thomas.wieberneit@aheadcrm.co.nz
Platform Partners: A Question of Trust

Platform Partners: A Question of Trust

The enterprise software world is one where few, if any, companies can stand alone. Cloud computing has greatly increased the availability and usability of business applications. However, no vendor can claim to supply a complete homegrown solution. The SaaS world is one of partnerships. Partnerships are best when all the partners are trustworthy.Business software customers still need to pick a brand and stick with it for a while. That brand—the platform—represents a serious investment of time and trust. Sure, you own your data, and changing platforms is supposed to be easy. But ask anybody who’s done it whether they would want to do so again next year.Platform customers have to weigh more than just the price and features of each platform provider. They must also consider what the future holds for that platform and its partners. None of the big platforms are likely to disappear or merge anytime soon, but their fates and fortunes are not constant. They also have histories and reputations. Increasingly, they have prominent social and/or political stances as well. Those issues matter enough to some business owners and investors to affect their decisions. There are also simpler matters, like whether the customer likes the feel of the software environment, or has concerns about possible changes. Can I Trust You? In the end, these decisions boil down to variations on a single question: “Can I trust you with my business?” Contracts and commercial laws deal with businesses that act in bad faith; this is more about responsibility, reliability, and safety. Examples: Will you continue to support the applications I use?Is my data secure?Do you have good...

Rising to Swift Challenges in App Development

You may have heard about The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, or the idea of an MVP (minimum viable product). These methodologies say only build what subscribers ask—and will pay— for. Business app development isn’t a one-way street; sometimes a customer will come to you with an idea for a product you wouldn’t otherwise have had in your cycle. When that happens, a responsive company with a close relationship to its customers will be able to deliver something new. Such was the case when financial advisory firm White Glove came to Fastcall with a request regarding Einstein Conversation Insights.Salesforce recently introduced Einstein Conversation Insights. ECI transcribes a recorded conversation, identifies keywords and records metrics (such as talk time per recipient) from phone calls, and provides recording shortcuts to quickly review the calls. Rob Lyons, head of technology for White Glove, identified a natural fit for ECI with his company’s existing use of Fastcall. “I saw this feature was available to us as HVS users,” Lyons says. “I wanted to see if this AI could give me insight into our sales calls beyond standard activity logging.”Such requests are part of the job for Fastcall founder Rich Rosen, and they often spring from curiosity. “Subscribers ask us for stuff they do not really plan to implement,” Rosen says. “We do the work, it does not get used, but is available for the next subscriber.” Even so, this is where innovation is born. “It was worth doing as this is a differentiator,” Rosen says. “Not many other CTI apps have the integration. And it gave us a chance to reach out to...

Only Is a Great Word For B2B Customer Focus

This post is a guest piece from Richard Rosen, CEO and founder of Fastcall, a Salesforce CTI vendor and one of my clients. I was talking with Rich about customer focus for focused businesses in a crowded market, and our talk drifted into how limits aren’t a bad thing.Our chat was fun. It was deep. Quotes from the Tao Te Ching and/or a Star Wars prequel may have been thrown around, and I didn’t want to keep it private. To that end, I asked Rich to turn it into something applicable to other business readers. Fastcall is my client and it’s my job to show its strengths, so of course it’s the example in play here. But Rich presents a much-needed perspective whether you’re a user or developer of business applications. I turn things over to him now.Representing your brand as an owner requires a tricky balancing act in an industry where integrity and thought leadership are highly valued. You want to attract new customers and shout the qualities of the product, of course. But that’s making a sales pitch, and nobody wants to read a sales pitch. Then again, integrity and thought leadership mean revenue in the future, when your company (especially a smaller one) needs revenue now.I’ve been holding back from writing about what Fastcall is capable of—that’s what the website and the AppExchange listing are for—but this is an incredible company and there’s plenty for me to brag about. So here’s my plan: I will talk about what we at Fastcall do best, but with as little reference to our products as possible. It’s about why...

The New Cost-Effectiveness Argument

You don’t buy size 12 shoes for size 9 feet. You don’t get a Bugatti Chiron for grocery store runs. You don’t swat flies with field artillery. And you don’t buy more contact center technology than your business can reasonably grow into.The customer service neighborhood of CRM was the wrong side of the tracks for many years. The contact center could only cost the company money (so it was thought), so the responsible strategy was to cut costs to the bone and never spend anything there unless forced to. Asking for more staff or better equipment was like getting the state to renovate the prison library—impossible without somebody of the calibre of Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption. That attitude was changing by the dawn of the 21st Century. Research proved that better customer service led to better retention, loyalty, and advocacy among customers. These led to a strengthened brand and increased revenue in the long term. New integration technology meant the contact center could save and even generate sales in its own right. The rise of online communities and social networking showed the strength of the motivated and well-connected customer. A shout of praise when a company went the extra mile for a customer in need could be amplified. So could a howl of outrage when one was treated callously, with potentially disastrous results. Spending in the contact center was not only necessary, it was the smart thing to do.The freedom to make decisions based on results rather than thrift was never license to burn money, but it meant that customer service had a stronger voice at the...