Archive

Author Archive

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Awarded Top Honors by CRM Magazine

August 7th, 2015 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

The 2015 CRM Market Awards

Microsoft Dynamics CRM was the leader of CRM magazine’s 2015 CRM Market Awards, winning the top spot in four out of nine categories. The categories it won include: Enterprise CRM Suite, Midmarket CRM Suite, Small Business CRM Suite, and Sales Force Automation.

“This was a banner year for Microsoft,” said David Myron, Editorial Director of CRM magazine, in the issue. “Analysts praised the company for building an integrated platform that enhances customer engagements through multiple touch points.”

CRM magazine's 14th annual Market Leader awards rate the top five companies in nine categories, using a proprietary selection formula. The overall award rating is based on a composite score of CRM revenues and analyst ratings for customer satisfaction, depth of functionality, company direction, and cost.

It’s no surprise that Microsoft Dynamics CRM won these award categories. Microsoft has long promoted its vision of making Microsoft Dynamics CRM a crucial tool in helping business deliver amazing customer experiences with intelligent customer engagement. And it has backed up these promises with significant investments in marketing, sales, mobile, customer service, social engagement, and mobile capabilities – not to mention the business acquisitions that further strengthen the CRM offering, such as Parature.

The flexibility and scalability of the Microsoft Dynamics CRM architecture also enables customers across diverse industries to use it. Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s global customer base, how they leverage the system’s powerful functionality, and the crucial benefits these customers gain from the solution, at Microsoft Customer Stories.

With Microsoft committed to strengthening and investing in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, and with exciting new features and functionality coming from that investment, Microsoft Dynamics CRM is an exciting customer relationship management system to watch. We’ll keep you posted on new developments!

If you have any questions about Microsoft Dynamics CRM, please email us at CRM@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify. Ignify is Worldwide Microsoft Partner in 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Post-Sale Service: Strengthening Customer Engagement After the Sale is Made

July 16th, 2015 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

Post-Sale Service: Strengthening Customer Engagement After the Sale is Made

Congratulations! Thanks to your hard work, you closed the sale and have a brand-new, happy customer. But don’t pop the cork on the champagne bottle quite yet – your job isn’t over. In fact, it’s just beginning.

Maintaining strong customer relationships is crucial to maximizing profitability. With competition for customer wallet share growing fiercer, and the cost to acquire new customers growing higher, companies that focus on increasing customer retention rates gain a significant advantage.

Providing exemplary customer service (even immediately after a successful sale) is essential to making loyal customers.

Show Your Appreciation

This may seem like an obvious point, but it’s shocking how often companies simply ignore a customer after a sale. You know that old saying – the opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s apathy. If a company signals indifference to a customer’s decision to choose them over a competitor, the customer will mirror that indifference and take their business elsewhere. Because why would a customer stick with a company that doesn’t care about them?

Expressing appreciation to a customer shows that you value them and their business. A token of appreciation doesn’t need to be big or flashy – a handwritten thank you note, a coupon, a small special offer – can go a long way toward making a customer feel special. A positive emotional experience is what binds a customer closer to a company.

Know Your Customer

Working hand-in-hand with showing your customer appreciation is actually knowing your customer. What are their likes and dislikes? What are they looking forward to? What do they need right now, and a few months down the line?

Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system is extremely valuable in keeping all of this important information in one place. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, sales reps can view all pertinent information on a customer record, such as contact details, location, and all past interactions with the company. By leveraging this information, sales reps can better understand and anticipate customer needs, and thus create more meaningful engagements.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM also enables companies to include personal details about the customer, such as relationship status, birthday/anniversary, and can also link people who are related to that particular customer. For instance, in the below example, a sales rep can see that Emilia Clark is married to Dominic Clark – if Dominic Clark is also a customer of that company, the sales rep can link his customer record to Emilia’s as well.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM also enables companies to include personal details about the customer, such as relationship status, birthday/anniversary, and can also link people who are related to that particular customer.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps sales reps see a complete view of the customer, which facilitates more targeted – and more conversion-worthy – engagement.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM helps sales reps see a complete view of the customer, which facilitates more targeted – and more conversion-worthy – engagement.

Encourage Feedback

To better serve your customers, you need to hear from the people who know best: your customers. As with any relationship, open communication is crucial for a mutually beneficial relationship between a customer and a company. Your customer wants to get the most value out of the time and money he gives to your company; your business wants to make him keep coming back.

Encouraging feedback, especially negative feedback, helps you better understand what works and what doesn’t. Negative feedback is particularly valuable in that it a) helps you pinpoint and correct specific issues that are causing your customer headaches, b) helps you prevent other customers from experiencing those same issues, and c) gives you another opportunity to delight your customer.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables sales reps to store all interactions with a customer on the customer record – from email, to phone, to in-person. This interaction history serves as a helpful reference point for future communication, leading sales reps to better connect with the customer’s needs.

For example, in the case of Darla Worth (screenshot below), a past issue she experienced was a delivery of poor quality paper. While that issue was resolved and she continues to be a customer, a sales rep can follow up with her on if her paper orders have still been meeting her standard of quality. This attention to detail and consideration can be the difference between Darla being a company advocate or a company antagonist.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM keeps track of all interactions between the customer and the company, providing a useful reference of any previous issues, questions, or requests.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM keeps track of all interactions between the customer and the company, providing a useful reference of any previous issues, questions, or requests.

Investment in Customer Relationships Pays Dividends

The bottom line for any customer service initiative is the fact that if you invest in the customer, then the customer will invest in you. By putting in the effort to genuinely connect with your customers and make them happy, you can benefit from a long-term revenue stream.

If you have any questions on how a CRM system can help you more effectively strengthen customer relationships, please email CRM@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

How CRM for Insurance Creates Unexpected (and Important) Business Opportunities

June 10th, 2015 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

The insurance industry is in an exciting stage of transition – and as with any transition, challenges and opportunities go hand-in-hand.

Rising competition, rising customer switching, tighter margins – insurance companies face greater pressure on finding the right distribution channels, delivering exemplary customer service, and keeping business costs low.

Just as technology has empowered consumers in their search for the right insurance company, technology also empowers insurance companies to get an inside business advantage. Using a customer relationship management (CRM) system – such as CRM for Insurance – is a particularly useful tool for keeping tabs on customer engagement.

But there are other unique business advantages for insurance industries using CRM – check out our three examples below.

Easier to Adjust to Industry Demographic Changes

Insurance industry demographics are shifting from Baby Boomers to Generation Y (also known as “millenials”) – if insurance companies aren’t able to identify the new insurance audience, and tailor their interactions and communications to best suit that audience, they will miss out on crucial business.

For instance, millenials are more comfortable with engagement through technology than older generations – in fact, they prefer it. According to Gallup, millenials are more than twice as likely (27% vs. 11%, respectively) as all other generations to purchase their policies online rather than through an agent. This comfort with technology also means that millenials want to be able to access information quickly, and that they will search exhaustively on the Internet before turning to a rep.

Family relationships are also important to leverage when working with millenials. Many millenials choose to be covered under a family member’s plan, and they are also more likely to choose an insurance company that their family members use.

CRM for Insurance provides insurance companies a 360-degree view of the customer with in-depth customer records, containing a customer’s contact information, the policies that the customer has, as well as any previous interactions between the customer and the company.

CRM for Insurance also allows companies to identify more personal information about the customer, such as birthday, relationships between customers (such as if a customer is the parent or child or a customer, or a spouse, etc.), special anniversaries, etc. As customers have grown to expect more personalized service, this information enables insurance companies to more effective cross-sell and up-sell to individuals with targeted communications and offers.

CRM for Insurance

CRM for Insurance enables insurance companies to input and track customer’s personal information, which can be leveraged for more personalized, worthwhile communication.

Explore New Distribution Channels

The traditional insurance distribution model meant that agents and brokers were the primary drivers behind insurance customers’ purchases – they were the ones with all the information. But not anymore – customers now turn first to the Internet to answer questions, get more information, and research companies.

Insurers that start creating online distribution channels gain an important advantage over their less technologically savvy competition. With a greater web presence, insurers are able to attract more of the customers who make the Internet a key part of their decision-making, and product-buying, processes.

But that doesn’t mean that agents and brokers are becoming completely obsolete. Agents and brokers are another important part of a customer’s research gathering, because if an answer to a question can’t be found online, an agent needs to be prepared to respond quickly when the customer reaches out to him.

And with more customers using their smartphones as their research tools, insurers also need to make their selling mobile-friendly – from an agent’s outreach, to a piece of marketing collateral.

CRM for Insurance enables insurers to track all touch-points with a customer – from a query that was emailed, to an incoming phone call, etc. – providing greater visibility into the customer’s needs, and a useful interaction history for future reference. CRM for Insurance even allows agents to track text messages that are sent to the customer.

CRM for Insurance

CRM for Insurance tracks all touch-points made with a customer, such as phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.

Attract – and Retain – Talented Employees

Companies that are renowned for innovation, cutting-edge solutions, and excellence easily draw talented people from the job-hunting pool – people want to work for exciting, pioneering companies. The insurance industry, unfortunately, has a reputation of being stodgy, uptight, and resistant to new ways of doing things, which can make it difficult recruiting for positions.

Good recruitment is especially essential in that the insurance industry’s workforce is rapidly approaching retirement age – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 50% of the industry’s workforce is above the age of 45. To prevent a skills gap from occurring (which would drain customers, and in turn, drain revenues), insurers need to develop strategies for enticing tech-savvy millennials – the next workforce generation – into pursuing careers in the industry.

By embracing new technology that helps better serve customers, insurers can debunk the stereotypes. Making technology the cornerstone of industry-leading customer service initiatives helps insurers advertise company progressiveness and agility, and also the company’s commitment to operating at the highest level.

Making an Impact with CRM

CRM for Insurance ensures that insurers keep their sales and marketing tighter and more focused despite customer and industry shifts, and thus a useful tool for recruitment – giving companies an important competitive edge.

For more information on CRM for Insurance, or how Ignify can enhance your business processes, please email insurance@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

How Microsoft Dynamics CRM Crushes 3 Sales Productivity Killers

May 19th, 2015 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

A sales team’s ability to meet their goals is a direct indicator of business health – if sales are up, the company will flourish; if sales are down, the company will flounder.

No matter how fantastic a product or service that the company offers, if successful sales are not happening on a consistent or growing basis, then the company is on its way to stagnation or, worst case scenario, failure.

Creating an environment for salespeople that enables them to focus completely on selling is crucial toward getting those sales quota numbers met. But too often, salespeople’s time is gobbled up by tasks that don’t add value to their selling efforts.

According to the sales and marketing leaders surveyed in Docurated’s State of Sales Productivity Report, they report that only 32% of their sales reps’ time is spent selling and pitching. The rest of their time is spent on CRM/admin/reporting (20%), searching for or creating content (31%), and other (17%).

By helping salespeople streamline and automate time-consuming administrative tasks, businesses help their reps gain more time to dedicate to making and closing deals. Implementing a CRM system that consolidates sales information is a major step in accelerating sales productivity.

Check out how Microsoft Dynamics CRM eliminates three painful drains on a salesperson’s time and energy.

Problem #1: Lack of Accessible Information

“I know I saw that brochure somewhere” – being able to send prospects the right content at the right time is an important part of effectively engaging the prospect, as effective engagement leads to higher sales conversion rates.

But unfortunately, without a designated storage repository for sales collateral, salespeople waste valuable time trying to pinpoint where specific pieces of material reside, or trying to re-create it. As the Docurated report found, sales reps spent about the same amount of time searching for content as they did selling.   

Microsoft Dynamics CRM solves this challenge with the Knowledge Base. The Knowledge Base is essentially a virtual library in Microsoft Dynamics CRM, allowing reps to upload and store articles, product guides, data sheets, and other types of collateral. Reps can search for content either by browsing through the category hierarchy that administrators set up, or they can search by identifying specific parameters, such as by keyword, title, subject, etc.

Lack of Accessible Information

Lack of Accessible Information

Microsoft Dynamics CRM allows sales reps to use already created and stored templates and articles, which helps them provide answers and information quickly and easily.

Problem #2: Time-Consuming Administrative Tasks

Without a sales database in place, salespeople are forced to keep their own records – which means salespeople burn massive amounts of time manually compiling and consolidating notes and communication, and creating reports. This process is also unreliable in that information can easily be missed or undocumented, causing gaps in the sales cycle that lose prospects.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM keeps sales data right at a rep’s fingertips, making it quick and easy to add lead information (notes can be entered as quickly as a sales rep can type), and to view past interactions with the prospect. In Dynamics CRM, salespeople can also schedule follow-up activities, as well as set up reminders and alerts on items that need to be completed.

With a prospect database making information easy to reference and update, and timely alerts that help keep track of activities related to each individual prospect, Microsoft Dynamics CRM gives salespeople the insight needed to make meaningful connections, and the push to action.

Time-Consuming Administrative Tasks  

Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides an in-depth look into prospects, allowing sales reps to enter and upload all relevant information for easy access.

Problem #3: Moving In and Out of Different Systems

For salespeople who have to work in different systems, it can be a serious headache toggling back and forth. System integration is key to work efficiency and data accuracy.

As a Microsoft product, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has the distinct advantage of being able to integrate across the Microsoft Office suite. For instance, data from Dynamics CRM can be exported into Excel for closer examination.

In addition to Excel, the integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Outlook is an important time-saver in linking incoming communication (email) with the CRM database in just a click of the button. For instance, a sales representative can convert an email to a lead or opportunity, with the information provided by the customer populated into a new CRM record.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM also enables sales reps to track their email communications, and link those emails with either the customer’s individual contact record in CRM, or the company account, or even a specific case. After selecting the “Track” button on an email, a sales rep can then click “Set Regarding”, which gives him options to link the email with the account or contact record in Dynamics CRM that he wishes. The sales rep can then view and reference that email in Dynamics CRM.

Not needing to switch out of Outlook to enter lead information saves the salesperson not only on time, but it also ensures that the lead details are all stored. When shifting information to a different system, bits and pieces can get lost – but that’s not the case when it’s directly captured from the source.

Moving In and Out of Different Systems

Microsoft Dynamics CRM’s seamless integration with Outlook allows sales reps to track communications with prospects and clients. This communication record ensures that sales reps are always fully informed of past interactions with the individual, and can leverage that communication for more personalized offers and service in the future.

Setting Sales Up for Success

No one likes wasted time – when sales teams are able to more efficiently and effectively engage with prospects and customers, winning results ensue. Helping them make the best use of their time with the right tools is a critical support not only for the team, but for the business as a whole.

For more information on how Microsoft Dynamics CRM optimizes selling processes, please email us at CRM@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.

Three Elements for Creating eCommerce Product Pages that Convert

April 29th, 2015 Ashley Harbaugh No comments

Online merchants have a significant advantage in terms of providing customers quick and convenient shopping experiences, but there is a downside: not being able to physically handle products means shoppers can be less driven to buy.

But ecommerce product pages are key to breaking through purchasing hesitation. According to MarketingSherpa’s 2015 eCommerce Benchmark Study, “[Each] company needs to choose the elements on its product pages to fully express its product’s value proposition and address any concerns that could be held by its prospective customers.”

Check out our three guidelines for designing ecommerce product pages that eliminate shopper doubts and push them to complete their purchases:

1. Reduce Anxiety

Trust is essential to building a relationship between a customer and an online merchant. By using product pages to establish business and product credibility, online merchants show customers that they are in a safe, secure, and trustworthy environment.

Contact Information:

Customers want to make sure they have a place they can turn to for any issues or questions – prominently displaying contact information is crucial to making first-time visitors feel comfortable.

Reduce Anxiety

Always make contact information easy-to-find.

Reviews, Ratings, and Testimonials:

Before dropping hard-earned cash on a product, people like to truly know what they’re getting. Posting product reviews, ratings, and testimonials on product pages shows that not only have other people bought and used the product, but that they are getting value from it.

Another thing to keep in mind when posting product reviews: don’t be afraid to include negative ones. It might sound counter-intuitive, but negative reviews can actually help bolster credibility because it shows that the reviews are being written by real people, not by the company.

Reviews, Ratings, and Testimonials

Product reviews and testimonials build credibility with shoppers.

Site Security Symbols:

People will not enter credit card information on a site they don’t trust. Displaying trust symbols from reputable security companies (such as the Better Business Bureau, McAfee, etc.) is a quick and easy way to signal business trustworthiness, and to make customers comfortable with providing sensitive information.

Site Security Symbols

Trust symbols convey business integrity and make shoppers feel more secure about browsing and buying.

Return/Exchange Information:

Not every online purchase is going to work out – that’s just the nature of buying without seeing, feeling, trying on, etc. Showing product return policy and exchange information helps customers feel less nervous about committing to the purchase – if their purchase isn’t what they had in mind when they ordered it (which is always a fear when buying online), they have a way to fix it.

Return and Exchange Information

Displaying return and exchange policies help shoppers feel more at-ease with making online purchases.

2. Show Product Costs

This may seem obvious, but showing all the costs associated with online merchandise is an important way to build customer trust – because springing hidden fees or costs on the customer at the time of checkout will not inspire them to move forward.

Price:

Unless your product prices are only given “upon request,” always make prices instantly recognizable on your product pages.

Show Product Costs by Price

Don’t make shoppers guess at costs, or find out what they owe at the checkout – always make product prices easy-to-find.

Shipping/Handling Cost:

In addition to the price, also make sure that shipping methods and their associated costs are also displayed prominently on your site. For instance, shipping calculators that dynamically populate with the costs related to the customer’s selected delivery date or method are a great way to inform and engage the customer.

Show Product Costs by Shipping and Handling Costs

Shipping and delivery costs are another important consideration for online shoppers – providing that information up-front ensures customers aren’t surprised at checkout (because checkout surprises rarely cause checkout conversions).

3. Provide Information

High Quality Images:

Since customers can’t pick up and inspect an online store’s products, using high-quality, high-resolution images on your product pages are critical in not only promoting your products, but in showing your company’s professionalism. Brick-and-mortar stores don’t display merchandise that’s dirty or worn-out; ecommerce merchants shouldn’t display merchandise in grainy, ugly photos.

Provide Information through High Quality Images

High-resolution images, image zooming, the ability to change item colors, etc. all help show your products in the best light.

Product Descriptions:

The more information a customer has on an item, and the more they understand the benefits of using the item, the more likely they will be to purchase it. Short and long descriptions are both useful for product pages – short descriptions give a quick snapshot that captures the shopper’s attention, and long descriptions provide the in-depth information that helps seal the deal.

When creating descriptions, avoid making them boring, bland, or minimal – providing detailed, punchy narratives make it difficult for customers to resist.

Provide Information through Product Descriptions

Short and long product descriptions are necessary for giving customers the information they need to make well-informed purchases.

Videos:

Videos are a great way to convey information, an experience, or a customer testimonial in a quick, easily digestible way, which makes it easy for shoppers to learn more and engage with your products. And also to keep in mind is that we live in the age of the viral video – people love sharing videos that are fun, interesting, and educational on their social networks, so make sure to post high-quality video content that compels people to share.

Provide Information through Videos

Videos that entertain or enlighten capture attention and inspire people to share, leading to organic company promotion on social media networks.

Articles:

In addition to videos, people enjoy reading and sharing articles that contain valuable content. Whether it’s a how-to guide, or a list of unique ways to use a product, or helpful tips, articles are another method that encourages customers to connect with your company and what you offer. Like with videos, high-quality article content is key because it gives customers a reason to return – they want to see what cool new material is being posted.

Provide Information through Articles

High-quality articles can become important resources and reference tools for customers.

Similar Products:

“Customers who bought this bought that,” “Popular Items,” “Related Products” – posting similar or related items on a product page is a helpful way for customers to view more of your company’s offerings – and to increase the likelihood of cross-sell and up-sell conversions.

Provide Information through Similar Products

Showing related products creates cross-sell and up-sell opportunities, as well as encourages shoppers to further explore the online store.

Making the Customer Experience in the First Priority

Ultimately, all of these eCommerce product page elements are focused on one vital goal: to give customers an amazing shopping experience. The shopping experience is the true differentiator for ecommerce competitors – good shopping experiences mean a customer will return; but great ones mean a customer will return regularly and bring friends with them.

For more information on how you can improve the ecommerce shopping experience for your customers, please email us at ecommerce@ignify.com.

Ashley Harbaugh is a Marketing Coordinator at Ignify. Ignify is winner/finalist of the Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Award in 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010, and offers eCommerce, ERP, CRM, Order Management and POS solutions based on the Microsoft Dynamics line of products. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing businesses in North America for seven years in a row by Inc. Magazine and Deloitte in the FAST 500 from 2008 to 2013.