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Archive for January, 2011

Social CRM in practical terms

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"Oh my ears and whiskers, how social it's getting!"

"Oh my ears and whiskers, how social it's getting!"

Here’s a million dollar question: What is social CRM? There is no shortage of blogs and white papers explicating this loaded sexy term, ranging form junk to brilliant to everything in between. As Jacob Morgan puts it,

…you can take any discussion around social business (such as social CRM) and see that when you start to dissect the conversations and concepts … you find yourself down a never ending rabbit hole.

If you have patience and tolerance for enterprise-speak, eventually you may be able to figure out what social CRM means to you and what you ought to do. But definitely not how to do it.

We had much time to do the research while working on our upcoming social CRM release. Paraphrasing Cicero, now we can write a shorter letter. Like Relenta itself, this post is for people who get things done, as opposed to those sitting in the corner office. So here goes.

Social customers keep you real

"2 minutes and no response? WTF @kimosabe?!!

"2 minutes and no response? WTF @kimosabe?!!

Who are social customers? Simply put, these are people who use social networks extensively to communicate, sometimes with thousands at once, and do their buying research. They are vocal, impatient and demanding — tough customers! Don’t pay real-time attention to their slightest caprice, and they will instantly let everyone and their sister know that you suck. (“Never piss off a person with a printer and mailing list,” goes the old journalist saying). The reverse is also true. If you know how to please them, the good news will spread far and wide. Make your own conclusions about what it all means to your marketing, sales, and service.

Conversations, not much else

If you take away direct messages and status updates, LinkedIn becomes not much more than a glorified résumé depository. Why? Because anyone other than the 1st degree connection is essentially useless to you. As an aside, you probably don’t even know a good portion of your 1st degree contacts, they are just collector items. Twitter would have nothing left at all.

Call them tweets or status updates or direct messages, social networks are all about good old conversations, which come in three distinct flavors:

  1. Between you and your customers about whatever
  2. Between your customers (and the world at large) about you
  3. Between your staff about your customers

Social CRM: the beef

In practical terms, all this means that relevant social network conversations have to be synced into your CRM, and associated with appropriate customers. From that point on they become simple action items, and you can do with them whatever you normally do in your CRM. Typically this would be look up the contact details and prior history, create new lead, respond using the right medium, discuss the issue internally if called for, determine the next action steps and who’s responsible.

Forget the buzzwords. That’s all there is to social CRM for starters. All of the above — and more — is precisely what you will be able to do in Relenta in the coming weeks. Watch this space for an announcement.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

January 28th, 2011 at 11:58 am

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“Dear Valued Merchant”

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As our business grows, so do our merchant account fees. Yesterday I wanted to make sure we’re paying competitive rates for our credit card processing, so I filled out a support form asking for the rate break-down and to let them know that we want to shop around. Here’s what I got in response:

Dear Valued Merchant,

Please contact our Financial Services at 1-800-XXX-XXXX ext. XXXX or you may register at www.xyz.com for your inquiry.

We sincerely appreciate your business! If you have any questions, please feel free to send us an e-mail or contact us at the number below.

Oh cool, thanks, feel free I will.

What a perfect illustration to the two related points I made last week about data fragmentation and lack of unified user experience. These two make your customers neither dear nor valued.

We sincerely appreciate your business!

No kidding.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

January 27th, 2011 at 11:42 pm

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Data fragmentation is murder

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This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post Giving unified user experience.

Full-featured data management tool

"Hey Bobby Joe, can I borrow me your customer data management tool?"

According to Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, poor user experience robs U.K. businesses of £15.3 billion (24.5 billion US) per year.

Facts:

73 per cent of U.K. consumers ended a relationship due to a poor customer experience. The average value of each lost relationship is £248 per year ($397 US).

This is a real customer chainsaw massacre. Why does it happen? Based on customer sentiment, poor customer service consists of:

  1. Having to repeat information
  2. Feeling trapped in automated self-service
  3. Being forced to wait too long for service
  4. Interacting with representatives who have no knowledge of the service history (or consumer value)
  5. Unable to easily switch between communication channels

Data fragmentation kills your customers and your business.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

January 23rd, 2011 at 4:01 am

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Giving unified user experience

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Michael Fauscette makes an excellent point about creating a unified customer experience:

Can you spell "data fragmentation"?

Can you spell "data fragmentation"?

Commerce has resurfaced as a focus (or what was called eCommerce) for many businesses as we start to create customer experiences that blur online and offline in a converged commerce experience through the use of mobile, Internet of things, Near Field Communications, social and hyper-connectivity (including ubiquitous connection to social networks).

True that. Now consider this. If at any given moment you use 10 different apps (a few email accounts and social networks, CRM, shopping cart, chat, IM, shared calendar, email marketing service — finish the list for me) you end up having your data and conversations fragmented across 10 browser windows, at least. Can you call your own user experience unified? Hardly. Then neither can your customers call theirs.

You can not give what you do not have.

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

January 22nd, 2011 at 4:20 am

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3x the good news

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The bad news first. It’s been five months since the last update on the status of Relenta development, and 14 months since the last major release. The kind of feedback we’re getting as a result comes as no surprise:

…it would be easy for another competitor to come along and overtake Relenta just by adding the features we (customers) have been asking for since August of 2009.

You mentioned months ago about seeking capital. Is that the concern? What’s the reason for the lack of communication and lack of development?

This is madness not to update the application more regularly.

I must admit, this hurts like crazy, especially given how discerning and creative you are with the new feature requests. My heartfelt “Thank you!” goes to all of you who gave your concerns and ongoing support on our user forum and to me personally.

Now let’s talk about the good news — three pieces of them, to be exact 🙂

1. Increased momentum

Despite the apparent lack of improvements, our momentum actually dramatically increased and we’re in much better competitive position than we were a year ago. Here’s why.

The main reason everyone loves Relenta is its simple all-in-one user interface (UI) that lets you get things done with a single click. However, this front-end simplicity is counter-balanced by the enormous complexity of the back-end. It’s like a Ferrari — nice lines, an easy look on the outside, but the real works are in the killer machinery under the hood.

About a year and a half ago, we realized that to keep the rapid innovation going and at the same time maintain the magic simplicity of the Relenta UI, we must completely rework our application development framework. Can’t build a skyscraper on a foundation designed for a 10-story building. Back in 2005, when we started coding, who might have possibly known what shape the business world would take?

This full rewrite of the legacy code turned out to be a colossal undertaking that made us put in more hours and work harder than we’d ever done since the birth of Relenta. Yet at the moment you can’t see any of the results because it’s all done behind the scenes.

But now it’s time to get excited. Once the back-end upgrade is finally completed — we’re 95% there — we will get on a regular and frequent release schedule of a cornucopia of all the killer-kick-ass-wow features that you are waiting for (and many of which you don’t yet know about).

2. Social CRM release

During the last few months, we were simultaneously working on adding a few very cool social CRM features to Relenta. This social CRM functionality was originally inspired by Bernard Lunn’s article on ReadWriteWeb “Email + CRM + LinkedIn + Twitter = Hustler’s Power Drill”. This release is also just around the corner. Don’t flip the channel.

3. We’re profitable

We’ve been cash-flow positive for over a year now, and growing steadily. To remain fully focused, we’re not seeking investors at this time. But as soon as we’re back on track with the regular new feature releases, we’ll consider raising a small amount of capital to accelerate our R&D.

Stay tuned. You’ll be hearing a lot more from us. Thanks again to all of you who’s running your businesses on the Relenta platform and especially to those who are pushing us forward and up. This means a lot to us. That’s why we’re here.

Written at: Koh Samui, Thailand

Written by Dmitri Eroshenko

January 16th, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Posted in uncategorized

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