Archives For CX

I just returned from a jam-packed two days at the Gartner Application Strategies & Solutions Summit in Las Vegas. While there, I met with analysts, existing SugarCRM customers, and a lot of prospects and IT leaders looking for the next “big thing” in application software.

gartnerimage002After dozens of great conversations, it is exciting to know that the IT and line of business leaders who attended are driving change in their organizations – mainly around the customer experience. And, perhaps more important, they are doing so in ways that align perfectly with the vision we have here at SugarCRM.

Here are some key takeaways I brought back from the event. I think they are pretty telling about the state of the industry and where we need to be as solution providers for businesses of all sizes looking to reinvent the ways they interact and build customer relationships:

Disruption is a serious issues for nearly ALL industries. I spoke with (and spoke to during my breakout session) individuals from all types of industries – both old, establish firms and even some startups. They ALL said they feel disruption BOTH from digital native upstarts as well as see the changing demands of the customer as disruptive forces.

Transformation over Migration/Modernization. I LOVED hearing that those with older technologies performing CRM functions were looking to go broader and truly transform their cultures and engagement strategies, and NOT simply put in more up to date systems. Right now is a time for transformation, not migration.

You gotta have a platform to win. In nearly every conversation we had with those managing a transformation, or even a broad CRM initiative – they indicated the need for a process-driven platform at the heart of the project. We built the Sugar platform, and embedded advanced workflow, with these types of projects in mind.

CX and CRM are Merging. Well, maybe to be more accurate, as one Gartner analysts described to me – “CRM is becoming a subset of CX.” Meaning, all businesses need some sort of core CRM tool, which can be a foundational system to power broader, more inclusive, end-to-end and omni-channel CX initiatives. I think the attendees are still bewildered around how to create a wholly inclusive CX strategy, but we as an industry need to be experts and be there to help guide them.

Value Matters, Always. We had hundreds of people coming by our booth at the conference and one overarching theme was that a lot of companies simply do not feel they are receiving value for the biggest and entrenched enterprise CRM players. We had a lot of productive conversations about how to drive value inside a CRM/CX initiative – and as more CIOs and business leaders are pressed to do more with less, we will continue to strive to be a leading value-oriented provider for all types of businesses.

Ultimately, it is comforting, energizing and exciting that we have built up a portfolio of offerings and solutions that align well with the needs and visions today’s business leaders see as necessary to remain successful in their respective markets. Thanks to all of the attendees and analysts with whom I had the pleasure of speaking to at the event. It was an awesome few days of learning and sharing ideas!

We have just returned from a bit of a whirlwind week of events: the trio of CRM Evolution/SpeechTek/Customer Service Experience shows in Washington D.C. and thecrossrdGartner Customer Strategies & Technologies Summit in London. Throughout the week, we heard a LOT of insightful and innovative ideas from analysts, practitioners and other industry experts around the present and future of customer engagement and customer relationship management in general.

One item that stuck out in my mind was Gartner analyst Ed Thompson’s keynote, which focused on the “defining moments” that shape our personal lives as well as the world around us. Note, these are very different than “moments of truth,” those small, but far more frequent interaction points that can make or break your relationships with customers. Defining moments, as Thompson explains, are far more infrequent, think of a major breakthrough such as the market availability of the first digital camera (or even the first camera phone), and have far more profound and lasting impacts.

These moments affect not just the way individuals see the world, but also shape the way businesses (and really, the world in general) operate.

When I look at the industry in which SugarCRM operates, that of front office software, it is easy to see several defining moments. These monumental shifts have been both in the way the customer relationship has evolved, and also about the nature of the technology we create and use in business. And of course, these two are inextricably linked.

A few examples of defining moments that have shaped CRM: the introduction of email into the customer relationship, the emergence of SaaS delivery of apps (and the eventual evolution into cloud software), the iPhone making mobile CRM apps a must-have, Facebook and Twitter becoming de-facto customer conversation channels, etc.

Looking at these defining moments, a few observations become clear. One, the pace and breadth of defining moments in our world is increasing, due mainly to the insanely rapid pace of technology innovation. Second, those that refuse or simply fail to take advantage of the changes pushed forward from these moments do so at their own peril.

We talk a lot about “disruption” and “digital transformation” – but in the light of defining moments these should not be considered single “projects” or a one-time transformation endeavor. Rather, the pace of innovation and the onslaught of more customer channels, data points, and expectations means that businesses must be in a constant state of development, with total openness to change. Sure, change is hard, but you need to aggressively embrace new business models.

One great example is SugarCRM customer CitySprint (who just happened to co-present their transformation story on stage at the Gartner event). While CitySprint is a leader in its space as a last mile delivery and logistics provider in the UK, they saw the disruption curve coming – from new digital technologies like Uber, Amazon Prime, etc. Rather than risk getting left behind, CitySprint is incubating its own startup to shift its business from simple delivery into providing technology, solutions and tools for businesses across the UK to create more effective customer experiences. (CitySprint will be telling more about this story at SugarCon in June FYI.)

So, no matter what your industry, one thing is clear: disruption is coming in some form or another. And, it is going to keep coming. Those who embrace the pace of change and respond accordingly will win. Those who do not will face steeper and steeper uphill climbs in an increasingly competitive marketplace. On which side of this equation would you rather be?

expLast week SugarCRM was the lead sponsor of the Conference Board’s 11th Annual Customer Experience Conference held in downtown NYC. The conference brought together hundreds of cross-functional executives and thinkers responsible for the customer experience at organizations of all shapes and sizes.

In addition to some great keynotes from former Sprint CEO Dan Hesse and Overstock.com president Stormy Simon, SugarCRM CEO Larry Augustin explained to the captive crowd the importance of using a modern CRM as the tool to unify the customer experience across both digital and human touch points.

Overall, the importance of focusing on the “human element,” especially when thinking about optimizing customer experience was a theme that ran throughout the event. During a panel I moderated with executives from Citi, Constant Contact and Sparks Grove – the overarching message was to think of the people at the heart of the equations: the individual customers and the employees trying to help them along their customer journey.

The event was a great way to talk to some business and individuals in various stages of a customer experience transformation. And the fact that so many businesses are considering CRM as a major lynch pin to the success of their customer experience initiatives was great to see.

So, a big “thank you” to the Conference Board for putting on such an exceptional event, and a huge thank you to all the attendees, for all the great interactions and conversations!

CRM_Roundup_Banner_V4
Welcome to our roundup of customer relationship management (CRM) industry news from across the web. This week’s roundup will offer valuable insights to help jumpstart your customer loyalty program. We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

Creating an amazing customer experience can create customer evangelists. Although, how can you measure the value of a satisfied customer who isn’t loyal? Shep Hyken says it best:

There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer.
    ~ Shep Hyken

Did I also mention that Shep will be our keynote at this year’s SugarCon? The following will be a list of articles that can be used as a guide to revitalize your overall loyalty program, or give it a little boost.

Effective Social Media in your CRM: Loyalty
Social CRM can often complete the complete 360-degree customer view that companies rely on to communicate a consistent customer experience. Knowing exactly who your customers are will allow you to help serve them timely, relevant, and engaging content through the right social channel.
tweet_button

How To Use Technology, Brains, and Service To Build Customer Loyalty
It’s here that you shift your customers’ perception of your company out of the “they’re perfectly fine for now” to “they’re my one and only.”” – Micah Solomon

Technology can’t foster customer relationships alone. However, by combining well-trained employees with the tools needed in order to create an extraordinary customer experience, you’ve created an opportunity demonstrate value to your customers and drive customer loyalty.
tweet_button

Finding Benefits in SMB Loyalty Programs [Infographic]
How do you view customer loyalty for your SMB? This infographic explores the benefits of a loyalty program and exposes opportunities for you to take advantage of to leverage your customer base and keep them coming back for more.
tweet_button

4 Sharp Tools for Honing Reseller Loyalty
This article focuses more on managing relationship within your extended sales force: the channel. Providing support through an indirect channel is like playing a lethal game of telephone in customer service.

“It’s repeatedly been said that service is the secret to loyalty. Most of the time, that’s said in reference to direct customers — but it applies even more so to the indirect channel.” – Christopher J. Bucholtz
tweet_button

And there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this week’s roundup and have a newfound insight on loyalty. 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, we’ll be showing you the ins-and-outs of customer experience! We’re hunting the ‘net for the latest and greatest, and bringing them to you here, in one convenient weekly post.

What is Customer Experience? [Infographic]
The people over at CustVox, now owned by SandSIV, take you through a comprehensive infographic to help you leverage the Voice of Customer (VoC) and demonstrate Customer Experience Management (CEM) best practices. Customer Experience is for everyone, according to Flavio Martins: he explains the top reasons to invest in CEM with statistics to prove his point.
tweet_button

The Customer Experience Jury Is In
Chris Bucholtz draws lessons from his latest experience attending what most people see as a burden: jury duty. Understanding the value of customer experience, Bucholtz highlights the importance of empathy, courtesy, and simplifying processes for the customer.
tweet_button

Is Your Customer Focused Language Important?
Bill Hogg delves into the importance of semantics when interacting with customers. Paying attention to detail in the dialogue spoken during any customer interaction can make or break how they may perceive you and your brand.
tweet_button

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