CRM – Data Enrichment and User Adoption


Are your Sales Teams seeing CRM as a BOON or BANE ? If you fall under majority, it is likely seen as BANE than a BOON 🙂

One of the CHALLENGES you typically come across in CRM ADOPTION is all about the PAIN of creating and maintaining QUALITY data. Before CRM, the only CHALLENGE for sales team was to GATHER data that helps them to SELL. The data we are talking here includes but not limited to

  • ACCOUNT INTELLIGENCE data that could be as simple as Account’s website and as involved as the as revenue / profit figures of the account in past three years
  • CONTACTS DATA (includes name, email, phone number, address etc) that helps us to connect to the right folks in the targeted account list to navigate the maze right from identifying the GATE KEEPERS to DECISION MAKERS

Now after CRM, the Sales team not only has to RESEARCH for the INSIGHTS but also has to ENTER it in CRM. It can’t sound exciting for anyone including you 🙂

So how do you convert this CHALLENGE to OPPORTUNITY? What other organizations LEADING in CRM ADOPTION do to overcome this RESISTANCE and make it as a DELIGHT?

The ANSWER lies in the PROBLEM.

Make it easy for the sales user to not only ENTER data but also RESEARCH on required data RIGHT IN the CRM to WIN BUSINESS.

Today’s world of CRM is heading that direction and they provide INTUITIVE ways to automate the RESEARCH / DATA ENTRY activities like

  • On Click a button, ENRICH the Account info right from Company’s website address to past 3 years REVENUE information
  • Search for relevant CONTACTS (includes name, email, phone number, address etc)  for the account and add them to your CRM database on click of a button etc

To make the above possible most of the CRM vendors today provide a huge business intelligence database (sourced from multiple sources including the one like LinkedIn) and integrate it tightly with CRM, of course at an additional cost.

Some of the prominent services that I have used in our custom contexts are below

So if you like to make your CRM a Boon to your sales team, provide the above that boosts not only their PRODUCTIVITY but also improves ADOPTION and helps to meet the Organization / Sales Team’s REVENUE targets 🙂

Image Courtesy : http://www.stelter.com/

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CRM : Visualization and User Adoption


Is your Organization happy about its CRM adoption?.

There are exceptions than the rule, to see a CRM deployed for Sales team without any user adoption challenges. This may not be the case for “Service” side deployment. As for as Service side is concerned, if rolled out, CRM becomes bread & butter and they don’t have an option than using it 🙂

Though there are many reasons / solutions to handle user adoption challenges, one that really ticks among sales community is presenting stunning actionable visuals in the form of reports / dashboards right on their home page that helps them to perform their day to day activity.

Let me present a couple of examples here…Let us say you like to present a Quota versus Attainment report for a sales manager at the home page of CRM. An easy to do option that is commonly available in most of the CRM platforms is to present a “table widget” on the home page like below

It perfectly conveys the information that you like to share as it displays by every team member the Quota versus Attaintment details.

But if you notice in today’s world, it could potentially be lot better from UX standpoint. Few gaps to highlight on the above simple table view are below

  • It doesn’t really help me to compare one versus others visually
  • It doesn’t give me any info on where the individual stands in terms of his performance as of that date
  • Doesn’t provide any additional details to drill down more to understand what makes his quota or attainment
  • No context sensitive actions available to act on it if you notice something alarming e.g. say simply you want to call for a meeting with the underperforming sales rep.

Let us change the above to something like below

You very much see it for yourself, the difference.

It is visually appealing, helps me to compare one versus other, has visual (color) cues on where the individual stands, on mouse over provides me more information, the small circle gives you an indication on the number of Open opportunities in his pipeline and provides a “click to drill down” facility to drill down to the details

So in essence anyone embarking on an exercise to improve their CRM user adoption, better consider Visualization as a key improvement area to see a definitive improvement in adoption rate.

Kanban and CRM


Are you wondering what is the relation between Kanban and CRM? The Google definition of Kanban is below

“Japanese manufacturing system in which the supply of components is regulated through the use of a card displaying a sequence of specifications and instructions, sent along the production line.”

The word in bold and italics holds the link between Kanban and CRM.

Traditionally in CRM systems the opportunities are managed by a set of well-defined Sales Process that takes the Opportunity through a set of stages like Appointment Scheduled, Qualified to Buy, Presentation Scheduled, POC Scheduled, Decision Maker Bought In, Contract Sent, Closed / Won and Closed / Lost etc.

Basically, sales stages are a sequence of specifications & instructions like Kanban to handle the Opportunity in a structured manner to ensure high success rate. The stages are a sample representation only and can vary / can be customized depending on Organization’s Sales Process.

If you see an Opportunity as a component, then it is basically subjected to these process steps to reach to an end state as in Kanban but the way the way Opportunities is typically displayed to the end users in CRM systems is a simple list view that is used to display any other business data like Accounts, Contacts etc. A sample representation is below

If you click an Opportunity, the Opportunity is displayed in a 2 column layout presenting the Opportunity details

Recently many of the CRM providers started presenting the Opportunity list and Opportunity detail using Kanban as a Metaphor and it makes a lot of sense from a User Experience standpoint. A sample representation of a list view in Kanban way is below

As you see above it neatly displays to the users the list of Opportunities (Metaphor to Components in Kanban) under Various sales stages and provides a drag and drop option for the users to promote the Opportunities from one stage to another stage (drag and drop, Metaphor of putting through a set of instructions). Similarly, in the detailed view, the Opportunity detail is presented as below

You can set the stages as appropriate (point and click with all visual cues that tell precisely where you stand on this opportunity) and take the Opportunity to a closure and  in each stage showing fields of relevance / importance to that stage.

This is a welcoming change though the adoption of Metaphor in CRM world is a very late….There are many other applications designed to handle tasks management, agile project management etc using Kanban view in today’s app world.

Security and Usability – Always off on a tangent?


I am sure a simple google search on the above topic should return100s of articles right from issues related to infrastructure security to physical security 🙂 …I believe if designers put a little bit extra effort in treading this carefully, it can make a big difference for end users.

A recent experience that made everyone in my house go crazy is here.

It all started yesterday night at 11 PM with a sharp beep followed by a loud warning saying “Low Battery”. “Loud” meaning even if you tightly close your ears, you will still hear it ….:)

I was hearing this sound first time and after a little search around identified that it came from the “Smoke Detector”.  Obviously, it was going to run out of battery and hence this warning ….

But the sad part was this nuisance went on and on with this message “Low Battery” for the entire night beeping every minute not letting any of us sleep (except my children as they are least bothered on anything happening around)

I know as a user of the device, I have to ensure the battery is replaced otherwise I am putting the entire house under risk but a warning of this nature can’t be “killing”

Looking back, What could have been done differently without a big compromise on security in this small little device?

  • A reduced frequency of this warning (once in an hour or half an hour) so that at least we would have slept before it makes the next warning 🙂
  • Designed with a battery specification that is commonly available in house like (AA or AAA)
  • A button to reset and post reset it triggers only after a day so that it ensures I am notified but also reminds me later
  • etc

I believe we encounter these challenges in applications from CRM used in corporate settings to mobile applications that we use every day.

I believe a little bit of extra effort to design for security without compromising on usability would definitely make it a winning application

(The story went on till today evening (At some point we got used to it) as finally, I got time to go around to get a replacement battery)

MyHours – A brilliant “free to use tool” to track your time


I am one among few in my Organization who has the luxury to use an application of my choice to track my time :), ever since we made that mandatory in our Organization.

The application rest of my Organization uses is a beast with so many functions / features beyond tracking time that makes time-tracking a painful activity. It is neither simple nor user-friendly.

Since then my pursuit towards finding a nice tool that helps me to track my personal time (without much complexities) went on and on till I ended with www.myhours.coma few months ago.

I am not sure whether I would pursue the advanced paid features in the tool in near future so I thought as a courtesy would write this blog to promote this application

The signup doesn’t take more than few minutes and you can set-up your basic data to track your time in less than 30 minutes. The set-up is very simple

  • Create list of clients you work with (Each form not exceeding 5 to 7 fields)
  • Create projects and associate to the Clients
  • Create generic tasks that you can associate with one or more of the projects

Once you are done with the above, you are all set to track your time not only in your Desktop but also in your Mobile / tablets phone too (Spica My Hours).

You can use an On / Off switch to manage the accuracy of time spent to the last second (Simple press “On” before you start working on it and “off” once you are done) or you can do a backlog accounting by specifying the start time / end time or just simply enter the total time spent on that task.

It also provides brilliant dashboard to slice and dice to analyze your time spent and also simple list report to filter and extract the report to share with your manager

If your needs are simple / you are an independent consultant go for it …

I am sure their advanced paid options to manage projects in a multi-user environment with advanced reporting should be great too …

Brilliant job myhours.com

Image Courtesy : myhours.com

Oracle Service Cloud Roadmap


Doctor CX

The usual quarterly releases have brought many great improvements to Oracle Service Cloud, in terms of functionality enhancements or new features. But there is still more to come in the next releases. The Oracle roadmap for Oracle Service Cloud has a lot of new stuff for the coming 12-18 months, of which I highlight:

Virtual Assistant

  • Enhancements to the VA will improve the conversation. More than being able to chat with the customer, the VA will suggest questions & answers based on the web visit.
  • A tighter integration between both products – Oracle Service Cloud and Oracle Virtual Assistant (formerly known as Intent Guide) – will make it easier to integrate and will allow shared admin (currently, to configure VA admins have to use different UI / login).
  • VA will be available to be used in any web page, by the use of a Syndicated widget. Currently it can only be used in Oracle Service Cloud Customer Portal…

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Use Oracle Social Cloud to Cut through noise and listen what you like to hear in Social Media


“Facebook has around 1.01 billion people using its site every month”

“Number of tweets in twitter is more than a billion per month”

“90% of all data in the world has been generated in last couple of years”

That is the kind of data explosion that you witness in Social media. It is obvious that for any meaningful sensing of this data that makes relevance to your context definitely right tool is required, otherwise you would get easily lost in megabytes of data generated every minute.

One such application is Oracle Social Cloud that brings in best-in-class features to cut through the noise to listen what you would like to hear. Let me try to summarize here one of the simple but powerful feature of Oracle Social Cloud “Listening” module that would help to configure what you would like to listen and brings you interesting facts & figures on the social data that is of relevance to you.

Assume a simple use case that you are a prospective entrepreneur who is interested in setting up a restaurant franchise. You are clueless on what franchisee chain that you should opt for better profitability and growth. Knowing the power of Social media you decide to bet on it to understand what people are taking about different restaurant franchise chains like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC to make a better decision in selecting one of these Franchises.

Oracle social cloud is right here to help you out. Go to the “Listen and analyze” module of Oracle Social Cloud and create one topic for each of the restaurant chains McDonalds, Pizza Hut and KFC. You can group this under “Fast Food Retailers” to separate out this analysis from other topics of research that you might perform with the tool. The configuration of a Topic is pretty simple where you define a topic name, associate the topic to a logical group and add a search term that you would like to look for among millions of messages generated every day in Social media.

As you see below here I kept the Topic as “McDonald”, the group as “Fast Food Retailers” and search term as anything relevant to McDonald like “I’m lovin’ it, McDonalds, McDonald’s and Ronald McDonald” .

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After setting this up, you can hit the preview button to view the kind of messages that are posted in various Social media channels that contain your search key words. Make a note that the system highlights the search keywords that you have selected in the messages that are listed at the bottom.

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Interestingly the system goes one step further to group the messages under various “Themes” by doing an intelligent semantic analysis on these messages. Some of the themes the system senses on basis of the messages are fast food, salad, job etc. As you are keen only on listening to themes that are more relevant to you like “fast food” and “Salad”, you can let the system know that you like to analyse more of these themes and less of any other themes that may not be relevant to you like “Job”. As you see below to understand what kind of messages are covered under the system generated themes you can scroll down a bit to see the messages associated with each of the themes.

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Once you are done with it you can hit the preview button to rerun the process again to see more themes emerging out on basis of the theme you have included / excluded in the previous step. You can continue with this on a recursive basis till you get exactly what kind of messages you would like to listen.

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That is all you have to do as part of your set-up “Listen” module in Oracle Social Cloud. Once you are done with the above for McDonalds, continue the same with other Franchises that you would like to listen such as Pizza Hut and KFC. The above completes the set-up and the system takes couple of minutes to gather the data from Social streams to put thoughts them in its analytic engine to give you in-depth analysis on what you are looking for.

The analytic section is grouped under four different heads Summary, Indicators, Demographics and Weekly Stats. The Summary section gives you info on the below

  • Number of messages per day posted on the topics of interest to you
  • A simple pie chart on how the message counts of each of the topics (McDonalds, Pizza Hut, and KFC) is distributed among the topics of interest to you
  • A sentiment bar chart that gives a clear indicator on percentage of messages that are bucketed under Positive, Negative and Neutral for each of the Franchise chains which gives you an indication of how people favor these restaurant chains
  • The content types section that gives some info on where people are talking about the brands like Blogs, Social Sites, Microblogs, News, Consumer Reviews etc.

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The Indicators section gives you an option to further refine your analysis by including key indicators that are of interest to you. In the current context of analysis may be indicators of nature like Price, Favourite, Customer Service, Loyalty, Intent to switch etc. may be of interest to you than others like Travelling etc.

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The demographics section gives you an understanding on the geographies that these messages are coming out as well the split in terms of messages between genders

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The last section on “Weekly Stats” gives a similar kind of analysis as you see in summary but more focused on the current week.

That is the power of Oracle Social Cloud “Listen” module to cut through the noise and hear what you would like to hear in Social Media. I am not getting into the aspect of interpretation of these analysis and implication on your decision making as I believe it is no-brainer with such a powerful analytics in your hand.