A Blueprint for CRM Success: Additional Insights and Replay Available

Yesterday I hosted a webinar titled “A Blue Print for CRM Success,” where I outlined some of the key elements of planning and rolling out an effective CRM strategy. We discussed the importance of building a differentiated CRM initiative inside your organization; one that allows your company to stand out on customer experience, and not on price. We outlined the key characteristics you will want to look for in a CRM partner and vendor. We also outlined some ways to set initial baselines and metrics for measuring CRM success. Finally, we revealed some great ways to plan out your initiative and get started on the right foot – with user adoption always at the forefront of focus.

If you were unable to join us live, no worries, the webinar replay is available Right Here.

We had a great audience, who had some amazing questions. I was not able to get to all of the great inquiries, so I wanted to address just a few of the questions posed by the live audience. So, here we go…

Looking at CRM History on the last 20 years, how do you see Customer Loyalty and rewards and programs? Do they evolve? How do they fit in into CRM solution and SugarCRM?

Great question, and we are seeing more and more B2C/retail and B2B2C companies invest in CRM. Why? Because building a recurring customer model for your business is the most profitable of all. And customer loyalty programs fit right into the rubric of CRM, it is a natural extension in a B2C scenario. Think of it this way: Loyalty programs are all about tracking behavior, purchases and scoring those actions. And a CRM is the best place to capture, score and manage the customer activities – providing visibility to anyone in your organization – from cashiers to executives – into your individual customers. THis drives better decision-making and more positive customer experiences at every level. At SugarCRM, we have lots of retail chains doing just that – leveraging the flexibility and scalability of Sugar to manage lots of customer data points to drive loyalty and better point of sale experiences.

Hi, we’re a member organization with 12000 members. Amongst many things we’d like to gain from a CRM is automation of invoicing / renewals processes. What are the capacities of CRM to link with eg bank accounts, currency conversions for invoicing. Is the technology there – and reliably there yet?

As I note in the webinar, a great CRM vendor needs to provide a platform, not just a set of features and functions. When you look at Sugar, for example, the workflow capabilities, coupled with the multi-currency and simple yet effective API/Integration points – renewals become a lot easier to manage. For example, you can set up workflow to automatically set up a renewal opportunity the minute a new member joins and pays dues. This way, you can build outreach emails to retain members, all based on set timeframes (3 months to renewal, one month, a few days, etc.) to remind members of the value of renewing. Through simple integrations, you can have a bi-directional integration with billing and leverage Sugar’s powerful quotes to send out invoices for renewal, and power the renewal fee amount from other back-end systems, a real time currency converter database, etc. You can integrate with e-signature and configure other workflow to make renewals even easier for your members – and streamline the process for your organization to drive more insights and reduce overhead.

We are a service organization without straightforward customers, how suitable is SugarCRM for business relationship management? legal contacts, finance contacts, suppliers, agencies etc?

A LOT of professional services organizations turn to Sugar for their business operations, because of the flexibility, scalability and process-orientation of the system. At the end of the day, we are all about managing relationships, not just “deals.” In a business services model, the relationship IS your product in a lot of ways. So, it is critical to have all stakeholders on the same page when it comes to delivering your valued services. Sugar allows you to insure the right people have access to the data and tools they need, through a number of factors. One, role-based views allow you to create a user experience in the system for all stakeholders along the service delivery. Self-service and portal tools allow those third-party elements to access and leverage the data they need to be successful. And of course, workflow and customer journey/task management tools allow you to enforce best practices and meet delivery deadlines more effectively. For example, you can insure legal is notified to review contracts at the right time; finance is alerted that it is time to send bills so there is less lag time in cashflow/collection, and suppliers can be notified as soon as a project advances to you can start delivering on promises faster. In short, Sugar is built just for this type of relationship-heavy business model.

What function should own the CRM system?

This is a question I get asked a lot, and the answer is very varied, depending on who is asking the question. If the CRM system is primarily being used for sales automation, then typically sales operations (with support from IT) can “own” the deployment. For more customer support oriented deployments, the owner can be anyone from a call center manager/head of support – all the way up to a chief customer officer, if that title exists in the organization. But again, no matter how the CRM is deployed and what departments it touches – it is always wise to have ownership and direction shared by line of business and IT. This way, business users have a voice and can provide valued input into direction; while IT brings the technical understanding and day-to-day maintenance that makes a CRM system run in harmony.