Watch the webinar – Countdown to GDPR – Are You Ready?

What is GDPR and how will it affect my marketing activities?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU).

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GDPR will require organisations to respect and protect personal data that is held, from individuals, no matter where is stored or how it was acquired. It is a very important change regarding individual privacy rights and will make the definition of personal data clearer.

The costs of non-compliance are going to be way more significant than past rules, financially (max of 4% of annual turnover or €20m) and also in terms of reputation. The deadline is approaching, 25th of May 2018.

There are 5 topics that will be very important to marketers.

1 – Consent – customers will have to understand clearly how their data is being collected and used. Terms and Conditions have to be written in a clear way that everyone understands, without tricks like pre checked boxes, etc.

2 – Customer Profiles – customers will know have the choice to opt out from any form of automated profiling, forcing companies to be more transparent on the way they are using and collecting customer data.

3 – Marketing Opt-out – customers have the right to ask to be removed from all the marketing activities. Once requested companies can’t use the data collected and stop immediately all the direct actions over customers.

4 – Be forgotten – once a customer decides to leave they will have the right to request that all their data must be deleted.

5 – Data Portability – customers will have the possibility to ask for a copy of their data that will be able to be used by other companies.

All these topics will not only impact organisations by adding some new processes in place as will be a game changer on the way marketing will be done in the future.

The clock is ticking, don’t wait for the deadline!

Article author – DIOGO REBELO

Disclaimer: This article has been pulled together to provide a general overview of the GDPR and considerations with CRM technology. It is not intended to be an authority and does not replace the need to read and understand the full GDPR guidelines. FEATURED IMAGE SOURCED FROM eugdpr.org

Three Key Changes to the Digital Compliance Landscape, Including GDPR

Meeting compliance standards is an important part of any marketing campaign. These rules are meant to protect consumers from fraudulent business practices, false promotional information, and infringements on privacy rights.

Being in compliance will protect you, too ‒ by helping you keep your reputation of integrity and saving you from fines and legal trouble.

Keeping up with changes in the digital compliance landscape is crucial, particularly in this year, as 2017 is shaping up to be time of significant evolution in privacy and digital compliance globally.

There are major initiatives that you will need to be aware of to ensure you remain in compliance and stay on top of important changes. Let’s review three of the major pertinent privacy issues that should be on your radar:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is the new European Union law that will become effective in May 2018. This legislation replaces the existing EU Data Directive, and it’s the most significant change in European privacy law for 20 years.

The GDPR will propose new obligations on any business that handles data on EU citizens, independent of where the business is located, so if you are marketing to EU citizens you are required to adopt the GDPR. There are many issues to consider for ensuring GDPR compliance, and these regulations may have a far-reaching effect on your company’s operability.

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) of the UK has complied comprehensive information pertaining to obligations and preparedness with the new law. Here’s a good place to get up to speed and start your preparations.

Privacy Shield Framework

As the replacement for the Safe Harbor program, the Privacy Shield program has grown tremendously since its inception. The EU-US and Swiss-US Privacy Shield Frameworks were designed by the US Department of Commerce and the European Commission and Swiss Administration. They’re meant to provide companies on both sides of the Atlantic with a mechanism to comply with data protection requirements when transferring personal data from the European Union and Switzerland to the United States in support of transatlantic commerce.

Act-On has successfully obtained Privacy Shield certification, and we support the principles and frameworks of this important compliance initiative. You may want to consider applying for certification if your business model supports EU-US data transfer.

The US Department of Commerce provides an overview of the program here.

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) – Private Right of Action

A major mile stone under CASL will become effective on July 1 of this year. It gives individuals and organizations the right to institute a “private right of action” before the courts against parties that don’t comply with CASL.
Companies found to be violating the message rules under CASL may be penalized by a fine of up to a maximum of $1,000,000 per day.

For more on CASL compliance, visit this informational website from the Government of Canada.

As the compliance landscape continues to evolve, please take the time and review how these important changes may affect your marketing practices. Proactively seek legal counsel on any issues that have an impact on your company’s functionality to help ensure that your business has a smooth and productive year.

Missed our Webinar with David Fowler

Countdown to GDPR – Are You Ready?

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A LITTLE BIT ABOUT DAVID FOWLER CRM

David Fowler serves as Act-On Software’s Head of Digital Compliance and Industry Relations. He has over 20 years of experience in the marketing industry, including the last twelve years strictly focused on the issues associated with the digital channel including, email marketing, deliverability, social media, mobile, integrated marketing, marketing automation and digital privacy compliance. David is a seasoned speaker, and email deliverability and privacy consultant with national and international engagements that include: Online Trust Alliance (OTA and Board Member), Email Services and Provider Coalition (ESPC and Board Member), International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), Federal Trade Commission (FTC), InBox East and West, Inbox/Outbox – London, American Marketing Association, Messaging and Anti Abuse Working Group (MAAWG) – US and EU, TRUSTe, Privacy and American Business and the Email Insider Summit. 

 Prior to joining Act-On, David held US- and European-based senior management positions focused on Deliverability, Email Privacy, Sales, Marketing, Business Development and Product
Management with such companies as MarketFish, Lyris Technologies, Blue Hornet / Digital River, Yesmail, XO Communications, KPNQwest, Qwest Communications, Electric Lightwave, GST Telecom and MCI. Reach him on Twitter: @oregonlimey

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PROVIDENT CRM

Provident CRM is a global CRM consultancy specialising in Sugar, business process improvement tools and systems integrations. We are among the top SugarCRM Partners worldwide holding the coveted Elite Partner status. With offices across the UK and Ireland we have shared our experience and knowledge with organisations in both the public and private sectors. Partnering with our Customers, we focus on delivering value, sustainability, efficiencies and productivity.

We have already helped hundreds of organisations to deploy Sugar, assisting in change management and user adoption. We are looking forward to partnering with you, discussing your implementation and helping to realise your vision for unparalleled customer experience.

Article author – DAVID FOWLER – Article source – ACT-ON.COM

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Webinar – Countdown to GDPR – Are You Ready?

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is coming up fast and whilst there’s lots of information about GDPR from an IT security perspective, marketers are still trying to understand the implications it will have on their marketing efforts from 25 May 2018 and beyond.

We are delighted to have David Fowler, The Head of Digital Compliance with Act-On, discussing the impact of GDPR on marketers.

David is responsible for all issues pertaining to digital compliance, including email deliverability, privacy compliance, and industry stewardship in regard to customers and corporate objectives for Act-On.

David has over 20 years’ experience providing senior leadership in the marketing industry. Since 2003, he has been strictly focused on issues associated email marketing, deliverability, digital marketing, and privacy compliance.

Prior to joining Act-On, David held U.S. and European-based senior management positions focused on the digital marketing eco system covering email deliverability, digital privacy, sales, marketing, business development, and product management with Marketfish, Lyris Technologies, Blue Hornet/Digital River, and Yesmail.

In this webinar we will talk about the importance of the upcoming GDPR changes and how they will affect Marketers. Join us to see what you can do to prepare and ensure you and your business is ready.

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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ABOUT SUGARCRM

SugarCRM enables businesses to create extraordinary customer relationships with the most innovative, flexible and affordable CRM solution on the market. Unlike traditional CRM solutions that focus primarily on management and reporting, Sugar empowers the individual, coordinating the actions of customer-facing employees and equipping them with the right information at the right time to transform the customer experience. Sugar pricing is simple and affordable, so it can deploy it to all customer-facing employees, and know what it’s going to cost. Recognized by leading industry analysts as a CRM visionary and innovator, Sugar is used by more than 1.5 million individuals in over 120 countries. To learn more visit SugarCRM or follow @SugarCRM.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PROVIDENT CRM

Provident CRM is a global CRM consultancy specialising in Sugar, business process improvement tools and systems integrations. We are among the top SugarCRM Partners worldwide holding the coveted Elite Partner status. With offices across the UK and Ireland we have shared our experience and knowledge with organisations in both the public and private sectors. Partnering with our Customers, we focus on delivering value, sustainability, efficiencies and productivity.

We have already helped hundreds of organisations to deploy Sugar, assisting in change management and user adoption. We are looking forward to partnering with you, discussing your implementation and helping to realise your vision for unparalleled customer experience.

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SugarCRM Announces its 2017 Class of Elite Partners

Elite Status, the Highest Tier in the SugarCRM Channel Partner Program, Is Awarded to the Most Successful Partners Around the World

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CUPERTINO, CA – March 15, 2017 – SugarCRM Inc., the company that enables businesses to create extraordinary customer relationships with the most empowering, adaptable and affordable CRM solution on the market, announced today that 18 of its worldwide channel partners have achieved Elite Partner status for 2017.

Elite status is determined by meeting product competency requirements, joint sales execution and driving new Sugar business during the preceding fiscal year. This year’s class represents 13 different countries.

Our Elite partners are true CRM solution providers that are deeply involved in helping organizations utilize Sugar to provide a superior customer experience to separate themselves from the competitionPatrick Pahl - VP of Partner Operations, SugarCRM

“Our Elite partners are true CRM solution providers that are deeply involved in helping organizations utilize Sugar to provide a superior customer experience to separate themselves from the competition” said Patrick Pahl, vice president of strategic alliances and partner operations at SugarCRM. “I’d like to thank and congratulate all the organizations that have achieved Elite-level status for 2017. Our Elite Partners delivered an impressive 27 percent year-to-year increase in annually recurring new subscription revenue last year, added more than 350 new SugarCRM customers and increased the average new sale by 27 percent.”

SugarCRM’s 2017 Elite Partners include:

BrainSell Technologies (USA)
Faye Business Systems Group, Inc. (USA)
eVolpe Consulting (Poland)
Provident CRM (Ireland & United Kingdom)
iZeno Pte Ltd (Singapore)
Levementum, LLC (USA)
Sugar Factory s.r.o. (Czech Republic)
Technology Advisors Inc. (USA)
W-Systems Corp. (USA)

SugarCRM has built a unique channel program of CRM experts with more than 200 channel partners in more than 30 countries. As a pure-play CRM vendor with an unconventional approach, SugarCRM offers a different kind of CRM application that helps our customers set themselves apart from the competition. The company’s core group of partners are CRM mavericks that help extend the value of the Sugar platform for customers by providing strategic CRM consulting, tailored solutions that complement Sugar, techniques for CRM best practices, and flexible implementation and integration services.

SugarCRM Announces its 2017 Class of Elite Partners

Elite Status, the Highest Tier in the SugarCRM Channel Partner Program, Is Awarded to the Most Successful Partners Around the World

CUPERTINO, CA – March 15, 2017 – SugarCRM Inc., the company that enables businesses to create extraordinary customer relationships with the most empowering, adaptable and affordable CRM solution on the market, announced today that 18 of its worldwide channel partners have achieved Elite Partner status for 2017.

Elite status is determined by meeting product competency requirements, joint sales execution and driving new Sugar business during the preceding fiscal year. This year’s class represents 13 different countries.

“Our Elite partners are true CRM solution providers that are deeply involved in helping organizations utilize Sugar to provide a superior customer experience to separate themselves from the competition,” said Patrick Pahl, vice president of strategic alliances and partner operations at SugarCRM. “I’d like to thank and congratulate all the organizations that have achieved Elite-level status for 2017. Our Elite Partners delivered an impressive 27 percent year-to-year increase in annually recurring new subscription revenue last year, added more than 350 new SugarCRM customers and increased the average new sale by 27 percent.”

SugarCRM’s 2017 Elite Partners are:

Acuity crm (Netherlands)
BrainSell Technologies (USA)
DRI-Nordic (Denmark & Germany)
Enable Technologies LTD (United Kingdom)
Faye Business Systems Group, Inc. (USA)
eVolpe Consulting (Poland)
iNet Process (France & USA)
Insignio CRM GmbH (Germany)
iZeno Pte Ltd (Singapore)
Levementum, LLC (USA)
OpenSymbol (Italy)
Provident CRM (Ireland & United Kingdom)
REDK (Spain & United Kingdom)
Squiz (Australia & United Kingdom)
Sugar Factory s.r.o. (Czech Republic)
Synolia (France)
Technology Advisors Inc. (USA)
W-Systems Corp. (USA)

SugarCRM has built a unique channel program of CRM experts with more than 200 channel partners in more than 30 countries. As a pure-play CRM vendor with an unconventional approach, SugarCRM offers a different kind of CRM application that helps our customers set themselves apart from the competition. The company’s core group of partners are CRM mavericks that help extend the value of the Sugar platform for customers by providing strategic CRM consulting, tailored solutions that complement Sugar, techniques for CRM best practices, and flexible implementation and integration services.

ABOUT SUGARCRM

SugarCRM enables businesses to create extraordinary customer relationships with the most innovative, flexible and affordable CRM solution on the market. Unlike traditional CRM solutions that focus primarily on management and reporting, Sugar empowers the individual, coordinating the actions of customer-facing employees and equipping them with the right information at the right time to transform the customer experience. Sugar pricing is simple and affordable, so it can deploy it to all customer-facing employees, and know what it’s going to cost. Recognized by leading industry analysts as a CRM visionary and innovator, Sugar is used by more than 1.5 million individuals in over 120 countries. To learn more visit SugarCRM or follow @SugarCRM.

A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PROVIDENT CRM

Provident CRM is a global CRM consultancy specialising in Sugar, business process improvement tools and systems integrations. We are among the top SugarCRM Partners worldwide holding the coveted Elite Partner status. With offices across the UK and Ireland we have shared our experience and knowledge with organisations in both the public and private sectors. Partnering with our Customers, we focus on delivering value, sustainability, efficiencies and productivity.

We have already helped hundreds of organisations to deploy Sugar, assisting in change management and user adoption. We are looking forward to partnering with you, discussing your implementation and helping to realise your vision for unparalleled customer experience.

Article author – SUGARCRM – Article source – Sugarcrm.com

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Customer Experience in 2017

Well, 2016 will be a tough act to follow. With all the twists and turns of a Hollywood blockbuster, it was a year no-one is going to forget in a hurry!

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But let’s not dwell on the past. At this time of year it’s de rigueur to roll out the dusty crystal ball and predict what the coming weeks and months will bring. What’s going to change? What will remain the same? Who will be the heroes? Who will be the villains?

I work in Silicon Valley, so please excuse my bias, but what I’m most excited about this year is seeing how the tech industry will change and continue to enhance the customer experience. The last few years have seen the rise of the Empowered Customer, and 2016 continued to blaze a trail for the informed, powerful customer with endless choice at their fingertips.

Prioritising the customer experience has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential component of business’ strategy. When research by Gartner reveals that 89% of organisations now expect to compete solely on this, you know you need to take it seriously.

“The modern work environment has broken free of desks, buildings and commutes. The flexibility that smart phones, tablets, laptops and, of course, ubiquitous connectivity offer means employees can now work anywhere, at any time.”Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM

So, looking ahead, what’s going to be new this year? Whatever you may have heard, 2017 is not going to be the year when AI (Artificial Intelligence) completely revolutionises customer experience and management. There. I’ve said it.

While some tech companies have been loudly talking up the AI capabilities within their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, there’s a danger that people are getting ahead of themselves. That’s not to say that AI isn’t coming; it is and soon, maybe even as a little as a year down the line, AI within CRM is going to be something to get very excited about.

And that’s the reason why AI grabs the headlines: it’s an exciting area. But tech is nothing if it has no purpose. At the heart of all customer-facing businesses is (or should be) the customer. The question should always be asked: how can we use technology to make people’s everyday lives quicker, more efficient, and streamlined?

At SugarCRM, we’re investing big in AI technology and you can bet that when we
launch this new offering we’re going to be shouting as loudly as
anybody about the huge leap forward that it will be.

Predictive analytics is another area which we’ll see increasingly come to the forefront this year. It will give sophistication to systems that will feel both innovative and entirely logical. CRM will no longer be about data entry and simple deal tracking; instead companies will be able to anticipate customer trends with increased accuracy by finding patterns in the vast sea of customer data they are now collecting. As a result, this will in turn give a huge opportunity for businesses to give better service. And that’s what it’s all about.

Imagine a system that tracks communication patterns between a company and its customers, segmenting those customers by personality types, and suggests the time of day and the tone of message to send to each individual customer. Even better, imagine a customer sending a complaint to your company’s billing department and the system alerts the appropriate sales rep with the right email already written and staged for sending out. This level of highly personalised service is what predictive analytics will bring to the customer experience in the future.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE CAN BE VIEWED AT huffingtonpost.com — Larry Augustin, Chief Executive Officer, SugarCRM

Customer Experience in 2017

Well, 2016 will be a tough act to follow. With all the twists and turns of a Hollywood blockbuster, it was a year no-one is going to forget in a hurry. But let’s not dwell on the past. At this time of year it’s de rigueur to roll out the dusty crystal ball and predict what the coming weeks and months will bring. What’s going to change? What will remain the same? Who will be the heroes? Who will be the villains?

I work in Silicon Valley, so please excuse my bias, but what I’m most excited about this year is seeing how the tech industry will change and continue to enhance the customer experience. The last few years have seen the rise of the Empowered Customer, and 2016 continued to blaze a trail for the informed, powerful customer with endless choice at their fingertips.

Prioritising the customer experience has moved from a ‘nice to have’ to an essential component of business’ strategy. When research by Gartner reveals that 89% of organisations now expect to compete solely on this, you know you need to take it seriously.

The robots are coming (or not)

So, looking ahead, what’s going to be new this year? Whatever you may have heard, 2017 is not going to be the year when AI (Artificial Intelligence) completely revolutionises customer experience and management. There. I’ve said it.

While some tech companies have been loudly talking up the AI capabilities within their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms, there’s a danger that people are getting ahead of themselves. That’s not to say that AI isn’t coming; it is and soon, maybe even as a little as a year down the line, AI within CRM is going to be something to get very excited about.

And that’s the reason why AI grabs the headlines: it’s an exciting area. But tech is nothing if it has no purpose. At the heart of all customer-facing businesses is (or should be) the customer. The question should always be asked: how can we use technology to make people’s everyday lives quicker, more efficient, and streamlined?

At SugarCRM, we’re investing big in AI technology and you can bet that when we launch this new offering we’re going to be shouting as loudly as anybody about the huge leap forward that it will be.

Innovation is undoubtedly fantastic and it’s really quite amazing what has been achieved in the last decade alone, but the bottom line is people still like to talk to people. For all the talk of AI, it’s still going to be the case that people are the most important part of any customer management experience. This will be true in 2017 and I am convinced it will be true in 2067.

Predicting and pre-empting

Predictive analytics is another area which we’ll see increasingly come to the forefront this year. It will give sophistication to systems that will feel both innovative and entirely logical. CRM will no longer be about data entry and simple deal tracking; instead companies will be able to anticipate customer trends with increased accuracy by finding patterns in the vast sea of customer data they are now collecting. As a result, this will in turn give a huge opportunity for businesses to give better service. And that’s what it’s all about.

Imagine a system that tracks communication patterns between a company and its customers, segmenting those customers by personality types, and suggests the time of day and the tone of message to send to each individual customer. Even better, imagine a customer sending a complaint to your company’s billing department and the system alerts the appropriate sales rep with the right email already written and staged for sending out. This level of highly personalised service is what predictive analytics will bring to the customer experience in the future.

“The modern work environment has broken free of desks, buildings and commutes. The flexibility that smart phones, tablets, laptops and, of course, ubiquitous connectivity offer means employees can now work anywhere, at any time.”Larry Augustin, CEO of SugarCRM

The rise of mobile

What we can predict with certainty is that this year mobile will continue to assert its place as an entirely feasible alternative to office-based working. The modern work environment has broken free of desks, buildings and commutes. The flexibility that smart phones, tablets, laptops and, of course, ubiquitous connectivity offer means employees can now work anywhere, at any time.

I’d expect that most business professionals will be dividing more of their time over a wider range of multiple locations; a flexibility that, deployed intelligently and supported by their employer’s technology, could have significant benefits for the customers they serve.

The image of empty offices as remote workers sit in cafes with their laptops, matched with intelligent software that learns and decides without the need for intervention, could suggest that this will be the year in which the human dimension of business becomes extinct.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Human to human interaction will never be completely replaced by machines. Yes, machines will help automate repetitive or low value tasks. But overall they will increase human productivity and increase the value of personal interaction.

Take the case of the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) in banking. The first ATMs were introduced in 1969. Since then, the number of (human) bank tellers has grown, and continues to grow. Research by James Bessen, Lecturer in Law at the Boston University School of Law, shows that the number of ATMs in the US stood at just over 400,000 in 2010, compared to nearly 600,000 bank assistants.

As it did with bank tellers, automation will enable more businesses to provide higher levels of personal touch instead of decreasing the need for human interaction.

I hope this year businesses remember that customers are human, and technology should enhance the experience they offer, not replace it. Hold tight – it’s going to be a big year.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE CAN BE VIEWED AT huffingtonpost.com — Larry Augustin, Chief Executive Officer, SugarCRM

Building Solid Relationships with Customers (Part 1)

Introduction

By 2020, customer experience will outweigh the importance of price and product. Are you investing enough in building relationship with a customer?

This is the first in a new blog series on the role of customer relationships and how Relationship Analytics can improve your key sales and business metrics.

Complex B2B Sales and Customer Relationship

There is a common notion that once you have developed a superior product or service with a strong value prop, you don’t need to invest a whole lot in the sales process. It’s the whole “good products sell themselves” fallacy. Top performing B2B sales leaders and reps don’t buy into this myth, they know very well that going into a deal and simply showcasing a badass demo or offering lower prices than the competition are not good enough to close. This is true especially for B2Bs with a complex sales model.

B2Bs win by building relationships. A relationship based sales approach is not easy, but it is what sets winning companies apart from competitors. In fact, a Gallup study shows that a typical B2B company has optimal relationship with just one in five of its customers. But those fully engaged customers deliver a 23% premium over average customers in share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth.

Let us look at sales scenarios where relationship building has far better returns than other commonly used sales approaches and tactics; or even worse, the absence of sales systems and process.

Often, sales reps rely on cold calling. But stats from various studies clearly suggest that this may not be effective use of the sales leader’s budget or the sales rep’s time. Consider that only 1% of cold calls result in meetings. Or that a staggering 90% of B2B decision makers don’t respond to cold sales outreach. 84% of B2B leaders start their individual buying journeys with referrals. Nearly 3 out of 4 business execs say that they prefer to work with sales professionals who were referred by someone they know.

These stats all mean that sales teams must evolve how they engage with prospects. On the flip side, buyers expect consistent engagement during their journey.

Relationships play a crucial role even with your existing customers. A concerted effort to build relationships improves the lifetime value of your customers – better subscription renewal rates, more referrals, customer advocacy and higher conversions in upsell or cross-sell scenarios.

CRM and Relationship Analytics

Now that we have reiterated the value of customer relationships, you may be asking, “isn’t my CRM meant to help me with relationship building? Especially, when the CRM acronym stands for Customer Relationship Management!” (A fair point).

As a sales leader, you know the effectiveness of a CRM system depends on the quality, accuracy and integrity of your prospect and customer data. At the same time, you want your sales members to focus on sales activities and spend minimal time on CRM data entry or CRM administrative tasks. As a result, CRM data can become incomplete from time-to-time.

Enter a Relationship Analytics solution. Imagine having a software app that will dig out the relationships between your employees in the entire organization and your customers. It doesn’t stop there. The software then automatically enters that relationship data and insights into the CRM system. We will share more details in the next post of the “Building Solid Relationships with Customers” blog series.

CRM is a foundation tool for sales. A Relationship Analytics solution will extend and enhance your core CRM system.

Summary

In this post, we talked about why you need to invest in building customer relationships and a sneak preview of Relationship Analytics. In the next post, we will share more details of an out-of-the-box Relationship Analytics solution for Sugar.

Article author – Vijay Damojipurapu – Article source – Sugarcrm.com

Six CRM Predictions for 2017

Yet another set of CRM predictions…

It is that time of year, where every analyst, “thought leader” and blogger starts pumping out their top predictions for the coming year. Usually, these are safe, boring add-ons to perennial topics of discussion and/or an exercise in buzzword bingo.

But I do believe that this year, we are actually going to see the beginnings of some serious shifts in the CRM market.

The general advancements in key technology areas like Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), coupled with the press for more modernization among legacy CRM users, will be causing a lot of interesting moves in the market, both from vendors and CRM practitioners alike.

So without further ado…here are six (because five is just so passé) predictions I think will turn out to be major storylines in the world of CRM in 2017.

#1: Predictive Analytics Goes Prime Time

As an industry, we have been ballyhooing the promise of predictive analytics for quite some time. But as more companies eschew old-model SaaS deployments for truly cloud-based CRM and data warehousing, the throughput and storage issues that hindered truly predictive analytics initiatives will start to go away.

Companies looking to better know their customers, and provide truly proactive service and delivery models, will be the first to take up predictive analytics, in my opinion. While we talked a lot about offer and promotions management, I think that predictive analytics will be best put to work in customer retention and servicing – the “give the customer what they need before they realize they need it” scenario, rather than the “offer someone something they might want to buy.” The benefits to retention in the former are huge, versus the intrusive and sometimes risky path of “best offer” models of predictive analytics.

#2: CRM Customers Get Sick of the Status Quo

Again, a lot of us have been waiting for the “Big Siebel Migration” toward more modern and flexible CRM. While that has happened in some pockets, I feel the alternatives (namely, confining SaaS tools that recapitulated the same Siebel user experience) offered little respite from what Siebel could offer.

Oracle has failed in bringing a truly integrated, seamless cloud-based product to market as a clear migration alternative. Salesforce offers a litany of products, but the cost to migrate has been steep, and as noted the user experience not compelling enough.

In 2017, that could change. With more alternatives (yes, of course I mean SugarCRM, but there are others) offering truly cloud-based, scalable and flexible – and more importantly, highly engaging and mobile user experiences – the Siebel stampede could finally start full bore. And this isn’t only about Siebel. There are loads of homegrown and other first-gen legacy CRM deployments desperately in need of modernization.

To keep the stampede going, we look forward to working with the mavericks of CRM — those looking to break the status quo and build exciting, different and innovative custom CRM deployments that meet the demands of tomorrow’s customer.

#3: AI Has a Lot of Exciting Potential, But It Doesn’t Become “Real” in 2017

There have been a number of announcements and concept-type demos around AI-powered CRM from SugarCRM and other CRM providers. But nothing of real material weight has been released for general use. I believe we’ll see the same in 2017: Everyone will continue to talk about AI, but we are still a couple of years away from getting the technology in the hands of users.

While both SugarCRM and Salesforce will be releasing “1.0” versions of products they are aligning with AI, truly AI-powered CRM will not be available until 2018 at the earliest. Why? Because this is hard stuff, and even deep-pocketed providers like Salesforce have lots of operational (think of a hulking, aging SaaS back end that can not scale easily) as well as development issues to resolve before really bringing broadly available AI-powered tools to market.

The use case is clear: We need to be equipping sales and other customer-facing agents with more insights and tools to do their jobs better. CRM can no longer be about data entry and simply tracking deal status. (See my above note about breaking from the “status quo.”) But it is going to take some time. I expect to see some more acquisitions by everyone involved to help speed the pace of development in 2017.

#4: The Battle for Data Will Heat Up Even More

Akin to my predictions on AI-powered CRM, the battleground for data-enriched CRM will only continue to heat up in 2017. Data is a great way to extend the value proposition of CRM to businesses of all sizes, especially those in the small-to mid-size range. By providing pre-populated data sets, the amount of “busy work” done by sales and other CRM users is reduced, and the better the data, the more effective individuals can be every moment of the day.

A lot of M&A as well as in-house development and partnerships will fuel more data-powered CRM announcements in 2017. The key, of course, is seeing which providers provide the most seamless and most sensible use cases out of the box for their customers.

#5: Customer Experience Will Determine Who Wins

Some may find it a bit ironic, but it is actually more disappointing that most CRM user organizations do not have a great relationship with their CRM vendor. Several surveys (like the PC Magazine article where SugarCRM was named most loved by customers compared with other industry leaders) as well as our own experience in competitive takeaways reveal to us that this situation needs to change.

If we are truly selling the promise of exceptional customer relationships as an industry, we need to walk the walk as well.

With many companies seeing compelling reasons to update or migrate from legacy or homegrown systems in the coming year, how CRM vendors engage and serve these businesses will be critical. I hear all too often from prospects how the “market leaders” come to the table with arrogance, terrible terms and an overall unfriendly demeanor. That has to change. In short, just being “number one” or a multi-billion dollar company means nothing. CIOs and line-of-business decision makers know that there are alternatives on the market.

#6: Mobile CRM Takes on New Meaning

Mobile CRM is nothing new — far from it. However, when you combine the fact that many legacy and homegrown apps were not supremely mobile (if at all), and the new demands of internal users and how customers expect to interact with companies, mobile development takes on a new shape.

It is no longer about “shrinking” the mobile app to fit the smart phone or tablet screen real estate. It is no longer about offline access (even though some providers are still way behind with that), or “field service.” To really nail mobile CRM in 2017, organizations will need real mobile platforms — not “extension apps,” but rather entire platforms, inextricably linked to the core CRM.

In my opinion, only a few vendors really provide this type of mobile platform capability, although there is a lot of added expense involved in some cases. That’s a shame. It should be fast, easy and cost-effective for companies to build wholly new and customer-focused mobile experiences (whether the user be an employee or a customer). I know we are working hard here at SugarCRM to bring out our mobile SDK to help our customers reimagine their mobile strategies in new, exciting and unlimited ways.

So, those are my handful of predictions for the CRM world in 2017. What is the overarching theme? Customer demands are changing fast, and companies need to keep up. By building more intelligence, rich data and new mobile experiences into CRM initiatives, companies can better enable their employees, and engage more meaningfully with customers in a world forcing businesses to be more and more customer-centric.

sugarcrm.com — Martin Schneider — December 15, 2016

Sunday Business Post Article December 2016

SBP December Cover

CRM has changed dramatically in recent years to suit a changing market, but not every business is aware of the possibilities it presents

Most people we speak to fall into two groups,” said Gary Cullen, sales and marketing manager at Provident CRM. “The first aren’t aware really of what CRM can do for them. They tend to make decisions based on price, and opt for products which fit right now but might not allow the business to grow later.”

According to Daniel Heck, senior director of marketing, EMEA, at SugarCRM: “There is a myth across industries that all the leading CRM providers are the same and it doesn’t really matter who you choose — this is simply not the case.

“There are so many differentiators for CRM providers. You can compare and contrast the big players in the industry on deployment flexibility, the level of customisation their CRM solution can provide, how complex and unpredictable pricing structures are, and the attention received from a provider to solely focus on helping you as a business to build extraordinary customer relationships. These are just a few points it is important for a business to consider.”

Heck advised businesses researching new CRM systems to consider the future, as well as the present. “Choosing the wrong CRM can be costly. A business who selects poorly could see plummeting levels of customer service, expensive quotes with additional monthly fees, and a lack of attention and drive from their CRM provider to address any of the issues.”

Look for a CRM provider with whom you can see yourself establishing a lasting relationship, who will in turn provide you with the tools to build lasting customer relationships for your own business.

“When looking for a CRM provider, all businesses should seek one who works with them as a trusted partner . . . This approach will ultimately create the best environment for a business to flourish, and is one we truly believe in at SugarCRM,” Heck said.

Communication in the early stages is key — one of the crucial things businesses need to understand is that if you choose the right CRM it can fundamentally help your business, speeding things up, enhancing customer relationships and making use of data from the past. Choose wrong, however, and it might fail to scale and slow you down.

According to Cullen: “Sometimes we lose out because a lower-cost system is more attractive. But sometimes we have to point out that there are unseen benefits they might have skipped over. In terms of return on investment, a new system is obviously a big investment, but it’s a core business tool. It will change how your employees interact with your customers. It’s not just an initial cost and a level of effort required, which will have a services price attached. There are efficiency gains to consider.”

These might include the ability to measure the efficiency of processes, to produce reports instantly and to automate tasks, saving time and driving efficiency. You’ll be able to pinpoint process which work best and emphasise them and improve them. Upselling and cross-selling become far easier when you already know what customers like, and have worked to foster a better relationship with them, improving the likelihood of return business, too. “Yes, there’s an initial cost attached,” said Cullen, “but it’s more than just a tool for managing customers.”

CRM has dramatically improved in the last five to ten years, so much that some experts dispute whether it should even be called ‘CRM’ anymore. “CRM’s name is getting old,” said Peter Grogan, CRM practice lead at Storm Technology. “It almost needs a revamp at this stage. It no longer stands on its own — CRM needs to be integrated with other systems and processes to be brought alive.”

“For too long people have looked at CRM as a niche product which people put in to deal with sales, or marketing, but actually it’s something much broader,” said Grogan.

“It’s about the customer life cycle, right from the stage where they’re an opportunity, to managing their service as a customer, to creating and managing further opportunities. And through that engagement, you can capture data from customers and hold it in your system.”

Look for CRM which can unlock the value in your data, putting it to use while gathering more. “You have the frequency with which they’ve contacted you, what they’ve said, and you then can build in processes which enhance their interactions with you. Customer satisfaction is great, but customer loyalty is far more valuable,” he said.

Cullen remarked on how the industry is beset with buzzwords and trends, which most of the time simply serve to confuse clients: “For a while it was ‘mobile’, then it moved on to ‘social CRM’. Now people just call it CRM. We’ve dropped the ‘social’, because that’s just what people expect from their systems now. It should be there by default.”

As in nearly every industry, technology has improved and moved traditional CRM forward, offering answers and solving what were traditionally the biggest problems in the field, like duplication, integration, storage and processing power. Now it’s about asking more from your CRM. Grogan said:

“The issues businesses today face are different to those they faced five or ten years ago. Especially in the last five years, people have started looking for more Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). The whole idea of cloud has caught on, where before people hesitated to get involved.”

Cloud can open up a world of possibility for businesses, streamlining and speeding up systems. But it can come with its problems — have businesses been slow to embrace cloud-based CRM, due to risks of hacking, and new data regulation?

Heck said: “The ever-growing threat of cyber security also offers up a challenge. Keeping customer data secure is now paramount and a continuous process. A company’s reputation is lost far more quickly than it’s gained. Every week we see new hacking scandals hit the headlines, and stories of customers understandably worried about their personal data being compromised. Today’s fraudsters are increasingly sophisticated and able to infiltrate complex data security networks.”

In this case, ensuring you opt for a high-quality CRM is part of your security strategy. The best providers will take your security very seriously: “It is the responsibility of all CRM providers to deploy the most robust, secure infrastructure which protects businesses and their customers from data breaches. In a hyper-competitive market, failure to do this can see providers lose business quickly and see their own reputation impacted.”

Similarly, the data you use to improve customer relationships is inevitably subject to laws, and ever-changing regulations. Having the right partners can made this easier.

Grogan said: “I think the regulation around data is changing all the time, and we do have to keep up to date with it. You can’t just sit back and blindly use and reuse old data. It needs to abide by the framework provided, which changes all the time. But having a partner, like Storm, to do that with makes it significantly easier.”

Some customers remain apprehensive about cloud use. “There are certain verticals, mainly when we do work in the UK, where they have a preference for on-site over cloud,” said Cullen, “but that’s predominantly in regulated industries, areas like health and financial. But with other customers, they’ve often made that step already using a private cloud, with the likes of Amazon or Microsoft Azure or Sugar on Demand. Most companies are relatively comfortable using that kind of technology.”

Larger businesses might run on a large number of legacy systems, which are more difficult to integrate with new systems, but even then a provider like Sugar allows you to go with on-site storage if you prefer. “We run on a single-tenant architecture so each customer gets their own private cloud. Even if you go in the cloud, we put your system by itself. But I’d say the majority opt for their systems to be hosted in the cloud, unless it’s highly sensitive data or is regulated by the government.”

Ultimately, however, the advantages of ‘going cloud’ far outweigh the risks for most businesses. “The realisation now is that you can’t wait any longer; you have to get involved,” said Grogan. “And that’s what I think CRM needs to address; integrating newer systems with older ones, and recognising the value in the data you’ve built up over the last ten years, or however long you’ve been around.”

The new CRM is sophisticated, with a far-reaching impact on businesses which put it to use. But starting out can be overwhelming. Grogan said of Storm: “We do a lot of work evangelising and doing pre-engagement work with our customers to show them what CRM can do, using workshops and demonstrations. That really opens up their eyes to what’s possible. Then we can start an implementation to fit them — sometimes it’s not something big that lasts for months on end. Sometimes it’s only something small. Storm are great at tailoring projects to suit the individual.”

Cullen also spoke of ‘top-tier’ bespoke CRM: “‘Top tier’ means having everything customised to your own company, being able to instantly run reports and plan out workflows so that the system is automated and driving both the users and the customers along. Most of the top tier have that, and it’s a big differentiator.” He also took care, however, to highlight the importance of covering the basics: “It also needs to cover the three pillars of CRM; sales, marketing and support.”

Senior sales manager at Sage, Oisin Geraghty, highlighted the importance of buy-in at every level of the business. Senior managers need to understand how the CRM works, and what it is capable of.

“You only get out of it what you put in, to be honest. Senior management need to be on board for it to be a worthwhile investment. They can’t just stand by and overlook the spreadsheets. When you want to see reports and dashboards you’re using the CRM system. And that only — you’re not using any outside project. That’s probably the biggest advice I can give a sales manager — use the system completely, without going between different products, to get the most out of it.”

As market leader in Ireland and the UK, Sage has 14,000 customers using its CRM product — the company prides itself on the seamless integration of their products. “What people are looking for is a 360 view, from lead to invoice,” said Geraghty. “From prospect phase in, you can see what’s working, then it turns from marketing into account management. The account can be managed in terms of project management as well as from a finance perspective.”

Adaptability is another trait to look for. Geraghty said: “Sage integrates with other products, so if you’re using Sage 200 or X3, it’s fully dovetailed in. There’s no need to invoice with other products. That’s the advantage with working with such a big brand. We’re one of the very few people out there who cater to every aspect of your business. We don’t use any third-party products. It fits into Sage 200 for example, as a module. You can buy just one basic platform, or buy different modules depending on your business.”

If you’re looking even further into the future, know what dramatic change in how CRM works is not far off on the horizon: the next state of CRM will rely on AI and machine intelligence, creating a richer, faster experience for both business and customers.

“What’s interesting about this topic is how up until now CRM has been a knowledge repository for a business,” said Cullen. “We put a certain amount of information in, and we can search that and get back reports, from a limited pool. It’s information that’s just within the business, around the customers. The benefit of adding an ‘intelligence layer’ is that the one-to-one relationship between you and your data is opened up; for every piece of information you put into a system, the system can add a huge amount of additional intelligence.”

Even one single piece of information given by a customer — say, their email address — can generate further details gleaned from the APIs of every social media platform, pulling information on their personal preferences, connections and habits. “All this can be instantly collated on screen. That’s beginning to appear now, and is very soon going to be regarded as normal. We’re expecting that Sugar CRM will have it by the end of the year or the start of next year.”

Building on this, CRM systems will also be able to make decisions for you, or at the least advise on what’s the best decision.

“Based on previous behaviours, we can optimise it to make a recommendation for the next step when interacting with the customer,” said Cullen. This might depend on small details — the machine will learn that they’re away on holiday next week, for example, and will know not to schedule an appointment. Or it might be more sophisticated, relying on their history of preferences.

These new systems will connect with pre-existing ones, integrating with even legacy software and hardware. “Currently when we can go to a data repository and see information from other systems — we can review it temporarily while interacting with the customer. But we’re going to see a massive extension of that. It’ll get to know the customer better, the more they interact, and will start to provide insights which were never achievable before. The big data movement is about to become part of everyday business; it’ll be the norm by the end of next year,” Cullen said.

But for now, what should potential customers look for? “We talk about the shiny stuff, and it does set us apart, and everyone is interested in it but no one is really jumping in yet. People want to manage their data better and make sure their customers have a really good experience. We still sell, we support, we market. The core pillars of CRM haven’t changed. It comes down to other differentiating factors — it’s very competitive at the moment,” said Cullen.

That said, there are key tenets which set apart providers like Provident CRM, European elite partners for SugarCRM. “We have a set price, called PurePrice, where there are no hidden costs and we’ll never force you into an upgrade. You pay a single price and you get every technology on the platform. And we don’t restrict the customer — they can use Microsoft, Linux, Apple, whatever suits them. If you run on-site, then you get full access to the source code for the tool.”

Heck puts success down to a provider’s ability to evolve alongside their users. “Now, customers expect a solution that is not just fit for purpose today but one which will evolve with the business and excel in the business environment of tomorrow. We at SugarCRM know we are agile, alert and responsive enough to deliver this solution to businesses.”

Citing a reader survey by PCMag, which found SugarCRM rated as best in class, Heck said: “This is a great endorsement for us but we want more, we won’t stop innovating or working with our customers to understand the needs of their business. There will be no resting on laurels, only an unshakable drive to continue to deliver a holistic view of how our customers can balance people, processes and systems to build extraordinary customer relationships.”

And sometimes it’s about asking the obvious questions: what is the customer experience with your brand like? Is it enjoyable, to buy from your website? Is it enjoyable? Re-evaluating your CRM is an opportunity to also re-evaluate your customer’s experience.

Cullen said: “Sometimes we spend too much time focusing on what we need to do to win the deal, when really we need to focus on what we need to do to gain the customer’s trust, first and foremost. When people turn the process around and look at things from the customer’s perspective, sometimes they find they’re actually offering terrible service when they thought what they were offering was great. A lot of can seem obvious, but it takes someone pointing the problems out.”

What everyone agreed on was that customers are different now, and the CRM which fails to evolve, to cater to them, is missing a valuable opportunity.

Of Provident CRM, Cullen said: “It’s about admitting that the way people buy has changed, and the traditional sales model will no longer cut it . . . Internally we process opportunities, so that when you buy, you buy in a totally different way. We’re actually misaligned with the traditional sales approach. You get to see things from the customer’s perspective, allowing them to get all the information they need at the appropriate time. Most of the time people focus on sales, but we bring in all the other details. It really adds to the experience.”

Heck agreed, saying: “Customers today are now more knowledgeable and connected than ever before, they use an array of different digital channels to contact companies with questions and complaints. They expect the same level of service from their banks as they do their shops, restaurants and couriers.

“No longer do customers discriminate, they form their expectations through comparing and contrasting brands — irrespective of the industry.”

This might mean the service provided by a bank is compared to that of Amazon, or Deliveroo, or Uber. “The complex business environment mixed with the growth of the empowered consumer has created a milieu where a one-size-fits-all, ‘off-the-shelf’ solution doesn’t deliver what’s needed. No one wants to be seen as the common denominator anymore, so a solution built for this purpose is simply built to fail,” Heck said.

Customers use social media, blogs and other sites to gather information before they buy, and the new CRM can take this into consideration. Grogan mentioned clients with multiple retail outlets, who can bring previously siloed customer interaction data together to build a more thorough profile.

“Customers are coming to us now looking to bring all that data together, to integrate data-catchers in order to do something meaningful with their data. That can be transformative, using data to analyse their customer’s need and enhance your relationship with them,” said Grogan.

Today’s CRM is about more than just ‘Customer Relationship Management’; it’s about improving a business as a whole.

SOURCED FROM THE SUNDAY BUSINESS POST – AUTHOR RÓISÍN KIBERD