July 31, 2012
As the old saying goes “Change is the only constant”. This is especially the case with Health Plan Carriers these days. The Affordable Care Act aims to provide consumers with more choices when it comes to how they buy health insurance. As a result, there could be a significant shift from small and mid-size companies towards discontinuing group health insurance in favor of letting employees buy their own health insurance on one of the state exchanges. Instantly the health plan carriers are faced with a number of challenges to accommodate this large wave of new individual plan prospects. How will we capitalize on the former Group members who are now “warm” prospects for an Individual plan? How will we maintain our brand and drive business through the exchange? And finally, how will we measure our success?
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is a great starting point. Dynamics CRM is an enterprise-class CRM solution that can manage both Group and Individual health plan environments. If you have both Group and Individual customers in a single CRM system then you are a step ahead of many carriers because, if deployed correctly, you should quickly be able to identify your warmest opportunities for those individuals who are leaving group plans and shopping for individual plans. For example, let’s assume that ACME company is a current Group plan customer with 75 employees. If tomorrow ACME decides to move away from the Group health insurance offering in favor of having their employees buy their own insurance on the exchange then you likely have 75 prospective individual customers who are about to begin shopping. It is probably reasonable to assume that most of these 75 new shoppers have never had to buy their own insurance and feel somewhat uncomfortable in the process. But if their former Health Plan Provider were to contact them and let them know that they can stay with their current carrier by just switching to this new individual product maybe this discomfort goes away, or certainly lessens. Consumers like familiarity and they very much dislike having to repeat their story over and over again. Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps carriers maintain the knowledge of their current members and prospective members to ensure that they are doing everything they need to do to maintain the customer, whether on an individual or group plan.
CRM Dashboard: Leads by Source & New Member Count
July 20, 2012
We often hear from business executives about their concerns with duplicate systems and duplicate data sets. We also hear the desire to create or improve “a grand all-encompassing data warehouse” so executives can better understand customer trends as well as all sorts of business informatics. Mostly, there is a desire for one easy to use consolidated database – the one single database of truth for all customers, contacts, and related information AND accessible across all devices - phone, tablet, laptop.
- Understand why data consolidation is important
- Recognize reasons why data silos occur
- Catalog all the data sets
- Form a strategic plan on how CRM will be leveraged
STEP 1 - Understand Why Data Consolidation is Important
The first step is to understand the value of good customer data. Many executives would already agree that consolidating customer data is critical in business today but there are some that are hesitant to invest in the endeavor or they are unsure where to start. There are many valuable advantages to data consolidation, but in a nut shell, businesses are more effective, more competitive, and have greater insight when they can see one shared customer record that has a deep 360 degree view. This view could include all customer activities, purchases, visits to your website and where they went, accounting information from the ERP, real time data from data aggregators, customer complaints and their resolutions, and yes, the customer’s correct email. That is at the record level. Good data then rolls up for quality analytics. Reporting on your key performance indicators and customer buying trends and even predictive buying just got a whole lot easier now that everything is in one place. Keep in mind, in your current state, you probably have most of this data already, but it is just spread out in too many duplicate databases and Excel files to be usable.
The next step is to try to stop data silo creation. There is usually a central system in place but then users remove the data they want to an Excel file and continue to update that Excel file outside the central system. Why? Why are users compelled to create Access databases and Excel files? There can be many reasons but usually it is because the central system is hard to use and it is just easier using Excel or their own Outlook. So how do you stop users from creating their own data sets? Improve the user interface is one way and that is where Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help. Although Microsoft CRM uses a powerful Microsoft SQL Server database to handle Big Data, it is the user Interface of Microsoft CRM that will often help reduce data silo creation. Microsoft CRM has the potential to be designed putting the user first – meaning the interface is clean and purpose driven. It also helps that Microsoft Dynamics CRM can be accessed from within the very tools that frequently drive silo creation to begin with – in this case Excel and Outlook. All of CRM can be accessed from Outlook and there is one click in CRM to bring data to Excel.
STEP 3 - Identify and Catalog all the Data Sets
Next, start to identify all your data. Data you have and even the data you don’t have. Catalog all the In-house data like main central systems, the many rogue Access databases and Excel files, as well as website databases and SharePoint Lists and so on. Just focus on the data that is being managed and updated away from a central database. Think also about the data you may not have now but could get from an online subscription to a data aggregator such as InsideView to sync real time business and social data or Trillium to validate and clean your data for total data quality.
The last and most important step is to form a long term strategy plan. This is where some companies may need assistance. Without going into too much detail, the plan should attempt to include what data will be migrated and what will be integrated.
· Migration: With data migration, this is the data that will be completely moved permanently to live in CRM. These aren’t just the rogue Excel files; this could potentially be retiring some completely separate business applications – meaning move the data along with the functionality and business process to CRM using the innovative xRM approach to duplicate functionality where logical.
· Integration: What data then gets integrated in and out of CRM? Is the integration one way (asynchronous) or two way (synchronous)? What are the outside data sources and services that will be utilized? What data integration tools such as Scribe may be needed?
The strategic plan may also include new reporting needs, how data will be displayed across devices, and what users get to access and not access based on their security. As you can see, having a well thought out plan divided into logical phases will provide the long term blue print and framework for continued data success.
If you understand the value of one consolidated database and you know why users make data silos and you have cataloged all your data sets and then formed and documented a well thought out plan that leverages Microsoft Dynamics CRM, well then, you should be on your way to improved data consolidation.
July 19, 2012
Top of the Wave; Microsoft Dynamics CRM Ranked as a Leader in Three Different 2012 Forrester CRM Reports
Forrester recently published its three 2012 CRM Waves: The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites For Large Organizations, Q3 2012, The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites For Midsize Organizations, Q3 2012 and The Forrester Wave: CRM Suites for Customer Service Solutions, Q3 2012 and Microsoft is ranked a Leader in all three. The reports notes that “Microsoft Dynamics CRM shines with strong usability and compelling value.” The highlights from the different reports are below.
This vendor ranking was focused on organizations with 1,000 employees or more. The highlights:
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been growing quickly as a result of the “power or choice”, which means customers can choose deployment options (on-premises, online, or hosted), and user interface options (Outlook, browser, mobile).
- The report notes that Microsoft Dynamics CRM appeals to organizations that have a commitment to other Microsoft products. These customers generally feel this creates a lower total cost of ownership. “Buyers also like Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s lower price and its quick time-to-value compared with traditional CRM applications.” Conversely, Salesforce.com buyers are beginning to question economics of their subscription model, especially for large numbers of users.
Focused on CRM suites marketed to organizations with between 250 and 999 employees. These CRM packages often have more-limited capabilities in specific areas and are focused on simplicity.
- Microsoft offers strong support for mobile CRM compared to other CRM vendors.
- “Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers strong marketing, business intelligence, and customer data management capabilities as well as a strong architecture and platform”.
- The report notes that this solution does not generally offer industry-specific solutions. These solutions are generally developed and managed by partners like Customer Effective. Microsoft’s ecosystem allow partners like us to focus directly in vertical areas such as financial services.
This report focuses on CRM vendors that offer multifunctional application suites, have strong presence in the customer service market and provide functionality that spans multiple functional areas for customer service. Highlights from the report:
- Key trends in customer service are empowered agents, engaged customers across channels, and rapidly changing customer technology landscape.
- The report gives Microsoft Dynamics CRM high marks for flexibility and value. “The primary buyers of
Microsoft Dynamics CRM are upper midmarket and enterprise customers that require easy-to-
use, flexible customer service solutions that yield productivity gains for their customer service organizations”.
- Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers strong support for native business process management (through MSCRM processes, workflows and dialogs), and provides strong support for agents and collaboration. Knowledge base, customer service analytics and data management also received high marks.
July 18, 2012
Most forward-thinking firms devote extreme time, energy, and focus to executing their CRM strategic initiatives, defining and re-engineering their business processes, and setting up and customizing their chosen CRM software platform. Though customers and stakeholders are the lifeblood of any organization, some firms are still struggling to embrace investing in or switching to a proven, top-tier CRM system, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Often, firms may have had a previous bad experience in implementing another type of software system and therefore may be hesitant to create the budget for a new technology offering.
July 17, 2012
When leading firms justify or promote their investment in CRM, they often cite how their CRM software platform and firmwide client-focus strategic initiative help them achieve significant gains in revenue, efficiency, and client satisfaction. These naturally are incredible benefits and they definitely result in a dramatic competitive advantage compared to rival peers who are lagging and not adopting and leveraging CRM. In particular, revenue-related metrics such as average deal size, sales per customer, products per customer, and sales per rep or territory are usually mentioned. An understated benefit of CRM, though, is how the system can actually reduce a firm’s costs related to the sales engagement process. So today, I wanted to explore how Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a leading-edge CRM solution with high-powered marketing, sales, and service functionality, can help reduce client acquisition costs and cost of sales.
July 13, 2012
Customer Effective Honored as Microsoft’s East Region CRM Partner of the Year for a Third Consecutive Year
Customer Effective announces their selection as the 2012 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner of the Year for the East Region. This marks the third consecutive year Customer Effective has received this distinction.
The award is based on a number of criteria including delivery of innovative market‐leading customer solutions built on Microsoft technologies and achievement of high levels of customer satisfaction.
“We’re really excited to receive this recognition from Microsoft’s East Region for a third year in a row.” says Scott Millwood, President. “We keep helping our customers achieve success with Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft continues to recognize our high level of execution and performance. That is the essence of a great partnership. As good as last year was, this year is looking even brighter. We look forward to our continued partnership with Microsoft and working with our clients to drive productivity.”
The Awards were presented during Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference on Thursday, July 12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada.
July 12, 2012
The 2012 version of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is wrapping-up in Toronto today. Below are some numbers collected during the sessions that speak not only to the sheer size of the Microsoft user base, but to the momentum of emerging technologies and a new emphasis on design.
1,300,000,000: Number of Windows users on the planet.
1,000,000,000 : Number of Office users worldwide.
630,000,000: Number of Windows 7 licenses sold to date, making it the best selling OS in Microsoft history.
357,000,000: Projected number of new Windows PCs to be sold in the next 12 months.
250,000,000: Number of Skype users every month. They average 100 minutes per month using the product.
80,000,000: Current users of Microsoft’s online business products, including Dynamics CRM and Office 365
55,000: Microsoft partners selling cloud products in a given month.
497: Security vulnerabilities that Secunia discovered from Oracle in this report. Apple had 360, Google had 324. Microsoft was best in class with just 231.
82: Inches across of Perceptive Pixels large-scale, unlimited multi-touch device (right). Microsoft announced that they would be acquiring Perceptive Pixel. The move is consistent with their recent move into hardware manufacturing.
80: Percent of small and medium-sized businesses buying cloud services that are new to Microsoft. “It’s a massive opportunity for us to engage and reach out to new customers,” said Vahe Torossian, Microsoft’s corporate VP of SMS
44: Number of Microsoft retail stores by mid-2013.
30-40: Percent growth of Microsoft Dynamics CRM on a per annum basis.
15: Years. As in the anniversary of Windows XP on April 8, 2014. “And then we are going to put it to sleep. May it rest in peace,” Kevin Turner.
12: Number of times Yammer was mentioned in the opening keynote.
12: Months. As in “Every product in our portfolio is being refreshed in a 12 month period.” Kevin Turner.
3.04: Multiple that Steve Ballmer has increased annual revenue since taking over 12 years ago. Revenue in 2000 was $23 billion; $70 billion in 2011. Not bad for a ‘lost decade’.
4: Recent Microsoft “successes'” as recounted by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. They were Xbox, Surface, Kinect and Windows Phone. While the Microsoft world was focused on the WPC in Toronto this week, the Woz took some time this week at a technology conference in Chile to praise Microsoft for their recent innovations (right). “They have such a strikingly good visual appearance, which is a lot of what Steve Jobs always looked for; the art in technology, the convergence of art and technology. And usually it was visual appearance of things. So I made a joke that Steve Jobs came back reincarnated at Microsoft.”
1: US-based Microsoft CRM Partners that were named finalist for Microsoft Dynamics Financial Services Industry Partner of the Year. (It was Customer Effective, FYI).
July 11, 2012
Customer Effective is proud to announce their selection as a finalist for the 2012 Microsoft Dynamics Financial Services Partner of the Year award. This award recognizes Customer Effective for delivering consistent, high-quality; predictable Microsoft Dynamics CRM services which help ensure significant business benefits for Financial Services organizations. Customer Effective has also demonstrated strong business leadership and success with new customer additions and revenue growth.
“We are very pleased with Microsoft’s recognition of our success in delivering CRM solutions to the unique and demanding requirements of financial services companies,” said Scott Millwood, President of Customer Effective. “I’m really proud of everyone in our company for the hard work they have put into building our customer base and for building superb solutions in complex financial services vertical markets over the past nine years. It’s great for the team to see their hard work result in this prestigious award. I’m equally pleased with Microsoft’s continued guidance and support in helping us grow to become the recognized leader in financial services.”
Awards will be presented in a number of categories, with winners and finalists chosen from a pool of almost 3,000 entrants worldwide. The Microsoft Dynamics Financial Services Partner of the Year Award honors partners who have exhibited excellence in providing innovative and unique solutions based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
July 10, 2012
In this series, we’re covering email marketing strategy across several dimensions, including Acquisition, Welcome Email, Performance Indicators, Engagement Programs, Program Logic, Cross-Sell and Up-Sell, Re-Engagement, and Email Marketing Platforms.
Click http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2012/06/email-marketing-101-first-in-a-series.html to read #1 in the series, http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2012/06/best-foot-forward-compelling-content-in-the-welcome-message-second-in-a-series.html for #2, and http://blog.CustomerEffective.com/blog/2012/07/email-marketing-202-critical-email-marketing-performance-indicators-third-in-a-series.html for #3.
Now let’s turn our attention to content strategies for new prospects and customers in your email marketing database. We’ll focus on delivering what we think a prospect or customer in the early stages of the marketing and sales process needs or wants to know about the firm’s products and services in a way that’s ‘anticipated, personal, and relevant’ (H/T to Seth Godin, author of Permission Marketing).
In the first article of this series, we introduced a set of key customer relationship questions to explore in the context of email marketing. Here they are again. How do we
...Catch a prospect's attention with compelling content?
...Engage to convert a prospect into a customer?
...Give them multiple reasons to grow their business with us?
...Deliver outstanding value and foster customer loyalty?
...Re-engage and reactivate high-potential former customers?
...Rescue customer relationships on shaky ground?
Emphasis is added on the first two questions in this early educational phase. This is the best time to get to know to the prospect who recently signed up for your e-newsletter. Think of this first outreach as a dialogue between you and your prospect. You should ask a few questions about needs and expectations and adjust your follow-up communications to address those needs and foster a customer-centric relationship.
Wait too long to engage and you’ll find that the person who signed up a few weeks ago doesn’t remember you and marks your message as spam.
Too many companies miss this opportunity to dig deeper to find out what resonates.
Here are the elements of an effective invitation for a prospect to give you some insight on how to proceed.
1.Introduction – Remind the prospect on how we got here. Something to this effect: ‘Thanks for signing up to hear from us. We’re happy to have the opportunity to serve you.’
2.Ask for permission – ‘We’d like to learn more about you. Will you take a few minutes to share a few details?’
3.Something on your website, social network presence, or tradeshow resonated with your new contact, and if you have some data available to personalize the content (‘you might be interested in our recently announced merger with another highly regarded leader in financial services’) this is an opportunity to do so.
4.Tell them what’s going to be asked – ‘Follow this link for a quick questionnaire to help us customize the range of services we’ll offer. We’ll only use this information to personalize the communications you receive from us.’
5.Finally, link to the quick questionnaire page. Your Email Service Provider (ESP) probably offers link tracking, but be sure to also leverage the target site’s source tracking capabilities to calculate an accurate count of the number of ‘conversions’ from this email effort to the questionnaire page. This is an important step in calculating your email marketing ROI in part five of this series.
Now that you have a few pieces of data to work with, it’s time to plan the curriculum that will give your prospect a personalized introduction to your products and services. If this is the first time you have planned a customer education campaign, here are a few pointers.
1. Introduce the program as a series.
2. Provide an outline of the personalized content the customer should expect to see.
3. In every effort, give the prospect an opportunity to contact your firm to receive personal attention by email, call, or click-to-call from a web browser if your site supports it.
4. Use subject lines that clearly anchor the message in the series. For example, ‘Part 2 of 7: Portfolio Investing – Consider These Options’ makes it clear that this message isn’t a one-off, but part of a framework that’s been created based on the questionnaire responses.
5. Respect the inbox. One-to-two personalized messages per week is appropriate if the curriculum is relatively compact and will branch off or end after a fixed number of sends.
Next time, we’ll cover program logic using decision trees and an eye toward measuring program and campaign ROI.
July 09, 2012
Harte-Hanks Trillium Software and Customer Effective Announce Partnership at Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference
Trillium Software®, a business of Harte-Hanks®, Inc. (NYSE:HHS) and a leading provider of Total Data Quality™ solutions, and Customer Effective, a leading national Microsoft CRM consulting firm, announced today at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, an alliance to help Microsoft Dynamics CRM customers improve the value and quality of their global customer data, whether using on-premises or cloud deployment models. Trillium Software and Customer Effective will work together to implement CRM initiatives that feature tight integration of the Trillium Software System® with Microsoft Dynamics CRM for better, fit-for-business-purpose data quality.
"The collaboration between Customer Effective and Trillium Software is a perfect example of how Microsoft partners provide deep value to our Microsoft Dynamics CRM clients; our clients will benefit greatly from improved data quality in their CRM implementations as a result of this partnership," said Jamie Tozzi, general Manager of US Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft. "We depend on our exceptional partner community to ensure that companies obtain the most benefit from their Microsoft Dynamics CRM initiatives; this alliance between Customer Effective and Trillium Software is particularly beneficial to today's data-driven business processes where accuracy, completeness and integrity of your data is a must.”
Read the full Press Release at http://www.customereffective.com/news-and-events/news
July 06, 2012
During the 2012 AHIP Institute, Customer Effective: Health Plans team members sat down for a discussion about Business Process Automation. Tap Haley of Customer Effective spoke about how Microsoft Dynamics CRM has helped Customer Effective's Health Insurance clients improve their business. He was joined by Francis Dion of Xpertdoc who offered information about document automation and compliance with SBC mandate.
Fore more information or to get in touch with our Health Insurance specialists, contact Customer Effective today by visiting our website or give us a call : 877-252-2170
Customer Effective Inc. announces their appointment to the prestigious 2012 Inner Circle for Microsoft Dynamics. The elite Inner Circle group includes only the most strategic Microsoft Dynamics partners from across the globe whose sales achievements rank them in the highest echelon of the Microsoft Dynamics global network of partners. Members of the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle have performed to a high standard of excellence by delivering valuable customer solutions that help organizations achieve increased success. This marks Customer Effective’s fifth Inner Circle.
Recognition of the Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle came during the annual Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) being held this week in Toronto. As Microsoft’s premier partner event, WPC provides the partner community with the opportunity to learn about Microsoft’s road map for the upcoming year, establish connections, share best practices, experience the latest product innovations and learn new skills.
“We've had another very good year,” said Scott Millwood, President of Customer Effective. “Not only was it a great year for our partnership with Microsoft and our customers but for us as a company. Being named to The Inner Circle again is a huge honor. Our entire team is grateful for the recognition and excited for what’s to come in 2013.”
In this series, we’re covering email marketing strategy across several dimensions: Acquisition, Welcome Email, Performance Indicators, Engagement Programs, Program Logic, Cross-Sell and Up-Sell, Re-Engagement, and Email Marketing Platforms.
Click http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2012/06/email-marketing-101-first-in-a-series.html to read #1 in the series, http://blog.customereffective.com/blog/2012/06/best-foot-forward-compelling-content-in-the-welcome-message-second-in-a-series.html for #2.
Now that your team has decided to leverage email marketing to grow your database, it’s time to start thinking about how to measure prospect and client engagement. We’ll take a look at four performance indicator buckets: Deliverability, Conversion, Engagement, and Content Performance.
Let’s consider a database of 10,000 customer email addresses with opt-in permission. If we’re working with a relatively clean list, we expect to be able to confirm delivery for all but 1-2%. Here’s an example:
Deliverability Metrics – Did the message arrive?
Delivered – The total number of emails successfully delivered to your recipients.
Hard Bounces – The total number of messages returned to the sender – these addresses are permanently undeliverable. Causes include invalid addresses (domain name doesn't exist, typos, changed address, etc.) or the email recipient's mail server has blocked the sending server.
Soft Bounces – This is a count of the messages that arrive at the recipient’s mail server with a recognized email address, but is not delivered due to a full mailbox, a too-busy or downed server, or the message is too large. After an email has soft bounced 3 times most ESPs convert these failed attempts to a hard bounce and remove the email address from your list. Servers can interpret bounces differently—a soft bounce on one server may be reported as a hard bounce on another.
Complaints – Was your message reported as unsolicited/spam?
Conversion – Was the subject line compelling?
Engagement – Did the email body deliver what the subject line promised?
These are the six metrics that cover your campaign performance at a high level, but if you are using a web analytics tool, take it one step further and investigate the top five clickstreams from email-sourced visits to follow what the customer thinks is most compelling on your site.
The same is true when you want to analyze content performance within the email. Our goal is to understand which links are the most compelling. Analyze individual links systematically by investigating your:
1.Top left section – Links directed to your home page, or better yet, a page on your site tailored to email-sourced visitors;
2.Content body – News, how-tos, articles, whitepapers, customer stories;
3.Offer – URL with a specific call-to-action;
4.Share-to-Social – Engagement on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook, Google+, etc;
5.Then, verify the counts in your web analytics tool.
Analyzing and Reducing Hard Bounces
1.Test – Send delivery tests to your own accounts. Sign up for several web-based email clients to gauge delivery and find out whether your message is arriving in the inbox.
2.Delivery Rates by Domain – Monitor bounces and opens by domain (hotmail, yahoo, gmail, etc.). If some are lower than others, or you experience a sudden change, your messages may be getting caught by spam filters.
3.Double Opt-In – New email addresses should receive a subscriber validation email containing a link that is required to be clicked in order to be added to the list.
4.Subscriber List Hygiene – Most Email Service Providers (ESPs) will automatically remove invalid email addresses as they are uploaded to your list from an Excel workbook or a delimited text file source, but new subscribers signing up on your site may enter an invalid address. Check your lists for incorrectly formatted addresses (i.e., missing ‘@’ or ‘.’ around the domain name) and other typos.
Hopefully you are more comfortable with email marketing KPIs after reading this. We’ll keep these metrics in mind when we cover engagement and curriculum programs in the next post in this series.
July 02, 2012
Customer Effective: Retail Banking Releases Video, “A Day in the Life of a Branch Manager using CRM 2011"
Customer Effective: Banking was built specifically to address the unique challenges of both retail and commercial banks. A unified view of all customers and account activities enables all staff with the same access to information and customer insight. Connected systems with centralized data store allow banks to collect information at every interaction point.
Check out our latest video: "A Day in the Life of a Branch Manager using CRM 2011" which highlights our Micrsoft Dynamics CRM for Retail Banking solution.
Also, please visit http://www.customereffective.com for more information about us, or send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our Microsoft CRM for Banking solutions.