CRM Best Practices for SMEs during Lock down
SMEs face different types of challenges from time to time – financial stress, customer issues, team building and so on. But they also manage to overcome these challenges with careful planning and decisive action. This time however, the international lock down caused by the Virus outbreak is a completely new kind of problem. Nobody could have anticipated this, no time to prepare for it either.
Because of this period of inactivity, there is negative impact on several fronts. Customers and suppliers are also equally affected, so there is a cascading effect. Employees are unable to attend office, so all critical activities are to be done from home. Especially in companies operating in the SaaS model, there is also the fear of losing business from customers who might prefer to suspend their subscription due to cash flow issues.
What we are faced with at these difficult times is a universal problem, which is beyond our control. However, this is not the time to panic or take a defeatist view of the situation. It is actually time to invest in some critical and strategic action points so that companies can emerge stronger once business picks up again.
With restrictions on movement during this period of self-quarantine, it’s important to chalk out an effective strategy to handle business affairs from the safety of our homes. It would serve companies well if they can take this forced opportunity to formally define their “Work From Home (WFH)” policy for employees for future use. Let’s list down some best practices that can help companies overcome this difficult phase.
The first aspect to tackle here is the mental state of the entrepreneur and his team. This lock down is only for our mobility, not for our business, not for our minds. With careful deliberation, we can identify several activities that can be done from home. Judicious task allocation to the team members is key – what to do alone, what to keep for planned video conference team meetings. No point having more than 4-5 people on a video call at a time, a bigger crowd only causes chaos. All other information sharing need to happen asynchronously through emails, notifications, in-house messaging groups, customer status reports and so on.
One of the first barriers to overcome is the non-seriousness towards work while at home. Employees need to be mentally conditioned to keep clear working hours, maintain work efficiency, keep video meetings formal and away from family. Probably a cool dress code is the only exemption!
There may be downsides to not working from office spaces. Working in isolation requires high level of self-discipline and personal motivation. But a big plus is the time saved on traffic and travel! Managers must impress upon the benefits of working alone. And the HR in charge can also plan innovative team activities to keep the morale and team spirit high.
Work from Home setup
Setting up the infrastructure for all the employees to connect from home and perform office duties is obviously the first step. This involves 2 main aspects – computing devices and data management.
Laptops for all the staff with appropriate VPN installation and user authentication is the company’s responsibility. Arranging for broadband/mobile connectivity and power backup at home to be taken care of by the employees themselves. Use of Bluetooth headsets can eliminate ambient noise present in a typical household. Also employees must be encouraged to have a dedicated workspace in their homes to ensure office-like professionalism.
Invest in skill enhancement
It’s a good time to sharpen our axe, to enhance our own and our team’s skills. It’s wrong to consider the time taken to re-skill the team as an overhead, it’s a worthy investment. CRM tools, Financial Accounting and GST, Business Communication, IT related courses – there are plenty of options to choose for re-skilling wisely. The team will come back with great confidence and greater competence with this valuable investment.
Build a lasting customer relationship
This is a precious time to spend in building a bond with customers. Not with the intention of gaining immediate business, but to build a lasting relationship with them.
We could segment customers domain-wise and communicate information relevant to them, without over-communicating. For instance we could collect information on the construction sector and send to infrastructure companies – business forecasts, government directives, market status, user profiles and so on.
This is also a good time to help customers upgrade their systems to latest CRM versions and utilities. Since overall business is down, customers can afford more time for such important (but not urgent) tasks. If we stand by our customers during their tough times, they will realize the true value of our partnership.
Many customer contracts might have fixed time SLA clauses for customer support and deliveries turn-around time. While working entirely from home, it is difficult to meet these SLAs at times. We need to coordinate with the customer and revise the response ETA accordingly. For physical deliveries and other obligations which cannot be met because of the lock down, companies may consider the “force majeure” clause in their contracts.
The above suggestions are only indicators for entrepreneurs. Each company can come out with several such practices depending on their customer base and business situation. Let’s treat this lockdown as a good opportunity to take a step back and evaluate our business practices. And utilize this golden chance to recharge our skills and motivation. So that when the world is ready to do business again, we are ready at the forefront. Work smart, stay home, stay safe!
We at Rixyncs are a leading CRM service provider based out of Bangalore, India. We have been in the business for over a decade and have helped hundreds of small and medium size companies successfully adopt the CRM enterprise business process. As a result, our clients have seen growth of upto 35% in their revenues.
We are global premier partners for vtiger and affiliated partners with all the major CRM providers like SalesForce, Zoho and Microsoft Dynamics. Get in touch with us and we will be glad to give you a demo on how your business could benefit from acquiring the CRM advantage. Visit us at http://www.rixyncs.co.in/ to know more.
Author Profile – Anuradha is a freelance writer cum corporate trainer in the IT/Telecom domain with 20 years of experience. She served in senior technical and management positions in Huawei and TCS for 10+ years. Then gave up the traditional corporate ladder to go solo – in order to escape horrendous city traffic and to be at her own boss!