A CRM deployment is a journey with Ergo, where customers have very different destinations, writes Ian Campbell
Adoption of CRM solutions is growing rapidly, as organisations discover it’s about much more than managing sales pipelines, according to Ergo’s Coman Burke. The technical pre-sales consultant regularly talks to businesses about a broader-based business solution that can handlemultiple customer touch points.
“CRM has evolved from being a sales lifecycle tool to become an end-to-end application for customer engagement management,” he said.
“In the past it was pushed into organisations through IT and sales, but now we’re talking to everyone about it, from chief technology and chief marketing officers to the CEO.”
One of Ireland’s leading Microsoft partners, Ergo is focused on selling Microsoft Dynamics CRM. It’s a job that’s gotten a lot easier, according to Burke, and not only because Microsoft has invested heavily in its product to meet the needs of customer service and marketing departments, but also because of its deployment options. You can run Dynamics CRM the traditional way, on premise, or from the cloud as a software-as-a-service solution.
Ergo has been building its expertise to make both routes easier for clients. “For on-premise deployments we do the infrastructure and networking piece as well as the work around servers and operating systems, so it’s a complete end-to-end solution,” said Burke. “For cloud customers, we can integrate Dynamics CRM Online with on-premise ERP, billing and time management systems.”
The drive is increasingly towards the software-as-aservice model, following a trend among Microsoft customers to put email and other applications in the cloud with Microsoft Office 365. “CRM will integrate seamlessly with Outlook and SharePoint in Office 365 so it’s a no brainer,” said Burke. “You no longer have to manage all the infrastructure around the application and you can still connect back into your on-premise environment where you need to.”
Cloud services are also better able to meet the needs of a mobile workforce, which is where the classic role of CRM as a tool in the hands of sales people becomes even morecompelling. Matching the solution to this kind of use case is all part of the engagement process for Ergo.
“A lot think of firms think CRM is plug-and-play and will automatically increase sales, but they have to understand how it will fit into their existing business landscape for it to add value,” he said.
Out of the box, Dynamics will meet a certain percentage of needs, but more and more customers want to build their own flavour of CRM. “We engage with them, understand what their business requirements are, then map them back into CRM,” he said.
Part of the process is ensuring key stakeholders are involved from the outset – and stay involved. “In the past, CRM was deployed and failed miserably because users weren’t sure how to use it and there was no adoption. It didn’t complement them in their day-to-day work and was more of a hindrance than an enabler,” he said.
Another big change is how customer service and marketing departments leverage CRM at their points of customer interaction. With social media feeds integrated into the dashboard, it’s become a valuable way to engage with new customer channels such as Facebook and Twitter. “Companies are using it to track market sentiment by listening in to social media,” said Burke.
Properly deployed as part of an overall strategy, a large source of business value comes from different business units tapping into the same single source of accurate and up to date customer information. “The market now knows that it’s much more than a sales tool and we have customers from every type of industry, from pharmaceutical, to retail and healthcare, driving different use cases,” he said. “One large Dublin hospital, for example, is using it as the platform for a patient scheduling system.”
Such deployments can be complex, but Ergo’s tried and tested approach gets the right results. “We bring customers on a journey,” said Burke. “We don’t finish our part and hand it over at day 30. It’s an iterative approach to ensure that they get what they want and learn how to use it as we go along. Then, when it’s delivered, they get much quicker adoption and a faster return on the investment.
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