Your Business Needs Better Habits

In 2014, the London subway system partly shut down after its employees went on a couple-day strike. This resulted in chaos for London’s extensive network of commuters, who had long relied on the subway to get to and from work.

During the strike, however, five percent of the city’s regular commuters [requires registration] actually found a better and more efficient way to get to work. And they stuck with it.

“Of course, commuters could have experimented with alternative routes even without a strike,” Wendy Wood, a professor of psychology and business at the University of Southern California, writes in her book Good Habits, Bad Habits. “But in the rush of daily life, we don’t often take the time to experiment.” As Wood says, “We find something that works well enough, and we don’t consider alternatives.”

“Something as frequent and routine as the way we commute to work is a habit that helps us achieve predictable and efficient results — for example, automatically getting in your car and driving to work frees up your mind to work through more thought-intensive challenges. Similarly, businesses can also apply the latest research on habit-building to make smarter and more sustainable decisions,” says Wood.

“Although habit formation is an individual phenomenon, it also is captured in the tension you see at an organizational level — especially in the conflict that can arise between whether to exploit or explore,” says Wood.

Exploitation

When we rely on existing habits, we free up mental space to tackle problems that require more creativity. Initially, these actions might have required thought and effort, but over time and after many repetitions, they become second nature. We repeat actions into habits because they achieve the outcomes we want. That’s what makes them useful to exploit.

When businesses exploit their version of habits, they solidify organizational practices and create processes based on past successes. This might involve a standard process for recruiting candidates or a tried-and-tested product development timeline.

Exploitation, or relying on a set of habits, can be very effective, especially when your business environment is stable and you can predict fairly accurately how things are going to turn out.

Exploration

But environments rarely do stay the same. Habits that served your business well in the past may no longer be effective in a world where external factors change so quickly. Brands like Compaq, Blockbuster, and Polaroid are all examples of companies that over-relied on exploiting their business habits without reevaluating them against the context of a rapidly changing business environment, according to Wood.

“Relying on what you’ve done in the past can be very attractive because you know how things are going to turn out,” says Wood. “But if your environment suddenly changes, those habits will no longer serve you.”

Blockbuster, for example, relied too heavily on a familiar business model that favored its brick-and-mortar stores instead of a burgeoning video-on-demand offering, ultimately ignoring competitive threats from Netflix and other streaming services. This dependence on existing practices in the context of a changing business environment eventually sped up the collapse of this video rental company. 

“Exploration is innovating and doing new things. It’s what allows organizations to change,” says Wood.

Finding the balance

A balance, however, is critical. Some businesses, especially start-ups, are known to over-rely on exploration. A start-up founder’s exploratory mindset is often what motivated them to build their business in the first place. But too many startups are exploring without setting up procedures that enable them to scale innovations or succeed over time. 

“This is where we tend to see startups flame out—when they are not set up sufficiently with effective processes to exploit,” says Wood. “But if they’re actually going to survive, they need the other elements, much of which are not valued in the same way, such as HR and operations.” – Read more

What Is the Difference Between Operational and Analytical CRM?

Customer relationship management (CRM) software is a great foundation for growing your business and empowering it with the functions to run smoothly. However, no two CRM systems are designed alike; each software can be categorized according to its speciality, such as operational and analytical.

So what are the differences between operational and analytical CRM software? An operational CRM tackles processing and day-to-day operations, while an analytical CRM handles strategy, analytics, and other functions that aren’t directly related to customer interactions. This article will discuss both types of CRM and how your organization can choose which type is best for you.

Operational vs Analytical: Key Differences and Features

Operational CRM and analytical CRM utilize the same approach but address different problems. The major difference is that operational CRM is focused on customer-facing processes, while analytical CRM is more attuned to developing the organization’s systems through customer insights.

Operational CRM

The primary goal of an operational CRM is to reduce the time you spend on repetitive business tasks through automation. It provides essential support for these tasks so you can take better care of your customers. You can organize the information you base your decisions on and maximize how you sell, market, and retain customers. The three basic features are sales automation, marketing automation, and service automation.

  • Sales automation: Operational CRM allows you to incorporate various efforts and automate your entire sales process. Instead of being preoccupied with administrative work or data entry, you can nurture relationships with customers since you can:
    • Auto-populate customer profiles from internal and external sources
    • Integrate the database from multiple applications to reduce data entry requirements
    • Organize your leads and automate a lead-nurturing workflow.
  • Marketing automation: With marketing automation, engaging prospects and customers becomes a breeze. For example, when a customer makes inquiries about a certain product, marketing automation can target them with relevant ads afterwards. Marketing automation will help you scale your marketing efforts. Some of the things you can do are:
    • Send leads through an automated email campaign
    • Organize marketing collateral for accessibility
    • Reach out to prospects based specific triggers
    • Target prospects with content appropriate for their marketing funnel stage
  • Service automation: The service automation feature helps your organization provide better service and improve relationships after every customer interaction. By providing consistently excellent service, you can increase customer retention. With service automation, you can:
    • Identify customers who are encountering difficulties and provide assistance
    • Automatically send helpful resources related to a customer’s inquiry
    • Send follow-up messages to customers
    • Keep a record of a customer’s history for faster case resolution

Analytical CRM

In every organization, a large amount of information flows throughout daily – but this information isn’t valuable until insights are extracted from it. Analytical CRM solves this problem by looking at customer information from various touch points so you can evaluate your business’s performance.

This helps upper management, marketing, sales, and support teams find areas for improving customer service. Here are some key areas where analytical CRM can help your organization with:

  • Customer retention: You can maintain a good relationship with existing customers by automatically scheduling appointments, sending special promotions or deals on certain dates, and analyzing additional information from third-party sources to improve your understanding of their needs.
  • Customer acquisition: You can discover which leads are good opportunities to pursue, which ones are more likely to make a purchase, or who needs to be contacted with more information.
  • Data management: You can find actionable insights including which communication channels are frequently-used by customers, how many people open the emails you send, and what kind of content they prefer to see.
  • Report generation: You can spend less time manually creating a report on your findings. With a few clicks, you can program the software to generate customer, market, service, and channel analysis to help you create a customer relationship management strategy that is aligned with your organization’s goals and values.

Which Type Is Better For My Business?

Both types are useful in different ways, but maximizing CRM features depends on how suitable the software is for your organization and its needs. – Read more

Looking for CRM? Start with the free ones.

Free CRM tools can be the best way to get familiar with the CRM concept. After all, they are free!!!

In fact, when you use a pen and paper to plan your customer activities, it already is a customer relationship management. But in today’s world, a pen and paper is not enough. You need a professional CRM tool. No matter whether you are good at IT or not, you are more effective with good CRM.

Using a free CRM software, you can take your time to learn to use it without the pressure of committing money to something that will turn out to be a mistake. Only when you start fully using it, you can find out which features suit you and your business most. Also, you can “shop around“ (i.e. for free) before settling on a specific vendor.

This is a very important benefit of free CRMs because CRM doesn’t just get popped into a workflow and does what it is supposed to. People need to understand CRM to see tangible and positive benefits for their business.

Consider your needs and workplace

Word-of-mouth is a good thing but watch out. Your needs might be specific as well as your workplace. Do you work at your office solely? Do your team members work in the field or from home? Then you have to keep in mind that you may need more than just an online tool. Working in the field means being without connection from time to time. You need software that can work offline and gets synchronized when online again. Certainly, a mobile CRM application is very useful too. 

Second, you should consider the mail client you use because emails are still one of the most common types of communications. You don‘t want to use two different environments. If you work with Microsoft Outlook, you need to have CRM that is embedded in this mail agent. Otherwise, it might be difficult to cope with your old or archived emails. 

Needs to grow with you

Except for the user interface, you need to consider the CRM features and functions. Bear in mind that your business will grow and its needs will evolve. Therefore, you should specify the basic functions you need at the moment as well as those that your business will need sooner or later. People usually start with contact and customer management. Sales and email tracking are often the must-have too. Later on, you will need reporting and marketing modules. Just take your time to think about it. Of course, the best option is to go for the system that offers all the modules. With your business growing, you can use them all at the end.

Be aware of limitations

Free CRMs usually exist as feature-limited, time-limited, or data volume-limited iterations of a paid version. Deciding on a particular CRM can therefore be hard. That is why vendors offer free versions to help take the guessing game out of the decision-making process. It is always a great opportunity for users to try CRM and see if it’s a good fit before fully committing.

Also, it pays back to check on licenses the CRM vendor offers. Usually, you can go for monthly/yearly subscriptions or lifetime ones. In both cases, there should be at least two versions – the basic and business ones. Often, the three versions, i.e. the basic, essential, and business/premium, are the best solution. You should be able to switch to a premium program once your business is really big.

Ultimately, understanding how customer relationship management works and how you can use its full potential will open up many new possibilities for your business. And be sure that good CRM will bring success to your business.   

Learn more About eWay System s.r.o.