Category: Why CRM?

Oracle CRM OnDemand – Alive and Kicking?

Oracle CRM OnDemand (CRMOD) Release 16 was my first encounter with a ready to use, complete End-to-End CRM application in a SaaS model, and its needless to say that I am biased towards this application. However, the reasons are not just personal; the application now in its 23rd release (with a roadmap to R24) has come a long way. It is a mature application and is as good as (if not better) most of the other offerings in the market.

But recent events in this space have raised doubts of the application’s life term. Many would argue that Oracle’s focus has shifted to the development and enhancement of fusion applications and Oracle CRMOD is on its way to retirement. While this is not entirely false, we still need to understand that the application is part of Oracle Sales Cloud and with its existing customer base, Oracle would find it difficult to move away from this product.

This is well substantiated by the recent enhancements and the fixes I have seen in the release 23. Oracle has delivered more than 35 enhancements with major themes being – Customer experience, Industry Innovation and Lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). While the below screenshot shows the focus areas of Release 23, the roadmap for Release 24 is equally convincing.

CRMOD Release 23 features

R23 talks about integration with Oracle Social Relationship Management for Social engagement and monitoring and concentrated effort to build up the Life Sciences industry vertical for CRMOD. However, in this article, I would focus on the three most intriguing features (as per me) of Oracle CRMOD, their functionalities and recent enhancements.

1] Business Process Automation’: From updating a field to building complex validation rules, used for automating tasks which were painfully manual or for defining rules that control the application’s usage, Business Process automation module of CRMOD is probably the single biggest component in terms of impact towards the application adoption. A well defined and well configured Business process can ensure that your application is controlled and structured.

Oracle CRMOD provides a robust framework to establish these business processes. As a systems analyst, you can create innumerable combinations of Actions based on the triggers available. Think of any action below and combine with the trigger to define your process.

CRMOD Business Process

The predefined functions in Oracle CRMOD boasts of a comprehensive list, which when stitched together with the operators offered can help you define and configure the most complex of rules and processes.

R23 enhancements – With R23, one of the key features in business process management is that the function ‘JoinFieldValue’ (function to extract field value from another object) could potentially have any record as the source and any record as the destination. The source records were previously restricted to OOB objects and Custom Object 1, 2 & 3. This meant that while designing the system, we had to take into consideration this limitation. However, now you could map your business entities without thinking of this constraint.

CRMOD Keynote

2] Personalizing your Application’: Driven by its theme of ‘Customer Experience’ this section has seen a number of enhancements in the last few releases. The application though designed/configured globally in a certain way, provides the user the ability to control:

a) What they want see in the system &

b) How they want to see it

The list below (not limited to) highlights what users can control in the system, apart from being able to modify one’s personal information:

Application Personalizing with CRMOD

R23 enhancementsDynamic layout capability is one of the most sought after features in Oracle CRMOD. A feature not yet available in recently developed applications. Prior to R23, users could only add/remove related information sections for a layout and this did not impact the dynamic layouts. But R23, takes this a step further by giving users the option to personalize the layout with individual sets of related information, each set mapping to a driving value in the pick-list.

keynote R23 enhancement of CRMOD

3] Ad-hoc Actionable Analytics’: Oracle CRMOD is powered with a light weight yet robust analytics engine. Having worked with multiple applications, I can confidently say that the reporting capability of CRMOD is more powerful than most of the competitive software available in the market. I like to use the phrase ‘Ad-hoc Actionable Analytics’ because with limited training, users with the right privileges could create meaningful reports and dashboards on the fly.

Business scenario* – “Head of a wholesale banking business unit wants to know the overdue opportunities by industry but at the same time wants to find out why the opportunities has not been closed” *- Screens shown below are for demonstrative purposes only and may not  relate to real time scenarios

Oracle CRMOD provides a 3 step solution to this requirement:

A)     1st Level Dashboard Statistics :: Identify the Area of Concern

1st Level Dashboard Statistics for CRMOD

B)      2nd Level List of items :: Get More Information

DAP detail report of CRMOD

C)      3rd Level Record view :: Take Action

Account plan detail of CRMOD

R23 enhancements – Apart from support from multiple languages in analytics and introduction of some important subject areas, Release 23 brings in a personalization of Dashboards for user roles. Administrators could previously remove pre-built dashboards, but now you can customize and sort the display of dashboards.

R23 enhancement CRMOD

Oracle CRM OnDemand, is a critical piece in the Oracle Cloud applications suite. It may not be the Primary Focus and preference but it is not going to retire anytime soon. As per me, Oracle has every reason to continue its enhancements and support for the next two years at least, which is quite a long time in any application’s life. Oracle CRMOD is here to stay and is very much ‘Alive and kicking’!!

Pratik Bajaj
Principal Business Consultant – CRM & CX.
CRMIT Solutions

 

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Why a business needs CRM

In today’s marketplace, having a product or service to sell isn’t enough, being a step ahead of competitors ‘now’ wouldn’t hold good for long and companies are finding it difficult to differentiate themselves.

Apart from achieving acceptable organizational efficiencies, today the key to business success is in forging long-term relationships with customers. These are times for customer centric business environments in which customers can demand & receive what they want.

What is new?

The concepts of CRM have existed since buying and selling came into being. Then, what is this current buzz about CRM?

In recent times, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is looked at as a business strategy not just a software or technology or process used to operate business. A good CRM strategy helps organizations transform customer relationships and achieve extraordinary business value.

The idea at the centre of CRM can be stated in the following way: Every time a company and a customer interact, the company learns something about the customer. By capturing, sharing, analyzing and acting upon this information, companies can improve sales, plan productive interactions across teams and with customers, improve customer loyalty and manage individual customer profitability.

Though good it sounds, it is not easy to achieve, as CRM requires businesses to adopt a customer-centric business philosophy facilitated by right leadership and a culture to support the processes. Many businesses just fail to get all these pieces together. Moreover, creating and executing a CRM strategy is difficult as it typically involves numerous components and moving parts.

A Gartner research document describes, “A unified CRM strategy is absolutely critical to CRM success, but developing and implementing such a strategy is a complex, difficult and intensely political process.”

Selecting right CRM Technology

A right CRM technology is an enabler, vital to a successful implementation of CRM strategies and for achieving efficiencies that help companies reap larger gains.

Traditionally CRM was employed to lower the costs and increase profitability, and customers have benefited by receiving custom offers, product recommendations, timely resolutions to their complaints and other rewards of data sharing. But there have also been notable downsides with traditional CRM as it turns people into data and relationships into rules of engagement.

Though the fundamental requirements for CRM technology have been constant e.g. Customer Centre providing 360 degree view of customers, sales process automation, measuring qualitative and quantitative returns of a campaign & facilitate a quick turnaround on customer cases etc., Customer relationships aren’t just built on information.

According to Laura McLellan, a research vice president at Gartner (IT), CRM technology spending in the next five years will be directed more by chief marketing officers than chief information officers : a remarkable prediction?

Customer centric business environments are looking for CRM systems that integrate social media to continuously engage the customers and build trust.

CRM software stalwarts are listening and rapidly acquiring start-ups that enable businesses to manage the increasing number and variety of social media platforms better.

In May, Oracle (ORCL) bought Vitrue to help it publish and manage social media campaigns, and the company just announced the acquisition of Collective Intellect to help it monitor social chatter. Salesforce.com (CRM) purchased social media performance and sentiment tracking company Radian6 last year and now acquiring Buddy Media, a competitor to Vitrue .

Today, businesses require CRM as never before. A good mix of strategy, leadership and culture and a constant focus on business objectives would make CRM initiatives successful.

As “Customers don’t want to be just acquired and managed, but listened to and helped” there is an important emerging transition in the ways companies are evaluating and selecting CRM technology. And there is Social Media taking traditional CRM to next level by giving voice to customers.

C. A. Mohammed,

Senior CRM Consultant, CRMIT

Guest Post : AmEXperience

There are three organizations I can happily write books on: American Express, Nordstrom and Apple. Amex first.

I started using American Express (Amex) credit card in 2002 and since then, their services have always made my experience better. But there are few instances that are worth sharing.

Episode 1: I purchased an Apple mouse with Amex for $69. The mouse had a warranty period of 1 year and it worked absolutely fine for an year-and-a-half, but after some time, it stopped working. So, I decided that I will pick up a new one. While billing, the person on the counter asked me whether I had already purchased an Apple mouse with Amex. As, I told him that I purchased my first Apple mouse around one and a half year back using American Express card, the person asked me to call Amex’s customer service.

I was confused thinking that how would Amex help me with this, but still went ahead and called them. To my surprise, Amex heard that my mouse died within an year after the manufacturer’s warranty died. Amex said “Sorry for the trouble” (huh?) and paid $69 for my new Apple mouse. Why did Amex pay? Amex adds to the manufacturer’s warranty period by 1 year and that actually enhanced my experience with them. This encouraged me to start using American Express for every single purchase.

Episode 2: Circa 2008, I went on a trip to the United States and purchased a computer for $1200.00. On the total price, there was 1% cash back, which I was supposed to receive, but by that time I had returned back to India. Amex found out my address inIndia and mailed me a $12.00 cheque, which I still have. Momento, I think.

Episode 3: Of all, this is what I savor. I wanted to purchase a motoscooter from a dealer in India; I was told that there would be a 2% transaction fee on MRP (Maximum Retail Price), which seemed dissatisfactory to me. So, I called Amex. A couple of weeks later, I received a phone call from the same dealer. At the top of his voice, he called names at me for complaining about his business practice to Amex. Apparently, it ain’t exactly legal to charge x% on MRP and Amex is stringent; it had initiated action against the dealer. (x% on negotiated price is common, but that couldn’t be charged on MRP.)

Though I had to weigh if the called ‘names’ were appropriate, Amex springing in on my behalf gives me immense pleasure. Isn’t that what every customer is looking for, with the organization that provides him service?

Gokul

A commoner. ‘A fool’, my parents say; ‘a simpleton’, my wife says. Proud father of two wonderful kids, humble husband of one super woman. I tell stories for a living at Effect Works, while my extended family thinks that am on twitter 24×7. Write to me on twitter (@rgokul), easy to catch me there.

Market Segmentation & Mass Emailing

In the last few months, I observe that Email Newsletters from Indian Brands are improving a lot, in terms of design / look and feel / quality of content etc.,

However, these mails are not targeted right / smart. Most of them (even the biggest brands) still treat this as a pure, high power Mass Emailing system, with zero brains. They want to mail couple of million people, and hope that even a slim hit rate will give them huge business returns.

This may be true, but the fact is, they don’t seem to understand / appreciate what they are missing. Mass Emailing is much more powerful when combined with smart market segmentation.

For example, let us say I need a rare book on history, which is out of print. The only way I can read it is, by borrowing it from a library or an individual.

Approach 1:

I have 250 people in my Personal EMail Contacts List, one of them may have this book, Why not send a mail to all those and ask? It doesn’t hurt, and doesn’t cost a dime.

Approach 2:

Out of these 250 people, only 20 people are interested in reading history books. Let me send a mail to only those 20 people

As far as I am concerned, Approach 2 is much harder than Approach 1, because I need to manually hand pick those who are history buffs. But when I do that, I am writing only 20 mails instead of 250, and, my chances of success are much higher.

But does it really matter? Emails cost $0. Why invest that extra time in hand picking 20 people out of 250? Just blast a mail to everyone and see if someone responds.

This is exactly what many brands are doing, even today. Let me illustrate a good example from my own personal experience.

Recently, my bank started sending “Net Banking Basics” kind of educational newsletters. They have wonderful graphics and text to each ABCs of Net banking to customers. Nice initiative.

But guess what, they send this newsletter to all their customers. Including those (like me) who are using Net banking for the last 10+ years.

For me, these mails are frustrating / silly. Why waste my time with “How to login to your net banking” kind of Emails, when I am doing it almost everyday? Worst part, My bank knows I am a regular Net Banking user and still sends me these mails as if they are issuing bit notices on the street, Carelessness? No Value for your customer’s time? Big mistakes!

This is the problem with wrong targeting (or “No Targeting” in this case). Unlike my personal “Rare Book Search”, this “Net Banking Basics” mails should only be going to New Customers, or those who rarely / never use Net Banking. For all others, they are a waste of time.

Not only that, most of the Mass Emailing solutions charge you money, based on the number of Emails you send. From that perspective, Every single mail that my bank sends to me on “Net Banking Basics” is a waste of time, resources AND money.

Instead, what should they be doing? My suggestion is this:

  • Design 2 newsletters : “ABCs of Net Banking” and “How to do more from your Net Banking?”
  • Create 2 Segments of your customers : Newbies to Net Banking, Advanced Users of Net Banking (How? You have the net banking login particulars, USE IT!)
  • Target Newsletter #1 to Segment 1 and Newsletter #2 to Segment 2

Sounds too simple? Even Silly? Believe me, many brands are not doing even this simple segmentation and are happily sending Mass Emails, which bring a negative customer experience.

Zero Segmentation / Brainless Mass Emailing is not only a bad strategy, it can even create bigger problems. Here is another example, again from my Bank’s Newsletters.

One of their recent Newsletters had this Subject line “Use Net Banking and Get a Travel Bag Free”.

Wow, Free gift, I opened the EMail immediately and learnt that all I need to do is Login to my Net Banking account, Request for a statement and that’s it, I get a Travel Bag.

But wait, there is a fine print, This is only applicable for first time users of Net Banking.

Oops, Tough luck. Bye Bye Travel Bag.

Now, what goes through my mind?

  • Why send me an offer for which I don’t qualify (Bad Or Zero Segmentation, We already discussed it)
  • You are giving a free travel bag to a newbie logging in to Net Banking for the first time, But no gift to me, who is a regular user of Net Banking, Unfair!

Of course, I understand the motivation behind my bank giving away this gift to attract more and more Net Banking customers, but the point is, they shouldn’t have told this to Regular Net Banking users, which leaves a bad taste in their mouth.

Again, the culprit is Zero Segmentation. If only the bank sent that “Free Travel Bag” offer mail to only those customers who never used Net Banking, I will never know about that offer / feel bad about missing a freebie.

OKay, we covered Bad Segmentation / Zero Segmentation, there is a third category, its called “Unfit Segmentation”.

Few days back, I got a newsletter from a super market. It was in Kannada, a regional language spoken in the state where I live (Karnataka, India).

I really liked the idea of sending marketing newsletters in regional languages, I don’t remember any other brand doing it.

But, the problem is, My super market never asked me whether I could read Kannada. Thousands of people living in Karnataka, can’t read the local language. All those will get zero value from this newsletter.

So, What went wrong? My guess is this:

  • The store has decided to segment customers based on the state they live
  • They designed a newsletter in each state’s regional language and sent it across
  • For example, if you live in Karnataka, you get a Kannada newsletter, If you live  in Tamilnadu, you get a Tamil newsletter and so on (Nice!)

When compared to my Bank, this is Smart Segmentation. They haven’t mass mailed something to everyone, proper segmentation is done and each segment got relevant content.

But the problem is, they totally missed the fact that I may be a Tamilian who is living in Karnataka. In that case, this rule will send me a Kannada Newsletter, which I can’t read / use / buy.

So, the segmentation strategy adopted by this supermarket is Good, But unfit for their requirement (Newsletters in more than one language). They should have gone for something like this:

  • When people register in your super market, ask them “Preferred language of communication”
  • Create your segments based on this information and send newsletter accordingly
  • Means, irrespective of where I live, if I prefer “Tamil” as my language of communication, I will get the newsletter in Tamil

To summarize:

  • Zero Segmentation is bad, and creates a negative customer experience
  • Depending on your marketing requirements, choose your “customer information” on which segments will be based on. Wrong Segment / Unfit Segment is as bad as Zero Segmentation

Naga Chokkanathan,

Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published In : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/market-segmentation-mass-emailing/

CEM : Customer Experience Management

Yesterday I had a casual lunch conversation with one of my colleagues and the topic of “Online Purchases” came up. He quoted a particular website and said “Their website is good, but the way they run their buses, it is horrible to say the least!”

I was surprised, because to my knowledge that website doesn’t run any buses. They just allow you to book tickets from various bus service providers and that’s it.

Personally, I have used this website many times, I know they don’t run any buses and hence I only book tickets from bus services which are highly rated by fellow users. As a result, I never had a bad experience. I would gladly recommend their website to anyone.

But my colleague, had a totally different view on this. He said he will never book tickets from them anymore.

So, I decided to probe further and asked him about the ‘bad experience’ he had with this website. His response was ‘Their buses start late, arrive late, they are dirty, Air conditioning is poor…’

‘But wait, these are the problems of Bus Service Provider, The website where you booked the ticket can’t be held responsible for these operational issues. They just act as agents and allow you to book a ticket at the comfort of your home, that’s it.’

‘I don’t care. For me they sold the ticket, and they are responsible for my travel experience. Isn’t it?’

Now, you can’t argue with this logic!

Few days back, I had a similar experience when we tried to buy a washing machine for home. We went to a super market, looked at various models, and were debating on which one is best for our needs. My wife had some additional questions about few of those models, and asked the sales person.

Unfortunately, that person was not able to answer any question my wife asked. It was clear that he didn’t understand anything about washing, forget machines. He is simply paid to stand there and tell people what models are available and how much they cost.

My wife got really upset about this. ‘Let us go to some other store’, she decided abruptly.

‘But why?’

‘These guys don’t know anything about the products they sell!’

I tried to explain her how retail industry works. ‘This super market deals with hundreds of brands, thousands of products, it is practically impossible for them to know technicalities of all those goods they sell.’

Her response was almost same as my colleague’s, ‘I don’t care. I buy from this shop, and they should give convincing answers to all my questions, Else, I am not buying from them!’

So, Consumers are not ready (or don’t want) to understand the gap between Sales and Delivery / Usage Experience. It is for companies to manage. They don’t care if you sell somebody Else’s product, they want the entire process to be smooth and you are responsible for it, end to end!

When you look at the way most companies are organized, there is a Research division which looks at various customer needs and imagines products. Then we have a production division which makes these products, we have Sales / Marketing divisions which take care of the selling process and Support division to take care of customer issues. Each one of these divisions have their own problems / solutions and boundaries.

Not anymore. A sales guy can’t say “My CRM ends when an opportunity is converted to an order”, a Service guy can’t say “No Purchase, No Support”, Whether we like it or not, we need to do everything possible to make sure that EVERY touch point a customer has with us, are giving them the best possible experience.

For example, someone coming to your website, visiting your twitter page / facebook wall, buying your product in a small store, calling the telesupport number to report an issue, talking to their friends about how your product functions … all these touch points (and more) are important, and as a company you need to make sure all these experiences are great. This is not optional anymore, one bad experience in any of these touch points can drive tons of business away from you.

Customer Experience Management, that’s where the future lies. CRM is not enough, it’s going to be CEM Era now!

Naga Chokkanathan,

Senior Director, CRMIT

Originally Published In : http://nagachokkanathan.wordpress.com/2012/05/03/why-not-manage-experiences/

Social CRM For Service Teams

One common source where people are sharing content online more than ever is certainly the social networking environment. This is the largest source of direct, honest and outspoken opinions and community assistance. While this real time social media thing is global, uncontrollable and dynamic that lets your prospects and customers talk about you online, it is definitely serving like a helping aid to Service Teams, as well.

While customers talk about issues that you may not be even aware of, using right tools you can actually uncover the posts that talk about various issues, problems or may be grievances about company products and services. This can facilitate you in enhancing your customer support and service.

Social CRM provides you an opportunity to automatically convert these customer posts into service requests into the existing support application for a better follow up and track.

Now, what kind of social media posts for customer support routine can assist you? It may be a complaint, suggestion, any positive feedback or may be an additional service or product offering.

Once you identify the kind of post that can help you further in the matter, social CRM can convert it into a service request and route it through the existing workflows. Most of the organizations answer these posts as first come, first served manner, but you can choose to answer these according to your high value customers or may be high rated products. But whatever you choose, that should be based on business needs and not social media dynamics.

With the scoring mechanisms of social CRM, efficient and timely segmentation of actionable posts becomes easy. So, while managing service requests and taking proficient actions accordingly, you can also enjoy various other benefits of social CRM like platform flexibility, greater influence over conversation, better accommodating complexity of customer relationships and achieving deeper customer engagement.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT

Sports and CRM

Sports & CRM Applications : This Works Great

Don’t feel surprised if an organization suddenly seems much more familiar with your tastes and preferences.

Yes, this is actually grabbing attention these days. Recently, a well-known professional baseball team from Boston deployed a Sports CRM app. It rolled out the application in luxury sales only, which resulted in 20% more conversions and the senior operations analysts believe that it will increase much further this year now that they have become more familiar with the system.

Features in the Sports CRM applications incorporate usual range of functionality, which can be oriented as per the needs of a sports team. It not only provides customer service in a single system but also allows users to track and manage different information including finance and sales.

For instance, the team can now easily access the inventory management module like premium seating and event venues. With the help of better customer data and predictive analysis, developing promotional material and marketing programs has become very easy for them and they can effectively target specific customer groups as per their gaming and seating preferences.

Prior to deployment of the CRM system, the team was dependent on its own home-grown databases that included excel files, but post deployment, the system gave them a better view of what could be booked when certain seats were available. But the best part is in terms of customer knowledge that allowed the team to know about the preferences of the customers. CRM systems not only make it easy to manage your customer data, but you can also maximize the amount of data that can be put in the CRM system to make it comfortable for your customers, as well.

Charu Mehta

CRM Consultant, CRMIT