CRM Best Practices
May 13, 2013
The first tip I wanted to share, is the “cd()” command. This allows you to change your scope of the console. I wish I would have found this years ago! It may seem trivial, but when coding with IFRAMES it’s always frustrating to prepend your code with “frames.” all of the time.
Why? Oh, because you forgot you’re in the wrong scope. You could always hit [up], [home], and then prepend the line with “frames” – which is what I have always done in the past.
This is fine for a couple one liners but when you’re using Developer Tools to test/write various functions, it’s rather tedious. Instead, you can change the scope of the console by using the “cd(frames)” command.
Logging to the Console
I’ve seen a lot of developers riddle their code with alert boxes to track down issues. While this is a fine approach, I find writing to the console to be more effective. There are times when the alert command makes more sense, but let’s delve into the console for a moment.
With writing to the console, you have four different message types: “log”, “info”, “warn”, and “error”. Here’s how they appear on the console:
I like to sprinkle these into my code during development. They offer sanity checks and are great when you are debugging. Most of the time, these statements aren’t pushed to production; however, if they accidentally do make it into UAT or PROD – these commands are much safer than alert messages nagging users unnecessarily.
When do alert messages make sense?
Alert messages are useful for making sure the user is told something. I try to use alert messages sparingly since when given too many users generally ignore all of the alert messages.
Profiling – Making your Code Faster
First, have you ever wanted to quantify the execution of your code within CRM? Well the profiler allows you to do this. Let’s say hypothetically you want to disable all of the fields on the form. There are several ways of doing this:
But which function would be the fastest? When comparing functions that provide the same results, it’s best to call the function more than once. So let’s call each function 100 times to quantify the speed of each call.
Additionally, let’s use this function to re-establish the form as fully enabled to make sure everything is consistent.
Here’s an example of testing the various functions 100 times each:
After executing our code, switch to the Profiler tab. Choose the speed test example and change your view to the “Call tree”. Now we can see the cumulative time of each function.
A one second difference between our fastest and slowest function at 100 times equates to an average savings of about 10 milliseconds when only ran once. Not really drastic, but hopefully this shows you how granular you can get.
Generally you won’t need to call each function 100 times. In this scenario, we were trying to save as many milliseconds as possible and comparing extremely similar functions. Typically you’d use the profiler for speeding up a slow form. By adding the profiling you can identify which functions are the culprit of any inefficiencies. Additionally, you can see if functions are inexplicably called more often than they are supposed to.
May 08, 2013
Health Plan providers are working hard, not only to change the products they offer but the way they go to market. Because of Healthcare Reform, they will now have increased exposure to an entirely new market of consumers that previously didn’t exist. What is going to motivate and retain customers? Products? Price? Wellness Benefits? Coverage of Pre-Existing Conditions? Disease Management Programs?
I am often asked as we are beginning a project, “What are some of the most common pitfalls in implementing CRM?” Or, “What do people typically underestimate in a large CRM deployment?” A number of possible answers may come to mind, but in my experience, the effort to cleanse and connect to enterprise data wins every time. Everyone has bad data. It’s the dirty little secret of enterprise systems. The one that IT guys are embarrassed to explain to upper management. Systems store data in different ways, laid out in deferent architectures. Some are legacy systems that have been around for years. Some for 20 or more years. Others are more current architectures, maybe with web services interfaces. But the underlying problem is the same in each. People key data with the constraints placed on them by the user interfaces and systems they interact with. And when people interact with systems, data is not clean.
April 17, 2013
Time and time again, firms voice the desire to deploy CRM to attain a more unified and 360-degree view of their clients and prospects, to collaborate and deliver more consistent service levels, and ultimately improve financial and business performance. Without real-time access to centralized, holistic, and accurate customer data in a leading CRM platform, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, industry laggards have little chance of ascending the ranks and transforming themselves into an upper echelon firm. The true value of CRM does extend beyond comprehensive data capture and accessibility, though. While not as often cited, CRM’s ability to track and report on employee performance is a huge benefit and strategic driver for leveraging CRM data.
April 15, 2013
Along with a Starbucks, it is pretty much guaranteed that there are multiple bank branches on every corner in the metropolitan areas across the country. Depending on what part of the U.S. you’re in, the bank brands will differ, but it’s nearly impossible to not run into them in central business districts. A Wall Street Journal article from earlier this month focuses on this topic and points out that the number of bank branches in the U.S. has actually doubled over the past thirty years. Expanding beyond downtowns and affluent areas, banks have done a good job of strategically targeting the next high growth area in their community footprints. The WSJ notes that banks also expanded into poor areas as they received encouragement to do so from the government due to the passed legislation of the Community Reinvestment Act in the 1970s. Such significant growth of the bank branch network has resulted in the banking sector experiencing a decline in new branches merely three times over the past 77 years according to the FDIC. Today’s environment is a different story, however, as the industry is in the midst of a monumental transition to less branches being built and operated.
April 11, 2013
Customer Relationship Management is a concept that has been around for over a decade. And the irony is it all boils down to common sense. It is all about building, nurturing and harnessing relationships. Take this simple concept. Say you lost touch with a good friend that you grew up with and randomly run into them at a coffee shop. What does that conversation sound like? Maybe initially a little awkward because you feel guilty that you have not made the effort to keep in touch. It
will probably start out with generic small talk and overall pleasantries such as, Where do you live? Do you have a family? What do you do?
You may leave that encounter and revisit the conversation in your head. You think to yourself, “Wow, we used to be the best of friends and now I barely know what is going on in their life”. It feels uncomfortable and distant so you make a commitment to stay in better touch. You pick up the phone and schedule lunch with them. Before you know it, you are telling stories, reminiscing and laughing about old times. You instantly realize everything you have in common and why you were drawn into a relationship to begin with.
How is the above situation different from any real world business scenario? Companies are made up of people, just like you and I. They have likes, dislikes, interests, hobbies, children, spouses, friends and
family. People don’t leave those things at the door when they go to work. People usually display their personal lives within their professional world by decorating their offices with photographs and mementos. After all, we spend more time at work than any where else so why not surround yourself with the things that make you happy and inspire you.
When engaging a new client, you are also interacting with a person. Initial conversations may seem high-level and artificial until you begin to establish common ground. Of course the primary objective is to ensure the company goals and strategies are aligned but the real payoff is connecting with the individual. However, this requires investment. You need to build a rapport but more importantly trust and credibility. This type of relationship is not built over night but rather by displaying consistent, genuine interest over time. You know that famous saying “It’s easier to keep a customer than to go out and find a new one?” Well the reality is people do business with people and more importantly with people they know and trust.
This may sound overly simple. If I make an effort to be observant, comment on a couple of photos on their office wall, my job becomes easy. It is much deeper than that. The real key to mastering the skill of building and maintaining relationships is being genuine. Be interested, listen, care
but most importantly be authentic. Noone likes a phony!
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is a tool to harness all of that knowledge around companies, people and the relationships you have with them. Your sales team may have a very strong relationship with your client but what about the rest of your organization? Relationship Management is a core competency
you want to spread throughout your organizational culture. The call center representative should provide the same level of personalized service as the VP of Sales. Clients should expect to receive a consistent experience no matter who they encounter.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows the ability to capture each and every customer interaction. This information is invaluable. It allows the company to be proactive vs. reactive. It allows them to be more targeted with segmentation by measuring Marketing activities. As a relationship evolves with clients the focus typically shifts to providing increased thought leadership. This includes inviting them to participate in the conversation with other experts through various channels (webinars, trade shows and conferences). Who attends which event provides additional insight for your organization to understand what relevant content and messaging is valuable and resonating in the marketplace.
Knowledge is power. Use the data from your CRM system to differentiate your business, to stay current and relevant. Most importantly remember this is an on-going investment so stay engaged, interested and top of mind. This will ensure your clients never question why they began doing
business with you in the first place.
March 29, 2013
Gartner recently revealed that CRM has emerged as the number one priority for application software spending in 2013 and 2014. Besides CRM, ERP and office productivity tools rounded out the top three. The fact that CRM has vaulted past ERP and is projected to drive IT enterprise investments in upcoming years makes sense for many reasons:
February 19, 2013
After another strong start to the year, Customer Effective’s financial services practice is experiencing exponential growth. Throughout the nation, leading national, regional, and community financial institutions are leveraging Customer Effective: Banking, the premier bank-focused Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution available in the marketplace today, to transform their banking cultures into more of a client-centric operating model and improve productivity and performance. Overall, Customer Effective: Banking empowers Executive Management, Market Presidents, Branch Managers, Bankers, and support staff by providing the following functionality:
- Comprehensive views of consumer and business client and prospect relationships due to available integration with a multitude of Bank data systems.
- Real-time performance results at the Bank, Territory, Market, Branch, and individual Account Officer level.
- Loan and deposit opportunity pipeline management.
- Targeted marketing campaign creation and profitability success charting.
- External lead source ratings and employee generated referral outcome tracking.
February 18, 2013
Four feet 8.5 inches. Not exactly a number that rolls off the tongue but a significant one none the less. It represents the distance between two railroad tracks on modern railways across the USA. The story goes that its width was handed down from the original makers of trams that were pulled by horses around England. It’s only real significance was that when a buggy was pulled down the tracks, the rails needed to be far enough apart that the team of two horses that was charged with this task could do so without catching a hoof on one of the tracks. To determine the optimal distance, the inventor of the tram lined up the two largest horses, measure the distance between there outer hooves and voila… four feet eight and half inches! Today, The US railroad industry includes about 560 railroads with combined annual revenue of about $60 billion and over a quarter million miles of track and, dare I say, all because of the largest horse’s rear end the inventor could find!
Now you might be asking what this has to do with your implementation of Dynamics CRM. There is an important lesson to be learned about what we can do when looking to change how effective or efficient our organization can become if we are able to change what we do by looking at why we do what we do currently without the constraints of “this is the way we have always done it”. In the world of railroads, changing the width of track could have huge benefits. Perhaps we could employ smaller locomotives as modern technology has been able to create machines that are far more powerful than their predecessors at a reduced size, smaller gauge would mean less metal required and iron is certainly not cheap. Tunnels and bridges could be built with less material as could the ties used to bind the tracks together. Of course doing so would be very expensive so changing the size is not feasible but fortunately, the “tracks” that many businesses run on are far less extensive and expensive to replace.
I have been in a number of requirements gathering meetings where the list of systems and processes for how a business is currently run is listed and discussed and it is ubiquitous how few people know the real “why” behind the “what” that they do. Often they have processes to create records in a database solely to generate a report that is no longer read or data is captured that is no longer relevant.
Our job as consultants is to take a long look at how a business currently runs and to not only replicate that process in a new technology, but to refine it to let that new technology drive the business in ways that have yet to been discovered. We come in to see things “outside of the box” and add perspective as well as to help implement a software product. I like to think that a consultant is striving to leave a company with a better knowledge of the clients business than many of the people that work there!
This endeavor is most successful when client works hand in hand in this effort to really look at not only how to replicate what they have now but also to enhance it in ways that were not possible in the past. Keep the following in mind as you decide who
to partner with be it implementing CRM or any other enterprise wide software. Are you being asked the “why” behind the “what”? Is the process getting the same amount of emphasis as the product? Are you being challenged to defend the status
Let any implementation, and especially your CRM implementation be your opportunity to check the gauge of your tracks. Make sure that the decisions made in the past are still valid in today. Allow every assumption to be questioned and take a deep look to make sure you are not investing in a software system that merely duplicates what you do today without examining how it can be improved.
February 15, 2013
Many people know the story behind the Post-It Note. In short, a chemist at 3M inadvertently invented a low tack adhesive in his quest to create a super strong adhesive. After five years of trying to promote his adhesive within 3M, a colleague thought it might be perfect for holding his bookmark in his hymnal. Fast forward to today and we see that this little idea, temporarily sticking a piece of paper to another object, has turned into one of the most prevalent office supplies in business today. This use of a product beyond its initial intention drives so many of the products we see today and can also be found in an implementation of Dynamics CRM.
By far, the greatest initial pull to implement CRM revolves around the efficient tracking of both the sales cycle and the marketing of products to customers. In that space, it can bring both of those facets of a business into focus and can truly drive both increased sales and market penetration. But wait, what if we took a lesson from the Post-It note and applied it to our CRM system?
I was talking to a client one day about the arduous task they had of onboarding new employees. Many hours were spent with all of the required paperwork, office assignment and the numerous other tasks it took to just get someone in a position to actually do work.
Onboarding employees involves many different departments and people.
- IT/IS will be involved in procuring the appropriate technology and services
- Facilities has to find a place for them to sit
- HR has responsibility for seeing that corporate expectations are set (where to park, what to wear, etc.) and shat benefit elections are defined
- Training will want to make sure they are proficient in the technologies or products of the company
- Finance needs to have all of the required tax and deposit information
- Legal may need NDAs or non-compete documents
And likely others have to have some input before the new employee can “get down to business”.
Not only are there a lot of tasks that need to be performed but many are order-dependent. After all,it doesn’t do much good to have a computer and monitor waiting for a new employee if he has yet to be assigned a place to sit!
Dynamics CRM excels at streamlining just his kind of process. With its extensive list of activities, the ability to customize them or create your own, and a workflow engine that can manage the appropriate distribution and timing of the required events, onboarding should be able to be managed like a well- oiled machine. The tasks could be started prior to the new hires first day with an email sent to IT to get their computer ordered and ready. Facilities would be contacted to procure the work space.
HR and legal would be alerted to have the required documents prepared and ready to go and so on. After each step is completed, the system would be updated and the HR person could log into CRM and see exactly where the person was in the onboarding process. After the new hire started, training would be assigned they could update their status as they progress through the program. This would not only show where they are, but also better prepare the next department for their part. You could even have CRM create appointments on the calendar of the supervisor for their quarterly or bi-annual reviews.
The process would provide consistency and metrics to determine what could be changed to increase efficiency and to measure the effectiveness of the efforts put into this all too important function inherent in all organizations. The options are limitless when you really start to look at it!
There are other “unintended uses” of the investment you have made in Dynamics CRM and this is but a taste of what’s out there when you put aside the “CRM is for sales and marketing” mentality and really grasp the power that you have to transform how your business operates.
They sky really is the limit.
February 07, 2013
Identify Untapped Opportunities, Hidden Risks, and Shady Characters with Customer Effective: Banking
As the leading innovator in CRM solutions for financial institutions, Customer Effective offers the Customer Effective: Banking CRM platform, which is built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and caters to the distinct industry needs of Retail, Commercial, and Community Banks. While many banks focused mainly on account transactions in the past, industry leaders are now adopting more of a client-centric strategy with the help of CRM. Specifically, the Customer Effective: Banking CRM solution provides enterprise-wide access to client interaction history, unique preferences, family members, net worth, demographic data, and real-time performance dashboards, such as the Pipeline Opportunity sample below.
January 22, 2013
We had an challenge at a client that I wanted to share so that this challenge, which could have been difficult to resolve, does not happen during a future rollout. The client spent a substantial amount of time creating scripts that would automatically install and configure the Outlook client on user’s machines. Since most users in their domain do not have sufficient rights to do the installation, this was found to be the most secure and consistent way to roll out the software. After significant testing, the processed was ironed out and the rollout was begun.
For the most part, things went as planned but on a couple dozen new computers, the installation would appear to go fine but when the user tried to Go Offline with the Outlook client, an error would appear as it tried to set up the offline database.
The short answer to how this was resolved is that we had to uninstall the Add-In, uninstall SQL Server Express and reinstall both products. The issue arose because when the SQL Server Express Addition was originally installed, the computer had one name (i.e. ComputerA) and then after the installation, was renamed (i.e. WorkstationA). It would be enough to say that it is critical that after the installation of the Add-In with offline mode enabled, the computer name cannot be changed without causing connectivity issues but I thought it important to give you the “Why” behind the “What”.
A little bit about SQL Server
SQL server, regardless of which edition, is always installed into 1 or more instances. If you choose the default installation, a Default Instance (unnamed) will be created that can be found by simply using the computer name in the connection string. You can also choose to install multiple named instances so that from one SQL server computer you can have multiple instances of SQL server, each with its own security and operating parameters. This is roughly synonymous to having multiple organization in an installation of Dynamics CRM.
When an instance of SQL server is installed, there is an entry in the sys.servers table. This is one of a number of tables that are used for the internal workings of MS SQL Server and in this case contains metadata about the instances that are a part of this server. If we create a SQL server computer called SQL1 and then two named instances called instance1 and instance2, the sys.servers table will contain records relating to SQL1\Instance1 and SQL1\Instance2.
These values are used when a client tries to connect to the named instances as a lookup for the internal connection parameters needed to access data in the given instance. If I change the name of the computer from SQL1 to SQL2, then when a client subsequently access this table to get to Instance1, the path of the server will still be SQL1\Instance1 in this metadata and the client will not be able to connect to the database.
Back to the Dynamics CRM Add-In
The offline mode of the CRM Add-In creates an instance called CRM in SQL Server Express that is installed when the Add-In is originally installed. This instance is entered in the sys.servers table as [machine-name-at-the-time-of-install]\CRM. As pointed out above, this data would no longer be accurate if we were to change the name of the computer.
Microsoft has published a work around for fixing this metadata for a full SQL server install and it could be implemented in the Express edition though changing this offline database is not supported. I have included the link here but think the best course of action is the following.
- Make it clear that after installing the Add-In, any changes to the naming of the computer will have adverse effects.
- If a computer is renamed, the Add-In and SQL Express Edition should be removed and reinstalled under the new computer name.
If you must, you can connect up to the MSCRM_MSDE.mdf file (Location in windows 7: Drive: \users\<Username>\local\Microsoft\MSCRM\data\) using a data connection in Visual Studio and enter the queries discussed in the link but I would only do this if there was data in the offline files that had to be synced back to CRM (i.e. the client went into offline mode, changed the computer name, and is now unable to sync those changes back to CRM) and I would make sure I had a current back-up of CRM.
December 21, 2012
I’ve always been a big fan of the out-of-the-box data import tools with CRM 2011. I’ve occasionally gotten the question on how to have the lookup resolve against custom fields or fields other than the name of the record. For example, in my recent blog on importing marketing list members, there was a need to use a client unique identifier that was part of the contact record. This unique identifier distinguished the various “Joe Smiths” by having a unique number associated with them (i.e. Joe Smith ID #12345, Joe Smith ID # 97531, etc.) from an upstream system. There was a need to import these Joe Smiths into the marketing list not by the name (which is the default lookup) but instead by the Client ID. As a matter of fact, the source file for the import didn’t even contain the contact name, only the number. If it did though, and I tried to import the records in this case, I would get errors to the effect of the duplicate reference could not be resolved.
I’m fast-tracking through this example to cut to the chase here. I’m at the point where I have a file containing a Client ID and Marketing List and am at the point of import. (Among a couple of different options to get to this point, you can look for the Import Data icon in the ribbon from a view).
In order to change the lookup reference follow the screen shot below:
1. Click Contact
2. Click the lookup icon
3. Select Client ID
4. Deselect Full Name.
5. Click OK.
6. Follow the wizard on through.
Provided your Client ID is unique, you should have a much higher success rate of importing records.
If you have any questions about this subject or how we might help you with your CRM needs, please don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com.
December 12, 2012
Clients reveal key information during every interaction with your company. Thus, it is crucial that firms accurately, consistently, and efficiently collect, store, and internally share this data. Ultimately, the objective is to develop a single and integrated 360-degree view of all client activity in such a way that this rich data is centrally located and available to all levels of the organization, regardless of the channel. Implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM and improving your business processes to be more streamlined, transparent, and easier to execute for all employees is the best way to achieve the holy grail of the comprehensive 360-degree view. Having one updated and universal client, prospect, or partner profile helps firms better relate to their customers and stakeholders on a deeper, personal level. The keen insights derived from the 360-degree view allow marketing, sales, and service teams to have a more solid understanding of their clients’ desires and preferences. Therefore, employees across various departments find it much easier to provide a differentiated, first-class level of service and improve client satisfaction. Plus, this newfound collaborative knowledge empowers staff to identify more cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Since they can more effectively target and offer more appropriate and value-added products and services with enterprise CRM, firms can significantly reduce marketing costs and not only identify more profitable clients, but also acquire them in shorter time. In the end, the 360-degree client view in CRM gives users quality data they can confidently act on to connect or reconnect with customers and better serve them to maximize lifetime client value.
December 11, 2012
As companies look to grow market share or enter new markets, they often hire new staff. Many times, though, the addition of more personnel does not always lead to more work getting done overall, less workload for others, enhanced client service, or better territory coverage. The reason for these unanticipated, unintended, and unfortunate consequences is that firms’ technology infrastructure or lack thereof is impeding employee productivity and progress as the organization grows. In particular, companies without a leading-edge CRM system in place experience significant challenges when onboarding new employees. After all, learning a new role and a new organizational hierarchy and culture can be hard enough in itself. Complicating matters, a new hire without CRM is going to struggle to get up to speed quickly, regardless if she was brought on due to a new role or division being created, a firm experiencing enormous growth, or a department undergoing high turnover.
December 10, 2012
Banks are always looking to expand and improve their client base. Personal Bankers, Financial Consultants, Business Bankers, and Loan Officers are always in search of high net worth individuals and business owners while Private Bankers covet ultra-high net worth families. Without a clear picture of a client’s total assets and liabilities, Banks will find it difficult to adequately serve and grow relationships with their customers.
Though Banks may employ Relationship Managers to quarterback the relationship with their clients, there may be a time when a client interacts with the Bank on their own. For instance, imagine the case of a client with a multi-million dollar net worth who happens to own numerous businesses and have multiple deposit and loan accounts opened with a Bank. One Saturday, he decides to respond to an offer he received on a travel rewards credit card because he knows he will be traveling a lot in the near future. So the client calls in to apply for the card. Much to his chagrin, however, the client is rejected for the card due to having too low of a credit score. Oops! As a result, the client becomes livid, yells at the call rep, leaves a wicked voicemail for his Banker, and closes half of his deposit accounts and pays off all of his loans on the following Monday. Ouch! It turns out his credit score had indeed declined years ago as he used some leverage to grow a few of his companies. Recently, though, his credit has improved and he does after all have multi-million dollar deposit and loan holdings with the Bank. The probably here, nevertheless, is that the credit card call center rep did not know the extent of his other existing relationships with the Bank. If the rep had access to such information, which can be easily be brought in from multiple core banking systems into Microsoft Dynamics CRM and viewed by all Bank employees as seen in the example below, this crisis could have been averted.
December 07, 2012
With the recent re-election of President Obama, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is now on much firmer footing. As its regulatory reform continues to be drafted and disseminated and new agencies are created and staffed, the scope of Dodd-Frank continues to evolve. Its overall impact to financial firms of all sizes will not be known for many years. In particular, processes in the areas of data collection, data storage, data management, and reporting will come under intense scrutiny. Organizations that plan on adopting a “wait and see” approach will be at a severe disadvantage and caught off guard. On the other hand, the more flexible and agile financial institutions with a centralized CRM system that integrates with portfolio management, performance reporting, trade order management, data warehouses, and other business intelligence applications will be better positioned and able to react more quickly to Dodd-Frank’s changing rules and regulations. For instance, earlier this Fall, one of our financial clients at the annual Customer Effective CRM Customer Conference shared how his compliance department feels that Microsoft Dynamics CRM is essential for his firm to survive audits because it improves their recordkeeping accuracy and data flow.
December 05, 2012
Without a doubt, the investment banking sector is faced with higher fixed costs, lowered ROE expectations, scarce funding, and declining demand. A tighter and more invasive regulatory environment and tougher capital requirements are definitely casting a shadow on the industry. Complicating matters is that rogue or random spreadsheets and data silos still abound and firms too often find themselves to be data rich and information poor. As a result, many middle-market and bulge bracket investment banks still run the risk of having their M&A advisory, capital markets, and restructuring practices falling behind to the competition. On the other hand, the investment banks that are able to successfully press ahead in such a challenging landscape are the ones that are committed to improving their operational efficiencies and their level of client service. These two imperatives really go hand in hand. At the heart of the matter is optimizing cross-departmental communication and collaboration on critical deal valuations, company financials, due diligence follow-up, capital raising efforts, and client onboarding tasks, regardless of the geographic location of deal team members. Thus, it is essential that investment bankers can see their peers’ completed and scheduled appointments and calls with clients, potential investors, deal influencers, and strategic partners to avoid possible duplication.
December 03, 2012
Today, we live in an era where trust in Banks is extremely low. The majority of Banks were not the main offenders during the financial meltdown of 2008. As a result of a few bad apples, though, the whole Banking industry has suffered. More stringent regulations have arrived and the end of new rules is nowhere in sight. Heading into 2013, leading Retail, Commercial, and Community Banks with fortress balance sheets, innovative and broad product lines, and welcoming, client-centric staff are still adapting and trying to restore their brand image. Due to so many prestigious financial institutions getting their reputations tarnished, droves of consumers and businesses are re-evaluating their relationships with their Banks. Along those lines, when one thinks of the primary reasons that customers decide to leave their Bank, the following probably immediately come to mind:
- excessive fees on deposit accounts
- too high interest rates on loans
- poor quality of advice
- limited product offerings lacking sophistication and depth
- inconvenient branch or ATM locations
- bad reputation in the public eye
According to Capgemini, though, it turns out that the number one reason consumers switch Banks is due to the low quality of service they receive as seen below.
Source: 2011 Retail Banking Voice of the Customer Survey, Capgemini
Evidently, client service in the Banking arena trumps all. High-quality service combined with recurring positive Banking experiences across the plethora of channels available leads to higher client retention. Moreover, exceeding heightened client expectations and consistently delivering great service better positions Banks to rebuild or solidify the trust of their clientele and expand relationships with top-tier clients.
As Banks continue to navigate challenging economic and regulatory conditions and demanding clients, Customer Effective, the three-time defending Microsoft Dynamics CRM East Region Partner of the Year, is here to help. Our Customer Effective: Banking Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution, which is customized to the unique needs of Banks and Credit Unions, will be showcased prior to the Christmas holidays. We will be hosting a webinar at 2pm Eastern Time on December 20th entitled “How Customer Effective: Banking helps Banks Identify, Retain, and Delight Today's Changing Customer.”
Click here to register and join us to learn more!
Automated workflows in CRM are the core of an investment advisor’s service model. Throughout the years, workflows embedded in the Customer Effective: FinServ solution built on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform have helped many wealth management firms develop enduring and scalable practices. Whether it is streamlining and automating processes, such as onboarding new clients, opening new accounts, rebalancing allocations, executing ACAT transfers, scheduling and conducting portfolio review meetings, or raising cash for distribution requests, CRM workflows are certainly an enabler of productivity and growth for financial advisors. Overall, the Customer Effective: FinServ CRM system serves as the hub of the advisory practice, and its pre-built wealth management industry-focused custom workflows enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness. Advisory sales and service teams experience the following benefits without having to hire additional staff:
November 28, 2012
Competitive intelligence is usually cited as a primary concern for CEOs, but many companies still struggle with the concept. Often, competitor tracking is difficult because the current method of doing so is decentralized and inefficient. The actual reasons a client relationship is won or lost is not always known. It is usually easier to know why a deal is won as opposed to why it is lost. Even if these won/lost reasons are known by the main point of contact, they typically are not shared with others or referenced for future use. Sales and service personnel may assert that they just don’t have a certain system dedicated to capturing this type of competitor and won/lost analysis. Some may contend that the information is already noted in a separate system and they just do not feel like sharing it again. Others may claim that it just takes too long to notate these reasons.
November 15, 2012
Often there is a need to create a complex Process (workflow) and then shortly thereafter, recreate it with slightly different parameters. Dynamics CRM does not come with a "Save as" mechanism for workflows like it does for advanced finds and Views so it would seem you would have to go in and recreate the new workflow to match the one that already exists. There is a better (read 'easier') way!
Recently a customer had a need for the creation of multiple views (27 to be exact) and accompanying
workflows that could be run on demand to affect just the records in these views. The views were fairly easy to recreate as only one piece of data in the grid was changed and after creating one and doing a "Save As" for the other 26, the process was straight forward.
The workflows were not quite that easy to create but very simple to duplicate. Each workflow did
essentially the same thing (set a completion date on an entity after some validity checking) but each view represented a different date field on that entity. What we did was create a workflow for the first view and instead of saving with the ‘Activate As” value of "Process”, we saved it as a "Process Template”. We published this and as we created the other workflows, we simply chose to base them on this template.
All that needed to be done with this new workflow was to change the values being looked at in the
steps that determined if an update was required and also change the field that was being updated. After the 26 “copies” were made, we unpublished the original "template" workflow, set the “Active As” to “Process" resaved it and we had all 27 workflows done in a very short time.
As an additional benefit, all of the commenting of the workflow was identical so the end result was in a consistent form.
November 13, 2012
Best Practice - Plan for Microsoft Dynamics CRM (on-premises deployment) server redundancy before you need it
It could have made for a very long Weekend. A production CRM platform server without redundancy starts to show signs of a drive failure at the busiest time of the year for a global company that has grown to depend on their CRM system for their business. This happened recently to one of our clients and due to some rather fortunate planning and sharp execution, the problem was averted and the system was down for only the time it took to reboot a machine.
Some 5 years ago, the company had implemented CRM to house subscription data that was constantly being updated by a portal application exposed to the web. In order to increase performance, the Application and the Back Office Roles of CRM had been segmented onto two different servers. The Back Office server was a repurposed SQL server that, after those years of service, began to log errors in the event log of the impending failure of the secondary drive.
After analyzing the drives contents and realizing there were no obvious dependencies, our first thought was to just disable the drive. The problem was that we did not know that if we were we to disable or remove the drive and find that there was a dependency, we could ever get it to mount back up.
We then thought about creating a new server as a replacement. This was going to be a tedious job as the Platform Server was internet facing (SSL and certificates would need to be configured) and the integration with the portal server as well as other back office integrations were dependent on this server. The integrations were using Scribe and it is licensed for the machine so getting that quickly installed with the proper licensing was also a challenge.
Enter fortune. The client had recently decided to replace the machines and move to virtual environment for the CRM servers as well as others in their IT infrastructure. This failing machine was one that was slated to be migrated so here was the plan.
Using their backup software’s ability to restore a machine backup to a virtual, the server with the failing hard drive was backed up then restored as a virtual without the D-drive image. Because the virtual image was an exact duplicate of the original machine, all of the active directory GUIDs, IP address, and computer name remained the same. This computer was then loaded in an isolated environment to make sure it would boot properly (since it was an exact copy, it had to be isolated so as not to conflict with the existing production server).
We then scheduled time on a weekend where the traffic would be the lightest to pull of the switch. At that time, we simply shut down the physical production server and booted the new virtual production server. We knew that if anything went awry, we could always restart the old server as nothing on it had changed. It was nice to have a solid fall back should things not go as planned.
The switch went as desired and the new, virtual server came up and was able to operated just as it had when it was a physical box (without the drive errors, of course). There were a couple of issues when it was all said and done but they were minor and did not impact the operation of their business as these were hashed out.
The takeaways from the ordeal are this.
Though building a redundant system can take more time and money up-front, it will save you from relying on fortune when the hardware does fail. It is a good idea now to plan for the what-if scenarios that you could be confronted with so that you are prepared to jump proactively into action and lastly, it is a great idea to have extra “virtual” space to create a replacement machine on short notice.
Here’s hoping you do not find yourself in a similar situation but if you do, you can be prepared!
November 07, 2012
Retail and institutional units of investment management firms need maximum focus in order to manage the complex and evolving relationships between wholesalers, home offices, institutional investors, direct plan sponsors, and institutional consultants. To do so, asset managers need to gather, retain, and share knowledge in a centralized location of clients, prospects, and referral sources across the globe.
Front, middle, and back office operations for all channels must seamlessly connect in order to streamline the exchange of actionable relationship data. If key information is scattered across multiple disparate systems and spreadsheets, too much time will be spent on administrative tasks and searching for data. As a result, sales-related activity will decline, inter- and intra-departmental collaboration will be more difficult and time-consuming, and operational risks will soar. To avoid these counterproductive results, many money managers are investing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to have it serve as the hub of their integrated technology platform.
October 31, 2012
Forbes recently shared research from Gartner on the current state of CRM technology. Being that proven and leading CRM solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, help improve client acquisition, retention, and loyalty, in route to increasing corporate profits, it is not surprising that the continued growth and popularity of CRM software was highlighted by Gartner.
- Last year alone, CRM spending rose by 13%.
- Enterprise CRM software investments across the globe are projected to increase from $12.9B in 2012 to $18.4B in 2016.
- “CRM” is forecasted to be one of the three most searched terms on www.gartner.com.
If you are an Executive that is still trying to justify whether or not to invest in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, keep the following in mind:
October 02, 2012
Over the summer, Schwab Advisor Services surveyed over 1,600 Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs) concerning how they are utilizing CRM technology in their business operations. Poll results demonstrate that RIAs have significant room for improvement in how they leverage CRM. For instance, key findings include:
- Merely 5.8% feel that they are maximizing the full value and potential of their firm’s CRM data.
- Only 17.9% affirm that their firm’s use of CRM deserves a stellar grade of “A.”
- Just 61.3% leverage CRM to prep and distribute client updates and notifications.
- Only 57.8% utilize CRM for automatic task assignment and progress tracking.
As the Schwab press release states, “Advisors are barely scratching the surface when it comes to putting CRM to work for their businesses to streamline processes, increase efficiencies and deliver higher levels of client service and satisfaction.” After all, proven and scalable CRM systems, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, provide so much more than just basic Contact Management.
September 28, 2012
Better Connect and Cultivate Deeper Relationships with Out-of-Touch Investors with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
InvestmentNews recently shared research from Franklin Templeton that reveals that individual investors are not aware of the bull run that has been going on in the equity markets for the past forty-three months. Since the market bottom in March 2009, stocks have earned a cumulative return greater than 100%. Apparently, investors have failed to notice and participate in this impressive stock comeback because they are distracted by prevalent negative economic news that the media and politicians constantly remind them of, including slow growth, high unemployment, and the weak housing market. Moreover, these investors just cannot overcome their bad memories of the beating they took in 2008 in which the S&P 500 declined by almost 40%. Franklin Templeton’s survey to 1,000 individual investors returned the following results concerning the current state of investor psychology:
- 66% asserted the S&P 500 was down in 2009 (it actually gained 26.5% that year).
- 48% thought the S&P 500 was down in 2010 (it actually gained 15.1% that year).
- 53% believed that the S&P 500 was down in 2011 (it actually gained 2.1% that year).
Based on these responses, it is no surprise that close to $170 billion has been withdrawn from equity mutual funds over the past three years. Instead, these investors are choosing to park their money in cash equivalent funds and money market funds, which are earning historically low interest rates that are not even keeping up with inflation. Once again, investors are missing out as the S&P 500 is up almost 18% year-to-date as of 9/21/12 per Morningstar. Of course, the traditionally volatile month of October is right around the corner and there are still a few months left in the year in which anything can happen. Nevertheless, clients will continue to miss out on solid equity returns should they remain so risk-averse and conservative.
September 25, 2012
In my last post on the Customer Effective blog, I highlighted how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can aid firms in the area of tracking internal employee referrals, particularly in the Retail Banking arena. Regardless of whether a referral is uncovered by an employee, sent from an existing client, or delivered by an external partner, referrals are the lifeblood of one’s business. Any time one receives a referral, it is easier to develop trust and confidence with the Prospect. As a result, the sales cycle is frequently shorter and sales acquisition costs are typically lower. So today, I wanted to expand upon the topic of referrals and further share how CRM can help financial institutions better track and rate the quality of leads they receive from external partners.
Retail Bank branches and Wealth Management firms often strive to build a strong stable of referral sources in their local communities. For instance, financial advisors and bankers tend to partner up with CPAs, attorneys, estate planners, and insurance agents in their area in order to develop a vast network of referral sources. Usually, the intent of these partnerships is for both sides to send and receive referrals. The banker may send the CPA a lead, such as a business owner that is looking for tax advice; in turn, the CPA will then send the banker a Prospect company looking for better business banking expertise. In all of these cases, it is important to nurture relationships with the key referral sources in order to uncover more opportunities and prevent the sales pipeline from becoming dry. By leveraging CRM as an external partner referral tracking tool, Banks and Financial Advisory firms are able to analyze the main sources of their deals, see which referral sources are contributing most to their profitability, and determine which third-party advisors are also influencing the financial decision-making of their clientele. Top lead sources, most active referral sources by role, top third-party deal influencers, and the leading external advisor referral sources in one’s community can all be captured in CRM via the sample Lead Sourcing Dashboard below.
CRM’s robust referral tracking capabilities also can benefit Institutional Money Managers, Investment Banks, and Private Equity firms. For example, Institutional Consultants can be linked to multiple opportunities, investment funds, and companies. Moreover, these consulting firms and contacts can be rated and segmented based on the quality and profitability of leads they are providing and on their degree of influence on certain accounts and pursuits. As seen in the sample Consultant Performance Snapshot below, CRM real-time Dashboards make it very easy to see who is recommending one’s firm/services and who is not. Based on these insights, financial firms can then identify and target which consultants they need to actively contact and forge deeper relationships with in order to be considered for more deals and mandates going forward.
Having worked with many leading firms in the financial services industry, Customer Effective has tailored enterprise Banking and Capital Markets-focused CRM solutions to help facilitate the tracking of strategic referral sources and account influencers. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to hear more about how we can help you grow your referral sources and improve your overall financial performance. More background information on our custom solutions for the financial services space is also available at: http://www.customereffective.com/solutions/customereffective-finserv?ref=learn.
September 10, 2012
Elevate Your Efficiency and Boost Sales by Automating your Referral Tracking Process with Microsoft CRM
Firms are always looking for ways to generate more referrals for their sales reps. Sales management and marketing executives, in particular, are always working hard to forge relationships with strategic partners and external referral sources to send them more leads. Additionally, companies are always trying to figure out more effective ways to encourage front-line, client-facing employees to identify possible leads for one of their sales colleagues to follow-up with and further qualify. For instance, in the Banking industry, Tellers and CSRs are often rewarded for uncovering a referral to pass on to a Relationship Banker, Investment Specialist, or Loan Officer. As an example, the Teller may learn in friendly conversation at the Teller window that one of their frequent visiting customers is about to buy a house. Thus, the Teller suggests and gets the customer to agree to receive a call from the local Mortgage Officer concerning mortgage rates and to submit a loan application. While many firms share the need to track internal referrals, they often struggle in keeping track of the referral entries and outcomes. This blog post will touch on some of the core challenges that companies have with referrals and how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help automate the referral tracking and reporting process.
August 29, 2012
Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the Call Center: How to leverage Multiple Source Systems through CRM - Third in Series
Another common challenge in the Contact Center is Customer Service Representatives (CSR’s) having to access multiple systems to get the information they need to do their job. Whether it’s a back-end Billing or Claims system to access policy information, each additional click to navigate adds precious seconds to each customer interaction.
Customer Effective created an Agent Desktop Solution Framework as a streamlined way to search across multiple systems. This Dynamics CRM solution was designed to provide Customer Service Centers with a quick, intuitive, and a consistent user- interface for logging customer interactions via Phone Calls, Emails, Faxes, Letters, etc.
Key Concepts of the CE: Agent Desktop Solution
Multiple Data Sources: For different reasons, many enterprises will want to have their data stored in disparate systems, but accessed in CRM. CE’s Agent Desktop Framework creates a streamlined way to search across multiple systems (via web services) and bring the results back in a native CRM way.
Activity Management: CSRs will often work on a case using multiple communication channels. As they work through the cases, their activities are tracked in the left hand navigation tab. Each activity can have different notes and outcomes, but they will roll to the same case, account, or customer. Each time the CSR accesses an outside system, an activity record is created automatically.
Activity Threads: In the screenshot above, it displays how this solution can serve as a CSR email solution. Each correspondence is rolled into an Activity Thread, which is associated with a customer and a policy.Example: In a service center environment where each correspondence with customers will require actions to be taken by CSRs, these actions can be spread out over a series of touch points (email/phone call/fax/letter). With this requirement in mind the Customer Effective: Agent Desktop has incorporated custom code intended to rollup multiple related activities and the actions performed against them.
In the screenshot example the following functionality is highlighted.
- Section A: CRM can be pre-populated with the caller’s record, also known as screen-pop, with integration to the Phone System (For example: it can perform a database lookup in the background based on the Phone# calling in).
- Section B: Ability to populate “Activity Type” along with free form text to capture the issue in the “Activity Notes” section.
- Section C: This section can be integrated with the phone system to prepopulate the Insured or Agency search results.
- Section D: This is the system accessing data from multiple data sources. In this example it shows the system is “Billing”. Search is being performed on the policy number.
The more ways you leverage Microsoft Dynamics to display relevant content to your CSR’s, the more you will alleviate them having to log into multiple systems creating increased efficiencies across the organization.