Why do Companies create Self-Service Customer Portals?


Chantelle Fraser

CEO LeadSquared Africa

I am constantly blown away at how many times companies waste money because they don’t know enough to make an informed decision about what CRM software they should deploy in their business.

    • It ends up in an endless money-pit
    • It ends up in failed implementations
    • It does not add the value that was expected
    • It becomes just another system that can’t communicate with other core business systems

I remember back in the late 80’s, my father used to work for the railways like many of our fathers did. One of their company benefits was one free local air ticket on South African Airways every year.

For many families, that was the only time you would ever get to go on an aeroplane because it was just too expensive. The world of software is very similar and especially since the introduction of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). We have so many options today at great price points, but you need to know what you trying to solve today and, in the future, to make the right choice.

So how do you shop for airline tickets?

Like most people (I think), it comes down to these 4 things when are considering an airline to book a ticket with.

    • Routes
    • Prices
    • Legroom
    • On-board catering

When low-cost airlines were introduced my first choice was always Kulula. They travelled the local routes that I travelled, prices were way cheaper than SAA or British Airways. The money saved on the ticket out-weighed the little leg-room issue and having to buy your own food onboard.

Then kulula seemed to just have delays on pretty much every flight I booked with them and so I moved to mango.

Same thing, they travelled the local routes that I travelled, prices were way cheaper than SAA or British Airways. The money saved on the ticket out-weighed the little leg-room issue and having to buy your own food onboard.     

Then came FlySafAir. It took me about a year before I booked a flight with them, just because somebody told me their planes are super old and being a terrified flyer as it is, I was not going to take a chance.

Then one day, there were no other options and I needed to get onto a flight for an urgent client meeting, so FlySafAir it was.

I walked onto the plane, and not only did they travel my route, but they were also cheaper than both kulula, mango and they had the best legroom, and their customer experience is just amazing. They truly have it right. They have been my first choice since then.

Now we have LIFT. I have not travelled on LIFT yet. I believe they offer their clients a complimentary Vida e coffee and a snack on morning flights. I would not fly with an airline because of a coffee or a free snack. I would give LIFT a go simply because they allow you to change or cancel your flights up to 24 hours before departure without big prices attached to making the changes.

I shopped for an air ticket today

So, if you booked a ticket to fly from OR Tambo to King Shaka on the 24th of November on Kulula it will cost you R1401.15 and on British Airways R3879.65.

All I want to do is get from Johannesburg to Durban safely.

Why would I pay almost R2500 more for less legroom and a below average sandwich?

So now we come back to the world of Sales CRM.

There are over 800 CRMs out there to choose from.

With the wide range of different CRM solutions on the market, it can be challenging to figure out exactly which one is right for your business. Should you pick the mainstream one that is most widely known? Or go with another platform that might be more tailored to your specific business objectives?

This makes it a little harder shopping around than buying an air ticket but it’s the concept I am trying to share with you.

Go and google “The Best CRM software” and the first page results are obvious and between company results there will be software evaluation platforms that come up with their top lists. There are some great software evaluation platforms where their reviews are legit and then there are the ones you pay to be featured on. Just bear this in mind and remember don’t believe everything you read.

The best place to start is to be clear on what you want from a CRM.

Let me give you an example of what I mean….

This is my problem I have

I have a field sales team that need to ensure they visit our existing customers so we can keep our customers happy and increase repeat orders. I want my CRM to tell my sales reps what customers they need to visit each week and I want to see that all these visits have been completed with the status outcome of each. I have an excel sheet where I record how much my customers spend with us and I want to be able to segment these customers and automatically share updates with my sales reps so they can take be proactive and structured in their customer visits.

This means I will be able to see if there are any red flags that come up with existing customers so I can get involved and help my sales reps retain customers and keep them ordering.

If I solved this problem this is what it would look like for me

My sales team would be more productive. They would not have to guess what to do. They would have a plan that is backed by information. My sales reps would know by looking at one screen what segment our customers are in and if they drop from segment A to segment B, I want them to immediately get in touch with the customer to find out why spending has dropped and what we can do to remedy the spend reduction.

I would not have to micro-manage my sales team because I would have access to a dashboard that would show me where my sales reps have travelled each day and which customers have been visited.

My sales fulfilment team would be able to receive new orders that my sales reps capture during a meeting with a customer and get the orders out faster so we can accelerate our sales cycle and improve our customers ordering experience.

You should also not only look at your business today but write down what the future field sales team looks like.

The solution you choose today needs to have the ability to scale as your business grows and processes change. And what will it cost you when you expand into other countries and need to add multi-currency to your CRM?

This I highlighted in red because don’t just look at the out-of-box price for features. You need to consider what setup, training, integrations, customization, and customer support will cost you.

It’s like when you buy an air ticket on a low-cost airline, if you don’t pay close attention, you could easily increase the price of your ticket with the add-ons like baggage insurance, SMS alerts, priority boarding, seat selection and the list goes on.

Very importantly make a list of all your current software so that you can review if your current software is compatible with the CRM software you consider. While most of us global leading CRM software providers have no issue connecting applications through APIs, you still need to confirm these integrations are possible.

When you know what the problems are you want to solve and you know what the outcome would look like if you could solve this, you have a business requirement and now when you assess CRM software solutions you are going to focus on solutions that have experience in solving your use case. Don’t be afraid to ask for references and speak to other businesses using their CRM.

Looking at the breadth and depth of the CRM platforms and compatible marketing tools available today, it’s easy to see why CRM is so widely adopted: It offers rich, powerful functionality for organizations of every size. But that variety can make choosing the right suite of SaaS tools overwhelming.

In closing, look ahead at Sales Trends in 2022.

    • When evaluating CRMs your shortlist should include solutions that integrate with voice technology and conversational messaging. This makes it enjoyable for Sales Professionals to use and super easy to track, message, update and notify their teams in real-time.
    • Your CRM should align Sales and Marketing. This means less integrations and a solid tech stack.
    • I mentioned depth above because you should know that top CRMs offer advanced automation features and have already been investing heavily in automation over the last few years.
    • In 2022, CRMs are going to become more synonymous with automation because this helps optimize operational costs, something that businesses are realizing.
    • In 2022, more businesses will deploy their CRM tech throughout their businesses because a modern CRM is no longer just used by customer-facing teams. CRMs are now part of a companywide tech-stack.
    • And conversational channels will be a focus in 2022 as customers expect a faster, more efficient, and extraordinary experience when dealing with businesses.
    • So having a connected tech stack is the only way to fix this as it gives all your teams across all your channels access to all previous conversations in one place.
    • Self-Service via CRM will become standardized. WhatsApp Business API, Chatbots etc are already guiding prospects through marketing and sales pipelines, collecting data, asking questions, and delivering content to customers. Self-Service means customers get questions answered faster with less effort, 24/7.
    • In the 2020s, you should have no reason to distrust your customer data

The Biggest CRM Trend of 2022

If I must make one overall prediction for tech and CRM in 2022, it’s that more businesses will be using tech to automate what they don’t want to deal with — so they can focus on getting better results from the tasks they focus on.

The recipe for that is a strong CRM, automated workflows where possible, and a connected tech stack where data moves freely between your apps and the right CRM partner.