Much of the work we do in developing Sage CRM, is focussed on making it as easy as possible to get information in to the system. However, the main interest to users is what they can get out, to help with their day-to-day tasks. A CRM implementation that doesn't recognise this, will never be adopted by users and will consequently fail to meet business needs.

Sage CRM is provided with a range of reporting tools, of which we find ‘interactive dashboards’ the most useful way of providing valuable business information.

With a dashboard, data can be drawn together from a number of sources and displayed as a series of graphs, tables and charts in a single screen. These then provide quick ‘at-a-glance’ access to information relevant to a user or department within the business.

Dashboards can be used for a range of business information purposes. For instance, a member of the sales team may want to see information regarding opportunity stage & status, leads and forecasting, alongside contact lists and a calendar view. A senior manager will probably be interested in business KPIs relating to their departments of the business generally.

Sage CRM will support many custom dashboards, and individual users can be assigned access to one or more of these.

Information can be displayed on dashboards from a number of sources:

  • ‘Internal’ CRM data
  • External Web Sources and RSS feeds
  • Data from integrated systems such as accounts and production systems.

It is the latter of these that makes Sage CRM dashboards particularly powerful. For instance, an operations manager could not only see what is in the sales pipeline held in CRM, but can also monitor production information drawn from process systems – all from a single screen.

Dashboards are compiled from individual elements called ‘widgets’. These can be passive or dynamic, allowing a simple view of information or a graphical view with drill-down capabilities.

The application for Sage CRM dashboards is almost limitless. We have extensive experience of developing simple and complex dashboard screens for a wide range of businesses. Please get in touch to discuss your reporting requirements.

Much has been written about the importance of customer service to retain and attract new customers. However, most of the evidence has been intuitive or anecdotal. This makes it difficult for companies to justify investments in technologies like CRM, which enable businesses to operate efficient and effective customer service programs.

A recently published article in the Harvard Business Review blog1 has, however, finally managed to put some numbers on the impact of good vs bad customer service. The effects are significant.

By carrying out a survey that tracked customer spending behaviour over a period of time, the study was able to show that in ‘transactional’ businesses, (where somebody is paying for goods or services), customers who experience good service 'spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience'.

A comparative study of membership organisations showed a similar distinction, where less than half of members in one year were likely to renew their subscription the following year, as a direct result of poor customer service.

As the study concludes: ‘unhappy customers are expensive’. They tend to absorb more of the company’s time than a contented customer will. It is also far more expensive for a company to continually have to win new business, than to look after the customers that they have.

By focusing on customer service, telecoms firm Sprint is turning around a poor reputation, to become the most improved company in customer satisfaction, across 47 industries, over the last five years 2. Far from costing the firm money, Sprint is on record as saying that their customer care costs have gone down by as much as 33%.

The secret of Sprint’s success is largely down to providing a joined-up environment for its workforce, where information is shared and consistent across customer-facing teams. This is supported by the introduction of self-service tools, regular feedback surveys and intelligent use of new media, to allow a closer interaction with customers.

Sage CRM provides all the tools that a business needs to run an efficient customer care service. Contact us, to find out how Sage CRM can help you to win and retain more business.

1. Peter Kriss, Harvard Business Review on 1/8/2014: http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/08/the-value-of-customer-experience-quantified/
2. http://www.sprint.com/responsibility/ourcustomers/customer_support/index.html

For a long time, the self-service portal has been a powerful but largely underutilised feature of Sage CRM. However, driven by businesses that want to provide online services, improve their customer service or reduce administration overheads, we are implementing more and more web portals to extend the scope of new and existing Sage CRM applications.

With Sage CRM Self Service, customers can log into a portal via the existing corporate website. This allows them to perform functions such as viewing account information, reporting problems, or requesting product information. This is a standard feature of Sage CRM that many companies pay web developers substantial additional fees to create.

As users of Sage CRM ourselves we have a well-developed portal which allows our support clients to log new cases directly onto our system. This places any new issue directly into a workflow which ensures that it is picked up quickly and that the client receives update emails as the case is progressed.

The self-service feature can however be applied to many applications. Recent Sage CRM portals that we have implemented include:

  • An online work request logging system for a commercial cleaning and maintenance firm. Key features of this allow users to upload pictures and documents, as well as displaying progress data on a large monitor.
  • Membership management and subscription renewals for a major UK non-profit organisation. This system provides users with access to download content based on their membership status and integrates with a paperless direct debit system.
  • Public facing portal for postal services business, which allows users to sign up for services and amend preferences online.
  • Clinical case management with controlled levels of data access by job role. Provides an online appointment booking facility for patients and clinical staff based on need and location.

In addition to providing a valuable service around the clock, self-service portals significantly reduce administration costs by giving customers access to data which they otherwise would have had to get via a phone call or email. Having a self-service portal also creates a tie-in service not easily replicated by competitors.

The initial setting up of a portal takes some work, particularly if it has to be styled to integrate with the design of a corporate website. However, once implemented, a portal can be managed by an administrator from within Sage CRM.

For more information, please see our main web portal page.

We would be pleased to discuss any requirements you might have for providing your clients with remote access. Please get in touch.

We are delighted to announce that, as of October 1st 2014, we have become an accredited Sage Business Partner for Sage CRM.

For the past three years, we have worked with other Sage Business Partners on Sage CRM applications that are integrated with Sage 200 and Sage 300 ERP. Whilst we will continue with this work, which utilises our extensive knowledge of the Sage integration component, there is also a large market for standalone CRM.

This is the next major milestone in our business development which, in the last year alone, has seen us move to new offices in Burgess Hill and also expand our team. Becoming a Sage Business Partner lays the foundation for the next phase in our development, to deliver excellent consultancy, development and support services for Sage CRM across the UK.

 

It only takes a few minutes browsing the internet, to come up with tales of woe about CRM implementations that have 'failed'. However, success or failure is not a matter of chance. In our experience there are clear reasons that can be identified for systems not meeting business requirements.

We have found that the main points of failure are:

1) Failure of senior management to engage in the project. If the top people are not seen to be committed to making CRM work, then there is no way that the rest of the organisation will pick it up effectively.

2) Failure to understand and document the business requirements properly. Having a detailed written specification, is the only true way to establish whether or not a CRM project has met the business requirements. In order to produce this, the business must be prepared to put in adequate time to read and understand what they are committing to and understand the repercussions of getting it wrong.

3) Failure to provide effective user training. CRM training is not just a matter of going through screens telling users what to click. Unless there is a broader understanding of what the objective of the task is and, most importantly, how it helps the user in their job, training time will be wasted.

We find that these factors apply equally to existing system failures as well as to new implementations.

What is interesting, is that it is that it is very rarely technical issues with the software that cause problems. However, because a user's perception is that 'The CRM' doesn't work, this tends to deflect and confuse corrective actions, by focussing effort in the wrong place. In many instances this has led to businesses taking the drastic step of changing CRM systems, only to find that they end up in the same position again some time (and a lot of expense) later.

CRMs are business systems which should be continually reviewed and adjusted in line with changing business needs. It is for that reason that CRM systems should be 'owned' by people with the closest business relationship to the system. This is typically the sales, marketing or customer services teams. The biggest number of failures of CRM occur where they have been devolved to the technical department and run as just another IT project.

So, it is clear that a successful CRM relies more on the process by which the application is implemented and maintained than the physical software. That said, the product chosen must provide functionality to both support the current needs of the business and have 'scalability' to allow it to adapt to future changes.

We have a well-established implementation methodology for new projects which reduces these risk factors as far as possible and puts in place an on-going routine, which should maintain the usefulness of CRM in the business. Where we are called in to assist with a failing system, it is often only by stepping back and appraising the underlying business process requirement that a solution can be established. In all cases business needs are the focus rather than adjusting the way the software is configured.

It is impossible to provide a formula for successful CRM as each business case is different. Our experience gives us the ability to consult effectively and deliver a solution that will provide good service. Please contact us to find out more.

ACT! (formerly Sage ACT!) is widely used by many small and medium sized businesses and generally does what it does very well. However, we receive  many enquiries from ACT! users who, for one reason or another, have reached the limits of what the application can offer. These include:

  • Restricted screen customisation and data controls.
  • Basic Company / Contact data management options with inability to add new entities.
  • Poor reporting and dashboard functionality.
  • Lack of functionality for marketing, customer services and project management.
  • Limited integration options for Sage 50 and other back-office systems.

We have carried out many ACT! to Sage CRM migrations and are able to transfer:

  • All contact and company data with notes and history.
  • Scheduled Tasks and Alerts
  • Opportunities
  • Linked documents and templates.

Standard migration tools and many 'free' migration services offered by other resellers do not generally include all of this data.

Whilst Sage CRM can seem quite a step up from ACT!, it is our experience that users find the Sage CRM interface much more intuitive than ACT! and quickly get up to speed with the new application. The company also benefits from better functionality and more efficient and effective use of the CRM.

Data Migrations to Sage CRM

In addition to ACT!, we have also carried out migrations to Sage CRM from many other CRM applications, including Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics, GoldMine and bespoke systems.

Please contact us to discuss migrating your existing system to Sage CRM.

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