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Broken Connections

May 15, 2014

I write this in a state of having been abandoned by the internet. The CAPITAL-I, BIG-CHEESE, YOU-NEED-ME-DON’T-TRY-TO-LEAVE Internet. Left me. It’s likely the wind is to blame, but I can’t help but feel like it’s personal.

As I wait to get back online, it strikes me how much of my productivity is based on having that connection. I hate to admit it, since I am still the kind of girl that likes to overdose on colorful Post-It Notes and Gel Pens, but my work-day grinds to a halt when the internet is unavailable.

And it looks like I’m not alone. A Pew Research Center study from 2013 showed that more than half of all U.S. adults bank online. Pew also found that 72% of internet users looked for health information online. Those are only two industries, but they serve as a bellwether for a broader trend. Gartner Research projects that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships with businesses without talking to a human.

In light of these compelling figures, it is imperative that businesses provide sufficient opportunity for customers to connect with them directly online. But if your company limits this kind of interaction to a Facebook link or a simple email form, you are missing out. With so many companies – from smaller, community-based initiatives to global conglomerates – trending toward cloud-based CRM’s to manage their clients and business activities, offering a client-facing window in your website that drives information and opportunities to your CRM can save you vast amounts of time, improve the speed and quality of your responses, and make your business much more appealing to those of us (and there are a lot of us, as you saw above) who only want to handle our affairs online. And in the end, that all translates to a more successful business.

Salesforce, a leading CRM product that has been an industry trendsetter for more than a decade, is very sensitive to the needs of its customers in terms of providing an online interface for their clients. Within the Salesforce CRM environment, you can generate forms for use on your website that allow the information collected to propagate inside Salesforce. This data can then trigger automated responses to the client, and automated functions within Salesforce that alert employees to the need for action. The robust content management features of Salesforce then kick in, and allow the various data and history related to that client (if any exist), to be readily accessible for use in furthering that relationship.

This is maybe the simplest form of client interface provided by Salesforce, but their offerings go beyond web forms, and include feature-laden customer portals that can also be accessed through –and branded consistently with – the company website. Salesforce also has platform capabilities that allow the creation of entire websites and applications that directly integrate with the Salesforce environment. Applications, donations, and event registrations can all be managed through the website while transmitting data through to Salesforce. To learn more about these features and other Salesforce offerings, visit http://www.salesforce.com/products/.

It is not a completely new concept, but the extent to which people are increasingly relying on companies to provide online capabilities for connecting is skyrocketing. If you are managing your clientele through a CRM like Salesforce, and haven’t maximized your website tie-ins, we can help.

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