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Enterprise

Ensuring seamless business operations during pandemic

electronically
Customers can sign order forms electronically. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

COVID-19 is having significant disruptions around the world both at the personal and company level. With the virus being declared a global pandemic by WHO, global commerce has almost ground to a halt. Corporations are in uncharted territory, slashing capacity overnight as their employees are severely restricted and unable to physically report to work under new measures by governments worldwide. With physical separation and restricted movements, workplaces have been thrown into a tailspin.

How should corporate leaders act in the face of such an unprecedented crisis? The struggle to save the economy and businesses is unlikely to have quick wins in the short term, which will consequently affect the bottom line. Therefore, companies that have a risk-based approach will quickly transition their organisations to thrive in the new normal — working from home or teleworking. In fact social distancing is likely to be the new normal at the workplace even after this crisis.

Yet working from home needs not be a strange experience. In fact, many companies worldwide have long transitioned to an environment where their employees can work from home for an extended period, making telecommuting likely to replace physical commuting.

The goal of all successful companies is to find, win and keep their customers in order to generate revenue. In times of disruptions such as where employees are forced to work offline, it is imperative to ensure seamless operations. One way is to adopt a Customer Relationship Management system (CRM). Put simply, a CRM is a system that provides a central place where the business can store all customer data — quotations, invoices, addresses, orders, customer queries, emails, SMS, phone calls etc — and make them accessible and actionable across the company. It is designed to help companies improve their customer relationships, track every customer interaction and provide actionable insight that can transform the business.

With a cloud and mobile ready CRM, employees and management can work and collaborate from any location using any device including their mobiles. This implies that employees need not be physically in the office. In this regard, it is essential that the decision, if adopted, takes a unified company-wide approach and the organisation has to identify which part of the business can telework as part of continuity plan.

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Let’s say you are a regional sales manager and you are tasked with a sizable sales, service and back office teams who are now required to work remotely. With forced lockdown, visiting the office is prohibited except for essential staff. However, with a CRM system in place, your sales teams will input their day’s activities directly on their mobile phone CRM application as they directly head out to visit customers and also automatically generate accurate quotations.

At the same time, your back office team needs not wait for the forms to be returned for processing because the system is paperless. The CRM can be integrated with your financial system allowing both the sales and back office to work seamlessly giving the sales manager realtime bird’s eye view of the business

Customers on the other hand need not physically meet your team as they can sign order forms electronically. They can also log into the CRM customer portal to upload any required documentation, consent to any contracts, setup service requests, file a complaint, request for service, among others. In other words, the CRM system ensures that they are served with the same level of service regardless of SMS, email, whatsapp, call, chat, walk in, social media, etc. By ensuring all customer issues are tracked, reported and resolved within the stipulated trackable service level agreement (SLAs) ensures customers are happy and engaged.

The customer service team can also work remotely as the CRM provides a 360 degree view of the customer in one location. All data and files pertaining to a customer will be accessible to everyone on their laptops or mobile phones ensuring that the service team is able to respond to any customer queries from anywhere.

As companies work remotely, collaboration is key to ensuring continuity. The CRM platform allows all employees to communicate and collaborate on the same record.

Equally important, directors will be able to monitor company performance through realtime reports and dashboards across all departments. Every customer interaction will be easily tracked and reported on the CRM. Also, each phone call, email, meeting, quotation, customer query logged can be tracked.

In addition, management can remotely monitor sales performance, customer satisfaction and employee engagement for all business workflows across the company.

At Blue Consulting, we are currently working remotely, seamlessly collaborating with our developers, project managers, sales and back office as well as our valued customers on our customer success platform. The system makes it easy for us to monitor sales, Project progress and delivery.

The most important lesson we can learn from this crisis is that it will provide an opportunity to reassess how we do business, perhaps for the better. There is always a silver lining in every crisis.

Mr Sadalla is the CEO of Blue Consulting. Blue Consulting is a Salesforce Silver partner located in Nairobi. Email: [email protected]

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