How Highly Specialized CRM’s Are Transforming The Way that Small Businesses Work

The age of the one size fits all approach to CRM is slowly joining the ranks of the fax machine and the cash register, especially for small businesses. The rapid technological advancement of the everyday consumer has put pressure on small businesses to engage their customers in more and more sophisticated ways.

In this highly competitive environment, response times are critical, content delivery is paramount and being able to map the customer’s journey across all your touchpoints has become more important than ever. The broad based CRM’s of yesteryear weren’t conceived to address all of the specialized industry needs of every vertical. For example, while they all fall into the category of a businesses, a florist, a REALTOR, orthodontist and marijuana entrepreneur all have very different requirements for managing and scaling a successful business in their respective markets. Today’s successful small businesses are moving away from traditional CRMs in favor of highly specialized CRM’s, tailored to the needs of one industry at a time.

As Kate Leggett, Forrester principal analyst explains in her blog, “CRM purchasing is undergoing a sea change. I see that companies are no longer [purchasing] heavyweight, end-to-end CRM solutions that have had the reputation of being complex, expensive and hard to implement—even if they have great industry specific capabilities. They tend to impede user productivity with a bloated set of capabilities that many users can’t leverage.”

Companies like Microsoft and Facebook are also catching on to the fact that it’s not just enterprise organizations that benefit from CRM. It’s great to see efficiency tools being integrated into small business operations, but the recent options are just the first step in changing the way SMBs do business.

So, what would be the best next step? The way I see it, tools for small business don’t need to check all the boxes. Part of choosing the right CRM, is choosing a company that understands your niche and has built their solution with your exact challenges in mind. When you are small, there’s no room for error, and no need for extraneous features that won’t improve your everyday tasks.

Finding the Right CRM

The goal of a good CRM is to keep the customer experience front and center while providing you granular control over the life blood of your business. Start by asking yourself the following questions when selecting a CRM for your small business:

  • Are all your customer interactions and information (Web visits, content consumed, emails, and phone calls) stored in one convenient location and accessible to everyone in your company?
  • Can you verify that all leads in the sales pipeline are being followed up on in a timely manner?
  • Are you able to initiate marketing campaigns and follow up activities along with the sales team?
  • Can you create a forecast of your pipeline without your accountant?
  • Can you view all the sales activity and results by day, week, month and year?
  • Is your sales team able to access customer information and respond to customers when they are out of the office?
  • Do you know how many customer service issues each customer had and why?
  • Can you get help setting up your CRM?
  • Is there customer support via a knowledgeable representative?
  • Are there free resources and training provided to get your team up to speed?

Horizontal solutions from today’s tech giants aren’t the only option, and often aren’t the best choice for an emerging business. CRM for small business is a tricky trade, which is why it’s taken so long for targeted solutions to come to market. It’s easy to assume that the one-size-fits-all approach is a reliable choice for your business, but if you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the following:

  • Specific focus. The way different companies interact with their customers will vary dramatically, depending on their vertical. Just like your small business, your CRM doesn’t need to tackle every challenge facing consumers today. Your business challenges are unique, and the most efficient use of your time and money will be finding a CRM that meets those needs, and nothing else.
  • Small Data Driven. Having access to tons of data sounds great, but won’t always be as valuable as you may think. When you have a niche target audiences, understanding the needs of that unique set of people is what’s valuable, even if this data set is only a fraction of what larger CRMs will offer.
  • Ease of Use.Tools with the highest adoption rates are ones that just make sense. They show you what you want, when you want it, with an intuitive design that fits with your everyday business operations. When your CRM platform is as easy to use as Facebook, that’s when it will get the most use, and make the biggest impact on your business.
  • On the Go. In many different industries, doing your job well means you’re not sitting at your desk. In real estate for instance, agents who are closing the most deals are the one’s out in the field, meeting with clients in and out of homes on the market. That’s where mobile CRM comes in. Being able to engage with clients and have access to customer data on the go are capabilities that’ll elevate small business to a level of efficiency rarely found in traditional industries.

We shouldn’t expect a CRM to be a one-size-fits-all solution for the local grocery store owner, the construction company founder, and the retail store manager. The way companies across industries interact with their customers is inherently different, but they all have a few things in common: the desire to reach a unique target audience and build long lasting customer relationships—all at a low cost and without the added roadblock of mastering highly complicated new software.
That’s why small business CRM should fit in the palm of your hand. It should provide support both at the desk and away from it, improve your everyday tasks and be as intuitive as Facebook or Twitter. Broad and all-encompassing CRM systems won’t always be the best fit, so it’s time we start thinking a bit smaller when it comes to CRM and give SMBs a fair shot at the digital transformation happening in enterprises around the globe.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from SOURCE

Office 365 doesn’t represent the number of days you need to spend working; rather, it’s a productivity and collaboration-enhancing software that helps employees work from wherever and whenever they want. By enabling employees to work, share files and collaborate with colleagues on a cloud-based platform, your company will be given a competitive advantage. Here are the four newest features added to Office 365:

Real-time collaboration in PowerPoint

Users will now be able to share a PowerPoint deck and update documents with others in real time. This means you’ll be able to see edits as your colleagues make them. Microsoft was committed to expanding real-time co-authoring of a company’s native applications, with Microsoft Word already rolling out this feature beforehand. Currently, real-time collaboration is available for PowerPoint on Windows desktops for Office 365 subscribers in the Office Insider program and for PowerPoint Mobile on Windows tablets.

Move attachments to the cloud and share with colleagues in Outlook

According to Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team, this feature allows users to transform a traditional document into a shared cloud document within Outlook. Previously, Outlook users could only attach cloud-based documents to an email, but this new feature makes it easier to send large files and to collaborate on those files with ease.

Users can upload files into their own OneDrive or a document library as part of an Office 365 group and then designate sharing permissions for the email recipients. The new feature is currently available in Outlook on the web as well as Outlook on Windows desktops for Office 365 subscribers.

Mobile notifications for changes to shared documents

With this new update, users will be notified when any cloud documents in Word, Excel and PowerPoint are being shared or edited. These notifications let you know when changes are being made, even if you are away from a particular document, so you’re always connected and know when you have to act. This feature can be integrated with the activity feed on Windows desktops, and help businesses improve user collaboration. Koenigsbauer says that Microsoft will continue working on the notification feature “to provide more detail and transparency around shared document activity in the future.” Sharing and editing notifications are available for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint users on Android and Windows Mobile for Office Insiders. This feature will be available for commercial users in all Office mobile applications in the coming months.

Find, open, and save documents in a Shared with Me and Recent Folders tab

Microsoft’s “Shared with Me” tab in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint makes it easier for enterprise users to find and open shared documents without having to leave the app you’re working in. At the moment, the Shared with Me tab is available on Windows desktops and Macs for all Office 365 subscribers, iOS and Android devices included. And soon, it will be available on Windows Mobile. And the “Recent Folders” tab — used to help quickly locate files as well — is now available in Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Windows desktops for Office 365 subscribers in the Office Insider program.

Technology has become an integral part of modern businesses, and investing in the right IT resources is needed in order to achieve success. With the latest additions to Microsoft Office 365, small- and medium-sized businesses will enjoy enhanced staff collaboration, increased corporate productivity, and an overall competitive advantage.

Are you ready to embrace the cloud with a solution like Office 365? Give us a call, and talk with us about a cloud migration today.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory SOURCE