Thursday, 20 March 2014

What businesses can use a CRM?

CRM Word cloud
When I go out networking and to other businesses about what we do, when I mention CRM (Customer Relationship Management) solutions I often get asked 'Well what kind of businesses use that?' and 'Why have a CRM?'

We have many different business sectors using our ConvallisCRM product. These include sports clubs, retailers, cleaning companies, a pyrotechnic company and holiday cottages. These businesses have a varying number of employees and users of the system.

If you are just starting out in business you may think that you do not need a formalised system of recording your contacts, maybe you keep a box of business cards, a record in a notebook or a spreadsheet. Over time this will become uncontrollable and you could potentially lose some essential information. Getting a CRM system in place early on allows you to keep control of your records from the start in one central location and reduces the need to do something later on when your data may be starting to become out of control.

As your business grows you might end up taking on more staff. A CRM allows you to add additional users (you may have to pay for additional user licenses) to enable everyone in your business access to important client data. This reduces the need for multiple contact spreadsheets - sometimes duplicating data more than once - not very efficient I hope you agree.

Going back to the original question, 'What businesses can use a CRM?' personally I think any size business would find a use for a CRM to help keep accurate records and to have a central database for all their contact data, I say this as we have businesses from one single user to 50 users using our CRM.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Ensure your website looks professional.

A professionally presented business website is a powerful and essential marketing tool: it’s the first thing prospective customers will look at before they decide to contact you. If the copy on your website is not written to an acceptable standard, it may be losing you customers. It's not enough just to have amazing graphics and imagery: you need the words to make it complete. Is the spelling correct? Are punctuation marks in place? Does the copy make sense? These are questions that your website designer and you should be asking before a new site is uploaded.

One of the biggest flaws with website copy is inconsistency: for example the word website. Some sites spell it as one word, website, some as two words, web site; as far as I am aware both are acceptable, but not both versions on the same site! Personally I prefer website. In my opinion, a lack of consistency will deter a significant amount of would-be customers from using the services of a company that has not taken the trouble to proofread their website.

Poor spelling on a website is another costly but avoidable mistake.

The majority of visitors will leave the site very quickly if they find too many spelling errors. This again will give them the impression that the site owners don't really care; and they would be right! I am also convinced that copy that has been padded out with insignificant trivia is also a big turn-off for visitors clear, concise and informative is the order of the day.

Anything containing textual content should as a matter of course be proofread: it’s important that not only are mistakes in spelling, punctuation and grammar found and corrected, but that the text flows smoothly for the reader. The copy on a website should not be treated as the ‘poor relation’ of the project. You can have the most up-to-date, eye-catching graphics available but you will still need well-written copy to compliment them.

There are the odd few web design companies around that will happily inform visitors how they can supply them with a state-of-the-art website but then insert second-rate copy, which totally negates any good work they have achieved. This will reduce the initial impact of the site, and more often than not will have an adverse effect on business. Here at Convallis our customers generally provide us with content, either from themselves or a copywriter. It is difficult for us as an IT company to totally understand another business (we like to learn as much as we can about our customers and their business), but in the end it is you the business owner that knows the most about your own business.

It pays to have the copy checked professionally; it may cost a lot less than you think to have a website proofread – it could cost you considerably more if you don’t!

Remember: if visitors to your site cannot find the information they are looking for because of badly written copy they will simply leave the site. The only people to benefit will be your competitors.

Are you looking for a new website? Take a look at our website packages, a range of affordable website solutions.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Listening to your Customers

What do you do when you receive customer feedback about a product or service you supply?

Here at Convallis Software customer feedback has played an important part in the development of our ConvallisCRM product.

ConvallisCRM has been developed and improved over many years and this improvement is ongoing, quite a bit in part to feedback received from our customers. The software started out as a very simple contact management solution but over time has been developed into a far more functional customer relationship management (CRM) solution.

One example of a feature that was integrated in the software following customer feedback is the 'personal' details section.
ConvallisCRM personal infromation tab
Example of Personal information in ConvallisCRM
This feature came after talking to two clients, one runs a holiday let and wanted the medical conditions box to make notes if their clients were disabled or ill and needed and special facilities and/or access. The date of birth feature came from a club that wanted to make a report each month of their member's birthdays so that they could send them a birthday card or special offer for their birthday.

This is just one example of how listening to your customers can allow you to improve a product or service, but don't forget that as businesses we may sometimes get negative feedback. This should also be acted on appropriately and can still help to improve your business product or service.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Are you still using Windows XP?

Are you still using Windows XP as the operating system for your PC or laptop?

In September of 2007 Microsoft communicated their plans to end support for Windows XP SP3 and how that may affect your business.  Microsoft recognizes how integral Windows XP may have been in your operations and valuable to your employees, thus they have provided support for these past 12 years. The time has come for Microsoft and us to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies such that we can continue to deliver great new experiences for you as your IT environment evolves to meet the changing needs of your users in this increasingly social and mobile world. 

After April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, nor will automatic updates be sent that have helped protect your organization’s PCs (including home users). For specific details, please review Microsoft’s Windows XP end of support information here

Microsoft continues to take steps to help all users, including home users, of Windows XP understand what end of support means, when it will take place, and what steps they can take to move to a modern operating system (ie. Windows 8.1) and Windows devices. Therefore, beginning March 8th, 2014, users using Windows XP (Home and Professional editions) who elected to receive updates via Windows Update will receive an end of support notification through Windows Update.   The message will state, “Windows XP End of Support is on April 8th, 2014. Click Here to learn more.”  While the message is scheduled to recur monthly, users have the option to click “Do not show this message again.”  Enterprises that are managing their infrastructure using WSUS will not receive the notifications.

If you are still using Windows XP now is the time to consider upgrading your operating system, we use Windows 8.1 here at Convallis and can assist with your upgrade decision.

Don't leave it too late and leave your computers vulnerable plus don't forget not all modern software works with Windows XP.

Monday, 3 March 2014

What is CRM?

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. This is an integrated system of managing data which is used to schedule, plan, and control both the post-sale and the pre-sale activities engaged in by an organization. CRM’s objective is to improve long-term profits and growth of a company. Contact activity, indirect and direct sales, tasks and marketing efforts are some of the things that can be covered by CRM applications.

It is believed that CRM systems provide more accurate feedback and better-focused data concerning the aforementioned areas. Reports can be generated directly from the CRM to provided this detailed data.

The first component of CRM that was ever made available was SFA, or “sales force automation”. Automated field service, call centre activity, and SFA were all running down parallel tracks during most of the 1990s and late in that decade all of those began to merge with marketing plans to finally emerge into CRM.

So. CRM is actually not a technology and not something tangible at all. During the dot-com era, many people began to think of CRM as a technology in its own right. There are those who have implemented CRM technology just because they are technophiles or think that any new technology can in and of itself increase their business’ profits. But CRM technology is not about that. Too many businesses start using CRM technology without the slightest idea of how it is supposed to be used, or what the true CRM principles are. This is nothing other than putting the cart before the horse.

CRM is supposed to reflect your methodology of doing sales and marketing and customer service, supported by data and by the interpersonal relationship that you have with each individual customer that does business with you. CRM technology enables a front line person, a sales or marketing agent or a customer service rep, to instantly access all of the most relevant and important data about a client when that client contacts you, and use that data to give a personalized, relevant, and up-to-date response to the client. CRM technology implementation lets you have smooth transitions between stages of a client’s relationship with you both in terms of projects and in terms of the client’s own activity. At the same time, you keep very detailed and accurate notes about every contact with a client.

If you are looking to implement a CRM solution why not take a look at ConvallisCRM and take a free trial today.

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