best practices, judgment, and instinct guide marketing strategy, but what sets makes it great is the practice of experimenting, observing, analyzing and breaking new ground.

If you’re a Marketer today, and you’re not thinking this way, it’s time to reflect on whether you’re doing your best.

Marketing must be transformational

Your organization might be failing because it’s not responding to changes in your marketplace. And, you might not even know it.

Unless you acknowledge that marketing needs to adopt an inquiring and observational mindset in order to identify and lead business transformation, then you’re missing a huge opportunity – for you and for your organization.

We’ve seen some spectacular failures where brands just haven’t responded to change quickly enough; Borders and Blockbusters have become sad case studies in failure. And, we’ve seen others like Amazon and Uber who have not only responded to new customer preferences, but been forward-thinking enough to shape them. So what about your organization? How can you make sure it’s a master of change, not a slave to it?

Understand and experiment based on holistic observation

Be brave enough to keep asking questions about your customers and your organization, and develop the means to answer them. Stay close to your customers – understanding what they want and why, what they’re doing, when and how.

This isn’t a new idea. But there are modern approaches that provide new insight, about customers, and opening up a whole new line of understanding. It has the potential to keep us right on the pulse of change so we can tell the organization how to respond.

What exactly is this new method?

SugarCRM recently partnered with Telsyte to talk with 255 CMOs in Australian & New Zealand about how they’re getting closer to customers and shaping business transformation based on their observations.

From those results, we produced a report for marketing leaders entitled “Digital Leaders Use Customer Journey Maps to Guide Business Transformation.”

The paper looks at the value of personas and customer journey maps in relation to business transformation, and some of the practical steps to implementing them.

About half the Marketing leaders said:

“Our team promotes an understanding of the customer across the organization, helping to shape its entire approach to business transformation.”

Are you in this half?