In the 11 years Redspire has been in business, our philosophy hasn’t changed. We began the company wanting to strip away the complexity surrounding CRM and have continued to approach every new project with the same mentality. In order to achieve a more focused and far simpler approach, we minimise bureaucracy and focus on you, the customer, to build a lasting and successful relationship.

The importance of building relationships in business is an idea that seems to be waning. For some companies, revenue takes centre stage far ahead of customer care but, unbeknownst to them, both are intrinsically linked. As specialists in CRM, we know precisely how important customer relations are, which is why we are still retained by our first ever client.

How we approach CRM

Previously, you may have viewed your CRM as nothing more than a database but we’re keen to help you identify the multitude of benefits available from the technology. We’re committed to extending the knowledge base of CRM users, which is why we offer consultancy and training throughout your CRM’s lifecycle.

We’ve spoken extensively about the need to choose the right supplier when embarking on a CRM implementation, which is why we pride ourselves in our flexibility. Our client list includes everything from small starts up all the way to high street titans. As an organisation, we are confident in our ability to provide support – no matter the size of your organisation.

What’s more, our flexible implementation model goes well beyond the industry standard; although we subscribe to the Microsoft Sure Step Methodology, we have our own bespoke implementation process to complement this; TrueFIT. What makes TrueFIT different and more advanced than other implementation models is its ability to focus on your business objectives specifically. With TrueFIT, we identify what your business needs and then ensure that every step of the process benefits these core principles.

Our bespoke solutions continue beyond our implementation model with our fully customised versions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. We know that every company is different and that off the shelf solutions won’t necessarily benefit everyone.

In line with TrueFIT, we identify how your core aims could be best achieved, alter the CRM accordingly and add third party solutions to really benefit your needs. We currently offer 4 packages with various levels of customisation included in each.

Don’t hesitate to give Redspire a call and find out how we could help you and your needs.

The Microsoft Dynamics senior director has emphasised the company’s desire to develop its CRM solutions as it attempts to become a market leader and compete with the various other offerings available to businesses.

Speaking to Venture Beat, Bill Patterson explained that convergence is the key feature within the updates Microsoft is currently making to its software.

“The underlying pattern is that organisations need to work together in a much more engaging way … no one owns the customer and everyone needs to get better.”

Mr Patterson was speaking at the Convergence 2014 conference in Atlanta, Georgia, where Microsoft further outlined its plans for CRM.

Its changes promise greater functionality, better integration and lower costs, with a new system that will link up with the Microsoft package’s other offerings in terms of business intelligence and project management.

A tech lead for Dynamics told Venture Beat that a key element of CRM is making data visible across an organisation, rather than leaving it to certain departments, potentially driving up innovation and collaboration.

“This year we’ll also deliver embedded insights, so whether a salesperson is researching a competitor or customer or lead, they can get a rich profile with the latest corporate news, key executives, organisational structure, and more,” the anonymous expert added.

Unifying almost everything a business needs in one piece of software is the Holy Grail of automation and Microsoft recognises that it has a long way to go before it can deliver every piece of functionality it is currently gunning for.

However, Mr Patterson expressed his optimism that the tech giant can go on to overtake rivals within the CRM marketplace.

For one thing, Microsoft’s offering continues to be the most cost-efficient available to enterprises across all industries, he concluded.

The launch of these new capabilities is set to begin in the second quarter of 2014 at some point, with a better-implemented social system the most eye-catching proposal from Microsoft.

In this blog, I’m going to summarise what Liz Roche, Director of Enterprise Strategy at Microsoft Services and Jeff Marcoux, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft Dynamics CRM said at their session at Microsoft Dynamics Convergence 2014: ‘Digital Marketing and CRM: The art of possible and science of the probable around dynamic customer relationships.’

The main message of the talk was that technology changes human behaviour. A simple example: when was the last time your mobile phone was more than 10 feet away from you?

And can you remember being this attached to your phone 20 years ago?

It may be difficult but it’s worth it

Today, 40% of all internet traffic is coming from mobile devices. For a marketer, this means that the focus needs to be shifted accordingly. All touch points must be mobile-responsive, especially the website.

But this is far from all that you have to do to be able to stay on top of today’s pace of change. The purpose of adapting your business to relevant new technologies is not only to generate more leads, but, perhaps more importantly, to enhance your customers’ experience.

During their talk, Liz and Jeff argued that there’s a need for a new CEO – Customer Experience Optimisation. As you already know the power balance between a supplier and a buyer has shifted significantly in the past few years. This means your customers can decide to switch to your competitor much more easily than 15 years ago. However, if you manage to delight them every time you interact with them, why would they ever risk leaving you?

According to a recent research by Watermark Consulting that was carried out in 2007-2011, businesses that delivered great customer experience as the first in their market generated revenue that was 27% higher than the broader market, and 128% higher than those who only started focusing on customer experience years after the market CxP leader.

What does this mean? You can’t lose out by treating your customers exceptionally – now.

Unite your strategy

Jeff suggested that to design the perfect customer experience, you need to integrate your strategy, brand, marketing (marketing ROI) and technology implementation across all your digital and traditional channels. Some of us dislike the word ‘holistic approach’, but this concept is exactly what exceptional customer experience is about: creating a world in which your brand is unified and stands for excellence.

As well as integrating your business processes, you also need to integrate all your customer data into one database. Why? So that Sales, Marketing and Support are on the same page when communicating with your leads – no more asking the same question twice. Working from one database also speeds up the process of passing over leads and allows your teams to act upon a single set of criteria for qualified leads.

Another advantage of having all customer information in one place is being able to analyse their profitability throughout the customer’s lifecycle. This way you can determine which types of customers are most profitable for your business, and decide about focusing your entire resources on them – because it’s much better to delight your more profitable customers than to deliver great customer experience to the ones that cost you more than what they spend.

Customer’s point of view

Another important thing to pay attention to when designing customer experiences is the fact that your customer’s idea of the relationship is quite different from your idea. In business, we are used to dividing the sales funnel into certain stages (for example: attraction, acquisition, development, retention and growth); and so are our customers – the trouble is, their stages are different.

According to Liz, customer’s stages look more like this: engagement (for example, seeing an ad on LinkedIn), transaction (request for information, buying a product), fulfilment (delivery of request) and post-sale service (answering questions, service transaction). Once this chain of events has taken place, it happens all over again. To take advantage of this process, you need to plan a process that takes these stages into consideration.

The macro & micro journey

Liz & Jeff suggested creating customer journey plan that defines not just the customer macro journey (major events like the first and last point of contact, sales conversion etc.), but the micro journey – which includes every step of the way. Design how you’re going to engage your customers on every level of their customer journey – throughout the 4 aforementioned stages (engagement, transaction, fulfilment, service). Plan what you’ll do to interact with them and what the goal of each interaction will be (for example, offer them samples of your product with the goal of getting them to give you more information about themselves).

Next, define the channel through which the transaction is going to take place (a sales rep) and an interaction point through which you’ll let the customer know about this offer (phone call). Finally, decide which business process will be dominant in this action (sales, marketing, support).

Remember that your planning ahead must be flexible enough to take advantage of new opportunities. This means not planning everything to the last detail, but rather defining a clear path that you’ll follow and creating a formula for refusing and accepting new opportunities as they emerge.

British financial services firms are enjoying improved performances as the macro-economic outlook continues to recover following a difficult few years, with plans to invest much of their new income into their digital and technology sectors.

For a number of reasons, banks and other large financial institutions are often somewhat behind the competition when it comes to bringing their marketing processes up to date.

Traditionally, some of the most popular and expansive organisations were able to rely on their brand to attract customers, meaning their approach to advertising tended to be somewhat staid.

However, the emergence of alternative finance providers and the reputational damage caused by recent scandals means they are planning to improve their performance in this area. This means bringing in new staff, but it will also see a major investment in technology such as CRM software.

According to the latest survey from PwC and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), IT is the biggest area for the coming 12 months when it comes to investment intentions.

PwC financial services leader Kevin Burrowes said one of the factors behind this shift is a drive to improve interaction with customers. He cited recent research from his organisation highlighting the fact that less than half of people are loyal to their current bank as a reason why financial services providers are changing their approach.

“Banks need to adopt bold new strategies as they face challenges around regaining trust, legacy issues, regulation and technology.

“Digital must be at the heart of their business as new entrants such as challenger banks, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding all have one thing in common – digital platforms which make the most out of big data and really focus on customer needs,” concluded Mr Burrowes.

Financial services companies are also planning to increase their spend on marketing in 2014, with 42 per cent of respondents describing this as a priority.

Do you find that a high number of leads sent through to your sales team are simply not ready to purchase? In the past, the solution for this has been to forget about those leads, tossing them aside and drilling through new data instead. This model is a business staple but an altogether ineffective one; continuing in this way will result in you consuming masses of data with very little return.

Just because a lead is not sales-ready right now doesn’t mean it never will be. It’s therefore essential that your business’ relationship with that lead continues through effective nurturing. A solution that recycles those leads currently not ready to purchase and keeps them warm, lead nurturing is a means of getting the most out of the leads you currently have without having to obtain more.

Lead nurturing: Doing the Right Thing

Lead nurturing requires subtlety and an organic approach; the lead has made it clear that they are not ready to purchase so don’t insist on the matter. All future communications need to be educational in nature, building up a level of trust with the audience. Use the data within your CRM to identify what a lead appears to be most interested in and leverage this information for use in your communications.

If you don’t yet have that information, the concept fits neatly alongside marketing automation and lead scoring; you deliver content on different (yet still relevant) themes until you find what these leads are interested in, gradually refining the process over time.

Content is the engine that runs your lead nurturing program. The difference between traditional marketing campaigns and content to drive your lead nurturing is the focus on educating rather than selling. Your organisation needs to be viewed positively and an insistence on sales-based content is unlikely to achieve this, leaving your leads feeling pestered and likely to look elsewhere.

Instead of service or product specifications, Marketing should be sending out guides, creating interesting blog posts and using multimedia creatively. You should be giving your leads a reason to return to future pieces of your content. Once you’ve achieved this, you’ll likely be their first port of call when they finally are ready to purchase.

Prioritising your leads

It’s at this stage in the process when using lead scoring within your CRM is most effective. As the name suggests, lead scoring attributes a points score to leads depending on their actions to help identify engagement levels. It’s down to your company and the departments within it to decide what those lead thresholds are.

This may be a slow process (in fact, it definitely requires a long term mentality to be successful) but it is an effective way of creating revenue from leads that may have previously been disregarded.

The figures supporting lead nurturing speak for themselves with the technique having been shown to:

– Increase the ROI of lead generation by around 45%

– Bolster sales opportunities by as much as 20%

– Increase sales by over 9%

– In combination with marketing automation, it has been shown to increase qualified leads by 451%

Lead nurturing in combination with marketing automation has been gaining a strong foothold in modern CRMs. A system such as Microsoft Dynamics is fully kitted out to deal with lead scoring, marketing automation and lead nurturing. And, with incentives as strong as they are, it seems foolish not to at least consider doing so. Whilst it’s not quite money for nothing, it is money from what would have previously been lost.

Source of statistics: Online Marketing Institute.

As the computer age develops and increasingly sophisticated mobile devices make it easier for consumers to get online while out and about, the amount of consumer data available to businesses has grown.

However, not all firms are well-placed to create actionable insights from this glut of information, particularly if they lack the talent or technology to do so.

According to a new report from Blackbaud and nfpSynergy, nearly 57 per cent of UK not-for-profits are struggling to release the inherent potential within big data.

Azadi Sheridan, Blackbaud Europe's product manager, admitted that the sheer amount of information gathered through modern fundraising activities can be difficult to manage.

"Data can be invaluable for fundraising and marketing, but not-for-profits must be able to analyse that data to get the maximum value from it. Not utilising social media data is a major missed opportunity to better understand supporters," he added.

Only 30 per cent of respondents felt they were doing a good job when it comes to combining data and fundraising, with 70 per cent recognising that there is untapped potential in this area.

Almost half of not-for-profit companies were capable of integrating digital data into their CRM systems, making them less effective – just 15 per cent were able to utilise their social media in this way.

The charities responding seemed to agree that the inability to utilise their data is having an impact on their engagement with potential fund-givers and supporters, highlighting the need for not-for-profits to develop expertise in this area.

Jo Graham, nfpSynergy's research director, pointed out that technology is clearly important but warned that resources remain a major issue for charities.

"Data is key to modern fundraising and the findings in the Data Driven Fundraising report suggest that not-for-profits are aware of this but need help unlocking the true potential of that data," she added.

According to a new study from IBM, high-performing chief marketing officers (CMOs) are excelling in their role by bringing together external and internal data to generate insights and leads within their company.

The report is based on findings from face-to-face conversations with more than 500 CMOs from across the globe. It found that 84 per cent anticipated advanced analytics playing a major role within their sector over the coming years, helping them reach their goals.

Worryingly, however, there appears to be a widespread consensus that organisations are not yet ready to take advantage of the so-called data explosion.

Some 82 per cent of respondents expressed this concern, compared to 71 per cent three years before. 

"After speaking with CMOs around the world, it became evident that more companies across all industries are striving to integrate their physical and digital presence in order to provide a more integrated, seamless customer experience," said John Kennedy, marketing vice-president of IBM's Global Business Services division.

The survey identified three 'types' of CMOs – traditionalists, social strategists and digital pacesetters. As well as being more likely to adopt CRM technology and integrate their data, the latter grouping proved to be more financially efficient than their counterparts.

Another aspect of the report suggested that marketing chiefs are becoming central parts of their organisation, with 63 per cent involved in formulating their company's overall business strategy. 

IBM declared that this is making it more important for marketing experts to engage with data and analytics and convey that information to the rest of the C-suite.

The study also found that when a CMO has a close working relationship with the chief information officer, the enterprise is more likely to perform better overall.

Utilising CRM technology can make it easier for businesses to form these kind of connections, because it allows firms to make their analytic data available to everyone rather than simply to a handful of experts.

It would be fair to say that budget airline Ryanair, along with its combative chief executive Michael O'Leary, is not known for taking a customer-focused approach to its business.

This attitude has served the company well so far – by offering a no-frills service it is able to reduce the cost of flying, meaning many people who complain about the firm will still find themselves booking flights with them in order to save a little cash.

However, recent noises emanating from the Irish business suggest change is afoot, with the firm set to change its overall strategy to become more popular with consumers.

Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs recently spoke to the Drum after the firm launched its first ever advertising campaign, telling the publication it is planning to alter its somewhat dubious image.

"It's great that we haven’t had to advertise until now, it is great that we're coming to it late as you can do it in the right way and on your terms and not be like a lot of businesses that are stuck in advertising and afraid to drop their spend but they know they need to do digital at the same time," he explained.

The company is looking for creative, digital, media and CRM agencies to develop its marketing activity over the next year and beyond, highlighting the way that CRM can help businesses connect with customers – even ones as notoriously intransigent as Ryanair.

"I want to find the best. There's going to be a four agency line-up and they can be based anywhere in Europe. I want absolutely the best ones I can get for Ryanair," added Mr Jacobs.

Earlier this year, Michael O'Leary held a press event in London in which he expounded on plans to change the company's approach to its customers.

He compared Ryanair's new approach to that of brands such as Aldi, which are focused on cutting costs for consumers but not at the expense of quality.

A new report from Research and Markets has highlighted the growth potential of the CRM industry as businesses around the globe concentrate on producing people-focused marketing over the coming years.

The study suggested that much of this growth will come from the Asian and Asia Pacific markets, where low penetration of software and high domestic demand are creating a host of opportunities for suppliers and tech experts.

While north America and Europe are already considerably more established in this regard, it is clear that the CRM industry is gaining a great deal of traction internationally.

Sectors where growth will be especially strong are banking and financial, hospitality, logistics, real estate, and manufacturing, according to the organisation’s research.

Overall, the market is expected to be worth $17.5 billion (£10.6 billion) by 2017.

Factors in this expansion include the increasing popularity of cloud computing models, with more businesses adopting this technology and thus finding it easier to install and work with CRM software.

Furthermore, the services sector has been one of the few industries to emerge from the recent recession with all guns blazing and this area has proven to be an early adopter when it comes to automated customer relationship techniques.

Although the study did not offer any specific insight into the UK’s expected performance over the next three years, the country has traditionally been at the forefront of marketing advances and is known around the globe as an innovative, high-tech economy.

M&C Saatchi’s recent annual report revealed that the firm enjoyed a pre-tax profit of £18.6 million in 2013, led by “exceptional growth” in CRM and mobile.

As firms attempt to embrace mobile and other innovative marketing areas, CRM can help them keep track of their information and ensure they are offering integrated services across various different platforms.

With consumers increasingly keen to enjoy a personalised and engaging purchasing experience, tech such as this is likely to grow in popularity.