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
Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Five Requirements for Supporting a Connected Workforce It used to be that enterprises dictated how workers spent their day: stuck in a cubicle, tied to an enterprise-mandated computer, an enterprise-mandated desk phone with mysterious buttons, and perhaps an enterprise-mandated mobile phone if they traveled. All that is history. Today, a modern workforce is dictating how…

Four Keys For Telecoms Competing In A Digital World

Four Keys For Telecoms Competing In A Digital World

Competing in a Digital World Telecoms, otherwise largely known as Communications Service Providers (CSPs), have traditionally made the lion’s share of their revenue from providing pipes and infrastructure. Now CSPs face increased competition, not so much from each other, but with digital service providers (DSPs) like Netflix, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, all of whom…

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

The Security Gap: What Is Your Core Strength?

The Security Gap You’re out of your mind if you think blocking access to file sharing services is filling a security gap. You’re out of your mind if you think making people jump through hoops like Citrix and VPNs to get at content is secure. You’re out of your mind if you think putting your…

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…

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

Governance, Risk and Compliance Businesses are under pressure to deliver against a backdrop of evolving regulations and security threats. In the face of such challenges they strive to perform better, be leaner, cut costs and be more efficient. Effective governance, risk and compliance (GRC) can help preserve the business’ corporate integrity and protect the brand,…

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT YOUR NEXT ENTERPRISE FILE SHARING SOLUTION

5 THINGS TO CONSIDER ABOUT YOUR NEXT ENTERPRISE FILE SHARING SOLUTION

Enterprise File Sharing Solution Businesses have varying file sharing needs. Large, multi-regional businesses need to synchronize folders across a large number of sites, whereas small businesses may only need to support a handful of users in a single site. Construction or advertising firms require sharing and collaboration with very large (several Gigabytes) files. Financial services…

Are CEO’s Missing Out On Big Data’s Big Picture?

Are CEO’s Missing Out On Big Data’s Big Picture?

Big Data’s Big Picture Big data allows marketing and production strategists to see where their efforts are succeeding and where they need some work. With big data analytics, every move you make for your company can be backed by data and analytics. While every business venture involves some level of risk, with big data, that risk…

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Connecting With Customers In The Cloud

Customers in the Cloud Global enterprises in every industry are increasingly turning to cloud-based innovators like Salesforce, ServiceNow, WorkDay and Aria, to handle critical systems like billing, IT services, HCM and CRM. One need look no further than Salesforce’s and Amazon’s most recent earnings report, to see this indeed is not a passing fad, but…

5 Predictions For Education Technology

5 Predictions For Education Technology

Education Technology Although technology has fast influenced most sectors of our world, education is an area that’s lagged behind. Many classrooms still employ the one-to-many lecturing model wherein the average student is catered for while a few are left behind, and others bored. Recently, there’s been a drive to uncover how to use technology successfully…

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

How to Identify and Authenticate in the Expanding IoT Ecosystem It is a necessity to protect IoT devices and their associated data. As the IoT ecosystem continues to expand, the need to create an identity to newly-connected things is becoming increasingly crucial. These ‘things’ can include anything from basic sensors and gateways to industrial controls…

The Internet of Things Lifts Off To The Cloud

The Internet of Things Lifts Off To The Cloud

The Staggering Size And Potential Of The Internet of Things Here’s a quick statistic that will blow your mind and give you a glimpse into the future. When you break that down, it translates to 127 new devices online every second. In only a decade from now, every single vehicle on earth will be connected…

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter

Using Big Data To Make Cities Smarter The city of the future is impeccably documented. Sensors are used to measure air quality, traffic patterns, and crowd movement. Emerging neighborhoods are quickly recognized, public safety threats are found via social networks, and emergencies are dealt with quicklier. Crowdsourcing reduces commuting times, provides people with better transportation…

Infographic: IoT Programming Essential Job Skills

Infographic: IoT Programming Essential Job Skills

Learning To Code As many readers may or may not know we cover a fair number of topics surrounding new technologies such as Big data, Cloud computing , IoT and one of the most critical areas at the moment – Information Security. The trends continue to dictate that there is a huge shortage of unfilled…

Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud We’ve been covering cloud computing extensively over the past number of years on CloudTweaks and have truly enjoyed watching the adoption and growth of it. Many novices are still trying to wrap their mind around what the cloud it is and what it does, while others such as thought…

Expert Insights Into The Yahoo Breach

Expert Insights Into The Yahoo Breach

Yahoo Breach Latest reports suggest that the recent Yahoo! data breach may exceed 500 million records, with some sources implying millions more records penetrated, upping the total number of records stolen in various recent hacks to approximately 3.5 billion. CloudTweaks spoke to Kevin O’Brien, CEO of GreatHorn, for expert insight into this latest violation. GreatHorn…

Using Private Cloud Architecture For Multi-Tier Applications

Using Private Cloud Architecture For Multi-Tier Applications

Cloud Architecture These days, Multi-Tier Applications are the norm. From SharePoint’s front-end/back-end configuration, to LAMP-based websites using multiple servers to handle different functions, a multitude of apps require public and private-facing components to work in tandem. Placing these apps in entirely public-facing platforms and networks simplifies the process, but at the cost of security vulnerabilities. Locating everything…

Big Data’s Significant Role In Fintech

Big Data’s Significant Role In Fintech

Data Banking Fintech covers a range of financial fields such as retail banking, investments, and lending and thanks to the mobile and internet innovations of late is a thriving sector. Offering improvements which drive customer satisfaction and education in an area previously inscrutable and dictated by gigantic inflexible corporations, fintech is helping put the power…

Battle of the Clouds: Multi-Instance vs. Multi-Tenant

Battle of the Clouds: Multi-Instance vs. Multi-Tenant

Multi-Instance vs. Multi-Tenant The cloud is part of everything we do. It’s always there backing up our data, pictures, and videos. To many, the cloud is considered to be a newer technology. However, cloud services actually got their start in the late 90s when large companies used it as a way to centralize computing, storage,…

Infographic: 9 Things To Know About Business Intelligence (BI) Software

Infographic: 9 Things To Know About Business Intelligence (BI) Software

Business Intelligence (BI) Software  How does your company track its data? It’s a valuable resource—so much so that it’s known as Business Intelligence, or BI. But using it, integrating it into your daily processes, that can be significantly difficult. That’s why there’s software to help. But when it comes to software, there are lots of…