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Messy CRM hurts start-ups

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Manually keeping track of customer details is messy, inaccurate and difficult to share with fellow employees. SANDRA SWANEPOEL, Vice President, Mid-Market Africa & Middle East at Sage, gives some advice on when to invest in CRM.

As a startup, you may have had a ‘little black book’ where you noted the names of your most important customers and their key details, like what sort of products / services they usually buy from you and the last interaction you had with them.

As your business began to grow, you may have started to capture you client’s contact details and other account information on spreadsheets to track them.

Manually keeping track of your customers – who they are, what they buy, and when last a company rep from your company spoke to them – makes it difficult for people in your business to share information across the team.

You also can’t be sure that everyone is keeping customer records up-to-date or that everyone has access to a uniform set of information. Or you might have a situation where your sales and service team keep a lot of customer information in their heads rather than recorded in an electronic database.

This is where customer relationship management (CRM) can help – it is a must-have tool for any business with a growing customer base in a market where your customer experience is what sets you apart from the competition.

What is CRM, actually?

CRM is software that you can use track your customer relationships over their lifecycle. It provides you with a single, central place to store your customer data as well as the tools to analyse your relationships with each customer.

You get CRM software designed for businesses of all sizes and specific industries. Some of the basic features you will find in a good solution include the following:

  • Customer data: the ability to manage basic customer details such contact details.
  • Contact management: the ability to track and plan interactions with customers, such as a site visit by a sales rep or a routine maintenance call from your service team.
  • Marketing: tools to segment your customer base and manage and automate multichannel marketing campaigns across social media, mail, email and the telephone.
  • Sales: lead generation and tracking, quotation management, territory management, and other features to empower the salesforce and track their performance.
  • Service: functionality to manage service interactions such as helpdesk support, service tickets, service level agreements and service planning.
  • Analytics and reports: these help you to analyse customer behaviour and profitability, the sales funnel, salesforce performance, sales opportunities, and so on, so that you can maximise profitability and customer satisfaction.

When to consider investing in CRM

Many Small & Medium Businesses think of CRM software as a complex product that only large companies require. However, as customers become more demanding across all industries, businesses of all sizes can benefit from using CRM to offer slicker, more automated experience to their customers.

Some signs that your business might benefit from CRM include the following:

  • Your marketing, sales and service teams don’t have access to a single, up-to-date repository of customer information.
  • You can’t get a clear view of your sales pipeline without asking each salesperson what they’re working on.
  • You’re not able to track the leads you generate and how your team is following up on them.
  • Your sales team keep important account information in their heads or stored locally on their computers.
  • You are not sure about the day-to-day service issues your important customers have encountered in recent weeks.
  • Your sales and marketing teams are spending too much time capturing information and not enough time selling.
  • Your salespeople can’t access and capture customer information while they’re in the road—they need to phone someone or come into the office.

CRM is a great investment in your business

Customers are the lifeblood of any successful business. Nurturing customers and providing them with an excellent customer experience will improve your retention rate and drive growth. This starts with having the right information at your fingertips to understand what relationship your company has with them as well as how it can respond to their changing needs and desires.

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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