Keys to CRM System Adoption: Executive Involvement and Commitment

In previous articles in this series we pointed out that high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. In subsequent articles we described the drivers to user adoption, and the best ways to make them part of your corporate DNA. This is the final article in this series.

An old joke:   What is it that no man wants but no man wants to lose? A bald head! It seems that we could easily paraphrase this to fit the topic. What is it that no Executive uses but no Executive wants to lose? A CRM system! It has been proven over and over in thousands of CRM implementations (in fact in just about any corporate initiative) that the number one success factor in the implementation is early commitment to the system and early adoption of the system by the Executive team. It is the #1 success factor for 2 reasons; 1.) The commitment leads to adequate funding and resources, and 2.) The adoption by the Executives drives adoption by the other employees in the company.   Unfortunately, many CRM systems deliver far less value than they should because the Executives, who committed millions of dollars to the system in hopes of a healthy improvement to the bottom line, never fully commit to or adopt the system. Ask any executive at a company with a comprehensive investment in a troubled CRM system if they want to lose the information and functionality that it provides and you will get 2 answers, both start with NO! You will either hear; “NO! We have the right system and we get some valuable information, we just need more participation.” or you will hear “NO! We are evaluating a new system that will be easier to use so that we can get more information and functionality.”

Assuming that they have addressed the other factors that drive user adoption (Pay for Play, EASE, and Coaching) it can be safe to say that if the CRM system is still suffering from user adoption issues (to mangle Shakespeare) the fault, dear executives, lies not in your users but in yourselves. This can be quickly and easily fixed, but it means that executives, who likely brought the change of a CRM system to the company, will have to move to the front and lead that change!

Another old joke to demonstrate the difference between commitment and involvement: At a bacon and egg breakfast – the pig was committed and the chicken was involved. Executives must be committed and demonstrate it by:

  1. Including the CRM system as a budget category for all business departments
  2. Creating channels for corporate change management messages about the system and ensuring that a pipeline of messages is queued up in each channel
  3. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to develop the system
  4. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to train the users
  5. Committing to the time, money, and people needed to maintain and improve the system
  6. Committing to joining and participating in industry councils
  7. Committed to the CRM System to gain a sustainable advantage in the marketplace
  8. Commit to be a key member of the executive steering committee

Executives must adopt the system and demonstrate it by:

  1. Personally using the system for forecasting, quota management, and pipeline analysis (sales). This means, no ‘one off’ out of the system spreadsheets or databases with layers of analysts between the executives and the rest of the user community
  2. Using the system for measuring performance to SLA’s, customer satisfaction, cost of service, and cross sell revenue (service)
  3. Using the system to see the ROI and effectiveness of marketing campaigns and to understand the handoff from marketing to sales and finally to service
  4. Using the system for the corporate intranet, internal communications, file transfers and storage, collaboration, and event management

Most importantly, you have to do all this with a smile on your face (and in your heart!) and you have to be the first in line to do it! Here is a quick check list of questions to ask yourself as an executive:

  1. Am I leading the change management effort for the CRM system?g. Did I organize and chair the committee? Am I involved daily in promoting the system in some way?
  2. Am I the best trained user in the company?
  3. Do I get 100% of my analyses from the CRM system for Sales, Service, and Marketing?
  4. Do I have a road map for what improvements need to be made and when to make them? Do I even have a process in place for continuous system improvement?
  5. Do my teams see me using the system proficiently?

Final old joke: Doing things the same way and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Ask yourself, “Did I invest millions in a CRM system, expect everyone else to change, while I remained the same and still get different results?” Instead, isn’t it time to pick up the flag, face the line of retreating users, and charge right back at the competition with a renewed commitment to the system and a promise to be the first and most important adopter!

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Keys to CRM System Adoption: EASE

Previously we’ve seen that high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. Are you one of the many companies that have invested millions in software licenses, maintenance, and services to install a CRM application, but haven’t invested the time and energy to create a true CRM Culture – Application, Infrastructure, Employee users, Indirect Channel users, and Customers? While all of the components of your CRM System are critical, your CRM Culture cannot be created without your Employee users.

Earlier articles outline the 5 key areas to investigate and correct if you are having an employee-system adoption issue: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching. We have already discussed pay for play, and coaching in earlier postings. It is time to look at the importance of the EASE formula as it relates to system adoption.

Fear and Love are great personal motivators, but employees can’t be expected to always respond professionally to them (e.g. if they fear for their job, they may find a new one rather than do more work in a current one). The best professional motivators, the ones that encourage employees (and customers as well) to act are those that fit the EASE formula. That is, the new course of action must be: Effective (or more effective than the current course of action); Accurate (or more accurate than the current course of action); Speedier (time to result is less than the current course of action); Economical (costs less than the current course of action). Of course, EASE implies that this effective, accurate, speedy, and economical course will also be easy to follow.   If you have an adoption problem, you most likely have not applied the EASE formula to fix it.   Here is the corrective action we recommend.

  1. Is your CRM system effective in doing what it is supposed to do? Remember that the goal of every CRM system is to get the right person/offer, in front of the right customer, at the right time, with the right information. Everyone’s favorite radio station is WWID-FM (what will it do for me). If your employees use the system are they more effective at selling and thereby making more sales and money while better meeting customer needs and situation? Are they more effective at providing customer service and satisfying the customer? If you have truly designed to the system to make your sales and service channels more effective, has that message been sent clearly to your teams?
  2. Is the data (base and transactional) in your system accurate? Can sales users rely on the territory alignments, the sales figures, the lead assignments, the compensation comparisons, and the pipeline and forecast analysis? Is your knowledge base for customer service current and complete? Do you enrich, standardize, and cleanse the base data for customers. Have you done a complete job of transforming and incorporating data from acquired and sunset systems?
  3. Is your CRM system fast? Is your CRM system performance optimized? Have you minimized the clicks to result? Have you eliminated wasteful cycles that were added in different times and are now obsolete? Are you persisting with complex coverage models that slow down the assignment process? Are you persisting with complex compensation models that slow down reporting on results?
  4. Are you treating your CRM system like a cost center or a selling/service investment? Are you limiting access to the system to only a few employees due to the cost of the user licenses? Do you have success metrics in place to show the return on investment in the system and are you focused on the customer as a way to improving those measurements?

Finally, is your system easy to use? Can it be accessed from multiple devices for many purposes? Have employees been trained and re-trained to use it in the context of their roles? Have you looked at it from both a function and usability perspective?

You can begin to eliminate your adoption issues if you apply the EASE formula – make sure the system is effective, accurate, speedy, and economical and wrap that in an easy to use package. The value of your system grows exponentially with each dedicated user and once it becomes part of your culture, adoption issues disappear completely.

 

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Keys to CRM System Adoption – Pay for Play

In a previous article, we discussed how high rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. This article is another on what organizations can do to drive user adoption of the installed CRM system. There are 5 key areas to investigate and correct: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching.

Pay for Play is a sophisticated version of the “carrot” (positive action or reward) that many organizations routinely use to influence employee behavior. It is well documented that employees take behavioral clues from the compensation and reward/recognition programs offered by the company. In short, if you want an employee to play the game (i.e. use the CRM Application) by the company rules, you must pay them to do so. If your company is experiencing user adoption problems for your CRM Application, investigate whether or not your compensation and/or rewards and recognition programs have a neutral or even worse, a negative impact on user adoption. Start the investigation with these questions:

  1. Is use of the CRM Application specifically mentioned in the compensation agreement established with all employees who are licensed to use it?
  2. Is the expert use of the CRM Application specifically detailed in the company’s rewards and recognition programs for these employees?
  3. Is the expert use of the CRM Application specifically part of formal employee reviews?

Next ask these questions:

  1. Is there any portion of the compensation plan that might conflict with use expert use of the CRM Application? For example, are sales reps compensated for the number of calls rather than the quality of calls? Are Customer Service Representatives paid strictly on improving measures such as average handle time, average talk time, and calls per hour?
  2. Is there any portion of the rewards and recognition program that would encourage using non-standard business process to earn recognition or a reward? For example, are sales reps inadvertently rewarded for their own prospecting disproportionately instead of following up on marketing leads? Can a Customer Service Representative be rewarded for using unofficial channels to resolve a common customer issue?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of the first 3 questions and ‘Yes’ to either or both of the last 2 questions, then by definition you have a Pay for Play problem that might be the source of reduced user adoption for your CRM Application. The good news is that you have found the issue; the bad news is that finding that there is a problem is easier than pinpointing the various solutions that it will remove these roadblocks from user adoption.

If you have found from the analysis in questions 1, 2 and 3 that you are not rewarding the use of the CRM Application, your company is faced with the need to create compensation plans that reward this desired behavior. That is usually a difficult task for any organization because it is difficult to establish the value of the enhanced information and benefits from a new or re-released CRM Application. In addition most companies are already at either an optimal or even sub-optimal compensation ratio, so adding even a little more cost to employee compensation is difficult to manage. This is where the importance of having executive sponsorship and comprehensive system planning prove to be so important. The return on investment planned for the system should be adjusted for any planned increase in compensation costs. In addition, a change to the compensation program that is concurrent with a CRM Application release can send a powerful message that a system is being put in place to enhance customer experience.

If it truly isn’t possible to make immediate changes to the compensation program to provide financial rewards for expert use of the CRM Application, then be sure to include recognition in any local/regional/corporate recognition programs. While this is not the most effective Pay for Play option, it can be very effective if done correctly.

Some creative suggestions for rewarding CRM Application usage that have been successfully used:

Compensation:

  • Create a rating system for effective usage and tie a certain portion of future base pay increases to positive ratings
  • Offer different rates of incentive compensation (commissions) based on the way a sale is documented in the CRM Application
  • Offer compensation to employees who convince current customers to act as references and document this properly in the CRM Application

Recognition:

  • Create a rating system for effective usage of the CRM Application and award employees who consistently attain those levels a small memento/award that they could not obtain any other way than through this program
  • Set aside a small portion of every rewards ceremony to recognize effective CRM Application usage

Finally, if you discover that your current compensation and/or recognition programs discourage CRM Application usage, take the opportunity to modify this with any new or re-release of the CRM Application. If this cuts across the grain of your current company culture, remember you are introducing the CRM System to build a new customer oriented culture and this is certainaly the best place to start.

Remember, if you truly believe in the CRM system and continue with the appropriate levels of commitment, the cost of the additional rewards and compensation will easily be recovered in the increased benefit of the system to your company. In addition the message sent throughout the organization will help enhanced Customer Experience become part of your company culture.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Keys to CRM System Adoption: Coaching

High rates of user adoption maximize the benefit of a CRM system to every system user in an exponential way as every key process in the business; planning, marketing, selling, servicing, and analyzing, is enriched by the increased information and functionality of the CRM system. Many companies invest millions in software licenses and services to install a CRM application, but don’t invest the time and energy to create a CRM System – Application, Infrastructure, Employee users, Indirect Channel users, and Customers. Each part of the system is critical to the system, with none more critical than the Employee users.

When Employee users eagerly use and contribute to the CRM system, user adoption is high. When Employee users do not use, or incorrectly use the system user adoption rates are low. When adoption rates are high, companies must persist on the system planning and implementation path that they have outlined to maintain and upgrade the system over time. When adoption rates are low, companies must pause and analyze the issues and take immediate corrective action. This is the first in a series of articles that detail what organizations can do to drive user adoption of the installed CRM system. There are 5 key areas to investigate and correct: executive involvement, pay for play, EASE, commitment, and coaching.

Coaching may be the least understood duty that is assigned to any manager in any organization. Coaching is the ability to demonstrate and inculcate a skill as it will be used in the organization. It should not be confused with Training, Motivation, Leadership, or Management of Resources – each of these is an important duty for organization Managers, but they are not “Coaching”. Unfortunately, many organizations and the Managers in that organization DO confuse one or all of these skills for Coaching. This is particularly detrimental to CRM Application user adoption. Throwing money and bodies at the CRM Application and making speeches about the benefits will not increase the skill level of the Employee users. Even application training is only marginally effective. The only proven way to increase the employee skill level successfully on a CRM Application is for the appropriate person, which more than 95% of the time is the direct Manager of the employee, to Coach the employee on the application. Raising the employee skill level, making the employee more comfortable with the application, is a key to user adoption.

In the Carew course on Selling Skills Coaching[1], the Coaching process has 4 distinct steps:

  1. Demonstrate the skill to the employee
  2. Assist the employee in attempting the skill
  3. Allow the employee to practice the skill in a supportive, protected environment
  4. Monitor and give feedback on the employee’s skill level in day to day activities

Demonstrate the skill: This means that each Manager on the Management team must be able to use the CRM application with enough proficiency that they can fully demonstrate it to their direct reports. For example, Sales Managers must be able to do everything in the CRM application that they are expecting their team members to do – e.g. handle leads, manage opportunities, create quotes, submit orders, update contact level information, etc. This level of proficiency is gained by including the Managers early in the requirements gathering phase, the design and development process, the testing phase, and by involving them in intensive application training and train the trainer sessions prior to the release of the application.

Assist the employee in attempting the skill: Each Manager should be at every roll-out/training session for the CRM application when his/her team is involved. The Manager will demonstrate the CRM application in the context of the business model for his/her team. They will assist each employee in completing a real world use case. They will answer business questions and questions about application design and functionality. They will also be able to do this when a new employee is added to the team after the CRM Application roll-out.

Allow the employee to practice the skill: After assisting the employee on the first use case, the Manager allows the employee to practice on similar use cases. The Manager evaluates the progress, provides positive feedback for each correct step, and makes suggestions for improvement when appropriate. Finally, the Manager recognizes and congratulates the employee on having attained a skill level sufficient to begin using it in live business processes.

Monitor and give feedback: The best and only effective way to monitor progress on a CRM Application is for the Manager to use the application! Printed reports and spreadsheets send a very negative message to the employees when used for this purpose. Employees want to feel that they have enriched the organization and improved the business through their actions in the CRM Application, the best way to do this is for the Manager to demonstrate that his/her decisions are being driven by the information in the system. Managers who use the system are much better able to evaluate the performance of their teams on the CRM Application than those who do not.

The creation or re-release of a CRM system involves a great deal more than the installation of a CRM Application. If the CRM Application is not used properly, or not used at all, then the system has a greatly diminished value. Coaching is one of five key drivers to Employee user adoption. Make sure that as you are planning your CRM System you enable Coaching in your organization change management plans.

  1. Involve all Management levels in requirements, design, prototypes, and testing.
  2. Conduct intense training and train the trainer sessions (and include Coaching training if it is not already part of your Management training curriculum) for all managers before general release
  3. Involve the Managers in all direct rollout activities to their teams
  4. Make training environments available to the organization
  5. Ensure that Managers can work in the CRM Application to accomplish the vast majority of the business process cycles they manage.
  6. Ensure that employee onboarding is not considered complete until the Coaching process has progressed to step 4.

The cost of these activities will easily be recovered in the increased benefit of the system to your company, and the Coaching skills you give to your Managers will be used many, many times in other business processes and become part of your Customer Experience driven culture.

[1] http://www.carew.com/selling-skills-coaching.php

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

 

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Focus on the Customer: A Sustainable Competitive Advantage

In a previous article about focus on the customer we discussed how putting the customer in the center of your company can help you become a well-organized company. We also explored in another article how focus on the customer can be your guide to empowering your employees to act in a way that retains your customers and protects your interests. What may not have been crystal clear in either article is the crucial reason why focus on the customer is so important.

Ever since the introduction of row agriculture, when man was first able to consistently produce a product (the turnip) in abundance beyond his needs, there has been a ‘marketplace’ – i.e. producers, sellers, and consumers. The size and shape and kind of the marketplaces have changed dramatically over time, but there are two maxims that were true then and are still true today. Maxim One, there will always be someone in the marketplace who will be able to produce a better product than you can, or sell it more cheaply than you can, or promote it more effectively than you can, or do all three! Maxim Two, every market, and the products and services in that market, has a lifecycle curve from inception to obsolescence.   In layman terms, if you are in a market now or trying to enter an emerging market, you are constantly faced with a host of formidable competitors.

Economists will tell you that competition is healthy for the economy because it favors innovation and keeps prices low and service high. What that don’t tell you, and hope you implicitly understand, is that the way this comes about is that each of the companies in, or attempting to enter the marketplace, are trying to develop a competitive advantage over all of the other suppliers in the market.   They are trying to develop a sustainable competitive advantage that will allow them to take advantage of the market lifecycle when it is profitable. You have probably had these same discussions many times.  For example, “If we develop a new technology we will either leapfrog the competition or create a whole new market.” Perhaps you are thinking, “We’ll lower our prices and gain a greater market share that way.” Maybe you believe that developing myriad sales channels and heavy promotion will help you beat back your competitors and dominate the market. The problem lies in marketplace Maxim One.  Technology, Price, and Promotion are not sustainable advantages because there is always someone who will technologically leapfrog you, who will sell it cheaper, or who will outdo your promotion. Eventually, the technology research costs too much, the profit margin becomes too low, the selling and marketing expenses too high and your plan fails.

There is one, and possibly only one, sustainable advantage – focus on the customer. Customers still place a value on a relationship with a company; enough of a value to help you ward off the discounters who don’t nurture that relationship. Satisfied customers tell you what they need, and if you are focused on that, they give you the early optics to emerging and new markets so that your innovations aren’t wasted in leapfrogging in the wrong direction technologically.  Finally, customers who believe they are the focus of your company are loyal; they are 5 times less likely to be persuaded by your competitors’ promotions than are dissatisfied customers.

Focus on the customer is a very small investment compared to the research to develop technically superior products, or the discounting required to be the low price leader, or the sales and marketing expenses of a high powered promoter. It simply takes the right culture, with the right tools, empowered with the right attitude. Put the customer in the center of your Customer Relationship Management system for a sustainable competitive advantage.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Customer Experience: Is the Bar Being Raised and Can You Still Jump Over It?

It is a widely held belief that the secret to a satisfied customer is similar to the secret to a satisfying marriage – low expectations!

As with many things in life, a customer’s satisfaction with a product or service is something that can really only be measured against that customer’s own, personal expectations.

The customer will be satisfied with your company’s offering if his or her expectations are met. However, this also implies that as the customer’s expectations go up, satisfying the customer will become more difficult. Evidence strongly suggests that all customer expectations are, as a rule of thumb, rising constantly over time.

Your customers are not measuring their experience with you against your competitors in the current marketplace; instead they are comparing your company to the customer experience delivered by Amazon, JetBlue, Apple, or American Express.

Claes Fornell is the Swedish professor who came to America more than 20 years ago and founded the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). In his book, The Satisfied Customer, Fornell reports that before field testing the ACSI, his team scoured the literature on customer satisfaction in order to ensure that they captured just the right kind of variables.

According to Fornell,

“Although there was no consensus on how to measure customer satisfaction, three facets showed up over and over. The most common had to do with the confirmation or disconfirmation of prior expectations. Another was the idea of comparing a company’s product to a customer’s ideal version of the product-regardless of whether or not such a product even existed. The third facet was the cumulative level of satisfaction when all interactions, the customer’s total experience over time with the company, were taken into account.”

Simply stated, a customer will become less satisfied even if your product or service remains at the same level of quality because his or her expectations have increased.

It is easy to imagine that, as companies around the world focus more and more on improving the customer experience, streamlining and automating their processes, and providing greatly enhanced online experience that the general level of customer expectations with regard to ALL companies is increasing.

This means you cannot simply maintain your position by continuing to do what you have always done. If your remain static, you customer satisfaction scores – ACSI or NPS – or previously determined internal scales from Ecstatic to Miserable – will decline as customer expectations rise.

No matter what your current position in your marketplace, dominant to new entrant, you simply will not maintain or grow that position without actively working to improve your customer experience, because the rising tide of customer expectations will soon submerge your satisfaction scores.

As the pace of technological change continues to accelerate, and as new customers with elevated expectations enter the marketplace, you must plan to improve your customer experience at an accelerated pace just to maintain your current level of customer satisfaction scores. That type of planning and execution requires a partner with deep experience in customer satisfaction, broad knowledge of current and future trends for customer expectations, and keen awareness of the technologies that are currently and soon to be available to customer experience managers.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant
Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

 

This blog was written by Jim Lindenfeld, who has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Focus on the Customer by Empowering Your Employees

Before you read this article, please go to the shelf, find your customer service standard operating procedures, dust them off, and check to see how many issues your organization faces daily that aren’t covered by a listed procedure. The truly customer-focused organizations are keenly aware that there are many situations that arise that are not covered by a known procedure and in order to keep the customer satisfied, action that is ‘against policy’ may have to be taken. These organizations engender a Focus on the Customer culture that empowers employees to do just that.

Empowering an employee to advocate for the customer, however, doesn’t necessarily give them the tools to do so. For years companies have been seeking the best way to handle these un-documented service scenarios so that the customer is satisfied and the company interests are also protected. Many people feel that if they tell the Customer Service Rep to treat the customer as fairly as they would want to be treated, then that meets an internal standard for solving the customer’s issue and protecting the corporate interests. However, many others feel that relying on a single employee’s perception of ‘fair’ may not do either of those things. This latter stream of thought has led some companies to insert a management review stage into the process that is counter-productive to an empowered culture.

Don Peppers, a highly respected author and CRM researcher, recently blogged about a new and innovative approach being tried by an Australian company. In their system, the customer service representative formulates an approach to solve the customer’s issue. However, before presenting it to a customer, they present it to a peer in customer service. If two customer service reps agree that the solution is the right one that is the one presented to the customer. In addition, the solution is reviewed later by management to see if it is something that would make sense to include in a standard procedures manual. This approach seems to preserve the culture of empowerment while ensuring that a ‘reviewed’ solution is used. It has the added benefit of increasing the knowledge base for the company.

If you have an innovative idea for creating and maintaining an empowered customer service culture that focuses on the customer, we would like to hear from you as well. Customer Relationship Management is a marriage of culture and technology and the companies that customers like to buy from are the ones where that relationship is nurtured from the boardroom to the warehouse.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Organize your Company by Focusing on Your Customers

In 2015 many have come to believe that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is all about the technology. Technology is only the enabler. Real CRM is a corporate wide discipline that is enabled by the chosen CRM technology. That technology is capable of capturing all of the information about your transactions with customers (indeed, you can usually capture every interaction from the first moment you meet them as prospects to whatever eventuality occurs), but that typically requires a discipline throughout your company to do just that! That discipline can come by focusing on the customer.

Customers want to work with companies that are well-organized – that is, there are no gaps in their interactions with their customers. During sales interactions, these well-organized companies quickly provide answers that are specific to the customer’s needs and situation. They understand not only the features of the products that they sell, but also the benefits that derive from those features. Finally, they understand which of the benefits best match the objectives of the customer and focus on delivering those in value messages and during service delivery.

During support interactions, the support team can clearly define the support process for the customer, they have documented knowledge of the products and services the customer has purchased, they have access to what the customer is currently evaluating, they know what service level the customer is entitled to have, and they have encyclopedic knowledge on how to resolve an issue or answer a question. In addition, they have support sites specific to the customer for speedy and effective self-support.

Finally, the customer is delighted to learn that the well-organized company understands the social and competitive landscape that the customer faces. The well-organized company is in touch with the thought leaders and decision makers in the organization and the marketplace, they know the competitors and understand the competitive advantage the customer is attempting to create, and they understand the trends and regulatory pressures that are also shaping the customer’s behavior.

There are many companies out there that have processes in place (sales, customer service, and marketing) to gather the information described above. What they lack is the corporate discipline to gather it consistently and to then consistently share the raw data and the customer-focused analysis of the data.

If you are currently evaluating your CRM technology ask yourself some key questions:

  1. Does our system put the right person, in front of the right customer, with the right product and information, at the right time? (Or, as in many systems, are we relying on sales people to figure that out and then record the interaction in a CRM tool?)
  2. Does our system make it easy for my Sales channel to see and evaluate customer issues that required support from either self-service or the Customer Service team? (Or, as in many systems, are we at best only presenting the raw data and expecting the Sales team to spend additional time analyzing it?)
  3. Does our system make it easy for the Customer Service team to understand the Sales activity with the customers that involve samples, demonstrations, and trials?
  4. Does our system proactively push results from marketing and social media campaigns to our Sales and Customer Service teams? (Or, as in many systems, are we expecting those groups to search for, pull, and evaluate the information?)
  5. Finally, is our corporate focus on the customer, treating each customer as a marketplace of one, to ensure that each corporate employee understands the importance of using the system each and every time we interact with a customer so that we have the data and analysis available to demonstrate to all of our customers that we are a well-organized company?

Put the “customer” in the center of your Customer Relationship Management system and you will find that your company will focus on the discipline needed to maximize the return on your investment.

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld, Principal Consultant

Jim Lindenfeld has been actively involved in customer relationship management during his entire professional career.  He is a certified sales and sales management trainer.  He has been involved in the implementation of CRM systems since 1987 and is currently a principal consultant in our CRM practice.

 

 

 

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

May 2015 Service Cloud in a Nutshell

Oracle Service Cloud: May 2015
The May 2015 release has arrived! It is the second release of the year and has four major new features/enhancements. As usual there is a new tutorial that goes over the release highlights; you may want to review it as I will not go over every new feature: https://cx.rightnow.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/7811
Single Sign-On for Third Party Identity Providers
In this release you no longer need to integrate Agent desktop for Single Sign-on now you can connect to third party identity providers. This allows for seamless connections between applications utilized by your call center agents. If you already own or are thinking about acquiring Oracle Sales cloud this will allow you to use Oracle Identity Management as the IDP as the two applications come with it when bundled. Also available now is Single log-out which will log agent out of the Service cloud , any other service providers that are connected to the IDP and the IDP itself.

sso

Connect REST API
The new REST API is something I have been hearing whispers about for a few years now and recently had the opportunity to see a demo from the Oracle Product Manager who “owns” this new feature. The REST API opens up a whole new realm of integration possibilities. To go hand in hand with the new API Oracle has come out with a new version of the Connect Common Object Model 1.3 which will allow synchronized metadata among PHP API, ROQL and Connect for Web Services. The full developer documentation can be reviewed for anyone interested here: http://documentation.custhelp.com/euf/assets/devdocs/may2015/Connect_REST_API/wwhelp/wwhimpl/js/html/wwhelp.htm#href=connect_rest_api.1.01.html

The launch URI to access the API is:

https://<your_site_interface>/services/rest/connect

Service Collaboration
Service collaboration has been enhanced to allow agents to get assistance from subject matter experts (SME) who are not users of agent desktop. Users such as product experts and analysts, can be brought in to answer questions or contribute to solving an incident.
If you configure collaboration, the External User check box displays on a tab in the Profiles editor. Users with an external profile can collaborate in conversations with agents, but are not charged as named users for licensing compliance purposes. This is a huge score especially for organizations who don’t want to give accounts to occasional or highly specialized users. External users can log in to the collaboration service via a web browser or supported mobile device, but cannot use the Service Console.
I recently did a 3 part fast cast series about modern service and all the features outlined here can help businesses get ahead if they are far enough along on the maturity curve and look at adopting them as part of their roadmap to modern.

Oracle will be doing a product release webinar Thursday May 28th which should provide even more detailed information regarding this release. You can sign up here: http://bit.ly/OSVCexperts

For more information on the May 2015 version including release notes, manuals, webcasts, tutorials and community posts. Please review at the official RightNow documentation overview page.

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle Service Cloud and our other business solutions, contact us through our website: cx@evergegroup.com
newheadshot

 

About the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) Director of CX Solutions @ eVerge Group has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating Service Cloud (RightNow) for eight years. Follow me on twitter: just_rhianna

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin

Last release of 2014: Oracle Service Cloud November 2014

It has been a few months since the November version came out and eVerge Group’s Service Cloud practice has kept me so busy that I almost decided to skip the review being that it is now January 2015 but then something inspired me. I have been travelling without much time to even take a breath the last few weeks and had the opportunity to oversee a very talented team as they started implementing an instance of the November release for a client.

If you know me then you know I am a hands on person. I do not sit idly by while others get to play with the shiny new toys, I want to join in and help teach others who are newer to the product, the ENFJ in me won’t allow me not to teach. While working collaboratively with this team and rolling up my sleeves to share a few hard learned tricks on workflow I discovered some features that I somehow missed previously. I still haven’t determined when the two I found came into production but it created an incessant thrumming in my head to go back and review the new features so I could continue to share.

There is a new tutorial that goes over the release highlights you may want to review it as I will not go over every new feature: November Overview Video

Service Console Enhancements

We know from previous versions that tool windows can be shifted around to the right or left sides of the console as well as being collapsed or closed. In the November release an agent can now have even more room on the console by docking the tool windows to the status bar. Just don’t be like me and forget that you did it because when you login the next day you might panic and wonder why you have a blank screen.

nv15toolwd

 

Drop down menus now have type ahead and track items recently used. With the type ahead feature an agent no longer needs to scroll or navigate through menus that in some cases could be six levels deep. Now as they begin to type the menu will highlight potential matches if there is more than one. Ten recent items can be listed by default.

N15-menuEnhancements to Message templates

The editor now has sub tabs so you can edit multiple templates at the same time to nov15msgallow different versions or language templates to be easily compared. This also allows an administrator to work in other areas of the console without having to close out message template like you had to in previous releases.

 

Within message templates you can also now create up to 10 conditional subject lines and can write conditions based on the number of message threads as well.

New configuration Assistant

I have used this new tool for the project mentioned above and it is great being able to create and manage new interfaces, mailboxes and test sites. However, by far the best part of this feature in my opinion as a system integrator is the ability to reset the System Administrator password without having to contact Oracle customer service.

Chat

If your company uses chat you can now let agents view a customer or site visitor’s browsing history from the customer portal. Agents can get crucial information about what pages the customer already viewed before requesting the chat session allowing them to more easily address the customers issues and concerns.

Agent Browser UI

Yes it is available for “infrequent users” but it is not really much more than a taste of what is to come in next few releases at this point. It certainly is not functional in a way that brand new clients could expect to be solely dependant on and abandon the trusty .Net thick client. For now my recommendation on this one is, if you upgrade to November 14 take a peak and check it out. If you wait just a little longer I think  you will be greatly rewarded, I witnessed the same sort of progress with the Mobile App for Service and the functionality that it has now is light years from when it was introduced.

Before I let you all go off, running and playing with the new version eVerge Group will be at the Modern Customer Experience event in Las Vegas this March. I have heard that it will be more akin to the RightNow Customer Summit that was held at the Broadmoor in the days before being purchased by Oracle. If this is the case I can assure you it will be full of great sessions, good conversation and fun evening events. If you are attending please let me know so we can talk about all things CX. If you are thinking of attending register quickly and take advantage of the early bird rate.

http://eventreg.oracle.com/profile/form/index.cfm?PKformID=0x1824286fd9f

nov15 bee

The Golden Bee – RightNow Customer Summit

 

For more information on the November 2014 version including release notes, manuals, webcasts, tutorials and community posts. Please review at the official RightNow documentation overview page.

If you are interested in learning more or have questions feel free to reach out to me at cx@evergegroup.com

eVerge Group is an Oracle Platinum Partner with extensive experience. For more information about Oracle Service Cloud and our other business solutions, contact us through our website: http://www.evergegroup.com/contact.php

 Rhianna_smallAbout the author: Rhianna Albert (Just Rhianna) Director of CX Solutions @ eVerge Group has an extensive background in customer support systems and processes, is an active member of the CX community and has been implementing and integrating Oracle Service Cloud solutions for eight years.

 

 

Share : Share on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on Linkedin