Technology is a critical component of business and needs to continually be evaluated to ensure that it is meeting the needs of your business. When is the last time you evaluated tools for your team? Maybe you’ve grown used to things not working that it seems like everyone has to deal with something, but that’s not always the case. Complex workarounds, broken workflows, partial data, or service interruptions are something you can’t afford right now. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that you evaluate the technology you have right now—and find the best solution for your organization.
Every company is trying to convince you that they have the best solution. You aren’t naïve, you know that. Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that your current vendor is also trying to convince you of the same thing. But is it? If you’ve grown used to the same answers from your vendor, or the same problems, or lack of innovation with the platform, that may be a red flag that it is time to look elsewhere. If you’re having these problems, chances are you aren’t the only one having them.
One of the most important things when selecting a vendor is the way they treat you—also known as customer experience. If you’re raising issues and you don’t feel like they are addressed adequately, it’s not a good indication of the level of service you’re going to receive during your time as a customer. In the same breath, your current vendor should be addressing your issues and if they aren’t, it’s time to ask why. There are times when your issue is going to be relevant to only your organization and instance, but your vendor should attempt to help you navigate those and pose possible solutions to help. It’s always up to you if you take a solution but your vendor should be your ally and provide the customer experience you expect as a consumer. However, if there are rumblings of other customers having the same problem via review sites and communities, that’s another issue altogether. A problem for multiple users of a platform or product should be somewhere in the product roadmap of your vendor. If it’s not, ask why. If you aren’t satisfied with the answer, it’s probably time to consider finding a new vendor.
Your technology is your future and by optimizing your technology, you’re securing your future to keep up with your competitors. The innovation in your technology must either match or outpace the innovation within your own organization otherwise it’s going to hold you back. As mentioned before, it’s important to know what is on the roadmap for the technology you use internally. Remember—everything can be improved. When you work with a vendor, you buy the product roadmap, not simply the product. If you’re not seeing what’s been promised—move on.
Where to Get Started: Critical Business Systems
If you’re looking to improve internal innovations, that’s a good place to start with your technology but which one? There are multiple business-critical applications that you probably have in-house and every department needs something different. Focus on the technologies that will impact your business the most in the long run including your CRM, marketing automation platform, and customer service solution. Each of these platforms is critical to your business but is also used cross-functionally between teams to increase customer satisfaction and care so it’s not a consideration to be taken lightly.
Optimizing Your CRM
Your CRM is critical to the entire organization. That being said, it is probably one of the things that many people in your organization either love, hate, avoid, or a combination of all of them. As a cross-functional tool, CRM is a technology that needs to be easy-to-use and useful.
Start with making sure that you have the right solution internally. If there are complications, understand where and why those complications exist. Here are some questions to ask:
- Is there something wrong with your internal integrations?
- Are there inconveniences that affect the entire organization that is inherent to the current CRM vendor?
- Is what’s the status of the data within the system?
- Are you limited in the amount of data you can hold within your CRM?
- Is the cost of the CRM platform indicative of the quality and value of the product?
- Are you seeing features that will continue to support your long-term business objectives?
Each of these questions are merely starting points for your business because ultimately, you will need to ask more tailored ones of your organization. Think about the areas of business that are most impacted—people, process, and product when evaluating your CRM vendor. If you need to look for a new CRM vendor, here’s a helpful list to know what to look for when evaluating a vendor.
Your CRM should match your organization. Right now, with budgets being optimized from the IT sector, tools like a CRM are under increased scrutiny, and taking time to decide if you have the right platform is not only helpful but a critical and on-going task for your organization.
Understanding Your Marketing Technology
If you have technology used to enhance your marketing, it’s another great place to consider optimizing. Many companies use marketing automation, but some haven’t chosen a platform. Marketing automation is more than email marketing, so if you are using just email and not seeing results, there’s a good chance that you need marketing automation. A few things that indicate you need marketing automation include:
- Email campaigns are limited and only provide a small portion of what you need in marketing
- You’re only doing basic personalization because your platform doesn’t allow for much more
- Leads are becoming harder to qualify and obtain due to tracking via multiple datasets
- Manual tasks that could be automated are taking time away from launching new campaigns and marketing initiatives
Marketing automation is a useful tool for marketing teams because it not only optimizes the marketing process, it helps to increase conversion rates by easily allowing integrated campaigns, email nurtures, and lead scoring. By centralizing key marketing tasks and expanding on the ability of what one person can do, marketing automation saves time and increases efficiency of marketing teams especially for those relying only on email or inbound marketing.
However, if you currently have marketing automation, it’s time to understand if it’s truly working for your organization. Marketing automation platforms are designed to not only aid marketing teams, but they also help the sales team through proper lead scoring and increasing personalized and targeted campaigns. Marketers often suffer in silence, because no matter how large the team, there’s always something to do, so it’s important to break that barrier and ask your marketing team what is and is not working. Some things that might be hampering your current team via the marketing automation platform include:
- Lack of integration of the marketing automation platform with other critical technologies including your internal CRM
- Clunky tools that require extensive knowledge to use but also delay campaigns
- Lack of advanced reporting that results in tracking outside of the marketing automation platform
- Interrupted flow between the CRM and marketing automation platform, delaying key information that could increase conversions
Marketing automation platforms are important, especially to lean marketing teams. If they don’t work right, it’s not only frustrating to the marketing team but, in turn, affects the sales team due to the quality of leads and/or delayed information. Marketing automation should be a solution, not a hindrance to your organization. If it doesn’t work right, it’s time to either optimize or find another vendor.
Optimize your current marketing automation platform by cleaning up data such as contact information, forms, landing pages, and campaigns. If you’re not using something or it has lived inactive for a long time, consider archiving it to allow for easy use. Additionally, make sure to comb your database to assure you have the right information and reflect on the notes that sales or business development have left on leads that are returned to marketing to further optimize your marketing efforts.
Transition to More than a Call-Center Mentality
Many organizations still think of customer service as a cost-center but with customer experience becoming more and more of a competitive requirement for businesses, that mindset is transitioning. Right now, it’s a perfect time to transition your organization’s thinking on the idea of what customer service actually is in the new business climate.
How are you managing your customer experience? Do you have one platform that you work out of, multiple technologies strung together to make something useful for your company, nothing? Understanding what you have is just as important as how you work with it. Most companies only use their CRM as an option for customer service management or attach another tool that is not designed to work with their CRM—both result in a lack of cohesive data about the customer you’re serving and complicate the customer service position (which is already a very difficult job). Investing in a technology that will optimize the customer experience will not only increase your customer satisfaction but also, impact your bottom line. When looking for a customer service platform, it’s important to find one that:
- Increases efficiency for customer service professionals
- Provides an accurate and total picture of the customer journey and historical context of the customer
- Fosters relationship building and allows indication to sales of what customers might be ready for additional conversations
- Easy-to-use and reduces the overall cost of customer service through hours and spend
Finding a customer service platform and choosing a vendor is only part of this process. It’s just as important to find something that works with your team and makes their job easier, not more complicated. Be sure to transition thinking about your customer service center as part of the heart and soul of your business and taking care of what matters most—customers. Customer retention is less expensive than acquiring new customers and a sound business investment.
Optimize and Transition but Find What Works
In the end, what works for your business is the ultimate goal of technological optimization in any business. Finding out what needs to be done is only half the battle, it’s important to act on the information you receive to increase your business health through technology that prepares you for more robust business in the future.
On a final note, don’t forget about your data. Any technology you use internally creates or is heavily reliant on data and therefore, your data is important to keep clean and optimized. Better solutions in technology help you do this but if right now isn’t the time to invest, take the time to go through your data. This data needs to not only be optimized but also, is something that you can learn from to further optimize things throughout your business.
There are additional steps you can take to prepare your organization and optimize internally. If you’re looking for a total solution, we’re here to help. Even if you don’t choose Sugar for your business needs.