Building CRM Technology: 5 Projects That Deliver


Share on LinkedIn

Building CRM Technology: 5 Projects That Deliver

When it comes to improving your CRM capabilities, what are today’s top IT-related projects?

We’ve already detailed our top CRM predictions for 2020, so let’s focus on next year. The goal is simple: to help CIOs and VPs of IT get the most bang for their budget as they target better CRM capabilities and bigger resulting payoffs for their businesses.

Accordingly, here are five important CRM projects that every CIO, CTO and VP of Technology should be evaluating:

1. Self-Service Community Portals Provide Cost-Effective Support

Technology executives know that customers judge businesses based on the quality of their customer service. That’s why numerous businesses have begun tapping self-service community portals — for example via Communities for Service — to give customers just-in-time answers to their product and service questions.

One Cloud Sherpas e-commerce software vendor, for example, implemented a self-service community — even though it already had advanced knowledgebases and excellent customer service ratings — in no small part because prospective customers now equate a vibrant, user-led community with high levels of customer satisfaction and, thus, product reliability.

To help create this new community, the company took a page from Apple’s support communities, which prioritize customers — some certified by Apple — helping other customers, backed by the occasional deus ex machina troubleshooting from an actual employee. Apple helps the community succeed — cue gamification thinking – by awarding reputation points to problem-solvers (correct answer: 10 points, helpful answer: 5 points) and upping people’s “status levels” based on the number of points they’ve earned, from level 1 (up to 149 points) to level 10 (80,000+ points). Crucially, Apple also doesn’t over-moderate its forums, thus reducing the signal to noise ratio and allowing — within reason — people to say what they want to say. In return, Apple benefits from a thriving, customer-led support community.

2. Replace Siebel To Modernize CRM Capabilities

We’ve been telling businesses for years that Siebel is dead. Yes, Oracle has now come out with a version that allows you to run it in Chrome, meaning you can finally drop Internet Explorer 7, but come on CIOs, why are you still using technology that was obsolete as of 2004?

The answer for many businesses is that it’s tough to justify replacing your CRM system. For help, however, review my three business reasons — and there are only three — for building a business case for SFA replacement. For many CIOs, the justification will come via long-term cost savings and the need to cut spending on outdated training for employees and aging infrastructure, as well as the risk of using outdated and easily compromised Web browsers. Other top motivations include improving customer service capabilities and gaining the ability to tap modern marketing automation systems.

But the best business case to make for CRM replacement isn’t to focus on lowering costs. Instead, focus on how a new CRM system can better support your business’ long-term goals. Indeed, today’s modern, cloud-based CRM applications are much more flexible, adaptable and easy to support than legacy applications. Furthermore, out of the box, they’re designed to support today’s highly mobile workers.

So let’s make 2014 the year we officially retire Siebel.

3. Mobility: Mandatory For Every CRM Project

If you’re planning or implementing a CRM project today that doesn’t have a mobile component, then you need to stop. I don’t care if you’re talking about CRM inventory systems, accounting systems or SFA. Every project in 2014 needs to have a mobile component because that’s where your users live.

For best results, however, go further. Indeed, at Cloud Sherpas, we’ve been finding that the user-interface experience of Salesforce, FinancialForce or any other cloud app can be significantly improved on a tablet or other handheld device by building a custom mobile app for that type of device.

One case in point comes via a large candy manufacturer that’s been working with Cloud Sherpas. To enable its field force to better track and manage inventory at the various large and small stores that stock its products, the manufacturer commissioned a tablet-based inventory management system app. By giving its field force ready access to stores’ inventory levels, the manufacturer is helping them prioritize which stores to visit — and in which order — to maximize stock levels and profits.

4. Field Service Improvements Increase Leads

At Cloud Sherpas, we’ve also been seeing strong demand for tools that better support the requirements of field service personnel. Today, every CIO should be asking: “How can we better address the needs of our field force personnel and make them more productive?”

Top related projects include creating more efficient scheduling to enable personnel to meet with more customers, enhancing inventory review and management capabilities and adding the ability to escalate problem cases when necessary. CIOs should also evaluate the latest cloud-based technology — for example, solutions from Cloud Sherpas’ partner ServiceMax — as these solutions continue to create new efficiency and productivity possibilities.

For example, we recently worked with a large photocopier manufacturer that upgraded to a cloud-based field service platform to help increase the efficiency of its field force. Working with Cloud Sherpas, the business designed the system to generate more leads, which has helped it double down on its investment. In part, the system does that by giving field personnel a way to note competing equipment that they see at customer sites. The manufacturer then feeds this information to its marketing team, which creates and refines related leads before relaying the most high-quality possibilities to the sales team.

5. CPQ Payoff: Increase Revenue

Hands down, one of the most popular initiatives that Cloud Sherpas customers are now pursuing is to link their configure, price and quote (CPQ) processes. The business driver is simple: By linking together marketing, sales and any other essential processes, businesses can automate many time-consuming — and error-prone — tasks.

For example, one financial services firm found that — as is common in the industry — only 10% of its insurance quotes lead to signed contracts. With the management team seeking higher revenues, the business faced a choice: It could either increase the close rate, which would be quite challenging, or it could generate more quotes and close 10% of them. It opted for the latter approach.

To make that happen, the firm worked with Cloud Sherpas to add technology that enables salespeople to more rapidly configure quotes and that also automates much of the back-end underwriting process. This new solution has led to faster quote generation, a greater number of quotes and, thus, more closed deals and booked revenue.

Learn More

Heading to Dreamforce this month? Don’t miss the Top Five “Musts” for Insurance Companies Integrating Salesforce 60-minute breakout session in which I’m participating. Join us to hear how large insurers like Electric Insurance and MetLife LATAM have tackled integrating their back-end applications with Salesforce.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Jakob Montrasio ???.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here