Having run the gamut from telephony (when people were still debating about whether land line or cell phone was going to win the race, and many felt the land line would never die!) to enterprise systems that change or consolidate acronyms like alphabet soup, we are at an interesting crossroads with the next level of integrating business critical systems.
For most businesses today, they could not imagine life without some sort of customer relationship management (CRM) solution to manage their day, their processes. Even more so, every business needs a phone system, though the nature of those systems has changed dramatically, making “communications system” a more descriptive term.
A major requirement of business is to communicate with customers and prospects to deliver some sort of product or service that enables them to operate their business more effectively. If the phone system enables this communication and the CRM manages the process and the relationship, it follows quite easily that these two systems ought to be integrated, unified, work together to provide one seamless business process.
The great news is this integration is more feasible than ever today. With the maturity of the technologies, increased reliability of data networks, and more pervasive WiFi, businesses are increasingly adopting cloud PBX solutions to provide a combined phone and mobile app solution. Once the phone system is in the cloud, it is easy to wrap added features and functionality with it that enable the full communications system. With this unified communications (UC) solution, workers can easily collaborate with each other and prospects or customers. With a quick glance, they can identify if someone is available they need to speak with; they can click to dial, share a file or their desktop on the fly, and immediately complete an order for example, rather than routing through email, making a note to follow up later, and interrupting tomorrow’s workflow with today’s task.
Taking this one step further and integrating with the CRM provides even greater productivity gains. UC + CRM works for both inbound and outbound communications. If a customer is calling in with an issue, screen pops will show the user who is calling, previous orders, notes on the account, pending items, and other pertinent information. You know who is calling and a history of the account before answering, and therefore are better equipped to handle that call immediately. Whether your favorite customer or a challenging situation ripe with opportunity for resolution, you are more prepared with the background needed to solve the problem and delight the customer.
Perhaps your “caller” is a new prospect you would love to turn into a customer. Research shows 81-97% of purchases begin with Internet searching. With unified communications + CRM, the nature of the sales process changes completely. People communicate very differently in today’s world, particularly when researching on the Internet. A recent study showed 25% of people who could chat live on a website while doing their investigating, made 51% to 75% of their purchases from a company based on that research, contrasted with only 10% of those who could not chat live. This number is only increasing. Think of how many prospects you are missing if you are not bringing these prospects into your business process.
With UC + CRM, your online chat process is integrated directly with your CRM. As workers engage with prospects, understand their needs, answer their questions…all this information is collected. It can immediately be logged in the CRM as a new lead or customer, together with the history of the communication and become part of the leads management and sales funnel process. As your salespeople take over the process, they have a very warm lead with a lot of information about how that lead has interacted with your business, pages on your website they have visited, questions they asked, and so on, resulting in a quicker sales conversion. Directly from the CRM, your sales team can click to dial, add notes, manage the pipeline and place the order. And it all began with your communications system on your website.
And finally, let’s look at one more scenario. How often are we caught on the “wrong” communications device? Stuck on your desk phone and need to run to a meeting? On your cell phone away from your desk and need to log billable time or a call into your CRM? With UC + CRM, this situation is eliminated! With the system in the cloud, a whole new communications world is opened up. Your “phone system” is now on your computer, your deskphone, your mobile, your tablet, iOS or Android (or even a mix). It’s not just a phone anymore. Voice, chat/instant message, presence, video calling, conferencing, collaboration, document/desktop sharing are all part of your communications and enable you to meet your target audience where they are. Talking on the deskphone and have to run? Seamlessly slide that call over to your mobile and keep on talking. No need to hang up, call back, interrupt the flow. Need that call in your CRM? No problem, it’s all one system, regardless of which device you use. Prospect wants to “chat” to ask some questions? Easy. Any device, anytime, anywhere.
BAM! Social engagement you can quantify. Productivity and efficiency increases you can measure. All captured in your CRM, in ONE unified business process.
Today’s CRM systems are constantly evolving. As big players such as Salesforce and Zoho, niche players like Zendesk and Clio, and others are changing, you’ll want to be sure your phone system keeps pace. Don’t be stuck tied to an anchor PBX on a land line, take it to the cloud and enable ONE.