A Great CRM Is Critical For A Great Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Jul, 06, 2016 @ 09:07 AM



Moving forward I believe successful companies will positively differentiate themselves versus the competition by providing an outstanding customer experience. Zappos started the trend online and Amazon was smart enough to acquire them and learn from them. Ritz Carlton continues to lead the way in the brick and mortar world.

The key to providing a great customer experience is by giving everyone in your company a 360-degree view of the customer - their wants, their needs, what they've bought from you in the past, what they've returned, what questions they've asked, what issues they've had.

In order to provide this holistic view of the customer, you need a customer relationship management (CRM) database that captures this information and lets your employees access it in real-time. 

The benefits are myriad:

  1. It's a great central repository for all of your customer data that all of your employees can access and update across all devices.
  2. All team members can see what actions have taken place with a particular customer in the past and know what actions need to take place in the future based on your sales process and customer relationship management process.
  3. All team members can see all of the interactions with the clients enabling them to provide more relevant help thereby making the customers' lives simpler and easier.
  4. Your CRM can be integrated with calendars and marketing automation software for appropriate follow-up after the sale or lead nurturing marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads.
  5. The CRM provides real-time metrics so you can see where prospects and customers are in the sales, post-sales follow-up, or problem/resolution cycle.
  6. You can scale your business in an organized way. In order to do so, everyone needs to be encouraged to keep the data clean and up to date.

Having worked with a number of companies over the course of my career, it's interesting to see the lack of emphasis put on the CRM, its adoption and use, and the cleanliness of the data, given that it is a keystone to providing an outstanding customer experience.

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Tags: outstanding customer experience, customer experience, CRM, customer relationship management

Use Social Media to Outsell Your Peers

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Oct, 02, 2014 @ 10:10 AM

social selling









According to Jill Rowley (@jill_rowley, #socialselling), sales reps that use social media outsell 78% of their peers because they:

  1. Establish credibility with compelling social profiles -- including professional photographs, accomplishments and references.

  2. Build relevant networks of prospects and like minded individuals that help maintain top-of-mind awareness with prospects and channel partners.

  3. Promote thought leadership that captures attention, builds their personal brand and attracts inbound opportunities.

  4. Listen to customers and prospects to understand needs, priorities and topics of interest.

  5. Measure their social activity to understand what's working, what isn't and to refine their approach.

Given that sales are all about relationships, then social media is a great way to initiate and enhance relationships. 



Are the members of your sales team using social media to make their calls more efficient and successful?


Give me a call if you'd like some help teaching them how.


Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues


Tags: consumer insights, trust, VoC, voice of the customer, accelerate sales, connecting emotionally with customers, people do business with those they know like and t, customer relationship management, channel partners, Trustability

ISO Opportunity to Use Analytics and Insights to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Fri, Aug, 22, 2014 @ 06:08 AM

use data to accelerate sales







In reading the latest edition of Direct Marketing News, I came across the following statistics:

  • 80% of CMOs cite a lack of in-house talent to implement an effective omnichannel strategy.
  • 85% of CMOs attempting to implement omnichannel marketing are challenged by lack of access to data and inadequate tools/technology.
  • 82% of CMOs say inability to measure cross-channel performance is interfering with implementing an effective strategy.
  • 75% of retailers rate omnichannel fulfillment “very important.”


During a recent webinar, an executive from Adobe noted the lack of experienced marketing professionals with: 1) business logic; 2) buying cycles; and, 3) marketing automation skills.


During a meeting with the Triangle AMA Marketing Automation Special Interest Group (SIG) this week, I met a young man who’s been in marketing for four years.


He expressed concern that the companies for which he has worked did nothing to help him understand how his email marketing, social media marketing and marketing automation were supposed to be integrated with the rest of the firms’ marketing efforts.


While these skills appear to be lacking in many companies, they are skills I have personally employed successfully for numerous clients.    


I have used analytics to solve business problems throughout my career.


I’ve been using, and evaluating, marketing automation software for the past five years.


I have ensured that traditional, digital and social media marketing were all integrated and communicating a consistent message to prospects and customers.


Are you and your firm using the data you have to create buyer personas, understand and map the buyer’s journey and create a sales and marketing process that will generate more awareness, traffic, leads and sales?


If not, give me a call. I can help.


Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: consumer insights, VoC, voice of the customer, accelerate sales, CRM, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, MQL, SQL, customer relationship management

Empower Employees to Create Content and Customer Experience

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Aug, 06, 2014 @ 10:08 AM

Create authentic content to build trust








Thanks to Jancey Keeton (@justjancey) of Fossil, Nicole Alvono (@nalvino) of Social Chorus and Ann Handley (@marketingprofs) for sharing their thoughts and suggestions on the webinar, "Fill The Content Gap: Activate Advocates to Create Authentic Content" presented by Social Media Today (@smtlive).


Some statistics to consider:

  • 92% of people trust recommendations from people they know.
  • 77% of customers are more likely to buy a product when they hear about it from someone they trust.
  • Advocate created content is engaged with 10-times more than paid content.
  • Content is engaged with seven-times more frequently when on a personal channel versus a company's channel.
Jancey shared that Fossil's advocate generated media generated five million impressions, $70 million in media value and an ROI of 350%.
Five "best practices" to consider were suggested by Ann Handley:
  1. Recognize that advocates are customers, employees and "influencers."

  2. Build a network of content creators and influencers before you need it.

  3. Make the content creators your hero -- not your product or service.

  4. Have a specific and measurable goal.

  5. Generously define, and recognize, who's who.

Don't think transactions, think relationships.
Provide information of value to build awareness and trust, then the prospect will call on your when your products or services are needed.
Empower and encourage your employees to engage with customers, this will enhance the customer experience, as well as create an emotional connection between the customer, your employees and the brand.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales 


Tags: trust, customer experience, information of value, empower employees, customer relationship management

5 Reasons Customer Relationship Management SW Implementations Fail

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Feb, 20, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

Reasons why CRM implementations fail








Yesterday I shared the 8 Benefits of Customer Relationship Management software.

Today I have the top five reasons CRM implementations fail:



  1. Lack of employee buy-in. Based on experience, if the CEO is not using, and not mandating the use of, the CRM then the employees will not use it. They'll keep doing what they've been doing because that's what they know and change is hard.

  2. Poor data quality. The old "garbage in, garbage out" rule still applies. If you simply import data from a legacy CRM or spreadsheets without cleaning it and standardizing fields, you're just transferring old problems to a new software. Invest the time and money to clean and standardize your data. 

  3. Integration challenges. Address this upfront with your CRM provider. How does the CRM integrate with your email client and your ERP system? What will it cost to make this integration happen? Have you done it for other clients? Ask to speak with those clients to find out what their experience was like. How long did it take? How many records did other clients have?

  4. A lack of leadership. If the CEO is not behind the new CRM, it's implementation and use, you're toast. As the person responsible for the implementation, there's not a thing in the world you can do to enforce adoption and use. Be very clear about this since it may cost you your job.

  5. Absence of a long-term strategy. What does your firm want to accomplish with the adoption and implementation of a new CRM system? A sales-focused organization will have very different goals than a customer-centric orgnization that wants to have customers for life. 
Hopefully your management team, and your company, has a desire to, and a culture of, developing customer relationships based on the ever-growing knowledge of the customer.
Whether you're in a sales or customer-centric organization, the more you know about your prospects and customers, the more successful you will be. 
You need a CRM system that everyone uses to execute your strategy.
Let me know if you'd like to discuss how to evaluate different CRM solutions or the keys to implementation.
Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: customer satisfaction, CRM, employee engagement, customer relationship management, employee empowerment

8 Benefits of Customer Relationship Management Software

Posted by Tom Smith on Wed, Feb, 19, 2014 @ 10:02 AM

 customer relationship management









Great article in a recent edition of Customer Relationship Management magazine entitled, "Law Firms Make the Case for CRM."


I have touted the benefits of a sound, current and accurate customer relationship management software for any business concerned about providing a consistently superior customer experience in past posts.


In a survey conducted by LexisNexis, makers of the CRM software Interaction, and managed by my friend Ted Seward (#tedseward) they find that 63% of law firms plan additional CRM investments in 2014.


The benefits of doing so include:

  1. Better client relationships. The more you know, and remember, about clients (or customers) the more your clients know you care about them. This enables you to forge a much stronger connection and a deeper relationship with your clients.

  2. Improved ability to cross-sell. The more you know about your clients' needs and wants the better able you are to provide the solution to their next problem. 

  3. Increased team colloration. This is where many firms who fail to require their executives to use the CRM fail to reap the benefits of the CRM. I know this from having managed the implementation of CRM software where the management team thought it was a good idea but would not learn, or use, the tool themselves. 

  4. Improved efficiency in serving clients. Again, the more you know about clients, the better able you are to serve them. If everyone is using the CRM to record their customer interactions, EVERY client interaction, then others' are able to serve the client with the knowledge of what has been previously discussed with the client.

  5. Greater staff satisfaction. The more knowledge your employees have the more empowered and engaged they are. Having an accurate and up-to-date CRM that everyone uses and has acces to helps employees solve client problems. Doing so makes employees and clients happy.

  6. Increased revenue and profitability. Once everyone learns, and uses, the CRM productivity increases, sales cycles decrease, you have the ability to provide additional products and services to clients and client satisfaction increases.

  7. Cost savings. While the start-up of a CRM software is expensive and time-consuming, over time the benefits far outweigh the costs. Memebers of the sales team are able to better schedule meetings with prospects in the same geographic area. Client-service reps are better able to resolve a client's concern. You now have a central client and prospect database that everyone can access rather than everyone keeping a separate spreadsheet or contact database on their computer. 

  8. Less client attrition. When a client is engaged with only one member of a professional services firm, the risk of attrition is 40%. When five or more partners are involved in a client relationship, the risk of attrition falls to less than 5%. 
Tomorrow I'll share five reasons CRM software implementations may fail.
Hopefully your management team, and your company, have a desire to, and a culture of, developing client relationships based on the ever-growing knowledge you have of the client.
Whether you're in a sales or client-centric organization, the more you know about your prospects and clients, the more successful you will be. 
You need a CRM system that everyone uses to execute your strategy.
Here's a good article from the folks at that evaluates CRM solutions for SME's.
Let me know if you'd like to discuss how to evaluate different CRM solutions or the keys to implementation.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: customer satisfaction, empower employees, customer retention, employee engagement, customer relationship management

Enhance Customer Experience and Accelerate Sales Digitally

Posted by Tom Smith on Thu, Jan, 16, 2014 @ 06:01 AM

Enhance customer experience with digital marketing








Great video from SAS "Digital Marketing -- What It Is and Why It Matters."


While SAS makes statistical and analytical software for Fortune 1000 companies, and those that can afford to spend seven figures on a software solution, the video is just as relevant to small and mid-sized businesses (SMEs).


Any B2B or B2C company needs to be promoting their product or service using electronic media. 


The internet, and social media, has leveled the palying field for SMEs to compete with companies with much largeer marketing budgets.


If you have a compelling story to tell, digital media is a very cost effective way to market.


Consumers today are three times more likely to trust what a stranger says about a product or service on the Internet than what a company says about itself.


It is critical to earn the trust of customers by doing what you say you will do, when you say you will do it.


Likewise, your product or service better do as well, or better, than you say it will or you will be called out on social media.


The way to earn customers' trust is to provide information of value that is both personalized and relevant.


The more your know about your customers, the more you can customize your commuications to them and provide them with solutions that anticipate their needs based on your knowledge.


Digital marketing enables you to analyze what is, and is not, working in real time enabling you to make adjustments in real time.


SAS identifies three challenges in marketing today:

  1. The proliferation of digital channels. You need to know on what channels your target audience is congregating and meet them there with information of value. If you're not sure where they're congregating, ask them. Have an ongoing dialog with your customers to get to know them, their needs and their wants.
  2. Competition is intensifying. This is a function of it being easier to compete. Large companies are notorious for providing poor, or no, customer service. A small company can providing customers with an outstnading customer experience that they'll tell others about. This is how Ace Hardware is taking share from Home Depot and Lowes.
  3. Data is exploding and it's not integrated. Companies tend to keep data in separate silos making cross-channel or inter-company analytics difficult and unproductive. Companies large and small have a lot of data about their products, finances and customers. Those with the intelligence to use the data they have to benefit the customer will win. Again smaller, more agile companies are able to outflank larger, less flexible and more siloed companies.

SAS suggests taking three actions:

  1. Manage complex customer relationships across multiple channels. I suggest having an excellent CRM system with which everyone in your firm is familiar and uses when interacting with prospects and customers. Let your employees know, and ask your client-facing employees, what information need to be collected on clients to provide a consistently outstanding customer experience.
  2. Respond to, and initiate, dynamic customer interactions. Be prepared to have an informed dialog with your customer in person, online or on the phone. This is where an accurate and up to date CRM system is critical. The more you know about your customer, the more the customer knows you care about them as an individual. The more personal the dialog, the greater the customer's emotional connection to your brand.
  3. Extract value from big data to make better more informed decisions. If you keep good records, you're able to make well informed decisions using "little" data as well. I've used the data clients had available to determine what the ideal price difference should be between a branded product and a generic. Likewise, I've been able to show a client a positive correlation between their media spending and market share. Big data is nice to have, but make sure you are making the most out of the data you do have.
Ultimately you must know your customers better than your competition knows them so you can communicate with them when, where and how they are most receptive to your message.
You need a consolidated view of customer expectations and preferences across all channels -- traditional, digital and social; as well as, brick and mortar and online.
All of your communications and knowledge must be integrated to create consistent and coordinated communications and customer experiences.
The more consistent and coordinated the communications and customer experience, the more trust you build. Trust is the foundation of long-term customer relationships and the opportunity to provide "wow" experiences that your customers will tell their friends, family and colleagues about.
Let me know if I can assist you in garnering insights from existing data, or customers, that will help you accelerate sales by improving products, services, communications or customer experience.
Click Here to Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" that Will Accelerate Sales

Tags: outstanding customer experience, trust, dialog, earn your customers trust, accelerate sales, consistent messaging, customer relationship management

Include Cost to Serve in Your Price to Accelerate Profitability

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, Jan, 07, 2014 @ 06:01 AM

service costs hurt profitability











Great presentation by Gary Cokins, founder of Analytics Based Performance Management.

Gary suggests that the Pareto principle (the 80:20 rule) applies to cost to serve the same as it applies to revenue and profitability and that by eliminating the 20% of customers that account for 80% of customer service expense you can dramatically increase your firm's profitability.

The key is to know the lifetime value of your customer and the cost to serve them.

Following are 11 ways to increase profitability:

  1. Be aware of the service cost for each customer and reduce it. What can you do to making buying from you more simple? This will save the customer time and save you money. Customers crave simplicity.
  2. Establish a surcharge for, or reprice, expensive cost-to-serve activities. If it costs more to give the customer what they want, you need to educate the customer of this and charge them for the extra expense you are incurring.
  3. Reduce services. Customers today are very adept at searching your website, and others, for answers to their questions. Provide the information they're looking for with a content-based marketing effort. Answer any question you've ever received from a customer in a blog post. It will help your prospects and customers as well as your search engine optimization efforts.
  4. Introduce new product and service lines based on your customers' needs and wants. Empower your employees to help identify what your customers' needs and wants are.
  5. Raise prices. The 2012 American Express Global Customer Service Barometer found that customers would spend 13% more with companies that provide great service.
  6. Abandon unprofitable or less lucrative products, services or customers. Don't do this before you've tried charging more.
  7. Improve processes to drive up service line or product profitability. Start by having an accurate customer relationship management database that every customer-facing employee has access to.
  8. Offer the customer profit-positive service level options at varying prices. Zappos is known for providing a consistently outstanding customer experience and next day delivery -- not everyday low prices.
  9. Increase activities that a customer shows a preference for. Fine dining establishments have been charging premium prices for "chef's tables" for years.
  10. Up-sell and cross-sell the customer's purchase mix toward richer, higher-margin products and service lines. Leverage data to know what to offer your customer next to fulfill their needs.
  11. Discount to gain more volume, or greater lifetime value, with low "cost-to-serve" customers. I receive monthly shipments of dog food and cereal at a 10% discount. I save time and money and the companies selling me their products now have an annuity stream.
How are you using your knowledge of the lifetime value of the customer and the cost of providing service to increase profitability?
Need More Insights From Your Analytics? Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: insights from analytics accelerate sales, pricing as a strategic market advantage, consumer insights, customer relationship management, customer bonding programs, lifetime customer value

Improve CRM Data Quality to Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, Dec, 23, 2013 @ 06:12 AM

Improve CRM data quality to accelerate sales








After installing and managing three CRM systems in the past five years, I believe its important to remind users, all CRM users, of the importance of data quality.

We all know the quality of the data you get out of a CRM is only as good as the quality of the data you put in -- garbage in, garbage out. 

Unfortunately, only the database administrator gets blamed for what comes out and by the nature of a CRM, the data is NEVER perfect.

Everyone in the organization needs to know what goes into the CRM and help keep the data accurate.

The value of your CRM is equivalent to your current revenue, the lifetime value of your customers and the potential value of your prospects.

Failure to keep the data up to date will result in a 30% erosion in value of one of your company's most valuable assets.

Your CRM is how you know what your customers like, dislike, bought, how they want to be communicated with.

The quality of the data in your CRM is a direct correlation to the experience you, and your employees, will provide your customers.

You cannot provide an outstanding customer experience with inaccurate or incomplete customer data.

Following are 11 ways to improve data quality:

  1. Track all mail deliverability.  Create a way to track returned mail as well as email bounces.  While this will increase administrative work, proactive database cleansing will improve the quality of the data in the CRM and save on postage and your company's image over time.  Once the process is in place, set benchmarks and address accuracy goals for the future.
  2. Verify, clean and append information before entry into the CRM.  Correcting contact information is easier when the client is engaged.  This engagement can occur through a web form or a telephone call.  Ideally data verification software will prompt either the staff representative or audience member to complete missing contact details and format the address to comply with U.S. Postal Service or email standards.  I also recommend engaging an outside third-party, like Reachforce, to clean and append legacy data prior to importing into a new CRM.  This provides a level of confidence that the incoming data is in as good a shape a possible, especially relative to legacy data that may be years old.
  3. Use naming conventions. How you enter a company name (e.g., do you keep "The" in front of it) as well as an individual's name (e.g., do you specifiy Jr., III, IV) is critical as is the punctuation of initials and titles and the use of first initials and middle names.
  4. Use pre-defined drop-downs to ensure consistency and reduce errors (e.g., for titles, departments, segmentation, state, country, prospect type, lead status, areas of interest, contact preference, etc.). Drop downs can help you communicate with customers and prospects with relevance and in the manner the customer prefers.
  5. Know your data and how it got there.  Identify potential data entry trends and where bad data accumulates.  Trace returned correspondence back to a particular operation or target audience.  Understand data quality challenges and make the systems changes that will improve the quality.
  6. Appoint multiple data quality managers.  Data management should be shared with all employees who capture, access, manipulate and update CRM records.  Whether better data translates into more effective prospect meetings, lead nurturing campaigns, customer implementations, product deliveries or other mail communications, the business benefits of data quality are reaped by everyone in the company and the company looks better to the customer.
  7. Train users. Track where your biggest problems are and address them, either as a group on an individual basis, if needed. Anyone using the CRM should take ownership for the accuracy of the data.
  8. Schedule regular database checkups.  Individuals and businesses have become mobile in today's economic and social environment.  This causes data to become outdated even more quickly.  A complete data quality strategy calls for regular database checkups to ensure old data is refreshed and the CRM continues to perform at a high level.

  9. Determine if required fields need to change. A fax number is no longer as important as a mobile number. Should both, or either, be required? Be careful that required fields do not invite false/inaccurate information just to complete the entry.
  10. Ensure use by those that are supposed to be using the system. Hold people accountable for entering and tracking leads and keeping their contact lists current. People in the field hear about changes in a client or prospect organization before a database administrator ever will.

  11. Ensure c-level executives understand the value of your CRM and the need to invest resources, people and money, to keep the data accurate.

What best practices have you put in place to ensure the data in your CRM remains accurate and up to date?

Click Here To Schedule a 30-Minute Consultation  to Discuss Marketing or Sales Issues

Tags: outstanding customer experience, accelerate sales, consistent messaging, be relevant, customer relationship management