Innovation in Client Relationship Management, Automation #19 #cong17

By Alex Chernenko.

Photo by john foust

Do you remember how businesses were run about 10-20 years ago without smartphones, computers, tablets, Google calendars, Excel spreadsheets, automatic reminders and other modern tools?

It was mainly a paper notebook with pen and pencil and a stationary telephone. Notes were written down and then worked through. A paper diary served as a planner and reminder.

Phone systems back then were simple using analogue cables. Cool features like voicemail, automated call answering, call forwarding, call waiting, IVR came to life and became widely accessible only in recent years.

In 2017, business owners face many challenges. And at the same time, we are very lucky to have innovative technology at the tips of our hands which we can use.

One of the modern issues with technology is that it evolves so quickly that it is sometimes difficult to keep up with it. It may take significant time to adopt new tools especially when staff is resisting it.

Well, good news is that now technology became very affordable with many vendors to choose from.

I would like to share a few tips how to introduce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to those who do not currently use any or how to improve your existing system with extra features. CRM system is a dynamic database of contacts and users that helps businesses to know what to do what needs to be done and when to do it.

The "magical number 7" and working memory capacity

It is estimated that an average number of items an average person can hold in their working memory is 7. It can go up and down by 2 for some people. This is often referred to as Miller's law. George Miller used to study short term memory and wrote a few books on this subject.

The same simple principle applies to work environment. An average employee cannot physically keep in their memory more than 7 activities on average (this includes when to call a client, when to follow up, when to send an email etc.)

With a help of tasks lists, checklists, yellow sticky notes and reminders, the number of items can go a bit bigger, but it is still limited.

This type of management and self-organisation may be acceptable by some companies, usually at a very early start-up stages.

Trusting employees to manage their own tasks, organise them and ensure they get done correctly and on time is a very dangerous thing to do. Doing things manually eats a lot of valuable time. By automating routine activities, an employee can do more rewarding tasks and contribute to the company’s and personal growth.

Did you ever witness a situation where a client is asking to send them a quote after not receiving it on time or asking for an update on a service that they had paid for but never heard back. It happened to me from both sides: being someone else’s client and not getting good service, and receiving a few complaints from our own customers. After starting my own company in 2009, it took good 5 years before realising that there was an issue. That rang a bell that an action had to be done. And we did it.

Introducing a CRM system was one of the most challenging processes and at the same time – one of the best decisions we ever did.

Employees have resisted it initially and refused to use it properly or even sabotaged. Now they are saying, they can’t image working without it.

Here are some of the benefits of CRM system that our team pointed out. The same benefits can apply to your business:

Every piece of information about every client, project and communication is in one place allowing employees to cover for each other, continue working on someone else’s tasks when needed and effectively communicate with others.

IVR is one of the best ways to handle incoming phone calls. It includes automatic call routing, call answering, call recording, call forwarding, pre-selection, getting user information.

Calendars, task management, scheduling tools – allowed us to improve planning, minimise risks of forgetting important activities and prioritise tasks on a day to day.

Automatic client follow-ups and satisfaction surveys have increased TRANSLIT Net Promote Score (NSP) to 9.5 out of 10. After each project, an email is sent to a client asking how we did. Such a small thing, but so powerful.

Embracing social media and unifying them into a simple website chat. Messages from all channels are handled via internal company chat. Staff members do not require to log in to separate social media accounts. Everything is automatically imported to CRM with critical contact details. No message is missed, forgotten or left unanswered.

Chat bots – when busy talking to other customers or working on urgent projects, a chat bot can answer frequently asked questions without a client even knowing they were talking to a robot.

Motivating staff by seeing progress and little successes of their colleagues.

Internal chat and staff community network allowed to reduce usage of other tools, personal phones and brought together employees feeling connected and responsible for each other.

Automation rules for business processes helped to reduce human error and improved quality of service with control rules in place.

We haven’t stopped there. With automation background, it was not sufficient to use basic functionality. Therefore, we began automating processes and continue doing so. It is a never-ending process. Constant improvement and optimisation, breaking things down into small chunks and automating them.

If your business is not using a CRM system yet, consider it. There are even systems for a single-person starting from FREE to €30 per user per month.

If you are one of the attendees of Congregation 2017 event, you will receive tips and simple instructions how to introduce CRM system, how to customise it, how to use it to automate tasks and processed that happen outside of the CRM system.

CongRegation © Eoin Kennedy 2017 eoin at congregation dot ie