Thursday, May 31, 2012

CRM + Social = Social CRM

Contact information and relationship management has long been a key success factor for any businesses. Amongst other benefits, CRM helps businesses:
  • Learn more about its customers and prospects and help to identify new market opportunities
  • Store unique and relevant information about individual customers so that staff can have it on hand when it's needed
  • Improve internal processes to create an efficient and effective workforce
Traditionally, CRM is focused on managing two way communication: Business to Customer and Customer to Business. However in recent times, the importance of social media in the business environment has encouraged a new frontier in CRM: social customer relationship management (SCRM). Social brings a new element into CRM; instead of dealing only with data and information businesses are now dealing with conversations and relationships with the social customer. These conversations and relationships take place not only from company to consumer but also from consumer to consumer.

Social CRM understands that businesses communicate with their prospects and customers in ways other than phone and email and it recognises that customer service reps, marketing and front-line staff need to have access to relevant social streams. With this information they can identify trends, prospects and opportunities for the business.

Introduce Nimble - one of the leading Social CRM platforms available today. Nimble is a revolution in the way business is done - injecting social listening and engagement tools into a simple web-based solution. Nimble presents SMEs with one solution to help them find individuals relevant to their business, listen and engage with them in a variety of ways, and build relationships that can lead to opportunity.

By integrating a product like Nimble, businesses can arm themselves with a competitive advantage that, when used correctly, can help them listen, engage and respond to their customers and reach their full potential.
If you would like to know more about Nimble, social CRM or the CRM process in general then feel free to contact us, we will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Using social media more effectively

Here are a few key tips that all businesses can adopt to get them started, or improve on their use of social media.

1. Build a strong profile
Start with a compelling summary. Tell people who you are and what you stand for. Remember to use keywords related to your area of expertise so others can find you in relevant searches. With Twitter, make sure your bio actually tells people who you are and what you do. With LinkedIn, reinforce your message by adding relevant, thought-leading content via blogs, video/ppt presentations, and customer testimonials.

An extra note for LinkedIn users: LinkedIn is best used as a peer-to-peer personal network - NOT an online CV. Try to make your summary sound less like a cover letter and more like an "about us" page that you would find on a company website. Check out Tom Skotidas' profile (he's an expert in B2B social media) as an example of a great LinkedIn summary.

2. Build your connections
Larger networks equal more exposure. In LinkedIn and Twitter you can start by connecting with people you already know (colleagues, business partners, clients, professional friends), then move onto harder targets by connecting with those who share the same group or know someone that you know. If you are able to identify people in your target market try connecting with them too.

In Facebook, one of the best ways to build your connections is to ensure that you have content that actively encourages user participation e.g. "Likes", comments or polls.

3. Post Status Updates
Let people know you're there. Status updates enable you to distribute relevant content to those in your network and helps you to be perceived as an expert in your field. Status updates can also help to build your personal and company brand, generate click-throughs to your website and generate leads.

In Twitter, use hashtags (#), mentions (@) and retweets (RT) to spread the word but remember to keep your posts on-brand to attract the right kind of follower. In LinkedIn, status updates tend to be "sticky", so try not to post more than 2 times per day. In LinkedIn remember that you can write your own commentary about a link, and when you do this ensure that you use unique thought provoking content to attract readers attention. Also avoid using Twitter speak (#’s and @’s) in your LinkedIn posts, they will make you look lazy.

4. Keep it professional
Separate your personal accounts from your business accounts. If you are using social media for business purposes it is important that you stay professional. People are connected with you because they're interested in what you have to say... So, unless it is part of your business strategy, try to keep random/personal posts to a minimum (especially on LinkedIn) as this can annoy your existing followers and attract people outside your target market.

5. Design your social media strategy
A Social Media strategy is a plan for how and why your business is using social media. It can be as brief or as complex as you like but ultimately it needs to justify the time and effort you are going to spend.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Introducing the Social Business

People don’t do business with companies; they do business with people.

Naturally, humans are social beings-they love to socialise and are designed to collaborate. Long before the Internet and social media dominated the business world, people did business in social ways. They would ask friends and family for advice on products and talk about their experiences with each other over the garden fence or write letters to firms when products failed to meet their expectations. Today, the Internet and social media has radically changed the way that consumers share information and interact with each other and with the businesses they care about.

An impersonal, faceless organisation is not a fruitful approach in a socially-connected world. The benefits of personal customer service are well established, and in order to implement a personal approach, it is necessary for businesses to be more ‘social’. However a social business is not just having Facebook page and Twitter account, it involves a philosophy which embraces and cultivates a spirit of collaboration and community throughout its organisation, both internally and externally.

A social business is:
  • Engaged with its customers, employees and partners to build deeper relationships,
  • Transparent with no boundaries to information-there are no secrets, and
  • Nimble to anticipate and address change

Although social media enables businesses to listen to online social conversations, gain valuable information and keep track of what is being said about their brand and their competitors, being ‘social’ also means getting involved with these online communities, by directly interacting and responding to their conversations. It means recognising the need for employees to become “digital citizens”. In doing so, more personal and long-term relationships are fostered.

So how do businesses become socially engaged, and profit from it? Firstly, they learn how to use social media effectively and secondly, they integrate social media with existing business processes, such as CRM. We will look at these two factors in the following posts.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Social Media, what is it and why it’s important to your business

Social media is about people connecting with each other; between businesses, communities and individuals. Social media is also about user-generated content; it is highly interactive and driven by the people that use it. Most importantly however, social media is about relationships.

Businesses all know that relationships are key to success - good relationships make it easier to maintain profitable and loyal customers.

In recent times, the adoption of social media has changed the way that customers build and maintain relationships with companies and their brands. Today, customers want to share their experiences with their friends, both good and bad - and they want to hear about others’ experiences and recommendations. Social media gives them instant access to the information they require. With social media people can now connect with others anywhere, anytime.

Because social media revolves around user-generated content, social media platforms create an environment that is social, hyper-connected, creative and collaborative. This can be both good and bad for companies.
With the increasing popularity of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, users are continually bombarded with new information. The impact of this information overload is that consumers are building higher expectations, have shorter attention spans and a more powerful voice which they can use to talk to both organisations and peers through a public, unstructured medium. Consumers now dictate how, where and when they want to interact with a company - not the other way around.

This presents a number of obstacles for businesses:
  • Competition is global: through increased internet adoption, the boundaries between businesses and their customers are expanding and competition can exist anywhere in the world. Not every business can offer the cheapest price or the best deal so building a good brand image is extremely important - and one of the best ways to build a good brand image is by satisfying its customers, and going over-and-above what is expected so that these customers to spread the word.
  • Customer service is more important than ever: word of mouth is now word of mouse and because people are more connected than ever before, customer feedback, product reviews and user experiences can spread around the world reaching to millions of people in an instant. Consumers are using social media to ask questions, complain (just search #fail on Twitter and see what comes up), and suggest improvements and they expect businesses to respond using the same medium. Failing to do so can make the business appear “behind the times” and like they don’t care about their customers.
  • Businesses need to have a face: consumers want to do business with people, they want to see who they are dealing with and know that what they have to say is important. Businesses need to be listening and responding to their customers, and to do this they need to be “social” (we’ll talk more about this in the next blog).
Despite the above, social media presents a unique opportunity for businesses to engage in a more personal level with its customers. Businesses can leverage social media to identify new customer segments, improve or come up with new product/service offerings, and build popularity for the brand.

Keep an eye out in future posts for techniques you can use to achieve these benefits.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Xact Software Exposed , Part 3

This is part 3 of our ongoing Xact Software Exposed series, In the last part we talked about Project management and how we put together a project tracking system that did the job and didn't cost us the world.

Today we'll be focusing on how we use the data we've collected over the years to make sense of whats going on within our business.

Like most businesses out there we have a customers database (you do have a customers database right??) , this database is fed information from all sources, leads from our website, phone calls, Emails, referrals etc.

In addition to all of that our database is used to manage our day to day activities, our sales process and few other things.

Collecting this amount of information is pointless if you had no way to make sense of it, luckily our CRM database comes with some built in reports and Dashboard views, not to mention some very powerful search features.

However, that wasn't enough for us, we wanted more. there were a lot of things that we wanted to analyze which we couldn't get from the out of the box tools so we went ahead and built our own.

Being a visual person I've always believed in the good old saying "A Picture is worth a 1000 words" , when it comes to looking at summaries and trends I believe that a graphical representation of your data is the way to go.

Enter the Xact Dashboard (as its currently known in the office) , a dashboard control for ACT which allows anyone to build their own dashboard views using the data in their ACT database or any other compatible data source (read: ODBC and OLE Enabled databases).

We've been using this little gadget for sometime now and even as the creator of this tool I am sometimes amazed by what it can do, for those of you who enjoy doing data analysis here is a small sample of what you can do with this dashboard:

  • Break down your contacts by their status (e.g. how many customers have we got , how many prospects are in the pipeline etc).
  • View your prospect by products , lead source, geographical distribution and more.
  • Analyze your prospect to customer conversion rate over a given period of time
  • View your staff's activities summary, how many call have been made, how many meeting they've had, how many tasks have they yet to complete.
  • View the location of your meetings on a map, use that to workout a more efficient meeting schedule for the day.
Plus much much more....

The idea here is that any business with a customers database is practically sitting on a gold mine of information, this information can be analyzed , disected and as a result it can be used to make informed business decisions.

This process of analysis applies to all levels of a business , managers might be interested in seeing trends and financial summaries at a strategic level, team leaders and project managers might want to see how their staff are doing over a given month, sales personnel and shopfloor staff might just want to view a summary of what they need to do on a given day.

At the end of the day the goal is to provide the tools, processes and the knowhow to help steer a business forward, what we've done is provide just that , we've been analyzing our own database for a while now and believe me when I say it, you sometimes dont know whats going on within your business until you take a step back and look at the big picture.

If you would like to know more about Xact software then make sure to visit our website at , you can also contact us directly by emailing