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Archive for August 2011

Of Course You Have Questions – or a day in the life of an ACT Consultant

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The following article is another guest blog post by Leslie Munson, Customer Service Rep for our company.

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Let me start off by saying to me blogs are very intimidating.  You need to watch your spelling (although you have spell checker which by the way doesn’t catch the grammar mistakes), not have short sentences and paragraphs, build a lead in story,  have good content or what I’m trying to say is write  something people will be interested in reading or gain some knowledge.

Blogs should be informative and have real meat to them to which the reader can relate or learn from.  There is an art to writing or rattling on about a subject.  I’m stepping out of my comfort zone.  So here I am giving it a shot, blogging about the real meat of this blog article – You call, of course you have questions.

Something I do everyday is work with and take phone calls about ACT!   The calls consist of “I’ve purchased ACT! and I want to utilize it the best way for our business” or “I have an error”, or “how do you do this”, “ can you help me install the wizard I just purchased” and even something like “ I want to upgrade and have to convert my data.”

What I’m leading into is I’m not a geek.  I don’t necessarily have all the answers. I try to ask the right questions and then I know where to look for an answer.    Of course I can ask my bosses, who are, I  might add, the most intelligent, knowledgeable and gracious people I know,  but I usually prefer to try and find the answer on my own.  For one, I learn from it and hopefully retain what I’ve learned.

That’s when I start on the detective work.  I find reading posts on the Sage Act Community Forum to be very helpful and I Google. Other places I do research are on the Act Certified Consultant (ACC) News Group, Sage ACT Certified Consultant Partner Portal (this one can test your patience) and yes sometimes even calling Sage support.

The ACT Community is so important.  Members jump right in to help.  Take a moment and really think about it.  You have ACC’s, Sage Support, and ACT! Users  who  frequent the forums.  You’re receiving information from geeks to just plain users.   Imagine the brain power you are tapping into here, how awesome.  So, my suggestion is start with the Sage ACT Community Forum.

After working with a client I  say  “if you have any questions don’t hesitate to call.”  Always.   And I mean it.  Even if you have what you consider to be a silly question.  Then I’ll say “or check out the ACT! Community Forum.”  To me it’s a no brainer.   Yes, I’m an ACC and I have our internal ACC Community forums.  The public doesn’t  have the ability to view the ACC Discussion board but the Sage ACT Community forum is open to anyone and there are other social sites such as  LinkedIn, FacebookTwitter and even Youtube..

Oh and by the way my bosses are Pat and Don Egen! Lov’em to pieces.

In closing, the key message here is look around for your answers.  I do. As for blogging, I was inspired to write this and I’m glad I did.  Another day of learning and teaching – I couldn’t ask for more.  In fact, I just heard about the Gotomeeting HD Face feature – ah  that’s another blog article.

Leslie Munson, CSR, Patricia Egen Consulting

(note – great article Leslie – Pat.)

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Written by pregen

August 12, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

“How’s the weather?” – Or Don’t forget the R in CRM

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The following post is from a guest blogger – Tony Berastegui.

Over 95% of my clients have never met me face to face.  You see, I work in inside sales and most, if not all of my business is done over the phone or by email.  No opportunities for a handshake, lunch, or round of golf here.  Yet, I have very good relationships with my current account base and always looking for new relationships with my new business efforts.  How?  Nothing beats face to face interactions, but there are very simple ways to build that relationship without ever meeting in person.

Video phones would be the easiest solution.  However, I mostly communicate with small to medium business owners where the good ol’ phone is king.  Email is still very powerful when used correctly.  However, the phone is still the best method to build that very important relationship.   My customers buy because they like me.  I sell a very common service in a competitive market and people don’t buy just on price.  They want to work with someone they can trust, so in my case, building a strong relationship is crucial.

So, when dealing with phone calls, I never rely on a script and every call is different.  It has to be.  Not everyone is equal and if you stick to a script, you may guarantee yourself that all the details will be delivered – but at what cost?  Sounding like a robot, maybe.

When I prospect or reach out to existing accounts I always take a minute to find something to talk about before I make the call. Current events, trade news, and yes, the weather are topics that I look for.  ACT! helps me a lot with tracking notes for talking points for both prospects and clients.  For example, Bill the plumber, lives in Alabama and he loves to talk about his son and his golf game.  Well, right before I reach out to Bill to check on his latest order, I check my notes in ACT! and note that the last time we talked, Bill told me his son was breaking in his new golf driver.  With that in mind, here is how I start that call. “Hey Bill!  Tony here.  So is the little guy hitting the big stick 200 yards yet?”    This easily leads into my client talking about his son.  He’s relaxed, the conversation is casual, the relationship maintained.  Soon into that call, with a nice relaxed customer, I ease into the purpose of my call and work on getting a renewal on the account or an up-sell.

You would think it would be easy to remember that Bill the plumber’s son plays golf.  Well, did I mention that I make 80 outbound calls a day?  My memory is pretty good, but my time is spent number crunching, proposal building, prospecting, you name it.  That’s a lot to be thinking about. That’s why I need tools like ACT! to help me “remember” things important to my customer and me.

Take the time to ask about the weather before you get into the business of the call.  Take the time to take note of something that is of special interest to your prospect or client and start the call with that.  The recipient of your call is just as busy as you are, and a little chat about junior’s golf swing is surely a welcome break.

Good luck with your relationship building.  Always remember to not forget the “R” in CRM is Relationships.  Oh, and by the way, Phoenix was 105 today. Not to bad considering we hit 118 this summer.  Happy selling.

Signed Tony Berastegui – guest blogger (who happens to be my son – didn’t he do a great job on this blog post!)

Written by pregen

August 11, 2011 at 4:09 pm

A Delta travel day saga or how not to run a business

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I travel a lot and recently had a horrible travel adventure.  Weather can make life miserable and interesting but I totally understand that.  The adventure I had, though, wasn’t caused by weather but rather by a series of unfortunate events.  Or more bluntly, bad management.

On a trip back from South Dakota, I had three flights.  Flight to Minneapolis, no problem.  Flight to Atlanta, no problem.  In Atlanta, things fell apart.  First we were told nothing.  Then we were told the flight was delayed due to maintenance. Ok. They failed to mention it was the incoming flight.  Around this time, several people (like around 40 or so) showed up at our gate because their flight was now delayed many more hours than ours – again for maintenance issues.  We all sat and waited and waited and then a gate agent says “go to the customer service desk this flight has been cancelled due to lack of crew.” Now, there were 100 people or so shuffling off to a counter, at the end of a very long day (by this time we’d been waiting 6 hours).

The customer service desk was an exercise in futility and frustration.  It rapidly became apparent there were no more seats to be had.  After the first 30 people, The reps were basically saying “you are on your own.”  They all cornered themselves and slowly started disappearing.  The line wasn’t getting shorter but the number of reps was.  Dinnertime appeared to be the solution to the problem. It’s like the all said “We’ll just leave and someone else will figure it out.”

The rep I got told me to call the Super shuttle equivalent and then have them call to get a reimbursement. Ok.  No dinner voucher was offered and this was not a weather delay so they should have offered it. Ok, I can handle that. Off I went to call Groome Transport (the Shuttle) and was told by the very nice rep that they weren’t allowed to call Delta.  It was Delta’s responsibility to give me a travel voucher.

Grr. Ok. So, since the shuttle wasn’t coming for an hour, I got back and line, marched back up to the remaining rep who happened to be the one who gave me incorrect information which as it turns out was the easier one.  I didn’t even give her a chance to argue with me – I simply stated I wanted a travel voucher, thank you mam.  And I got one.  But why did I have to stand in line twice for over 30 minutes when it could have been handled correctly the first time?

Why did it take the gate agent so long to tell us what they knew 30 minutes before – that we were doomed to not get out of town that day.  And why did they let crew lapse?  Why, for the last three series of flights has there been maintenance issues?  Is this company in trouble?

And that made me think this would be a good blog article about how to kill customer allegiance with bad customer support.  I am not sure I trust Delta anymore.  This is happening so often that I question whether they are a safe airline to fly.  Writing letters doesn’t do anything. It used to help.  I’ve gotten free travel vouchers because of particularly bad flight situations.  Those days are gone.  It’s like Delta and it’s staff no longer care.  But they should. They are not the only game in town.  Are they getting complacent and believing they are?  Is this a mistake a company can make – thinking they  are the best or the only game in town therefore they don’t have to have the best support?

The business world is one of supply and demand.  I don’t want to switch to another carrier.  My airport is a limited market.  But nothing stops me from driving or taking a shuttle to Atlanta where there are numerous other choices.  Is that the move I make?  Do I say no thanks to Delta even though I’m close to a million miles of flight time?  Would they even miss me?

Even if you have the very best product if your customer support stinks, people will leave.  They won’t buy your product.  They want to know they are valuable to you as a customer even after they have spent their money.

The lesson here is don’t forget about the customer.  Companies need to ask “what is the price of bad customer support.” People expect their issues to be dealt with quickly – at least my customers do.  Our customers are more than willing to  take their business elsewhere if they are unhappy with the service being provided.

I read somewhere and darn if I can remember where, that the average cost of a lost business relationship is $289 per year.  If the 100 people on this plane are any indication, Delta lost $28,900 during that one day.  That’s hemorrhaging money.  Granted, $289 doesn’t sound like much, but that’s an average.  For some companies, it’s more.  I don’t know about you but I don’t like losing business. At all.
It’s sad what happened to me because I’ve had really good customer support from Delta in other locations. The Atlanta airport is just not one of those places.  And it’s been happening much more frequently.  It is very obvious the support personnel don’t care.  They have upset people’s days and possibly lives because of their lack of caring.  Delta needs to be careful or they can end up in the same situation they were in a few years ago – only this time it won’t be caused by the energy crisis – it will be public apathy.

Written by pregen

August 1, 2011 at 12:44 am

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