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Posts Tagged ‘CRM’

Web Apps you should NOT be developing from scratch

October 14th, 2009 No comments

I’m going to start with an analogy: Building some web applications (listed below) is like building a dresser yourself.

Let’s say you want a new dresser in your room. After thinking about it for a while, you decide to build it yourself because only you know what you want, but not only that, you have specific needs no one has had before. So you take the measurements and head to a hardware store. First of all you have to buy the tools, then some wood, steel or maybe plastic. For the drawers’ guide rails you notice that commercial versions are not to your specifications, so you end up trimming them to your own needs.

After a week or two of hard work and several trips back to the hardware store due to miscalculations, you are finally done. But the dresser is assembled in your garage, not in your room, so you have to move it up the stairs and have to call a friend for help because it’s really heavy.

Assuming everything went well and you didn’t hurt your back pushing this thing up, you finally have a new dresser, with some rough edges but it’s built to meet your needs. But you are not that happy because you just realized you can only put two and a half rows of clothes instead of three, that the guide rails get stuck really often because you trimmed them and that the whole structure is a little bit wobbly. Then you call a carpenter… who will recommend to build a new one himself.

I can continue the analogy, but I think you got it. After all you just spent more time, resources and money on a problem someone else already spent a great deal of time solving and making sure the solution is optimal.

What if you try a regular/commercial/popular dresser, at least if you don’t like it you can return it, or make small changes to make it work the way you want to.

Here is the list of the ones I hear more often:

  • E-commerce sites: usually what a entrepreneur with new products need. Plenty of options, from free to hosted with all payment options and even inventory and shipping integration.
  • Blog: the most popular. Great tools out there, with great plug-ins if you need extra features.
  • Online video players: do you want a playlist? Maybe votes? Different sizes, combinations, search engine friendly? It’s all there.
  • Online audio players: pretty much the same as video players
  • Social networking and group pages: do you want them private or public? Professional looking maybe?
  • Affiliate programs: this is a big one. If you want to run your adds, manage advertisers and channels, and distribute revenue, you can do it. Can be as cheap as 30 bucks.
  • Photo albums: again… what can you think of that nobody had the idea before?? Scrolling images? Fades? 3D? sort by date, size, keyword?
  • Wikis: What I’ve found here is that people don’t know the name of it. Usually they describe it as: [I need] a way to have a document that several people modify constantly at different locations, and I want also keep track of the changes. Basic wikis do this, and more…
  • Newsletter systems: what do you need? Tracking? Ease of use? Ability to manage your contact list? Design? Avoid being marked as spam? You got it!
  • CRM and sales software: free, hosted, open source, you name it.
  • Content management Systems: This one is a little tricky, because you can use a blog, a group page. Depends on your needs.

Let me know if you know other applications that should be on this list, or tell me about your personal story.

A good idea poorly executed is a bad idea.

August 14th, 2008 1 comment

Sorry for not writing earlier but I’ve been very busy.
Well… lets start again…

All of you must agree with me that the most important part of the business is the customer since without them there is no business at all. Also it is overwhelmingly true that the easiest sell is to you current customer. Based on these two statements, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) has its reason to exists, helping companies to keep their customers happy thus buying more from them. Ways to implement CRMs are for example call centers, rewards programs, etc.
The question is, what if your CRM system is alienating your customer? Let take a closer look based on personal experience:
The great idea: Offer online (real –time) chat support to customers while they are in your webpage, so they don’t have to call, send an email or go the company’s office. Great!
Well folks, let me tell you that the road to hell is built with good intentions, here is an example. I have Amica as insurance company for my car and I recently moved to a different city so I have to change my plates and my type of insurance, so I went to the web page and while I was reviewing my policy a banner caught my attention, it said: “Get help from an online agent. Live chat”, and I thought to myself: sweeeeet!
After rigorous process of confirming your personal information, I painted the picture to the Valeria, girl on the other side of the screen and I asked her to change my plates on the system for the new ones and she replied: “ I can’t do that over chat, you will have to call.” Then I asked for a quote, and he said: I can’t give you a quote over chat.” What???  Then I asked for information regarding cancellation and guess what was the answer… yes… she can’t cancel my insurance over chat.
So I closed the chat window really disappointed. Just imagine, I contacted Amica to give them more business, that is, more money for them… I went to knock on their door to give them cash and they said… NOT NOW, call me later. And this is an insurance company, could you imagine what would happen the day I’m making a claim for some damages? If it’s hard for them to take my cash I can’t imagine how difficult would be to take some from them.
This is not an isolated event, I had a similar problem with Verizon and an airline (don’t remember which one).  Verizon’s guy was funnier, after several I-can’t-help-you answers, he had the silly idea of asking me: “Is there anything else I can help you with?”… I typed: “I can’t reply that over chat, sorry”
This post could not be complete without making some suggestions to Amica, Verizon and to the people who offer these services (because my best guess is that this is an outsourced service):
–    If you can’t help me, call me or ask me how else can you help me, not just push me away.
–    Remember that the agent in contact with your customer is the face, voice or text of the company at that moment, don’t screw that up.
–    If you are there to answer questions about the services, put the live chat offering only on the pages where makes sense, not where you know you can’t help me.
I’ll stop here, if you want to know more about how to fix these little nuances that will give your clients a headache, hire me.
In the meantime I will say bye to Amica and Verizon as soon as possible.
Have a great weekend!