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Paper Is So Last Century
Superior customer service resides in the integration between structured data and its unstructured backup documentation.
Posted Apr 29, 2010
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Industries providing customer service deal with so much paper that finding better ways to manage this information has become essential to basic daily operations and survival. Many industries, such as legal, financial and healthcare, also have to meet regulatory requirements to avoid the possibility of facing jail time. With the recent economy, businesses are being pushed to "do more with less" and that includes improving customer satisfaction and enhancing the customer relationship experience. CRM and document management are proven standalone technologies that help businesses provide good service. The latest trend is to integrate these technologies in a way that brings improved efficiencies and responsiveness to customer needs.

As business processes evolve, so must the software applications you use. Integrating the right types of software, particularly CRM and document management, will help grow your business by allowing you to improve the customer experience, enhance customer loyalty, and recognize a more productive and happy staff. Efficient business operations ensure efficient customer service.

It's important to evaluate the workload of your customer service department or call center and determine how much time and management is necessary to keep all operations running smoothly. If you are already using a CRM system, you are aware of the operational benefits of leveraging technology to aid your company in becoming more efficient. You want a CRM application that knows your industry — one that offers simple customization, pain-free implementation, and a wide-ranging feature set that includes the ability to help manage contacts, schedules, quotes, sales, service orders, contracts, technicians, inventory, projects, and more.

For those that aren't utilizing CRM technology in day-to-day business processes, it's much easier to integrate this type of application than most businesses realize. The same is true for document management software.

Implementing CRM with document management software applications offers an intuitive, secure and affordable filing approach that connects the paperless office and document workflow with front and back office service automation that scales with business growth. CRM enables companies across a wide spectrum of industries to better track customers, streamline sales, improve marketing, optimize service, better control inventory, and more. Integrating document management will allow you to effortlessly move between both applications to eliminate costly and time-consuming manual paper-based processes. The two applications should work seamlessly together and bring business service automation together with document management on a single screen with centrally managed and instantly accessible documents.

How does it work?

When using both CRM and document management and a new account is added in your CRM application, a corresponding folder should automatically be created in your document management software. Folder index data should also update automatically when a change is made in the CRM system. For example, if a customer gets a new phone number in the CRM system, the document management software should automatically update the corresponding folder index. Users should also have access to documents filed into the document management software directly from the CRM application. Individual user access rights and ability to create edit, view documents, or perform other activities can automatically be enforced and logged by the document management system. Document workflow capabilities and integrating with Microsoft Outlook also makes collaborating, filing and sending information a seamless process.

Other benefits of integration include:

  • Organization — easy access to client information; all in one place.
  • Efficiency — consistent filing structure accelerates filing and retrieving information.
  • Workflow — automate the flow of documents through everyday tasks
  • Return on Investment — control labor expenses, minimize filing cabinet, and associated paper consumable costs, reclaim valuable floor space.

It's important to strive and find better ways to improve business processes. By integrating software applications such as CRM and document management, you are enhancing your current offerings, and ultimately providing the best value to the customer. Other integrations should also be considered (i.e., accounting, enterprise resource planning, etc.), but the impact a CRM/document management combo delivers is a tasty low-hanging fruit.

About the Authors

James True (jtrue@cabinetng.com) is a seasoned, multifaceted executive with a proven record in blending strategic thinking with technical insight to help businesses grow and overcome the challenges brought on by growth. He is the vice president of business development at Cabinet NG (www.cabinetng.com), a leading document management software company based in Madison, Ala.

Debra Kramerage (dkramerage@tigerpawsoftware.com) is a design and media professional at Tigerpaw Software (www.tigerpawsoftware.com), a leading developer of integrated CRM, service automation, and inventory control software. Debra provides top public relations content and industry related news that goes out to more than 25,000 users daily.

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Please note that the Viewpoints listed in CRM magazine and appearing on destinationCRM.com represent the perspective of the authors, and not necessarily those of the magazine or its editors

You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" below.

If you would like to submit a Viewpoint for consideration on a topic related to customer relationship management, please email viewpoints@destinationCRM.com.

For the rest of the April 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here.

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