A Holistic Solution for Meaningful and Profitable Customer Relationships
Falling short of customer expectations can be fatal. Once iconic businesses like Polaroid, Yellow Pages, Border’s, Circuit City, Pontiac, and Blockbuster have ceased to exist. There are no doubt widely varying factors that contributed to their ultimate disappearance. But some may have fallen prey to what digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist Brian Solis calls “Digital Darwinism” in his book The End Of Business As Usual. How well did these companies keep pace with customer relationship expectations?
At my firm, EDL Consulting, we take a unique point-of-view on customer relationships that we call “Engagement-to-Cash.” It’s a process that allows businesses to turn the liability of disjointed customer relationships into integrated, holistic customer interactions.
Engagement-to-Cash is deliberately represented as a cyclical process as opposed to a linear one. Each phase is interdependent, and if managed properly, the cycle will renew based on your customers’ willingness to repeat it. Your customers will grow your business over time if they continue to derive value from their relationship with you.
EDL Consulting was founded in 2001 with a perspective that businesses operate more efficiently and effectively when marketing, sales, commerce, and customer service functions (the “front office” or “customer facing” functions) work together holistically.
The Internet, the acceptance of cloud computing, as well as mobile, social, and real-time communications have radically accelerated the transformation of what is possible and what is necessary for Engagement-to-Cash. The rules of the customer relationship have changed profoundly. If you are still managing these core business functions as you did even 3-4 years ago, you are behind the curve.
Taking this holistic point of view enables our clients to maximize performance by increasing engagement and customer satisfaction, increasing revenues and customer lifetime value, and trimming customer acquisition and retention costs across multiple disciplines.
There are several key enablers of these results:
- Cloud Computing – Businesses can now pivot with more agility than ever before with flexible and scalable IT infrastructures and applications, no longer tied to the “digital concrete” of heavy, on-premise systems.
- Social Media – There is more meaningful customer information and interaction for businesses to leverage than ever before. By joining social conversations, companies can engage customers with meaningful, value-add content.
- A Unified Customer Database – The holistic Engagement-to-Cash cycle represents technology as well as process. A world-class, integrated Force.com framework is delivering on the CRM promise of “one version of the truth.”
Viewing the front office in this way frustrates traditional point solution technology vendors, whose products typically apply to a distinct piece of the total solution such as marketing automation, social media, eCommerce, or customer service, and whose products therefore fail to address the inherent interdependencies of a holistic business cycle.
There are two flaws with a point-solution approach.
The Silo Effect: For example, an eCommerce solution may include a powerful new system, but because the vendor focuses only on the eCommerce component, the new system will most likely involve a disparate customer database than exists within the enterprise CRM system, bringing the implied added costs of maintaining, developing, and integrating two source systems.
The Hammer Looking for a Nail: This is a fundamental distinction between Engagement-to-Cash and traditional point solution philosophies. The holistic approach is not limited to a one-size-fits-all answer. It ensures that you bring forward what you need, not what they have.
In sharp contrast, through our strategic alignment with salesforce.com and BigMachines, EDL Consulting has found technology partners that complement our Engagement-to-Cash philosophy. Salesforce and BigMachines provide a state of the art, cloud-based platform and flexible, software-as-a-service continuum along which our customers can begin where they prefer and then evolve as they prefer, moving in a modular fashion to optimize their Engagement-to-Cash cycle, regardless of where they start the journey and where they are headed. Each of the phases of the Engagement-to-Cash cycle can be addressed by these technologies.
EDL organizes the Engagement to Cash process into eight distinct phases which are explained in greater detail below:
Engagement – Foster Customer Intimacy
Customers are talking about your company. The only question is, are you participating in the conversation? EDL helps to ensure that you have the systems and processes in place to join in. EDL can enable your organization with best practices for planning and internalizing best practices in engagement through social media, as well as best-in-breed tools like Radian6 from salesforce.com to help you enhance customer engagement. This engagement continues throughout the Engagement-to-Cash Cycle as a thread of each phase.
Demand Generation – Turn Targets Into Leads
There are a variety of channels you can use to communicate with your customers – your website, social media, marketing, field sales, campaigns, events, etc. How do you fill your funnel and turn targets into prospects and leads? EDL leverages the best in breed marketing functionality and campaign management of salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud to ensure you have a more focused and effective demand generation effort.
Lead Management – Creation to Qualification
It’s a question that keeps marketing and sales executives up at night – “Have we followed up on your leads?” EDL helps our customers put processes in place to close the loop from lead creation to qualification. How does your organization contact, qualify and promote leads to opportunities? This process helps create certainty that you’ve followed through on your important investment in leads by leveraging best practices in salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud lead management functionality.
Opportunity Management – Prioritize and Qualify
Now that you’ve created the opportunities, you’re trying to allocate your company’s finite resources to the most appropriate opportunities to maximize customer satisfaction and revenue. We help you to ensure you have the process and systems in place to effectively track and prioritize sales activity and qualification through the sales pipeline. EDL leverages salesforce.com’s Sales Cloud to enable measurement and proper management your pursuits.
Configuration – Fast and Accurate Pricing, and Quoting
The importance of getting quick, accurate estimates and proposals to your customers can be the difference between winning and losing business. EDL excels at implementation of both the basic product pricing in saleforce.com, and the more robust configuration, pricing, and quoting (CPQ) solutions of BigMachines, the best-in-breed software CPQ solution in the salesforce.com ecosystem.
eCommerce – Enterprise-class Cross-Channel eCommerce
EDL brings deep experience in resolving and simplifying the complexities of developing and maintaining effective eCommerce systems.
With over ten years of experience improving online tractions, we bring the domain expertise to address your eCommerce needs.
We have packaged all that knowledge in a best in breed product called CloudCraze developed natively on saleforce.com’s Force.com platform.
Order Management – Improve Operational Efficiencies
The order management process results in a faster path to improved operational efficiencies and higher customer satisfaction. Depending on your business model, there is/are? a myriad of ways to fulfill an order – download, shipping, integrate with your existing systems. EDL can provide the integration experience to connect your eCommerce system with your back office systems.
Customer Service – Create Long-Term Customer Relationships
Your customer interaction will either lead to a “once and done” transaction, or a long-term relationship. EDL can help enable your organization with the processes and tools to move to long-term relationships with repeat transactions. Each of your interactions is a precious opportunity to further customer engagement. Your customers are demanding more and better service. EDL can help you provide a more holistic experience across all channels‹from the contact center to customer social networks by implementing saleforce.com’s Service Cloud. Continued follow up and nurturing of relationship helps guide the conversation from problem resolution to new sales opportunities.
Let’s Get Started…
Engagement-to-Cash is a fresh perspective, one that leverages decades of technology and business experience into a holistic solution approach, helping companies forge deeper and more successful customer relationships with systems that integrate cleanly among your customer relationship processes.
I would be delighted to discuss your business objectives for the coming year, the ways in which your organization currently handles the Engagement-to-Cash Cycle, the many benefits that our customers are realizing by changing the game – and you can too.