Posts Tagged ‘customer relationship management’

What is CRM? And why do you need it?

Basically, the mechanics aside, CRM is about making it easier to help customers get what they want.

In an ideal world you would be able to remember every little thing about every customer, and so would all of your staff – but of course this is impossible. CRM enables you to scale personalised attention to customer detail across your organisation. 



When you integrate a strategic CRM strategy across your business and, importantly, when it is adopted by your staff, you enable a consistent, and hopefully painless, experience for your customers. CRM also facilitates ease of information flow in your business and a deeper, more visible understanding of who your customers and prospects actually are, and where your key business metrics stand at any given point.

Good CRM Means More Happy Customers

CRM is a way to record and access information about your customers and a system to facilitate serving them efficiently by any member of your business no matter what location or department they hail from. By channelling all interactions and relevant customer information into one solution, CRM avoids silos of information that do not integrate across your organisations people and technologies. A strategically sound CRM solution that is being used properly by all of your staff will provide any of your people with the current “truth” as it relates to the company.

An ideal CRM strategy starts by taking into account your business needs and the needs of your customers, before any software customisation begins, you should first work with your CRM developer to address the people involved and how systems design can work to make their customer, employee or management experience better in every way. [link to CRm blog about strategy] In this regard it is important to partner with a developer who understands that it is not just about technology, but rather it is about using technology to solve real human problems.

CRM is NOT About Software – It’s About People

Good CRM design is strategic in that it exists to:

  • improve business systems and workflows
  • achieve stated objectives
  • increase efficiency
  • improve customer experiences with your company
  • and therefore their perception of your brand.

The Key to Successful CRM is

… adoption throughout your organisation.

If your people do not use it or don’t use it properly, then it will fail to live up to its promise, no matter how clever the initial design.  For this end it is important that the CRM interface be designed with the customer facing users in mind. If they have to use it while on the phone with impatient customers, it needs to be responsive, intuitive and above all – quick. If your staff work away from their desk, it needs to be accessible in multiple locations (like everywhere) and on all manner of mobile devices and tablets. It should integrate with any relevant social media channels and across all departments and information silos, from outbound sales to accounting.

Effective CRM is A Strategy – Not Just Software

Your CRM should also be able to scale with your organisation as it grows and for this reason it makes sense to consider the carefully the deal you enter into. You must think strategy above all else, anything less is just stopgap.

If you are considering an investment in CRM give us a no obligation call or email and request a free trail of our crm solution.

P: 03 9803 5522


“CRM and the Empowered Consumer” is part 4 in a 4 part series on Cloud CRM Versus On-Premises CRM 

In the new Age of the Empowered Consumer CRM is a vital tool to manage reputation management in the face of exponential social connectivity and consumers who know more about the product they want than your sales staff before they even enter your store.

CRM and Reputation Management

The one thing that we’re absolutely seeing is this: 15 or 20 years ago the customer did not feel empowered and they functionally did not have a voice. If they weren’t happy they could tell 5 or 10 people and that’s as far as it went.

In today’s world of the empowered consumer, somebody who is well connected and has a pretty decent amount of followers in Twitter or friends in Facebook, can let 500 or 100 people know in the space of a minute.

Now if you’re telling me that an organisation:

  • doesn’t have to pay attention to that
  • doesn’t have a formal strategy to be capturing that information
  • isn’t then asking “what are we going to do about that?”
  • And isn’t then making sure something gets done

…then you may be living in a different Universe to me because I am seeing real businesses are getting hurt. The Empowered Consumer can do real damage if you annoy them!

Someday, somebody in your organisation may say something stupid – maybe they’re having a bad day, whatever – but then a client reacts badly to that and a little wildfire suddenly ignites. People “like” it on Facebook, comment on it, retweet it on Twitter, blog about it. Suddenly that small comment is in the hands of a lot of people.

What damage just got done to your brand?

A serious CRM can alert the right people to the issue and allow you to respond quickly and appropriately. A Mickey Mouse CRM won’t even know about it – and neither will you.

CRM and the Empowered Consumer

It is now known that most significant buying decisions are being researched before going in so that in a vast majority of circumstances the customer knows how much, they know how many, they know what colours. They may be looking to touch the product. They may want a bit of jargon that everybody uses online explained by somebody they can be comfortable with. But they don’t walk in clueless anymore.

So retail now becomes about supply, there’s an immediacy about “well I am going to go to that store because I understand that they have. And I know they have some people I can talk to that are going to clear up any jargon.

The Empowered Consumer is going to your store because they already know what it is going to cost them.

Now when you’re in a cloud CRM (hosted) situation and you’re dealing with your information in an ad hoc manner, how well is that going to bind in with protecting your brand, with your customer expectations or even knowing that there is a customer opportunity?

Without a serious CRM solution you literally don’t know when you can get your next customer or where that customer can take you or how much damage that customer can do to you.

You now have Yelp, TripAdvisor, all the rest. It used to be that the only thing that you had to worry about was a bad review in Choice magazine. Now you can have a bad dinner and within minutes you can hit the magic button on your phone and tell all the next people looking to use that restaurant “it’s crap”. All of a sudden people say “oh it’s getting bad reviews” and go elsewhere.

Again – what the customer knows about you and what you know about what they’re saying about your company – that IS the game. Hell hath no fury like that of the empowered consumer scorned!

This is Part 4 in a 4 part series. Read the First entry

Brett Cruickshank, MIMC
Managing Director, CRM Strategy
Mobile: 0419 631 375

This is part 3 in a series on Cloud CRM vs On-Premises CRM

Any implementation of either cloud CRM or on-premises has a ripple effect throughout your organisation. This CRM ripple effect can either be very positive or dangerously negative, depending on the level of strategic thinking that drives your decision to purchase a CRM solution.

Cloud Based, Browser CRM Tends To Be Disposable

The typical use of a browser (app) is that somebody will open it, they’ll make an enquiry of the browser app and they’ll get the information and – without thought – click close. And then when they need it again they open it up again.

Now an (desktop) application it generally has log-ins and it gets to start screen and there’s generally anywhere from 25 seconds to a minute before you get to your log in screen.

Now if you think about the mechanics of somebody who is working on their database all day long and they are regularly going “click – close – I’m done” and then they’re going back to get their phone number and they realised they’ve closed the browser. How many times are they going to do that before they get miffed?

Users just want ready access, so a desktop application style access works because it tends to be something they own. It’s like ‘It’s my app, I use that in order to run that part of my business.” Whereas a cloud-based browser application tends to be something that they have to do for someone else, something more disposable, less serious.

Now that may sound unfair – there are a number of very significant deployments that are web-based apps – but they haven’t cost you anything. You’ve only got an investment in the form of “that’s where your mail arrives” but you didn’t really have to think about buying it therefore you don’t have to think about getting your ROI.

So you optionally use it or not, whereas when you are using an application that you went to some effort to get and where there is considered thought invested into what it is and how it’s going to be used, then there is an intent for return on investment.

The CRM Ripple Effect

From that comes a ripple effect. Owners, who are ultimately paying the money, are going “I’m spending this because I expect this outcome.” And this gets pushed down to the sales managers – “This is going to give you these capabilities therefore we expect that you are going to perform better and it also means that some of these mistakes that we have are going to stop. And the information about the customer that we currently lose every time an employee leaves is now going to stay in-house”.

There tends to be more of a considered approach to what is the intent for CRM is. So rather than just going “Oh I’ve just installed this software” or “Hey I have just signed up for this browser app, it’s really cool.” “Oh how much does it cost? Nothing? Well, great!”

But then who’s deciding how you should use it? Are your employees, the users on the ground, deciding corporate policy now? Who’s deciding what the communication standards should be? Who is deciding what you are going to do when you have certain business events?

If the users are just making those decisions merrily, what control does the actual owner or the shareholder have? None.

So any CRM – hosted or not – has a ripple effect. A cloud CRM is good in that it enables you to go “Yeah that’s good enough”, but there are inherent dangers in just making a flippant decision on something that important.

This is Part 3 in a 4 part series. Read the next entry. Read the First entry

Brett Cruickshank, MIMC
Managing Director, CRM Strategy
Mobile: 0419 631 375

Part two in a series on Cloud CRM vs. On-premises

Semi-Hosted CRM for Greater Speed While Connecting Remote Locations

Another common scenario in the cloud CRM versus on-premises debate (or hosted Vs non-hosted CRM) is illustrated via one client we have where they know that their IT guys don’t have the skills to execute CRM as technology platform and as a strategy but they have the capacity to provide some servers.

So we are being engaged to be their primary hosting service where all the “smarts”, all the management, all the infrastructure and being the central hub for sharing all the data throughout the organisation is done by us – but it is semi-hosted. They have offices in Melbourne and Sydney. We’re putting a local server in their buildings so they can have access to their data at landspeed, but that server sends its changes back to us and we send it to Sydney. Meanwhile the Sydney users get their data access and the stuff that actually moves between them happens at a relaxed rate.

So it’s not purely cloud CRM and it’s not purely on-premises but a hybrid model. They’re getting this service internally so it’s fast but the management of it is done by us offsite because they just need it done. They might have a short deployment, it might be a conflict in resources, it might be that they just don’t have the people, but whatever the reason, they need it and that’s where we come in.

So we do the heavy lifting in terms of management and deployment offsite but the customer still provides local cached services so that the users experience great performance.  

2 Reasons Companies Choose On-Premises CRM

And the last scenario is “Actually I don’t want it hosted at all, I want it on premise”.

Generally that falls in to two categories: 

  1. A customer just doesn’t do it – they don’t like hosted at all. They don’t believe in it.
  2. Or there’s an integration conversation where the CRM needs to sit next to the accounting system because they share data.

You can’t really do that that well in a hosted environment because otherwise all of the data interchange is going over the Internet and I am not really sure that many customers are going to be all that delighted about their financials flying all over the ether.

Even though you can put security connections around it all, it is still risky. In a hosted accounting system, and goodness knows there are an increasing amount of them, the data is in a hosted environment but the actual data itself is not being transmitted – it’s screens and keywords so it’s actually secure for a different reason in as much as we’re not transmitting the data over the Internet whereas integration over the Internet is a little bit more complicated. Security-wise, it’s just not there yet.

CRM Strategy Vs CRM Stopgap

So at the end of the day the conversation over hosted or non-hosted comes down to a couple of things. If all you want to do is just have a throwaway, “I just need something for now” solution then there are plenty of services out there but you shouldn’t really expect anything by way of return on investment by anything other than wild surprise.

The rest of them are “I’m executing a strategy, but I am picking the best way to use it”.

So it comes down to your capacity to support CRM as running cost, or as a skills and expertise issue, or a timing issue – whatever – but that shouldn’t detract from what the solution looks like. One thing that we have observed and constantly tested is that browser applications tend to be very, very disposable.

This is Part 2 in a 4 part series. Read the next entry. Read the First entry

Brett Cruickshank, MIMC
Managing Director, CRM Strategy
Mobile: 0419 631 375

I believe that the hosted CRM vs. non-hosted (or cloud CRM vs. on-premises) argument is a red herring that needs to be reframed as CRM Strategy vs. Stopgap.

  1. Stopgap: The solution that you buy because you just need something.
  2. Strategic: The solution that you buy because there are a multitude of options that can be deployed as part of your strategy.


If it’s the latter then hosted or non-hosted, cloud or on-premise CRM – it doesn’t even come into play. It’s a non-issue.

If it’s the former and you’re just buying it without a strategy then you’re probably doing more damage than good. You’ve deemed that lack of access to customer data is not a threat – but relationships (and selling IS relationships), customer data and what you know about the customer IS the game.

Why CRM Minus Strategy Doesn’t Work

There are a couple of schools of thought when it comes to hosted (cloud) CRM. One of the schools of thought is: “I don’t really know what I need but I know I need something. I either don’t have the time, don’t have the energy or I don’t really know how to describe what I really want but I want something because everybody is screaming at me.”

 “But I’m not really ready to go through an in-depth needs analysis, so I’ll get some online thing.”

They ask themselves “What do I know about? Actually I know about Salesforce. I’ve seen that around, that’s probably going to be OK”. So provided it doesn’t kill them financially, they buy 5, 10, 15 users and boom: “There’s your CRM. There’s a place you can put your data. Now go away and stop bothering me”.

It’s not strategy, but they’ve got something so they can say “I’ve delivered CRM”. And they can start to use it. What generally happens then is you’ll get some data into it, you’ll get a couple of evangelists who’ll go off and do something with it and you’ll get a couple of other people who will do the mandatory minimum or nothing at all.

It’s probably about a 15 – 20% chance of it igniting and only if one of the evangelists happens to have the ear of anybody senior.

But successful adoption tends to be flukey. So there’s no necessary guarantee of outcome. But what it does enable them to do is to use their credit card to solve a problem. It doesn’t involve IT so they can go around a lot of work and just say “There’s a subscription, knock yourself out”. It doesn’t appear as a capital cost so they didn’t have to budget for it. They can just put it into an operating budget and deal with it easily. 

This scenario is not the ideal way because it doesn’t really get you anywhere. It just puts a finger in the dam and stops it from dripping until you get back to it.

This is Part 1 in a 4 part series. Read the next entry.

Brett Cruickshank, MIMC
Managing Director, CRM Strategy
Mobile: 0419 631 375



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