2 min read

Charities urged to analyse and use data

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Charities have been encouraged to make sure they are using their various data sets effectively.

According to Peter Watson, information and systems manager at youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, good data management is “essential”, as it enables third sector bodies to understand their users’ needs and the impact of their work.

He acknowledged that getting to grips with large quantities of information can be “daunting and overwhelming”. However, he told the Guardian there are a number of ways in which they can make sense of it and use it in a constructive way.

For instance, Mr Watson said that once organisations have built up a significant body of data, they can analyse it and use it to group data into categories.

This, he stated, would enable them to find out relevant trends and patterns that could prove invaluable when it comes to improving services and determining future policy and research activities.

Identifying recurring themes could also help charities manage their relationships with supporters, clients, partners and stakeholders more effectively, with each group receiving targeted and relevant communications.

Mr Watson went on to insist that if a charity puts a data management system in place, it must make sure every member of staff knows how to use it properly.

“Systems are only as good as the people who use them, so charities need to support staff in recording data and running reports,” he commented.

“Support can happen at staff induction, in training, through telephone support and clear written guidance.”

Mr Watson added that any data management system must be reviewed on a regular basis, so charities can work out how useful it is and if improvements could be made.

He stated that getting feedback from stakeholders and system users would be one good way to see if the system is delivering results, as the findings could prompt an organisation to “improve existing fields and add new fields if necessary”.

If you’re planning to invest in CRM, the conditions need to be right for it to succeed. Download our free white paper to learn how to optimise your system.

Customer engagement white paper

3 min read

How technology can improve customer service

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Using various digital technologies in your business is a great way to build relationships with customers.

Of course, the internet is perhaps the most popular form of technological engagement. It’s quick, globally accessible and can convey information in an instant. But customers may soon become tired of the same techniques and using the same methods as other competitors isn’t really an effective way of attracting a new customer base.

It’s important to incorporate new methods to enhance customer service, so that you appeal to a wider audience while still retaining your existing customers and brand loyalty.

Investing in other technologies, such as customer relationship management (CRM) or contact centre system software, can deliver a hassle-free experience across a multitude of channels directly to your customer.

Customer service and CRM

CRM is a strategy employed by businesses to manage all interactions made with existing and prospective customers. This includes being able to keep a record of important factors such as: pending invoices, the customer’s transaction history, the status of their orders, all of their previous transactions with you, and even the opportunity to see their social media interactions with and about you.

According to Bob Thompson, chief executive at Customer Think: “Successful CRM is about competing in the relationship dimension. Not as an alternative to having a competitive product or reasonable price – but as a differentiator.

“If your competitors are doing the same thing you are (as they generally are), product and price won’t give you a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage.

“But if you can get an edge based on how customers feel about your company, it’s a much stickier, sustainable relationship over the long haul.”

The benefits of CRM for customer service

Investing in CRM strategies not only helps to build an established relationship between business and customer, but it can bring a great number of benefits to your business directly. For instance, CRM:

  • Improves products and services.
  • Increases revenue and referrals from current customers.
  • Enables you to secure more deals.
  • Optimises your overall performance.

Using CRM will lead to happier customers, which in turn will encourage them to spend more on products and services. By maintaining a solid relationship with customers, they will be more inclined to revisit. In a satisfaction survey conducted by Customer Thermometer, it was found that repeat customers spend 33 per cent more than new ones.

Other ways of improving customer service

Although CRM is one of the most useful technological advances for customer service, there are other factors that should be considered in order to improve this further.

One way of doing so is by responding to customers quickly. As well as making your contact details clearly visible on each page of your website, using a company social media account – such as Facebook and Twitter – could also be efficient. Customers contacting you on the go may turn to social media as a main form of contact rather than searching through numerous pages online to find your contact details.

Not only do social media accounts enable quicker responses, but they enhance the online presence of a business, meaning customers will be able to access a service through a number of different mediums.

Of course, customers are the main priority for most companies, but it is important to not lose sight of the significance of employees. Make sure they have been given the essential training and basic knowledge about how to handle customer queries effectively.

If you’re planning to invest in CRM, the conditions need to be right for it to succeed. Read our white paper to learn how to optimise your system.
Customer engagement white paper

6 min read

Use CRM to boost customer engagement

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Businesses across the world are under pressure to go beyond simply providing a top-quality service to their customers. After all, this is now the minimum requirement for firms in any industry, particularly the most competitive ones.

As a result, they have had to look for other ways in which to stand out – and many have found investing in customer service the solution. The reason is clear, as it enables businesses to develop a relationship with their target market that can encourage repeat custom and – potentially – long-term brand loyalty.

Active customer engagement has also proved a necessity for another reason. With the emergence of social networking platforms, online forums and review sites, any disgruntled customer can share their experiences with a large audience and potentially put others off transacting with a firm in the future.

Customer engagement today

Businesses therefore need to be mindful of the reputational damage that can ensue if a customer does make a complaint on the internet.

Many firms have taken to building extensive and detailed data sets about their customers, so any engagement efforts are based on their established tastes, preferences, circumstances and behaviour.

This has driven a shift away from mass-market promotion, with companies instead moving towards personalising their marketing material to each individual. And this approach has been proven to deliver results. Indeed, a study by McKinsey found that retailers have seen their marketing return on investment go up by ten per cent if their campaigns are personalised according to their customers’ previous purchasing decisions.

Of course, there is a delicate balance to strike for any firm that goes down this road. Firstly, consumers might be uncomfortable if a business apparently knows too much about them, and secondly they don’t necessarily want to be contacted too often.

Any business that wants to engage effectively with their target audience must therefore bear this in mind and find out how often they wish to receive communications. Otherwise, a person might easily choose to stop following a firm on social media or unsubscribe from a mailing list.

CRM systems have proved invaluable in helping firms juggle every individual’s various requirements and preferred options, so they can effectively engage with people at the right times and in appropriate ways.

Customer Engagement, CRM and Sales

A good way of maximising the chances of delivering well-targeted and relevant communications is tracking a customer’s journey from the very beginning. By doing this, firms can build up a picture of what a potential buyer looks like, so sales people can engage in a meaningful way that is likely to yield results.

But companies should remember there is unlikely to be a one-size-fits-all persona, so they should segment their customers into different groups. A CRM platform can be a useful tool for performing this task, so firms can engage with each group in a way that suits their various requirements.

This not only helps to ensure firms get good returns on their marketing investment, but it also reduces the likelihood of annoying certain people by sending them irrelevant content.

A CRM system can also streamline the customer engagement process, so a company is less likely to leave too long a time between first contact and a promised quote or proposal. As a result, customers will probably not be tempted to look elsewhere in the meantime to get their goods or services more quickly.

Furthermore, the technology helps firms keep track of whether or not follow-up communications, such as emails and phone calls, are happening when they should, so again people won’t get tired of waiting and move their custom to a competitor.

With many people commenting on their brand experiences via social media, it’s useful for companies to have a means of monitoring what’s being said on Facebook and Twitter about them, as well as certain products and subjects.

CRM technology comes with a social media listening facility, so they can gain insights into hot topics and people’s views. Businesses can then tailor their marketing material and communications with this in mind, speaking about issues they know are on the minds of their target audience.

In summary, firms no longer need to guess about what people are interested in, how they want to be contacted and exactly who is purchasing what. It results in a far better targeted and effective marketing strategy that is based on evidence rather than random guesses and anecdotal observations.

Companies can therefore prioritise where they may see fit, perhaps by focusing their resources towards their most lucrative groups or maybe improving in areas where they might be falling short.

Customer loyalty & CRM

Attracting customers is one thing, but keeping hold of them is quite another, which is why CRM has become such a key asset to businesses in all sorts of industries.

But simply having a CRM system in place is not necessarily enough. It needs to be used properly in order to deliver maximum results, so businesses know who they are dealing with and what expectations people have of them.

So what do firms need to do in order to make sure they’re making the most of this resource? Ensuring every department has access to CRM technology is vitally important, as it means large amounts of information can be shared between everybody who might need it. And this could be particularly useful for firms that have employees working remotely, perhaps from their own home.

Implementing a standard approach to using CRM across each department can also be worthwhile, so everyone in a firm is operating by the same rulebook and mistakes are less likely to be made.

Every division that needs to should be able to access the data they require in order to identify trends and sales patterns – and perhaps avoid a repeat of mistakes that might have been made in the past.

By having all this customer information available with just a few clicks of a button, companies can engage with people in a proactive way and build a reputation for offering a relevant and tailored experience every time.

Ultimately, this will generate a buzz around brands and perhaps draw even more people towards them, as well as help to ensure any problems that do arise can be dealt with quickly before they escalate into something more serious.

The future of CRM and customer engagement

The case for using CRM to drive customer engagement is strong and wide-ranging, from ensuring that marketing spend is used effectively to helping firms manage the reputational risks opened up by social media.

With more and more people transacting via digital channels, there are lots of opportunities for companies to gather and use data in order to both attract and retain customers.

And those businesses that fail to take advantage of them risk getting left behind, as customers will inevitably be drawn towards those firms that seem to effortlessly provide a relevant, timely and well-targeted service.

CRM technology can help make using customer data in a meaningful way a hugely straightforward process, so businesses of all sizes should be able to keep customers happy and engaged via all the platforms through which they operate.

For more of an insight into how CRM systems can be a useful resource for a business, have a look at Redspire’s new white paper on the subject – The Route to Customer Engagement with CRM.
Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Customer service ‘really counts in banking sector’

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Banks that provide current accounts have been urged to ensure customers get the standard of service they demand and expect.

According to research by MoneySavingExpert.com, First Direct is once again the best performing company in the sector when it comes to offering top quality customer service.

Indeed, the survey found that 92 per cent of people who have accounts with the institution believe it offers “great” service, which means it retains its position at the top of the list for another year.

This put it well ahead of the likes of Santander, TSB, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC.

Guy Anker, managing editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, observed: “With current accounts, customer service really counts.

“Whether you bank online or in-brand, this is the one financial product you do genuinely have a real day-to-day interaction with.”

Mr Anker noted that some organisations are managing to provide good customer service alongside innovative accounts.

Santander, for instance, was praised for managing to move from the foot of the table two years ago to a higher position this time around.

However, he said many of the traditional giant high street banks performed poorly in the survey, with more than half of account holders with the country’s four biggest institutions saying the service they get is either okay or poor.

“That should be seen as a stark warning that the big banks risk losing customers if they don’t raise their game,” Mr Anker commented.

Investing in customer service and engagement could be critically important for the major institutions because the process of switching accounts is much simpler than it used to be.

In fact, Mr Anker said the process is now “easier than ever”, with all direct debits and standing orders able to be moved within seven working days.

As a result, being complacent about the issue of customer service at a time when the banking sector is becoming increasingly competitive could be counterproductive for institutions that want to be seen in a more positive light.

Click here to learn more about how CRM can drive up customer engagement levels through the use of mobile, social and more.
Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Brands ‘must engage in new and different ways’

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Businesses have been urged to take a fresh look at how they engage with consumers.

According to Nick Turner, consumer business digital lead at Deloitte, brands need to look beyond marketing as a means of engaging with their target audience.

Instead, he told Travolution that firms need to make sure they are communicating in "new and different ways".

Mr Turner said technology can be particularly advantageous in this regard, as it can ensure all consumer interactions across various channels and touch points are tracked and integrated.

"They can help with identifying failure points and guiding real-time, targeted responses," he commented.

"For example, you will see a number of businesses contacting you if you dropped out of their site whilst making a purchase."

Mr Turner also insisted that firms must make sure employees at every level are aware of the "role they play in serving consumers".

This, he said, can empower them to make correct decisions on how best to deal with anyone who is unhappy.

Businesses were then advised to be mindful of the reputational damage that can ensue if their social media channels are not properly managed.

Mr Turner suggested that firms set up social command centres so they can find out what people are saying about them on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

He said this approach would also enable brands to share positive stories beyond their existing customer base and reach "those who are just about to start their search for a product or brand".

Mr Turner added that if a company is looking to launch a content marketing strategy, it should make sure any material inspires and informs customers rather than presents a sales pitch.

Firms were told that equipping people with the right information enables them to "move independently through the shopping journey". 

Mr Turner said this could in turn bolster trust and brand loyalty, but stressed that this is a "sequential process that can't be short-circuited".

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Consumer trust a valuable commodity

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Winning the trust of consumers could be a hugely valuable way for brands to make inroads in their respective industries.

According to Nick Turner, consumer business digital lead at Deloitte, only 12 per cent of consumers consider service providers their most trusted source of information.

By contrast, nearly two-thirds value the opinions of friends, relatives and fellow consumers, with lots of people reading reviews written by other members of the public, Travolution reports.

"Many consumers turn to independent sources to access information," Mr Turner observed.

"This presents a real risk for businesses as they have less control over the information being circulated and used by consumers to make decisions."

He suggested this may be partly down to the recent financial crisis, as this led to people developing "recessionary behaviours, such as being more selective". Think about it this way: would you not want to make the most of your money if you suddenly had much less to spend?

Mr Turner said this means their expectations of brands have grown, while some have become increasingly sceptical about the ability of firms to deliver on what they promise.

"A gap is emerging between consumer expectations and businesses' ability to meet them," he remarked.

This means firms need to make customer engagement a priority, so they can build a loyal and trusting core consumer base.

If this effort is successful, many of these individuals might be willing to talk up a brand on online forums, review sites and social media platforms.

Otherwise, trusted sources of information might be dominated by positive reviews of rival firms and negative remarks from dissatisfied customers.

"Social media is often used as a tool to make a complaint and demonstrates how strong engagement and good service can lead to positive word of mouth," Mr Turner commented.

He pointed out that more than eight in ten people check ratings and read reviews of brands, while more than a third actively contribute to web-based forums and make comments on people's blogs.

Mr Turner added that around one in ten consumers can be classed as a "genuine content creator", which means they run their own blog or website.
 
Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Customer contact ‘can’t just be good some of the time’

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For most business service providers, establishing a strong relationship with customers is their main priority.

But with thousands of companies all striving for the same goal, competing in an 'omni-channel world' is perhaps the largest obstacle to overcome. However, once this is accomplished, it stands as an important measure in enhancing brand loyalty and the retention of customers, the International Quality and Productivity Center reports.

It's true that an overall successful customer experience involves the service provider ensuring the demands of the end user are reached and that they are left feeling satisfied, but there are other contributing factors to consider.

Businesses need to think of ways in which they can exceed customer expectations, all the while making sure they have trained members of staff across every channel who will be able to do so.

Nicholas Turner, research director for the Customer Management Exchange Network, said: "Customer expectations have increased dramatically in a drastically short space of time, leaving many companies struggling to cope with growing consumer demands.

"Rapid advancements in technology and the growing use of social media have also come hurtling into our lives and have changed the way in which consumers access information, making them more powerful than ever before."

Companies with Facebook and Twitter accounts can communicate with customers and attend to their needs and queries much quicker than when composing an email. This could be particularly beneficial when reaching customers who are on the go and perhaps don't have access to their email accounts.

In a whitepaper titled Competing on the Customer Experience in an Omni-Channel World, Brian Cantor, vice chancellor at the University of Bradford, discusses five ways in which a business can achieve successful social media customer service. He advises companies to:

  • Create an online presence across all channels relevant to your target customer.
  • Make customer responses more personalised.
  • Reward loyal customers and brand advocates.
  • Urgently respond to all social inquiries – even if the customer appears unhappy or disgruntled.
  • Direct interactions to private or different channels when necessary.

Businesses need to start pushing customer contact boundaries and make positive improvements in order to achieve an outstanding level of customer service.

Customer engagement white paper

2 min read

Modern retailers ‘must organise business around customers’

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Retailers that wish to thrive in the 21st century have been urged to make sure customers are placed at the heart of their business strategy.

According to Holly Ripper, managing partner of Green Cave People, several leading organisations are "seamlessly blending" their physical outlets and digital platforms.

For instance, she said Lloyds, M&S and Argos have taken steps such as using apps and social networking sites to incentivise people into going to their stores, The Drum reports.

However, Ms Ripper stated that if retailers are adopting an omni-channel approach, they need to introduce new organisational designs, processes and metrics.

"It means organising your business around your customer," she commented.

Retailers were also encouraged to have a "powerful and emotive story" that brings their brand to life, as customer shopping activities are being fragmented across a growing number of channels.

Ms Ripper said these stories could focus on the strengths of each individual channel. Therefore, companies with high street outlets could push their unique features such as the shopping environment they offer and an in-store experience that cannot be enjoyed via the internet.

Nick Adams, head of digital development at Mindshare UK, added that multi-channel retailers have been at the "epicentre of some of the most challenging and exciting developments in marketing" over the last few years.

For instance, he noted that some companies have experimented with methods such as social commerce models and in-store mobile beacons.

Mr Adams said this has led to the lines between digital and physical channels becoming increasingly blurred.

As a result, he believes retailers that are active across multiple platforms must make sure they are all working in harmony.

"The need for truly integrated cross-disciplinary thinking is more important than ever," Mr Adams commented.

He added that the emergence of ecommerce in the last decade or so has had a significant impact on the nature of digital advertising and marketing.

Download our free white paper to learn more about how CRM can drive up customer engagement levels through the use of mobile, social and more.

Customer engagement white paper

4 min read

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015: Top 11 new features

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Microsoft has recently announced the release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015, which is planned for Q4 2014. What can we expect?

From the initial conversation, it seems like Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015’s goal is to further shrink the gap between sales and marketing.

[box_frame start_color=”#ffff99″ end_color=”#ffff99″ border_color=”#919599″ text_color=”#000033″]Exclusive bonus: Download this list as a PDF with extra information on Microsoft Social Listening, Outlook/Exchange integration, Business Rules, security and more!

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In today’s post we’ll have a look at what we can expect from the new CRM 2015:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 for Marketing

Marketers can expect richer functionality in terms of social marketing, email marketing and collaboration with Sales.

  1. Integrated Email editor: simple drag-and-drop email editor that lets you create emails from scratch or customise any of their pre-defined templates. You’ll also have the possibility to switch between a visual and a HTML editor to create the perfect visual effect!
     
    CRM-2015-EMail-Editor

  2.  

  3. Improved Campaign Management: more intelligent lead scoring systems, multi-condition triggers, cross-campaign offers and finally – A/B testing! All this to make sure your marketing is better targeted and delivers better results. And our favourite? Webinar integration – for an even deeper insight into what works and which leads are passionate about your products!
     
    Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Console
     
    CRM 2015 B2B

  4.  

  5. Integrated Social Listening: No more separate marketing & social listening platforms – now it’s all in one! With CRM 2015 you’ll be able to analyse what your audience is saying about you, your product, your market or any other keywords you choose. You’ll also be able to zoom in on a particular location and monitor sentiment in 19 languages.
     
    CRM 2015 Social Listening
  6.  

  7. Sales Collaboration: Sales will be able to access marketing campaigns and will gain some controls over communications to make sure the transition between Marketing and Sales is more seamless. Have you previously met one of the leads on a networking event and want to personalise an email? With CRM 2015 that will no longer be an issue!
     
    Sales-Collaboration

 

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 for Sales

CRM for Sales will improve in navigation, visualisation and faster streamlining of Sales processes.

  1. Improved mobile experience: you can look forward to better dashboards and more powerful analytics analytics, as well as straightforward multi-level navigation and offline drafts availability. Next time when you’re in a meeting with a client with no wifi access you don’t have to panic!
     
    Mobile CRM 2015 for sales
  2.  

  3. Better visualisation: Sales will be able to see how individual accounts, leads and contacts relate to each other in helpful diagrams (hierarchies). These diagrams will also have basic information about each account (i.e. revenue, who owns the account, latest activity etc). so it will save time and make your team meetings more efficient.
     
    Hierarchy
  4.  

  5. Product bundling: The new CRM will enable you to spend less time on product management by letting you access pre-bundled product families that can be assigned to leads with the intention to up- or cross-sell these later on. Your product strategy will become that much easier and you can say goodbye to one more spreadsheet.
     
    Product bundling
     

  6. Improved real-time processes: Now you’ll be able to choose from various directions the business processes will follow. For example, all your leads might follow the same route from the initial touch point until the reach a certain score, and after this they can be dropped into a separate business flow according to the product you wish to sell to them.
     
    Improved real-time process

 

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 for Customer Service

We can expect higher flexibility and better business logic for the Customer Service department.
Customer service will be able to:

  1. Manage related cases together and assign parent/child roles to them
  2. Define and manage multiple Service Level Agreement levels
  3. Use a smarter routing and queuing rules to make sure all customers are served in time
  4. Pause and resume SLA’s and track the on-hold time to help meeting the SLA requirements

 
Customer Service CRM 2015
 

Migrating to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015

Watch this video for details on how to migrate to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015. We’re also happy to answer all questions on info@redspire.co.uk.
 


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Want to know more?

We have recently published a blog about upgrading to CRM 2015 so if you think CRM 2015 is for you, you should definitely check it out.

To find out in detail about the features we’ve mentioned in this article, check out the full Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 Release guide!

CRM 2015 preview guide download
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2 min read

Word-of-mouth referrals ‘your ultimate marketing campaign’

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Encouraging happy customers to share their experiences with others can be the best way to promote a brand, an expert has noted.

According to Joe Hirsch, chief executive of YellowHammer, word-of-mouth referrals are the "ultimate marketing campaign" for an organisation.

However, he told B2B Marketing that they can only reach this point if they consistently provide value to clients and give them a top-quality service offering.

Mr Hirsch pointed out that gaining new clients is "just one part of the equation", as time and resources also need to be put towards keeping them.

This, he said, is because it is likely that another company provides similar products or services and does it just as well or maybe even better – and possibly at a lower cost.

Businesses were advised that if they want to win word-of-mouth referrals, they cannot "settle for the dollar value". Instead, their focus "needs to shift to the business value that yields more long-term results". Sure, saving your customers a few pounds is nice but it shows it also takes a real commitment to the mutual relationship.

"If your clients won't go to bat for your quality, your quality simply isn't good enough," Mr Hirsch commented.

Nevertheless, he said there are ways in which organisations can ensure they provide good value to clients.

For instance, Mr Hirsch stated that they can set realistic targets and expectations when they are constructing a narrative for their clients. As a result, they will be in a position where they can "beat the numbers" rather than fall below what was expected of them.

Mr Hirsch also suggested that brands align their interests with those of their clients and communicate openly with them. He argued that being honest and straightforward about how their budget is being used can help to build trust between the two parties.

"If you care about your clients, they’ll care about you," he remarked. As 2015 rolls out, this couldn’t be more true. Customer loyalty and word-of-mouth were not as important when access to information wasn’t as easy as it is today. Of course, it does take a lot more time and effort to win your customer’s trust, but in the end, when your customers take care of your marketing for you, it starts paying off.

Mr Hirsch added that businesses need to define their leadership and each person's respective roles, so it is obvious to everybody who is responsible for what.

Customer engagement white paper