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Five Strategic Success Factors for Linking Customer-Focused Tools

 

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Date Added

August 2010

By: Dave Newmark and Yacov Wrocherinsky

It wasn't long ago that CRM solutions were limited to departmental silos such as customer service, sales, or marketing. As technology has evolved, specifically in the areas of unified communications and data analytics, strategic companies quickly realized the benefits of applying those technologies to their CRM systems to effectively reach clients in more direct and customized ways.

As we've learned, linking CRM and unified communications (UC) brings together the various customer touchpoints into one integrated system. This can help track customer interactions, decrease the time customers spend waiting in the call center queue, and create comprehensive customer profiles. While integrating CRM and UC is ideal for cultivating an existing customer base, adding search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities and analytics goes a step further by helping companies transform prospects into clients. More important, when applied appropriately, it can provide a real time, 360-degree view of the business.

There are five critical factors to consider when bringing these technologies together.  When these factors are prioritized, CRM systems can deliver higher ROI on marketing campaigns that can be more accurately tracked and verified.

Five Requirements for Success

  1. Establish a cross-functional team: This team should include CRM experts and representatives from different parts of the business. This approach ensures that each function in the organisation has a voice, while preventing a siloed approach to customer service.  For CRM expertise, engage with a systems integrator (SI). The role of the SI is to provide IT and business strategy along with tactical execution that included knowledge transfer, so your staff is able to eventually manage the system.
     
  2. Conduct an IT audit. Before you invest in an entirely new CRM solution or consider fusing CRM and UC tools and functionality into your existing infrastructure, assess the value of your current IT investments. The analysis should be done by taking into account how well the technology maps to the business needs, as well as the real cost of the IT investment including, customisation, employee training, and the subsequent learning curve.
     
  3. Create a workflow system: The system should track the customer experience from the initial interaction through customer conversion. At each step in the process, make sure all relevant departments have access to and are aware of customer transactions. For example, this could include marketing campaign information to pipeline data and eventually tying that data to accounts payable if the prospect becomes a customer.

    Along with tracking the full customer lifecycle, the workflow system should help prioritise account manager activities and track the amount of time allocated to each customer and prospect. This provides more accurate ROI reporting and enables the company to redirect efforts if and when necessary.
     
  4. Adopt an outward-facing infrastructure. Resist the urge to build the IT architecture from a solely inward-focused perspective. By looking at it from all customer touchpoints, you can improve the customer experience, further break down silos, and elevate the company's focus on customer service and satisfaction.
     
  5. Gauge success through dashboard capabilities and adjust regularly. By visually depicting areas of strengths and weaknesses, managers can more efficiently track success and adjust staffing and campaigns accordingly to avoid end-of-month reconciliation surprises.

Putting it All Together

One way to bring CRM, UC, and SEO together, for example, is to primarily support lead capture and conversion, campaign tracking, and analysing sales trends.

Lead capture and conversion: Bringing unified communications and SEO together provides many ways to find and track prospects. This is done by integrating the various sources of leads from a website, email, phone, and sales rep activities with SEO key words.  This provides the ability to track keywords according to lead conversion and revenue generation while also helping to create more targeted and effective marketing campaigns. Further, the CRM capabilities enable users to pinpoint which account managers are best at converting leads associated with different search marketing campaigns.

Campaign tracking: The many ways of finding, tracking, and qualifying prospects as a result of social media platforms and SEO optimisation tools can make campaign tracking more complex. However, you can apply business analytics to address this issue to create a comprehensive data repository within the CRM system. This allows you to cut through the sheer volume of information that's captured in order to better qualify leads. This provides in-depth insight into marketing campaign success, ROI, and employee performance.

Analysing sales trends: Using dashboards and business analytics tools within the system provides insight into sales trends that may otherwise go unnoticed or perhaps may not have been uncovered as quickly and easily.  Specifically, business analytics tools help facilitate both inductive and deductive reasoning and get to the real data and answers behind the numbers while also improving analysis and supporting the creation of what if scenarios for more accurate forecasting.

Conclusion

Although companies have various technologies in their infrastructures that are in place to perform complementary and sometimes overlapping functions, there is real value to integrating technologies that aim to improve the customer experience and streamline business operations. Including UC tools and SEO features within a CRM system can deliver real value for other organisations aiming to expand the benefits of their CRM efforts.

About the Authors: Yacov Wrocherinsky is founder and CEO of Infinity Info Systems. Dave Newmark is the CEO of Bid4Spots;

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© Copyright 2011 4UCRM.com  All rights reserved. Last Updated Tuesday, September 18, 2012
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