Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Lets talk about some analytics

To start this blog, I will first narrate a story: Story of two Chocolate companies BabyChoco & ChocoSmart.  ChocoSmart is in the market for quite sometime where as BabyChoco has just entered the market. ChocoSmart, being the undisputed leader of the market, relies on their old legacy customer service application and does not want to re look their customer sentiment. BabyChoco on the other hand, with a hope to get better business insights decides to concentrate more to understand their customer needs.

BabyChoco decided to gather data from market to understand what consumer likes about them and what more they want. Soon CRM Consultant form a team and a nationwide survey via all possible communication channels was conducted. Data started pouring in from all the sales hubs.

CRM tool quickly started projecting the likes and dislikes of their consumers. With the help of the survey analysis they also got an insight about the demand of low cost dark chocolates which is not available in Rural India. Based on the survey, BabyChoco changed their business plan and started producing that type of chocolates that the consumer wants.

Soon the result started showing in. The sales shoot up for Dark Chocolates and the brand becomes popular in rural areas. Within one year, they beat ChocoSmart and become the number one Chocolate company in the country.

Both ChocoSmart and BabyChoco were using CRM. Then what special BabyChoco did? Well they realized the power of Analytical CRM and used it in a precised fashion.

In my previous blogs, I discussed about cloud option, various ideas to make CRM a success and multiple other stuffs. In this blog, its time now to go bit more deeper and discuss about a crucial element on CRM named: Analytical CRM.

So, what is Analytical CRM? As I stated in my example, it is something that helps organization to mine data received from various channel sources. It basically consists of five primary blocks. Interact-FineTune-Storage-Analyze and Construct. The below picture will give you a better idea about the flow of information in analytical CRM.

As you can see, upon gathering information, organization first needs to refine those information so that only relevant information gets stored in the DB. Post the fine tuning, organization stores all these data in their server. Another team, periodically retrieves those data from system of records(database) and analyze based on various business parameters. Finally based on the analysis, organization construct their marketing and selling plan and take the business forward.

Coming to the benefits it brings, as described in my example, it definitely helps organization to get more insights about their customers, what your customers like or dislike, what is their expectation, what benefits they would love to see in the product etc. Once you start getting these insights about your customers, it will automatically improve the relationships. Some research also proves that A-CRM helped organization to optimize cross selling and up selling opportunities as well. It also helps company to integrate enterprise strategy with marketing strategy.

However, like any other implementation, A-CRM also requires to follow some best practices in order to get the best of out it.  From my personal experience, I have seen that one of the key elements of success in A-CRM is capturing all relevant customer information from different sources and touch-points. Touch-points could be anything ranging from direct email, to survey, to call center data or simple ATM or Kiosk based data collection. You should consider each and every dialogue that your organization had with your customers. Furthermore, organization needs to apply various analytical methods to optimize their relationship with customers. Also, it is important to store good amount of historical data. We recommend organization to keep at least 10 years data with them so that they can analyze trend and also derive various plans based on that.

Hope by now you get a good idea about A-CRM.
Please feel free to comment if you have any.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Choosing the right service .

"Yehi hai right choice baby.." 

If you grew up in 90's in India, then this jingle must be familiar to you. A popular Cola giant has entered into the Indian market and was trying hard to penetrate in the urban and rural Indian market and get a solid grip. And then they used these few words and the rest is history.

 It is our choices indeed that determine our experiences. The choices we are making today will show up in our experiences in the future. So when it comes to picking up something from a bouquet of options, you have to choose the right one so that you can also say, yes yehi hai right choice baby [this is the right one for me].

In one of my previous blogs, I had discussed about whether CRM on cloud is a good option or not. In this blog I will discuss what the various cloud models that are currently available are and how to choose the best one that works for your business.

Honestly speaking there is not a “one Cloud fits all” solution.  On a very general level, there are 3 types of cloud offerings that are available in the market. They are SaaS, IaaS and PaaS.

So, what are they?  I know many of us have already seen the definition of each of them in internet. But today instead of re-uttering the same old definition, I thought of giving you a nice analogy that one of my managers once explained to me describing these types. It is about coffee as a service.

Consider that you want to enjoy a cup of coffee. What will you do? You have multiple options. You can make the coffee yourself at home or go out and get into a coffee shop or call for a home delivery and enjoy.

Let’s say, you are a coffee enthusiast and want to prepare the coffee at home. In that case you need to arrange all the necessary elements and spend considerable amount of time before you can enjoy the same. You might also run into the risk of disproportions of the elements which can spoil the taste as well.  So this depicts the example of Service on Premise.

On the other hand, you can opt to just go out, place the order, wait for your hot steaming cup of coffee and then enjoy. The chances of running into trouble with it are less as it is being made by professionals and they are kind of pro in it. This depicts the cloud SaaS model where you just need to give your requirement and your application will be up and ready to use in cloud.

In between these two offerings, there are two other offerings. Let us take the same Coffee as a service example. Imagine that, you want to still prepare your coffee but few part of the process, like brewing, grinding, roasting etc you want someone/thing else to do for you that is with a help of a coffee making machine. This hybrid model depicts the theory of Infrastructure as a Service.

And the last one is where you don’t want to go out and at the same time you don’t want to prepare it as well. In that case you prefer to call home delivery where apart from table and chair, everything else will be provided by the coffee makers. This is in line to what we call PaaS or Platform as a Service model offers.

So this is more or less what I understood from my mentor regarding various cloud service offering models. Below is a pictorial representation of both Coffee as a Service and Cloud as a Service.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

CRM and the Awful Trio:

Recently I met one of my very good friends’ who is currently working as a CRM Consultant. He shared a very interesting story about how one of the projects he worked went for a toss in just 3 months and eventually got scrapped. While we talk in length about the possible reasons what could have triggered it, 3 distinct things clearly came up which, if unaddressed, can definitely lead to failure of the project. They are: Lack of Goal, Lack of Commitment and Lack of Proper Software. Let us  name them as “ the nasty trio “.

So what are these and how these can affect a CRM project. Let me touch them in bit detail.

1. Lack of goal:

When a sales person or consultant talks about CRM, or tries to highlight the benefits it can bring, all key stakeholders of an organization get really excited thinking all the existing problem of organization will easily be addressed by the CRM Suite.  As a consequence they never set a goal. Lack of clear goal results an aimless project and eventually leads to failure.

Organizations first need to figure out the business problems that need to be addressed via CRM. Once those are identified then proceed to talk to the vendors. Use that list of goals while you negotiate with your vendor for the best CRM Suites. Proper goal can help organization to do proper planning and ensure CRM Success.

2. Lack of commitment:

The other and second most crucial factor which determines the fate of a CRM project is commitment from key stakeholders. Corporate management has to be visibly and vocally committed to the CRM effort. They have to approve budget, provide manpower, and engage with end user to ensure that CRM project gets the right attention and support that is required for the success. However, it is often noticed that soon after engaging the consulting team, they don’t pay much attention about the project needs and get involved in other activities.

In addition to top management, the people who will actually use the CRM software system have to be engaged and committed to it as well. There is no point implementing a CRM solution with user having zero knowledge or idea about the reason of the same. So educate your user to get the best out of CRM .

3. Inefficient software:

The last and the final one is the software you are going to use. There are multiple CRM vendors in the market who can offer you solution. However, not all are equipped enough to address your organizational challenge. Business houses need to do a thorough analysis of the CRM products before finalizing the deal. Keep in mind to seek inputs about SLA, Warranties, Support plan etc.

Remember, more simple it is, more easy to understand for the end user, Hence, unless it is absolutely required, don’t go for overweight products.

Just before I conclude, here is an interesting trivia.

 Multiple analysis on CRM project reveled that 30-50% of all CRM implementation fails horribly.

So be careful before starting a CRM Project. Keep in mind these 3 crucial factors  while working on them. Afterall, you never want your project to fail right ?

Thanks for reading my blog.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

When CRM shakes hand with Cloud

In my previous blog, I mentioned about what are the important points a CRM consultant should keep in mind before implementing his project. Out of those one of the key elements was to discuss about CRM implementation with IT team so that they agree to provide all required infrastructural help like SERVER, DB, and SECURITY etc. for a smooth efficient implementation of CRM.

 In a near perfect situation they might get ready to provide you whatever you want. But what if, during the discussion with IT team you realized that the IT team is not equipped enough to provide you minimum infrastructural support which is necessary to make CRM a success. 

What will you do? Will you stop the project or will you compromise? Perhaps no.

You as a consultant should never surrender in a situation like this especially when you have a power in your hand called CLOUD

You have to then sell the idea of how cloud can make life easier for the organization.

In this blog I am going to discuss that how C on C, that is CRM on CLOUD can help an organization to start using CRM without bothering about required IT infra on premises.

So, what is cloud computing? It is a way of providing computing services like application server, database, storage, security, networking, analytics etc. over the internet. It is a kind of plug and play culture where you don’t have to think about any infrastructural hardware elements for your application to run.

Now let’s see the benefits your client will get if they opt for Cloud.

Lower initial investment & faster deployment: 

As I stated, cloud is a ready to go technology where everything related to your application, like application server, database, firewall, security, load balancer etc. are provided by the cloud service provider.

When you opt for cloud, there is no need to set up expensive hardware and infrastructure at your premises. Hence, the initial investment cost is also less. 

Added with that, because of its plug and play nature, you can host your application on cloud and make it live in as low as half an hour. Cloud deployment is really fast which saves valuable time of your client. They can focus more on fine tuning the CRM application rather than spending energy on setting up infra for the project.

Data storage and Backup: 

Setting up data centre is one of the most expensive tasks that any company takes up while building their IT system. If you opt for cloud, you don’t even need to bother about working on the same.  Cloud allows you to safely store your data and make it accessible whenever required. 

Not only that, most of the cloud vendors have a disaster recovery plan as well so you will never lose your data. 

This in itself is one of the top most selling point that why one should opt for cloud. On Premise system will certainly not be able to provide you this much data security and back up.

Elastic in nature: 

Yes, you read it correct. Cloud is elastic in nature that means, you can easily scale up or scale down your application based on situation. For example, if you think that during Christmas or Thanksgiving days, your centre needs to access your CRM application a lot, then you scale up your application to cater a large number of users. Whereas, if you think that during summer, the activity will be minimal, then you can easily scale it down to cater only few hundreds of users. 

Thus cloud gives you the provision of pay as you use, by scaling up and down, and can help you to save money as well.

Tight Security: 

Cloud, even though available on internet and accessible from anywhere, has its own built-in security system which allows only legitimate users to access the application. 

By using technologies like VPC (Virtual Private cloud), firewall etc., it ensures that the application is accessible to only those who are meant to use it.

So, I have touched upon all the benefits of hosting CRM on cloud. But I am sure there must be some limitations as well. I invite my readers to provide their valuable comments in the comment section about what they think about implementing CRM on cloud and also share their experiences, good and bad, about the same.

Until next time, keep reading, keep learning…

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The magician called CRM consultant

Congratulations. Your sales team has convinced the prospect about the benefits that CRM can bring into the system. And as a result, they now want an application to be built for their first-hand experience. If you are a CRM consultant, the onus will be on you to seal the deal. 

You have the magic wand in your hand with which you have to create something magnificent which can convince the client easily.

Before jumping into design, here are few handy tips which can help every consultant before they start working for their client's maiden CRM project.

1. What’s the business goal and timeline?

You need to have a very good idea about what organization is looking for. You have to start with their need and then see how your CRM Product can be used to best fit their demand.
Unless you have a clear picture of what the organization wants, it is very difficult to plan your work. Many consultants fall in this trap and fail to deliver the required stuff on time. So before even you speak anything, let the business speak. Invite all the decision making stakeholders in a meeting and request them to highlight the goals they want to achieve via CRM.

Remember, for a successful CRM implementation, the responsibility lies with both business sponsors and technical personnel.

Along with identifying the goal, you also need to understand the timeline they are looking for. Some organizations gets really aggressive while defining a deadline. At this time, you as a consultant need to play your card and negotiate for a logical and achievable timeline.

2. Is IT team in sync with business?

Once you are clear about the business goal, the second big hurdle is to get all required infrastructure support. And when I say infrastructure, I mean hardware like Servers, Database, and Operating System etc.
In my last blog I talked about what are the key element for success of CRM and two of the key elements were Database and SFA. These are the components which requires help from the IT infrastructure team.

Unless you have the complete support from them, you can’t kick start your project.

Be it setting up server with sufficient memory or assembling the customer information in DB there has to be a team from IT who can assist the consultants on his project. So in short, as a consultant, try to get a green signal from IT team. This will ensure smooth flow of the project.

3. Be Agile, adopt an iterative approach.

Once you are done jotting down the business goals and getting all infra support, the next phase starts which is building your project. Adopting an agile methodology is the best way to manage the project. Gone are the days of waterfall modeling, the current era is the agile era. 

The more agile you are, more is the chance of success.

 Pick up any agile model (e.g. Scrum), chalk out an iteration period and kick start your project. Adopting an agile model helps you to increase user collaboration, faster delivery, reduce the risk of failure of project and enhanced project quality.  I will discuss in detail about CRM and agile in one of my upcoming blogs.

4. Training and Support :

Who will be your typical end users?  You must be having that answer ready. But do they have the right amount of knowledge to use the application that you have just built for the organization? Perhaps No. Remember, unless your end users are proficient enough to use the CRM application, the organization will not get the desired output out of it. So, invest time in training them.

 Employees (end users) must understand how this new CRM process will help the company better serve customers.   

If possible create some quick help guide. And most importantly come up with a support plan. Most CRM vendors commit 24X7 support. Explain the support plan clearly to your client so that post building your application or while using it, if anytime they need any support how they should approach.

5. Continuous monitoring :

Once a CRM system goes live, it is very important for the organization to continuously monitor and track the outcome. 

Create some KPI reports so that managers and leaders can track the performance of the user and measure the outcomes of the process. 

And as a consultant, it is advisable, that you be part of the project for some more time to help the managers with this tracking and using the reports effectively. Also it is advisable to run some survey among the customer to understand whether the new CRM system is giving good result or not.

So here are the five essential tips that every consultants should keep in mind while starting their project for a new customer. Remember, sales team's job is to sell the idea of implementing CRM, however it’s the consultant who has the responsibility to bring out the best of CRM by designing the application.  

Thanks for reading my blog. Go ahead and create some CRM Magic !! 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

We moved to CRM.. Show us the results.

"We moved to CRM.. Show us the results "

If you are on the field trying to make your CRM deal with your prospect, this kind of question is very common especially when the organization just started taking a trial of your CRM product.And let me tell you, many organizations have this misconception that buying CRM software will automatically ensure stupendous growth.

In my previous blog I stressed on the point that why one needs to move out of the legacy sales and marketing model and move towards CRM. 

Now in this blog I will discuss on what it takes to make CRM Complete i.e., what are the basic elements an organization needs to consider in order to make their CRM a success.

Basically there are five key elements which make a successful CRM model. They are:

1. Thinking CRM as strategy and not as a mere software 
2. Focus on customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention
3. World class Customer service
4. Data base management
5. Sales force automation

The first and foremost element for a successful CRM implementation is considering it as a strategy and not as mere software. One must understand that buying CRM software is not actually implementing CRM. It needs proper vision and strategy that makes CRM successful. The entire organization needs to be aligned accordingly. The management should thrive towards building a CRM culture inside the organization only then they can reap the benefits of CRM.

Second key element is focusing on customer satisfaction and turning as many of them as possible to loyal one. A popular myth in CRM industry says that use CRM software and your customer satisfaction index will shoot high.  CRM is not only software. It's a holistic process. Organization needs to strive hard to keep their customer satisfied. And to raise the bar for themselves, they should actually always try to convert their satisfied customers to loyal customers.

Third element and one of the crucial elements is customer service. Organization needs to remember that it’s the direct interaction with clients that makes them satisfied and in turn makes CRM successful. Service is actually the intangible element of CRM. The better your services to your customer, greater is the chances of making your CRM a hit.

Fourth element of CRM is Data base Management. CRM prompts the organization to continuously interact with the customers. However, if one does not store or capture the essential details from those discussions, then it will not be of any use. Thus creating a meaningful database is very essential for a successful CRM. The Database can contain almost everything related to customer; right from their contact details to their latest purchase or feedback anything that holds relevant for your business.

Fifth and final element is Sales Force Automation aka SFA. This is about how best you can automate your sales management process. It is an integral part of CRM and helps the organization to automatically record all the stages in a sales process which typically include sales lead tracking system, sales forecasting, order management ,product knowledge, sales force  performance tracking etc.

So these are the five key elements in a nut shell, which, when put together perfectly, ensures a successful CRM!

Thank you for reading my blog. 

If you have any questions, feel free to post it in the comments section

Until next time, keep reading, keep learning…

Friday, 3 March 2017

But we have a full fledged Marketing team ..

“But we have a full-fledged Marketing team.”

Any CRM consultant who wants to sell the concept of having a CRM tool to their leads, and especially if they are legacy customers having big sales and marketing team then this is the first question they would come across!

Therefore it becomes even more imperative to understand why it is so important to build a CRM team and use a CRM tool rather than sticking to old Sales and Marketing team model.

In this blog, I am going to discuss about how adopting CRM culture can help business do better?

So let me go back to the question again. 

Why does one need to build a CRM team and start using a CRM tool?  Why the traditional marketing team can’t fulfill the requirement?

The answer is simple. Old Marketing model, which we also call Transactional Marketing model, is just not fit for today’s age. So what is a typical transactional marketing model?

1.       Something which typically focuses on sales.
2.       Showcases the product or services offered.
3.       Having pretty low or moderate level of customer connects.
4.       And finally, it is mostly the ownership of the marketing department.
Now that the economy is evolving and as technology progresses, no wonder our customer base is also changing. Day by day they are getting more up to date. They are aware of what is happening in and around them. And thanks to internet, they are now checking the online review of the product and services before deciding the final vendor for a particular product. With various social media platforms available, customer reviews are posted everywhere. Also, e-retailers like Flipkart, Amazon, etc have also started listing their product based on customer rating.

This evolving nature of customers is resulting a fierce competition among the business houses. Be it product based companies or service based companies, every single sales person out there in market is trying to overpower their rivals by some way or the other.

As you realize that the crux of the market has totally shifted from sellers to buyers, it is evident why the marketing model also needs to be changed. And needless to say, this marketing evolution has actually strengthened the concept of Relationship Marketing (also called CRM). As someone rightly said, “CRM is the most evolved version of Marketing.”

So what is Relationship Marketing?

1.       Unlike transactional marketing, it mainly focuses on customer retention.
2.       The primary focus is always on what benefits the product/service can offer to customer.
3.       Extensive and constant focus on customer feedback (using effective data storage mechanism)
4.       Finally, it is something that the entire organization takes ownership to make successful.

To summarize, here are some of the key points on why we need CRM:

1.       It helps putting customer at the heart of your business strategy.
2.       It promotes usage of software tools which is sustainable and scalable.
3.       It also allows you the time to concentrate on other areas of your business, as you know that the CRM software system is keeping you and your team up-to-date and fully aware of your customers’ needs.

4.       It is a centralized place for storing data and provides a full, accurate record of a rep’s entire interaction history with a prospect that’s accessible with one click.

5.       It has ability to do analysis and help you predict future sales etc.
6.       Historical data provides valuable insight into future client behavior.

Hope, by now you might have understood why the organization should move out of the old transactional marketing model and adopt relationship marketing.

Thanks for reading my blog. If you have any questions, feel free to post it in the comment section !