Contact Management or CRM- The essence and the difference

Contact Management Solutions and Customer Relationship Management Solutions are two solutions which help organizations to gain better control over customer information and processes. CRM solutions allow companies to automate sales processes, gain better control over sales opportunities and centralize contact information at a single location. CRM on the other hand are process workflow driven solutions, have multiple modules including customer service management module. Lack of standard definition of a CM and CRM have many organizations in a tizzy as to which solution will meet their needs in the most apt manner.

A contact management solution manages

Contacts

– Opportunities

– Accounts

– Notes and History

 

A CRM Solution is a workflow driven system that would integrate multiple departments of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. Also a CRM solution has greater customization features and can integrate with ERP applications to give the organization a 360 degree view of the company operations.

An organization which has sales teams and wants to manage client relationships, track sales leads and opportunities, follows a simple sales process can opt for a Contact Management Solution. If an organization has multiple departments of Sales, Marketing and Customer Service and have a complex sales process and organizational hierarchy should opt for a CRM solution.

Also if requirement such as advance integration (quotes, order, inventory), customizations and back office integrations are important an organization should opt for a CRM solution. Also the nature of relationship determines which solution which solution will be an ideal fit. For instance:

a)          One individual selling to a single job role example insurance agents and brokers- CM Solution

b)           One individual selling to multiple job roles- CM solution

c)          Multiple individuals like Sales, Marketing and Customer Service interacting with single job role

d)          Multiple individual interacting with multiple job roles which requires inter departmental knowledge sharing and collaboration.

Finally budget to spend on a solution will also determine the choice. A full blown CRM solution will be expensive as compared to a contact management solution. An organization can choose to start with a contact management solution and later on migrate to a CRM solution.

For more information please visit CRM Solutions

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Onsite Vs On Demand CRM- Make your choice

With the onset of concepts like (SAAS) and cloud computing customers have multiple choices of choosing a platform which suits their requirements and meet their budgets. The On Demand CRM application has become the buzzword in the CRM application industry. All the leading vendors have either launched or our about to launch the cloud format of their CRM applications. The On Demand CRM software has multiple advantages including quick deployment, no infrastructure investment and pay per use.

However as an organization while making your choice you should keep the following points in mind which will help you to choose between an On Demand and an On Site CRM

–         User Requirements

–         Budgets and TCO

–         Data Sensitivity

–         Internal IT Team

–         Integration Requirements

User Requirements- The CRM which you choose should meet the functional requirements of the organization. Also depending upon requirements the customization capability of the solution should be also looked upon. On Demand solutions are configurable which means you can add fields, modify workflows and set user profiles. On premise solutions offer more scope for customizations like adding custom entities, screens, tabs and tables.

Budgets and TCO- While choosing a solution the TCO and budget should be studied. If the deployment is to be done for a big team at a national level On Premise option can be looked at. Initial investment will be higher but recurring costs will be lower. Also if an organization feels that number of incremental users will increase quickly this model can be looked upon. The On Demand model can suit companies which has relatively smaller teams, are looking at no capital expenditure upfront and don’t have a long term CRM roadmap. Also the ability to migrate from one option to the other will help you take advantage of both the models from a cost perspective.

Data Sensitivity- In an On Demand CRM customer data resides on the server of the service provider as no hardware or software infrastructure is maintained by the client. For some organizations data sensitivity is of prime importance therefore hosting data on a 3rd party server needs to be judged properly. However for an SMB this can be an advantage because they might not have a secured data storage facility in house for such companies it can be beneficial to host information in a secure data centre.

Internal IT Team- For an SMB appointing an internal IT team which is a combination of database and network experts can be an expensive proposition. In such a scenario the On Demand model of CRM makes more sense as the IT infrastructure and various crucial aspects like database back-ups, firewalls, and antivirus installation is taken care by the service provider. Since in an On Demand model the CRM is deployed in house on company’s IT infrastructure, system administrators are required for the upkeep of the infrastructure.

Integration Requirements- On Premise CRM applications provide point to point integration with external systems like ERP software’s. On Demand CRM applications are more suitable when used as independent systems. However the scenario is changing now with the availability of web service API’s, On Demand CRM’s are opening up to integration possibilities.

For more information please visit CRM Software

Cloud Computing- The upcoming platform for CRM Applications

So what is cloud computing? The answer- Cloud computing is a platform which enables you to run your applications as you need it in an On- Demand Format you don’t invest in infrastructure including hardware and software. Basic examples would include services like Gmail and Facebook. Today business applications like CRM and ERP software’s are available on the cloud. Out of the two applications CRM software’s are available with wider set of functionalities and through multiple vendors.

CRM applications have become very popular on the cloud format primary reasons being:

–         Quick Deployment with minimal effort

–         Quick user adoption with a minimum investment upfront

–         Availability to use the software as an service On demand service

Unlike ERP applications CRM software automates the customer facing side of an organization like sales activity tracking, marketing and customer care. Automation of these functions are not mission critical and since the applications are used by customer facing teams including sales and support teams user adoption has always being a major challenge. Conventional on-site CRM applications involved investments in the software upfront which would go down the drain if user adoption is absent. CRM on the cloud gives organizations the flexibility to start using the application with minimal upfront investment.

The cloud format offers CRM stake holders, for example sales team access to the application anytime anywhere. The sales guy can access an important proposal or the last communication before getting into a meeting, even on his blackberry device. The senior management also has a through idea of the sales team performance on the fly.

With a concept of a dedicated or a private cloud coming up customizations have also become very easy. New fields, custom pages and entities can be added workflows can be configured mapping company specific processes. This means every company can tweak their CRM instance as per the industry they operate in and their unique requirements.

Although CRM on the cloud is the next big thing an organizations should keep certain factors in mind before the choosing the cloud as a platform

–         The expenditure on the application is recurring (In most cases per user per month)

–         If an organization has a large sales and customer service teams, ROI calculation should be done between a cloud and an onsite platform

–         Integration with other applications as a requirement should be studied

–         Flexibility of moving from the cloud to an onsite format should also be available

 

For more information you can visit  CRM Software

Contact Management software for professionals in India

Relationship management is the one of the new buzz words of today’s technology world but in today’s world, instant access to contact information is critical to a successful business. Maintaining healthy relationship with customers is primary need of each and every business. All businesses are dependent on consumers, so they make each and every effort to attract customer’s attention and increase their number. Conventional CRM programs help companies manage sales opportunities that typically end with the deal being either closed or lost. For professional service-based companies, such as those in the financial, legal and consulting industries, converting a potential customer into a client is the beginning of securing and maintaining a long-term, client-based relationship.

In the earlier days, relationships were managed by an address book, file cabinet etc. The problem was, you couldn’t find the information you were looking for in a timely manner and key contacts were often lost.

As professional services firms adjust to the ups and downs of economic cycles, executives are pressured to more efficiently manage their practices to attract, serve, and retain customers. The name of the game is selling expertise in the professional services industry. The vertical is governed not by traditional durable goods, but by intellectual property. Without the ability to physically demonstrate a product, word-of-mouth endorsements and leads from colleagues are critical for professional services organizations, which include accounting, consulting, IT services, financial services, and law firms. The challenge plaguing many professional services firms is to get people to share knowledge. To overcome these challenges, executives are adopting customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.

Contact management software allows  professionals  to:

  • Organize all the details of prospects, leads and clients relationships in one place.
  • Get 360 degree view by managing complete history of interactions with prospects/customers
  • Schedule and prioritize tasks
  • Launch and manage  marketing initiatives including mass mailing campaigns.
  • Take action on your most qualified sales leads with total visibility of your sales pipeline.
  • Management reporting for improved business decision making
  • Stay focused by automating daily to-dos and schedules
  • View others calenders and task lists from your workstation
  • Delegate work to administrative personnel

Effective contact management is an absolute necessity for any business in today’s highly competitive environment. Contact management software gives you a method or track which can make the difference in your business.

Which Software is Right for you

You can check ACT! By Sage India, this is one of the best selling Contact Management Software in India and abroad at a very normal price. You can visit http://www.sagesoftware.co.in to know more.

Role of CRM in the Media Industry in India

The Indian media and entertainment industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the country. Its various segments— television, advertising, print media and radio among others—have witnesses tremendous growth in the last few years. The media and entertainment industry in India is likely to grow 12.5 per cent per annum over the next five years and touch US$ 20.09 billion by 2013. Viewership across various segments is likewise increasing and marketers are launching new channels to meet this growing demand. This plethora of options available to the corporate advertisers has resulted in increasing competition amongst media vehicles and this is when customer relationship takes the lead role to cut through competition

New media companies require ways to scale their support organizations to keep up with the pace of their innovations. Meanwhile, traditional media companies are urgently working to retain their valued customers. It has therefore become imperative for media companies to adopt new technologies and proven best practices to ensure maximum sales and productivity. The change from the profit orientation of a business to customer centric unit has lead to the surge of CRM inculcation in the modern business scenario and media has not been left far behind.

A CRM application helps media companies become more successful by better serving the needs of the target audiences and partners. A typical sales force automation solution will assist Media Companies in the following

  • CRM offers senior management within the media company with accurate visibility into Sales Pipeline.
  • It enables sales personnel to better manage the complex 2 way selling to customers and their agencies and facilitates brand based selling.
  • The proposal module enables automatic generation of personalized proposals from a central rate card to eliminate errors and discrepancies.
  • It helps in easy creation of proposal templates, discount masters and terms and conditions masters so that proposals can be generated at the touch of a button.
  • It facilitates effective media agency management.
  • It enables central management of complex rate cards with various options such as time bands, prime time
  • Helps sales people to track and manage opportunities from start to final closure
  • It enables effective sales activity management through a powerful calendar and activity management tool
  • It helps the management to monitor performance and productivity of the sales team and set realistic sales targets
  • It offers a centralized and complete view of the sales inventory which enables effective inventory management and helps sales teams to achieve targets.
  • By maintaining client and agency personal information it helps the media house provide personalized service for increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

CRM seems a perfect fit for media industry. Today companies in the media industry realize that they can use a CRM approach to strengthen their relationships with subscribers, advertisers and business partners and be an edge above there competition.

Companies like Sage India provides CRM solutions for media industry in India. You can visit http://www.sagesoftware.co.in to know more.

CRM Solutions for Higher Education in India

Forward-looking colleges and universities are embracing CRM in their business processes to recruit and retain the most desirable students. These are challenging times for institutes providing higher education, and to compete successfully it is important to adopt best practices that can enable them to consistently interact with their diverse stakeholders (Students and corporates) in a highly personalized manner.  For Universities and business schools, students are their customers, but as CRM usage is widespread in the corporate sector, higher education is far behind with CRM implementation. CRM in higher education encompasses the methodologies and software that help institutions develop and manage relationships with different constituents. Institutes are also looking to improve their conversion ratios, from prospect to enrolment and reducing the number of lost applicants/opportunities.

Many higher education institutes, universities began restructuring and reengineering their operating processes to cut costs. Many turned to enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications. ERP helped them automate and optimize their internal business processes—in areas such as finance, grants management, student information, inventory management, and human resources—and freed them from some of the day to-day operations. The focus is currently shifting from improving internal operations to concentrate more on their customers – Students, Corporations, and Alumni. Proactive institutions are now adjusting their practices by refocusing their efforts externally. Because of the need to concentrate more on customers, many institutions are once again turning to technology—this time to customer relationship management (CRM) software. Similar to ERP, CRM solutions focus on automating and improving processes, although the focus is on front office areas, such as enrollment, marketing, customer service, and support.

Modules that manage different touch points of the student lifecycle

•          Admission – With competing institutions just a click away, prospective students expect prompt responses to online inquiries, emails and phone calls. Manual tracking of enquiries could result in leakage of leads and since each enquiry represents a potential business opportunity, this would translate into high value business loss. Enquiry management module in a CRM ensures that all the enquiries generated from marketing activities of the institutes are tracked effectively till the admission stage.

•          Placement – Attract new corporations for campus placements basis the past successful placements and students profile like education, specialization, summer training etc., and run vertical specific customized campaigns to attract corporations and increase visibility in the corporate world

•          Alumni – Connect with Alumni, to promote alumni programs that can generate contributions, and participations. Target the right alumni for the right opportunity and promote continuing education programs by identifying those who are likely to have high levels of interest in executive level courses.

The value proposition

•          Higher application and enrolment rates

•          Higher “brand” awareness with prospective students

•          Higher outreach to corporations across different verticals leading to higher placements

•          Develop lifelong relationship with Alumni

A well – designed CRM software enables the institution to build deeper relationships with different constituents of the student lifecycle by managing student enquiries, corporate relationships and alumni communications from a single, intuitive interface. The end result is a stronger knowledge of these audiences and better admissions and alumni relations outcomes for the institution. Whether you’re looking to recruit more students, shape your enrollment funnel, retain students or engage alumni, a CRM solution is a must early in the student engagement lifecycle.

Sage India is one of the companies whose product can fit best in CRM for education in India. Their solutions like ACT! And Sage CRM fits for education sector India.

Front To Back Office Integration with Sage CRM

Different departments use different application types to manage customer information; front-office employees use CRM applications that support customer-facing activities such as sales, marketing and customer service whereas back-office employees use ERP applications that support transactional, reporting and compliancy activities, such as invoicing, accounts receivable, cashflow management and financial reporting.

While front-office applications have historically been developed around the idea of cross-organisational collaboration, back-office applications, by contrast, have been insular in nature, with the finance department slow to open up its data and applications to other parts of the organisation. Additionally, many companies have continued to purchase their CRM and ERP applications from separate, specialist vendors. This combination of factors has meant that business applications have struggled to address key business process needs where the customer lifecycle crosses the front-to-back-office divide, resulting in:

●    Departmental silos of information,

●     Unnecessary administrative overhead and inefficiencies,

●     Verbal sign-off requirements

●     Process duplication.

Front-to-Back-office integration is made up of three inter-related elements:

1. Consistent data between related entities (e.g. ‘company’ and ‘account’) within the CRM and ERP applications.

2. 360 degree customer visibility, regardless of whether customer data originates in the CRM application or the ERP application

3. “Straight-through” processing which enables a user to initiate a transaction (e.g. booking an order) which then automatically triggers all related business processes as appropriate (e.g. order approval, shipment, invoicing etc) and passes seamlessly from one application (e.g. CRM) to the next (e.g. ERP) without the need for extensive manual intervention (e.g. re-keying information, paperwork or verbal sign-off).

A true Front and Back Office integration will result in the following benefits for the CRM users

●     Sales teams to maximise their revenue potential through the identification of latent cross-sell and up-sell opportunities within their customer base.

●     Sales representatives to book orders correctly, first time, every time, by providing them with access to the account, pricing and stock information they need to do their jobs effectively.

●     Customer service representatives to address customer queries with confidence by providing them with the shipping, invoicing and returns information that they need to do their jobs effectively.

●     Customer service managers to ensure that their customers are current on maintenance and service contracts, and that their service level agreements are delivered on a profitable basis

●     Marketing executives to carry out detailed financial segmentation on their customer base to support highly targeted and effective go-to-market programmes

●     Marketing managers to calculate ‘real-world’ return-on-investment based on actual revenue yield from their marketing programmes.

Independent research suggests that customer intelligence gaps still exist after the majority CRM implementations because the issue of back-office connectivity has not been adequately addressed. Where this is the case, customer data cannot be shared effectively and business processes are punctuated by errors, delays and paperwork. This is likely to result in customer satisfaction issues and spiralling administrative cost. The success of a CRM project, therefore, should not be judged solely on how effectively it brings together front-office operations, but on how it also facilitates interoperation with the back-office environment, encompassing people, processes, departments and applications.