Posts Tagged ‘CRM’

CloudBerry Online Backup – CaseStudy

Written by Debra Leitl on January 5, 2012. Posted in Day In The Life

I wanted to use this twitter conversation I had with @cloudberryman (aka andy),

a representative from a cloud storage company I had inquired about, to highlight the core essence of social CRM.

If I get time in the next few weeks I may even generate a case study on this instance.

Andy’s responses via twitter helped me decide to not only try the free version of the CloudBerry Program, but also sold me on an upsell version – CloudBerry Backup Desktop Edition.

Read  - Download  - Watch the Videos

Saturday Sidecar: Making the most of customer feedback – the good, the bad and the over-steppers

Written by Gina Blitstein on November 12, 2011. Posted in Saturday Sidecar

Making the most of customer feedback When you run your own sidecar, you have the privilege – and responsibility – of wearing all the hats. From the front-facing to the behind the scenes work, it all rests squarely upon your shoulders. From your vantage point in the driver’s seat, you have a unique perspective of your business – but it’s not the only perspective. Don’t doubt for a moment that your customers don’t have opinions about your sidecar – what works, what doesn’t and how you should drive it.

Your customer service hat, therefore, is one of the most important hats you wear. Your direct interactions with customers, whether they’re commending you on a job well done or raking you over the coals for failing to live up to their expectations, present an opportunity to reinforce your company’s mission and learn how to better implement it. Customer feedback can be glowing, brutal and sometimes confusing – but it can ultimately be beneficial when you take it – all of it – in the proper spirit.

Saturday Sidecar: Troublesome Clients Don’t Coddle Em – Fire Em

Written by Gina Blitstein on July 23, 2011. Posted in Saturday Sidecar

Sidecar drivers soon learn that all clients are not created equal. While most will grant you the respect you deserve, some won’t. Call it human nature or the trap of micromanaging or a general bad attitude – but there will be clients you’ll come to wish you’d never met. Unfortunately, a select few will bring more toxicity into the relationship than you need to deal with and the only solution: Fire them!

 

While everyone has their individual breaking point, here are some of the qualities that these clients may display that will eventually cause you to reach yours:

 

●     Try to do your job for you

●     Belittle your efforts and expertise

●     Are blatantly abusive

●     Attempt to change your offerings to suit their wants/needs

●     Disrespectful of boundaries/expect more of your time and attention than is reasonable and appropriate

So what’s a freelancer to do? Before you blame the client, perform a self-evaluation to make certain that you aren’t to blame. Ask yourself:

 

●     Am I truly the right person for this job, or is the source of the friction the fact that I’m a square peg trying to fit into their round hole?

 

●     Have I clearly and explicitly spelled out exactly what I will provide as far as product and service? Do our expectations align?

 

●     Have I reminded the client of the terms of our original agreement?

 

If you feel that you’re clear on those three counts, it’s safe to assume it’s not you, it’s them. That doesn’t make the process of letting a client go easy but at least you’ll feel justified. To fire a client is to, in essence, say, “No,” to money. Just as important as making income from our Sidecar, however, is creating a business of which we’re proud. We can’t feel proud of our business if we’re letting others dictate our priorities and sap our enthusiasm. Isn’t that why we work our Sidecar – to express our autonomy and passion?

 

When you realize the client is proving poisonous to your attitude, tell her so, kindly and in no uncertain terms. Fire that client who’s more trouble than she’s worth with honest but cautious wording, like, “Based upon your expectations, I don’t think our company is a good fit for your needs.” If you know of a better-suited company, make a recommendation.

 

Never accuse the client of  being unreasonable, pushy, abrasive or disrespectful – even if that is precisely what she was. Taking the high road is best because even though you’ve parted ways, there won’t be hard feelings and blame. If you really convey that the problem is that your offerings are incompatible with their expectations, they may even recommend you to colleagues to whom you’ll be better suited.

 

Driving you Sidecar is challenging enough without tolerating negative interference from your clients. You’ll do your best work when you’re working with clients who treat you with respect.

 

Sidecar Tuneup Tip: Firing a client may sound negative but when done for the right reasons and in the right way, it can be an assertive action that best serves your business and keeps ex-clients from being hostile.

Pro-On-The-Go Mobile CRM Apps: Helpful or a Hassle?

Written by Debra Leitl on April 18, 2011. Posted in Web Operations

Mobile Customer Relationship Management apps allow you and your staff (if you have one) to access your CRM platform from virtually anywhere to help you stay in touch while out of the office without having to carry all of the paraphernalia such as a laptop PC and other equipment.  While this seems like a cool idea and makes most workers feel like they do not have to be chained to a desk all day, you also have to look at the advantages and disadvantages of CRM apps to ensure they will be more helpful than they are a hassle. 

CRM App Advantages

To help you weigh out the pros and cons of mobile CRM apps here are a few advantages of using mobile applications to maintain your customer relationships. 

  • Changes Take Effect Immediately: Instead of keeping track of every change you made while out of the office and then having to spend time to record it into the system when you return, a mobile CRM allows you to make changes on the go that immediately take effect back at the office. 
  • Synchronization: A mobile CRM app allows you to synchronize schedules and calendars and engage in other activities such as participating in conference calls, keeping in touch with your business, and other activities without having to return to the office for an update. 
  • Improved Customer Relationships: This is a real plus and the primary reason that many business owners are choosing a CRM app.  If you can build better customer relationships by staying in touch while on the go, you can create a sustainable customer base that helps your business to grow and last for the long term. 

CRM App Disadvantages

Like anything that has advantages there are always some drawbacks to consider when you are trying to make a decision to use mobile CRM apps.  Here are a few disadvantages to consider: 

  • Security Concerns: Business data security is crucial to the integrity of your business.  The fact that security for mobile devices has not come as far as in-house machines makes mobile devices a target for data breaches.  This becomes a concern when it comes to using mobile CRM apps while in the field. 
  • Reliability: The purpose of a mobile CRM app is for everyone to communicate on the same page in terms of inventory availability, customer status, product location, and other concerns when dealing with the customer base.  If you have built a reliable platform then this should not be a concern however, if you have several different apps trying to communicate with one another, this could result in a system that is unstable. 

  • System Failure: Business data loss is a major concern for all businesses and since mobile CRM apps are technology, they can be prone to failure.  This is a concern if you do not have a backup plan in place and a plan to immediately be up and running again in the event a problem occurs with the CRM platform. 

What Others Say About Using Mobile CRM

“FieldPower’s mobile solution enables us to triple our technician to dispatcher ratio, making our people more efficient and saving us significant cost. We have complete control of all that is happening in the field and we can even reassign work in real time. Our technicians adopted the handheld units right away because they are so easy to use!” -Customer Care Center 

“I could not be without a mobile CRM system. This has resulted in new members.” -Tom Lawrence, 4Networking

“Fantastic customer service and an extremely flexible and very cost effective mobile CRM solution which we can tailor and customize to exactly what we need.” -Phil Wright, Creating Chaos

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Why I Like PipelineDeals

Written by Debra Leitl on March 2, 2011. Posted in Web Operations

If you are not familiar with PipelineDeals, it’s a CRM software that allows you to perform a comprehensive variety of different management tasks. It also provides a way for you to manage tasks on the road through its CRM mobile application. PipelineDeals lends flexibility to CRM software by allowing you to upgrade or downgrade at any time plus, you are not bound to any contract or storage limit. You simply pay a monthly user fee with a 30-day free trial.

PipelineDeals obsesses about Customer Service – we strive to always answer our phone with a real live human.

JP Werlin

What PipelineDeals Has to Offer

PipelineDeals offers business owners a complete CRM software system that allows you to back up your data on servers using SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption and security. This is the same type of security that is used when you log onto your financial institution website. In addition to offering security PipelineDeals has the following features:

  • Complete Sales Management: You can manage your entire sales pipeline as well as collaborate with colleagues and generate reports for sales tracking and archiving. The customized filtering feature helps you to generate the customized reports that you need from the sales pipeline.
  • Contact Sharing Through Your Inbox: PipelineDeals provides you with an Inbox that can be configured to work with any email client that you use. You can track all of your communications through this feature, create task lists and share contacts.
  • Schedule Management: PipelineDeals has a complete schedule management feature that allows you to view your calendar of appointments and things to do as well as create events for your colleagues. You can configure the feature to send you appointment reminders via SMS.
  • Customization: The software is fully customizable to allow you to organize your data so the platform is user-friendly while serving your specific needs. You can customize the platform to send leads from your website to the software and integrate your sales data with any other type of system.
  • Mobile Capability: When you use PipelineDeals you do not have to be tied to your office. Instead you can manage everything from your iPhone including your sales pipeline, text reminders, daily schedules, and the latest activities related to your business.

This is just an overview of some of the intuitive features that are included in Pipeline Deals. PipelineDeals is also effective in capturing and organizing data to allow for easy collaboration without being complex. Depending upon your business needs you can potentially be up and running within a few minutes. I also like it because it is extremely user-friendly with an easy monthly cost of only $15 per user and no contract commitments.

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How to Take Your Company From CRM Side Kick to Hero

Written by Debra Leitl on January 13, 2011. Posted in Web Operations

We all know that positive customer relationships are the very core of every business success. It is for this reason that CRM, or Customer Relationship Management, is a valuable strategy for strengthening the relationship between your business and your customers. Don’t think of CRM as just one easy step, though. It’s not as simple as installing some software. Rather, it is a careful process- or series of steps- that will allow you to provide personalized customer service and effectively market your business. While using CRM means that you are implementing technology to improve the interaction between your company and your customers, it will not be successful if you rely only on a database, and do not approach CRM is an integrative process. Here are five steps to improving your customer service, and elevating your company from CRM side kick to CRM hero.

Your customers are not carbon copies. Do not treat them all the same.

One of the greatest things about CRM is that it allows businesses to use technology to identify a customer’s individual needs. If you were to treat all of your customers the same way, well then you really wouldn’t need CRM at all. One of its primary purposes is to allow you to deliver individualized service based on your customers’ needs. Make sure to treat your customers as individuals, and differentiate them based on their needs, before setting your objective.

Empower your customer-facing employees.

There is a reason I used the term “customer-facing” here. Whether your customer service representatives speak with customers over the phone, through email, or in person, they truly are the face of your company. It is important that you empower your CSRs to solve all customer problems. Ensure that they have the resources available to do so. We have all been in a position, as customers, where a customer service representative has informed us there was nothing he or she could do to fix our problem. How did this experience affect your feelings about that company? When your employees are empowered to handle customer problems and disputes, this changes the face of your business to one that is attentive, efficient, and personalized.

Understand the term “customer advocacy.”

Customer advocacy means that your customers feel that you work on their behalf, not simply for the benefit of your business. Customer advocacy is one of the most crucial elements of retaining customers and insuring that they will continue to do business with you. Oftentimes businesses focus on obtaining new customers, then lag in the area of retention. Especially if you are a company with high acquisition costs (such as a cell phone company) then you know that you must simply retain customers to be successful. At all times, act on behalf of the customers’ interests, and this will allow you to increase your perceived sense of customer advocacy.

Think of marketing as a “process” and not as a “campaign.”

Traditionally, marketing is done in campaigns. However, CRM allows you to market on a continuous long-term basis, not in spurts. This is important because it allows you to market based on each individual customer’s timing. Your CRM may also help you receive quick analysis of your sales and marketing initiatives. Use this information to modify your products and services before offering them to your customers. Based on the type of response you receive at each step of the marketing process, the next appropriate step of the process may then be triggered.

Do some homework. Adjust and evolve if necessary.

Depending on the type of CRM you are using, there are many different ways that you can monitor its use and obtain feedback. Explore your venues for obtaining feedback. You may wish to use surveys or user groups. Stay on top of how your customers’ needs are changing and evolving, and make sure your customer service then changes with them. If you own a small local bakery, you may need a program to track the birthdays and favorite products of your customers. If you own a large, national PR company, you may have data on your customers, some of which is outdated, residing in multiple departments, and in several different forms. You need a way to integrate it all. Regardless of your size and scale, there is a CRM program that can meet your needs, so do your homework and take some notes to find the one that is best for you. There is not a one-size-fits-all CRM.

Remember, the loyalty of any customer is statistically only as good as his or her last experience with you. Using CRM as part of your business marketing plan is a valuable way to identify your customers’ needs, and deliver individualized customer service. As a CRM hero, you will gain more insight into the behavior and desires of your customers, allowing you to improve not just your technology but also your people and practices.

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Does Your Website Greet Customers With A Smile

Written by Debra Leitl on September 16, 2010. Posted in Web Operations

Anyone can tell you that the most important thing about any website is its user-friendliness. Statistics have shown, time and time again, that if a website visitor cannot “figure a site out” within 30 seconds or less of visiting a site, they will leave it. Once a user leaves a site with a “bad taste” in their mouth, the chances of them coming back to that site are very slim.

Because of this, it is extremely important to provide a website that it is easy to understand, easy to navigate, and really makes your visitors feel that they do not need to have a degree in Computer Science to move around it! You never want a visitor to become frustrated because they cannot figure out how to “work” the site. You want your visitors to feel welcome, as if being greeted with a smile upon entering your home!

Something that always helps when designing a website is to try to see the site through a new visitor’s perspective. If they have no knowledge of how the site works, where to go to find certain things, how to place an order online through your site, etc., would they be able to accomplish these goals with ease? Is the site overwhelming? Meaning, is there just entirely too much information for someone to take in and feel comfortable with when first “landing” on your homepage? If you had never seen this site before, what would your first impression be?

All of these questions are important when trying to understand the user experience. It’s very easy to assume that our website is easy to navigate, but oftentimes we forget that we know all of the “behind the scenes” information. Putting yourself in the new user’s shoes is vital!

Here are just a few helpful hints that can apply to any website to make it more user-friendly:

  1. Make sure there are no typos, punctuation errors, misspellings, grammatical mistakes, etc. First impressions are very important and nothing is worse than giving a new user a bad first impression because of simple mistakes that could have been avoided by proofreading. Also, check formatting to make sure the page displays correctly on all the most widely used browsers. A site that displays correctly on Firefox, for example, may display incorrectly on Internet Explorer, Safari, Netscape, etc.
  2. Format text in your website in an easy-flow manner. Use headers, sub-headers, bulleted or numbered lists, and keep your paragraphs short. Very long paragraphs can be difficult for a user to read without losing their place, not to mention that it will seem like “work” to them! You want to provide information in an easy to understand manner. In addition, you’ll also want to make sure that your font size is large enough to be easily read.
  3. If your website contains hyperlinks to other pages, be sure to set the hyperlinks up so that they open a new tab or page when clicked on, keeping the main page open and not navigating the user away from it. It’s frustrating to a user if they “lose” the page they were just on and need to find it again. They may become so frustrated that they just “throw up their hands” and go to a different site altogether.
  4. It is recommended to have a Frequently Asked Questions page. This has become such a norm in website design that users will search for this page very quickly if they cannot find an answer to a question within a short period of time. In addition, be sure to provide contact information so that a customer/visitor can call or email if they are unable to find an answer to a question.

Depending on the purpose of your website, the layout and what you chose to include will vary. Knowing who your potential visitors will be will help you to “walk a mile” in their shoes and see your site as they see it. If you perform a little experiment and view the site through their eyes and feel confident that the user experience is a good one, then you’re on the right track to having a successful, user-friendly website! Your customers will feel welcomed, appreciated, and will hopefully be smiling at their computer monitor as they view your website!

 

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CRM Strategy – Blogging

Written by Debra Leitl on May 7, 2010. Posted in Social Media Marketing

Blogging is one of the most important Customer Relationship Management elements you can include in your business and marketing strategy for keeping in touch with your customers. Blogging breaks down the formal barriers that tend to develop between you and your customers and creates an informal environment to share the latest industry buzz, and topics associated with your online business.

Here are a few reasons why blogging is an essential part of your Customer Relationship Management strategy and a great way to connect with your visitors:

Easy to Use and Low Cost

A blog is extremely easy to manage and the costs are very low for setting up a professional looking blog. Thanks to open source platforms such as WordPress you can easily set up a blog with a unique design and create an informal environment for establishing ongoing communications with your visitors.

Personalize Your Posts

Due to the informal environment that your blog provides you can enhance this by placing a personal spin on your blog posts. Instead of producing the run of the mill stale information stating topics related to your business, you can create your posts in a conversational style that reflects who you are. Although there is no face-to-face interaction on a blog, words still communicate feelings and your visitors will immediately sense that you are genuine and a real life down-to-earth individual.

Tell Your Story

Blogging allows you to set up your content to tell a story to your online visitors. When you tell a story you immediately create a connection with your visitors and they will feel more at ease leaving comments and interacting with your blog posts. Online readers tend to connect with stories of other’s experiences and it usually sparks a memory or a similar experience that they have had which encourages them to interact with your blog.

Credibility

If you are just starting an online business offering, quality information in your blog can help you establish your credibility and build a brand that is associated with quality and reliability. If you are moving your business offline to the online environment you will still have to establish yourself when you convert to an online presence and a blog is a great way to become the “go to” person for your specific area of business.

Building a Community

If you stay committed to your blog you can build a community of relationships that will last for the long term. Eventually this will provide you with the chance to share your expertise with a larger client base and help to improve the lives of others while building a lasting online business at the same time.

As you can see, blogging has many benefits which is why it is the number one element for a Customer Relationship Management strategy. Take the opportunity to make a go of it and you will see what I mean.

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