SMBs grow their businesses with software that improves the customer experience

Treat customers well and they will treat you well

Provide your customers with a great experience and they can be yours for life. Even better, they will tell all their friends about you too. According to a study by Watermark Consulting, businesses that use software systems to help them provide exceptional customer experiences are more likely to perform better financially and maintain customer brand loyalty. But because of limited resources and manpower, small and mid-sized businesses are often not able to provide the level of service they want for their customers.

A recent Forbes article, “You Are In The Customer Experience Business Whether You Know It Or Not” stated that customer experience is fundamental to the success of every business, and a five year research study by Forrester strongly correlates customer experience scores with a company’s performance on customer loyalty metrics. As I touched on earlier, Watermark Consulting went one step further by proving that companies with superior customer experiences are financially rewarded. In a blog about the findings, Watermark stated, “For the five-year period from 2007-2011, the customer experience Leader portfolio outperformed the broader stock market, generating cumulative total returns that were 27% better than the S&P 500 Index and 128% better than the customer experience Laggard portfolio. “

SMBs that choose to tackle the customer experience challenge must adjust internal attitudes to focus on the customers, but also provide software systems to streamline processes, allow more access to customer information, and enable superior service.

Software systems, like the ones highlighted below, can increase efficiency so that SMBs:

  • Appear more polished and professional
  • Appear larger than they really are
  • Provide the best customer experience through interactions with every employee

Today’s cloud business applications allow SMBs to progressively update legacy systems and integrate them together for improved efficiency and data sharing across the entire company. Eighty seven percent of SMBs surveyed by Techaisle state that cloud applications give them a competitive advantage and 85 percent feel that they can compete with larger enterprises using cloud software applications.

What cloud software applications can help small businesses provide great experiences to their customers? All of them! But let’s focus on understanding a few key ones that can help create a positive customer experience throughout the customer lifecycle – Marketing Automation, Sales Force Automation, Financial Software Integration, and Customer Service Automation.

Great customer experiences start before they are your customers with Marketing Automation

When prospects have a problem they often start exploring the web for answers. If your marketing team has done their job right, they will find your website or interesting educational content. Even if they fill out a form to watch a video or read a whitepaper they are not likely to buy anything from you in that very instant. With Marketing Automation software you can follow a prospect’s visits to your website over time and automatically send them additional information they might be interested in based on what they actually read and watch.

The prospect explores at their own pace choosing content that they find interesting. They learn progressively under no pressure from a sales person. When they are ready for the next step, they look to you because you have provided educational content demonstrating your knowledge of their problem, and a possible solution, without harassing sales hype. The marketing automation system is good for your company too. It alerts your sales people when a prospect has shown sufficient interest and is ready for the next stage. Sales reps can focus on deep conversations with high quality leads — prospects that have thought about their problem and are ready to solve it.

Customers have a trusted advisor with Sales Force Automation

A great benefit of cloud business applications is that they are designed to work seamlessly with each other. Details collected on a prospect in the marketing automation software are visible to the sales team within their sales force automation software, often called customer relationship management (CRM) software. With prospect information at their fingertips, sales representatives are ready for each sales call quickly. The sales force automation software also allows them to record all their activities, track all their deals in the pipeline, and automate follow up reminders.

From the Customer’s perspective, they have great informative conversations with account managers that know them very well and understand their business problems and requirements. The sales team enjoys closing more deals faster with all their opportunity and customer details organized in the same easy to access location.

Make the purchase process easy for the customer with Financial System Integration

When a prospect makes the decision to buy your product they are choosing to become your customer. You want them to be excited about you and their purchase not regretting their decision because the paperwork to make it final is painful. The old sign-off process includes walking printed contracts around to executives, scanning and emailing pages, or faxing documents back and forth. And invoices need to be carefully checked against the quote and the contract for accuracy.

With connected cloud systems in place quote, contract, and invoice terms match because the accounting and sales systems are integrated. The approval process is fast and easy because documents can be emailed to all parties for electronic signatures. The customer’s excitement of the purchase is maintained with quick, easy approval and payment processes.

Companies that have their sales software integrated to their accounting system can be sure there are no errors from manual double entries – all contact and product information is consistent. Contracts can be created with a few simple clicks when information from integrated systems is used with proposal generating apps and eSignature tools. Signed contracts in the sales force software can trigger instant creation of an invoice in the accounting system. Automating these processes streamlines contracts and invoicing, and improves collection speeds.

Maintain the customer’s new purchase excitement with Customer Service Automation

Everyone likes to play with new toys and your customers are no different. Customers have questions even when they learn the simplest of products. Make them feel great about their choice in products and you as a vendor by providing them the best customer support with service automation. Knowledge bases allow them to find answers on their own. Communities bring customers together to discuss new uses and best practices. Customers will be delighted when their tougher issues are resolved quickly by your support team through multiple channels, like phone, email, and social networks.

Your support team can be more successful with the customer purchase information, shared from the sales database, case history, and common answers to frequent questions at their fingertips. The customer focus, attention to details, and superior support will positively reinforce the customer’s decision to purchase from you! And as mentioned at the beginning, happy customers buy more from vendors who give them great customer experiences.

Dell wants your business to be successful and help you show your customers why they should want to continue to work with you. Talk to us at Dell Cloud Business Applications to learn how to make your customers know that you can meet their needs and which business applications can help you make it happen.

Related Links:

About the Author: Helen Shaughnessy