Leverage Social CRM, Billing To Better Engage And Understand Your Customers

Leverage Social CRM, Billing To Better Engage And Understand Your Customers

If your organization is doing business in the cloud and SaaS space, you know it’s all about managing your funnel and your opportunities. The entire organization needs to focus on streamlining the quote-to-cash process. However, you also need to consider the business buzzword of the year: “social.” There’s social media, the social enterprise, social games, apps and more. But let’s bring social back to its roots; social is really about communicating and understanding one another. In fact, “Know thy customer” should be a core tenet of any business. Social media and online service businesses simply enable far more touch-points by which to know your customers. Business owners can monitor what customers say and then capture basic information to manage customer relationships, but transactions and purchases provide insight to further define the relationships. It’s the financial details that provide unique context to each relationship. From the time you provide customers with a quote to the time they pay, the relationship is transitioning from a personal one to a monetary one. The relationship could be a subscription like Pandora, a contractual relationship like insurance or a metered usage relationship like downloads or compute power. But like most relationships, it is the details that provide the context. And to drive additional SaaS recurring revenue, you need that context.

The challenge today, however, is that the most popular customer relationship management (CRM) solutions are predominantly sales contact and lead management tools. Their ability to understand service businesses is rather limited since they were designed for a SKU-based world. They are ill equipped to understand the changing financial elements and touch-points of a modern service. This is why CRM applications need to integrate with billing applications that can model the full details of established agreements.

By integrating their CRM solutions with billing applications, businesses can bring key elements of modern service relationships from the billing system’s “brains” directly into the user interface (UI) of the CRM. In doing so, a business can release the power of social CRM and gain a substantial return on investment from these tools.  For example, in a business-to-business environment, a sales representative often needs to provide his customer with a quote. If he can easily reference advanced product elements within the billing system and generate quotes for various service elements, he can engage the customer and present him with a quote in the context of the moment. If the customer agrees to the order, the sales rep can initiate the sale and enrolment directly from the CRM screens he knows best. This newer quote-to-enrolment workflow removes many of the silo hassles found in enterprise sales environments. In addition, the billing system can generate appropriate notifications to a service or provisioning platform and take over the forward monetization of that customer.

Access to the financial position of the business and the customer enables deeper interactions with customers in real time. If a sales rep has access to the financial history between a customer and the company, he can better serve his customer. If the customer is actively talking about a service issue, the sales or service rep can pro-actively assess the situation. If the customer is of high value, the rep can assist in saving the customer, but if the customer is on a free trial or freemium model, the sales rep will have had little interaction with him. In a cloud and SaaS business model, customer metrics are foundational. By presenting monthly recurring revenue (MRR), annual recurring revenue (ARR) and the contract or lifetime value (LTV) of the client into the CRM system, a sales rep has a far better visibility into the client.

In SaaS, clickstream activity also allows for a richer social understanding by comparing the behaviours of customers to other cohort groupings. Based on real-time analysis of a customer’s activity, businesses can up sell more effectively, since they are more aware of specific customer needs, but timing is key. Reaching out to customers after their moment of need may only be partially successful. The future of CRM will require integration of both real-time behavioural analysis and the ability to automatically respond to the customers.

So in order to move from quotes to customers to revenue, start with the billing system. It is the billing solution that models the unique relationship elements needed to support today’s consumptive, service-based economy. Then see what integrations and API documentation are offered to support a quote-to-cash model. Some of the most advanced billing systems today offer off-the-shelf package integrations through marketplaces like www.salesforce.AppExchange.com. By downloading the package, one can extend the hierarchical and service-based financial elements of the billing system into the CRM UI. This can help remove much of the relationship friction today’s service businesses face. Additionally, if your business employs a self-service model, it can leverage APIs to enrol customers directly via the billing system and sync that with the CRM, which can then be accessed by support or account management teams.

Ultimately, we live in a relationship-defined world, and relationships grow as parties share information. By presenting a more complete understanding of a customer to the individuals or systems that must support him, companies gain a far better perspective, of the customer’s service needs and his value to the business. Additionally, today is the age of the API. APIs real value is to allow unfettered connectivity between systems. SaaS businesses that have data silos can be crippled by lack of data visibility.  However, businesses can now tear down system-based silos that characterized yesterday’s marketing, sales, operations and finance and support organizations. Contemporary models enable the two currents of billing and CRM to converge, allowing businesses to better know their customers and remove the friction that prevented more effective monetization of customer relationships.

The future for cloud, SaaS and social business models is focused around the power of social CRM and billing data combined. It is not just about tweeting, AdWords or liking a Facebook business page. Social CRM and billing involves building a complete relationship model and holistic financial picture of the customer. Only then can a SaaS business engage and respond to customers in valuable ways that impact the bottom line of the organization and drives organizational valuation.

By Scott Swartz

Founder and CEO of MetraTech: Scott has more than 20 years of experience in the software and services industry. Scott founded MetraTech in 1998, after spending time at NetCentric, an early entrant in the business of cloud computing and where he created the industry’s first SGML/XML billing protocol. Before NetCentric, Scott was a Director at Cambridge Technology Partners, a pioneer in the delivery of client/server solutions for large enterprises. At CTP, he led the deployment of complex customer care, billing, and logistics solutions for Fortune 100 and 500 companies. Scott holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical, computer and systems engineering from Harvard University. 

About CloudTweaks

Established in 2009, CloudTweaks is recognized as one of the leading authorities in connected technology information and services.

We embrace and instill thought leadership insights, relevant and timely news related stories, unbiased benchmark reporting as well as offer green/cleantech learning and consultive services around the world.

Our vision is to create awareness and to help find innovative ways to connect our planet in a positive eco-friendly manner.

In the meantime, you may connect with CloudTweaks by following and sharing our resources.

View All Articles

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.

Comic
Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Education Tech and the Cloud Arguably one of society’s most important functions, teaching can still seem antiquated at times. Many schools still function similarly to how they did five or 10 years ago, which is surprising considering the amount of technical innovation we’ve seen in the past decade. Education is an industry ripe for innovation…

5% Of Companies Have Embraced The Digital Innovation Fostered By Cloud Computing

5% Of Companies Have Embraced The Digital Innovation Fostered By Cloud Computing

Embracing The Cloud We love the stories of big complacent industry leaders having their positions sledge hammered by nimble cloud-based competitors. Saleforce.com chews up Oracle’s CRM business. Airbnb has a bigger market cap than Marriott. Amazon crushes Walmart (and pretty much every other retailer). We say: “How could they have not seen this coming?” But, more…

What Futuristic Tech Will You See In Your Lifetime?

What Futuristic Tech Will You See In Your Lifetime?

Futuristic Tech The world and what people can do is increasingly being driven by technology. It has already shaped the world we live in, but over the next few decades it is set to shape the world in ways that we can barely imagine. There have already been some great leaps in IoT technology recently,…

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Hiding Spots

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – Hiding Spots

By David Fletcher Please feel free to share our comics via social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest. Clear attribution (Twitter example: via@cloudtweaks) to our original comic sources is greatly appreciated.

Recent Articles - Posted by
Fintech Exploiting AI and Blockchain Technology

Fintech Exploiting AI and Blockchain Technology

AI and Blockchain Technology The field of artificial intelligence (AI) had progressed rapidly in the last ten years, though first recognized in the 1950s. From autonomous motor vehicles to digital personal assistants, the technology is making its way into a variety of industries, enabling better task automation, language processing, and data analytics. But more recently,…

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Achieving Network Security In The IoT

Security In The IoT The network security market is experiencing a pressing and transformative change, especially around access control and orchestration. Although it has been mature for decades, the network security market had to transform rapidly with the advent of the BYOD trend and emergence of the cloud, which swept enterprises a few years ago.…

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

Cancer Moonshot In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama announced a new American “moonshot” effort: finding a cure for cancer. The term “moonshot” comes from one of America’s greatest achievements, the moon landing. If the scientific community can achieve that kind of feat, then surely it can rally around…

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 1

Data Breaches: Incident Response Planning – Part 1

Incident Response Planning – Part 1 The topic of cybersecurity has become part of the boardroom agendas in the last couple of years, and not surprisingly — these days, it’s almost impossible to read news headlines without noticing yet another story about a data breach. As cybersecurity shifts from being a strictly IT issue to…

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions Running a cloud server is no longer the novel trend it once was. Now, the cloud is a necessary data tier that allows employees to access vital company data and maintain productivity from anywhere in the world. But it isn’t a perfect system — security and performance issues can quickly…

Five Signs The Internet of Things Is About To Explode

Five Signs The Internet of Things Is About To Explode

The Internet of Things Is About To Explode By 2020, Gartner estimates that the Internet of Things (IoT) will generate incremental revenue exceeding $300 billion worldwide. It’s an astoundingly large figure given that the sector barely existed three years ago. We are now rapidly evolving toward a world in which just about everything will become…

Utilizing Digital Marketing Techniques Via The Cloud

Utilizing Digital Marketing Techniques Via The Cloud

Digital Marketing Trends In the past, trends in the exceptionally fast-paced digital marketing arena have been quickly adopted or abandoned, keeping marketers and consumers on their toes. 2016 promises a similarly expeditious temperament, with a few new digital marketing offerings taking center stage. According to Gartner’s recent research into Digital Marketing Hubs, brands plan to…

Five Cloud Questions Every CIO Needs To Know How To Answer

Five Cloud Questions Every CIO Needs To Know How To Answer

The Hot Seat Five cloud questions every CIO needs to know how to answer The cloud is a powerful thing, but here in the CloudTweaks community, we already know that. The challenge we have is validating the value it brings to today’s enterprise. Below, let’s review five questions we need to be ready to address…

Disaster Recovery – A Thing Of The Past!

Disaster Recovery – A Thing Of The Past!

Disaster Recovery  Ok, ok – I understand most of you are saying disaster recovery (DR) is still a critical aspect of running any type of operations. After all – we need to secure our future operations in case of disaster. Sure – that is still the case but things are changing – fast. There are…

Cloud Computing Myths That SMBs Should Know

Cloud Computing Myths That SMBs Should Know

Cloud Computing and SMBs Cloud Computing is the hottest issue among IT intellects of Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs). Like any other computer-orientated technology, Cloud Computing has some misconceptions and myths that often kick-start arguments among the two opposing groups: Cloud Supporters and Cloud Opponents. Both of these groups have their own ideology and reasons…

Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

Four Reasons Why CIOs Must Transform IT Into ITaaS To Survive

CIOs Must Transform IT The emergence of the Cloud and its three delivery models of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) has dramatically impacted and forever changed the delivery of IT services. Cloud services have pierced the veil of IT by challenging traditional method’s dominance…