Monday, 24 February 2014

A Bigger, Better, Faster Insightly - here now.

As the winter Olympics is finishing up in Sochi, the engineering and testing team here at Insightly in California is putting the finishing touches on our new user interface. We’re going to roll it out to all our users this week. We've previewed it with several thousand customers over the past few weeks and received hundreds of responses and comments - almost all overwhelmingly positive. It’s the first full interface overhaul we've made since we shipped the first version over two years ago, and we’re excited to bring you a more modern, faster, and simpler web experience. You can read more about the science and research that went into our new UI in a previous blog post.

You can read about the changes in this new version on our help site.

We look forward to sharing the fruits of our hard labor with you in the next few days. It’s going to be very exciting!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Guest Post: Turning Around Sour Word-of-Mouth

As a small business owner you’ve worked hard to build a positive reputation and brand recognition.  Yet despite your long hours, difficult days and daily sacrifices, something as small as one negative virtual comment can have a big effect on your entrepreneurial outlook. 

Negative thoughts and comments pertaining to your business can make it feel as if the independent enterprise you’ve built is going to tumble all the way down to the ground.  However, you have the choice to determine how you will be affected and how to learn from the experience.  Here are some tips to salvage sour word-of-mouth and empower your entrepreneurial efforts though the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Be Thankful

No one enjoys receiving negative feedback, it's a blow to your business’s confidence and your leadership self-esteem.  It’s important not to deny yourself of those feelings; they are real and true and (on a positive note) are reflections of just how much you care.

The first step to salvaging sour word-of-mouth starts with your attitude: be thankful.  There’s a chance that if one customer has had a negative experience, others have (or will) experience something similar. 

Receiving some sour word-of-mouth is in some ways a precious gift; it empowers you to become proactive and make sure that another customer will never again experience the same type of negativity.  When dealing with customer issues and complaints, it will serve your effort well if you keep this kind of “big picture” perspective. 

Respond Quickly and Clearly

Once a customer posts a complaint there is an unspoken time clock that begins to tick.  The longer you wait to respond with a proper apology, the more difficult it is going to be to win their trust and business back. 

Consider utilizing a small business CRM (customer relationship management) system as a way to stay on top of your management game.  An online CRM will allow you to collect and access all of your customer’s information in a streamlined effort, making communicating with your audience that much easier.

While timing is important, a tactful apology is even more valuable.  Be sure to clearly say that you are sorry and hold off on the excuses – customers aren’t interested in the reasoning behind their bad experience, they just want an apology and a promise that it will never happen again.

Get Creative
Be sure to remember that managing your online reputation comes with an active, on-looking audience.  Potential customers are eager to see how a company handles their missteps, which is why after you’ve made your apology it’s time to get creative.

Figure out ways in which your customer service abilities can go above and beyond and share with the online arena how you plan to make things better.  From free shipping to full no-hassle refunds, the world wide web is watching (and recording) your efforts to not only apply damage control, but to also demonstrate just how valuable you consider a client’s happiness and satisfaction to be.

Be Proactive
Keep in mind that you shouldn’t wait around for a bad comment as a sign that it’s time to spring into action.  You can also salvage poor word-of-mouth by being proactive in obtaining positive praise.  Be enthusiastic about asking happy customers to share their experiences with your online community.  Make your social media sites are obtainable through add buttons and signage and strive to interact with your online audience on a regular basis, not just in times of damage control.  Also a CRM with social media integration can help you monitor your contacts social postings.

Carry On
No matter your industry, longevity or current reputation, every business will eventually endure some sour word-of-mouth.  Ease your nerves by understanding that this is just a part of typical business and, depending on your attitude and perspective, can actually be dealt with in a positive way.

Carry on with business as usual, but with some proactive plans in place.  Appoint someone on your team to have a handle on what’s being said about you online by setting up Google Alerts.  Also, have a policy in place for how to deal with customers’ issues and complaints before the rapid river of word-of-mouth runs wild.

How do you handle bad word-of-mouth?

About the author: Kelly Gregorio writes about small business topics while working at Advantage Capital Funds, a provider of merchant cash advances. You can read her daily business blog here.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

You've Heard of Candy Crush, Now Check Out CRM Crush

We understand that many businesses are "addicted" to doing business inefficiently - they want to be more efficient or productive, but it's a struggle to break a habit and try something new.  In the spirit of that habit, we’ve put together a Infograph celebrating perhaps the most addictive mobile app game in the last decade.  But our goal, unlike that of Candy Crush, is to help you crush it at work!  If you're looking to up your game at work, check out all the features and benefits of our CRM Crush Infographic, then sign up for a free account and take your business game to the next level. 

http://land.insightly.com/rs/insightly/images/Insightly_CRM_Crush_Infograph_020614.jpg
For higher resolution, click on the picture and then click on the magnifying glass

Monday, 10 February 2014

Insightly Integrates with Zapier!

Now, with just a few quick clicks, you can send and receive data between Insightly the many business apps and tools you use.  If you're not familiar, Zapier is an online service that integrates applications with Zaps -- a Zap is a connection between two apps that automates time-consuming tasks.  The Insightly service in Zapier can be used to connect Gratis or paid Insightly accounts to over 250 other popular SaaS applications.  Here are some examples of Triggers and Actions that can be used to integrate Insightly with other applications:


Triggers
  • New Contact:  Fires when a new contact has been added to your Insightly account
  • New Task:  Fires when a new task has been added to your Insightly account
 
Actions
  • Create Contact:  Create a new contact in your Insightly account.  The contact can be linked to an existing organization in your account, or a new one can be created.
  • Create Task:  Create a new task in your Insightly account.  Optionally, you may link it to an existing contact, organization, opportunity, or project.
  • Create Note:  Create a new note in your Insightly account, linked to an existing contact, organization, opportunity, or project.
 See more detailed information on Zap templates here!

Would you like to see us add more triggers and actions in our Zapier service?  We've created a feature request for the Zapier service in our forum, so let us know!

How a Small Business can Boost Sales with a CRM

A small business owner is ultimately responsible for their organizations’ sales and marketing efforts. An effective sales and marketing strategy should build customer relationships and focus on your customers goals. Implementing a small business CRM system and ensuring your staff are taking advantage of the available features will be a key part of growing your business and increasing profits. Here are some tips to harness your CRM system to it’s full potential.

Email Campaigns
A CRM system is excellent at managing email campaigns and other correspondence with prospects and existing customers. Having a centralized respository for all communications will greatly improve customer satisfaction and increase productivity.  No longer do sales people have to manage emails in their inbox resulting in a decrease in response time to prospects.  The marketing team and the customer service department all have access to the same communications which will result in tighter control of campaigns and resolving issues.

Mobility
Since sales people are away from the office for a better part of their day, access to timely and critical information through smart phones or tablets are a must. A good web CRM system should provide remote access so your sales team are always working with real-time data and can update a client’s or prospect information immediately especially in a time-sensitive situation.

Sales Reports and Dashboards
Reports are very powerful tools that should be leveraged in an SMB CRM system. Start ups and small businesses have the same advantage by leveraging these as a large company. Intelligent business decisions can be made by reviewing reports and dashboards for trends in sales, comparing performance among sales people and monitoring marketing campaigns.  Reports can be created to perform drill downs on sales by person, region, products and time periods. Reports can be automated for potential closings for the month, sales by lead source, campaign leads and other critical information.

Emails and Alerts
Automated emails or alerts can be created to send to new prospects at different times in the sales cycle. If a prospect hasn’t been assigned to someone, a manager can be alerted. Alerts can be used by customer service to monitor shipments and issues that haven’t been resolved. This can go a long way to improving customer satisfaction.

Conclusion

For small businesses and startups, it is important to have an online CRM system, however it can be overwhelming so start out with easy to use features and add others as your staff become more comfortable with the existing ones. The end result is that you will have an excited and productive sales team, increased sales and outstanding customer service.

Try Insightly today -- sign up for a free account here.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Crafting a new Insightly experience

We're releasing a new version of Insightly in the next few weeks, and it's shaping up to be a very exciting launch and a great release.

Insightly has over 400,000 avid and happy users, so making changes to a product that successful is not something to be taken lightly. When we sat down to redesign the whole user experience for Insightly on the web eight months ago, we wanted our design to be centered around three core focus areas:
  • Familiarity
  • Simplicity
  • Speed
Familiarity with the interface is something we took very seriously. How do you make someone that has never used your product instantly familiar with how it will work the very first time they sit down to use it ? What we did was take some of the visual queues from other user interfaces people are already familiar with on the web and incorporate those into the new Insightly. Everyone knows what a button looks like in Google search, and Gmail has over 450 million active users, so it's a good bet that customers have used either of those two products before. We crafted our interface with some of the same flows and visual representations of those two applications so that users will subconsciously feel instantly at ease and familiar with how our product works before they even begin to use it.

We also wanted all our current users to see the new interface and to jump in and be productive straight away without having to hunt around to find features that had been inadvertently moved. So we made sure to anchor the new design in the familiarity of the old one by being careful not to move the location of common actions and buttons without careful consideration.

We went through over 100 different design iterations for the new Insightly before we settled on the final design. We ended up with a great interface that's much cleaner, more simplistic, and easier to understand for people that don't spend all day in a CRM. Insightly has a lot of powerful features and options, and we didn't want to overwhelm users by presenting them all up front in a dizzying array of buttons and boxes, so we worked hard to reduce the clutter and show the most commonly used interface elements by default, and place some of the additional complexity behind menus and drop downs. It made for a much cleaner design allowing users to focus on the task at hand.

Contacts are a big part of what you manage in Insightly, so we thought it made sense to make the profile pictures of contacts bigger in this release so you can more clearly see who you're corresponding with. While we were at it, we enhanced the automatic discovery of social profiles for contacts and organizations and improved our in-page LinkedIn and Twitter integration too.

Over the eight months of design work we conducted many interviews with power users and novices alike, and received a lot of feedback about what people loved and what they found confusing. We discovered that users really liked the ability to link things together in Insightly once they understood how to do it, but we spotted in eye tracking tests we conducted that users did not look to the sidebar on the right side of the screen where the links panel was located when they were entering information, so they often missed it. We made the decision to move the links panel right into the center part of the screen directly in line with users eye tracking movements, and then added a new links textbox in there to encourage easier linking between items. In our testing the number of links users created between items went up dramatically as a result.

We have customers in over 110 countries around the world now, and we heard from many of them that they would like to be able to use Insightly in their native language. This new version of Insightly has been built from the ground up to be multi-lingual, and soon after launch we will be rolling out a Spanish version and then following with many other languages throughout the year.

The third core focus area for us was around speed. We heard from customers that they would like Insightly to be more snappy when loading pages and navigating between items. We worked with our engineers to make the rendering of pages much faster by loading only visible sections of the page immediately rather than entire pages at once, and loading non-critical sections in the background soon after the main part of the page has loaded. The result is now a much faster browsing experience in Insightly, and a perceived speed increase of 65% over the old design.

We're not done with wringing all the speed improvements we can out of Insightly just yet though. In conjunction with this redesign we're also using a fair chunk of the $10 million dollars we just raised to build out our own custom data center with the fastest servers and internet connections money can buy. That work will be completed and coming online in the next couple of months and will be sure to boost the speed of Insightly even further.

We put a lot of love and hard work into this new release of Insightly, and we hope you love it as much as we loved creating it for you. It will be rolling out gradually to customers over the month of February, but you can see a quick preview of what it will look like in the video below.










To Secure Brand Loyalty, Your Business Needs a CRM

Brand loyalty is hard to nail in the digital age. It seems that every business has a place in Google or on one of the popular social media networks. So how can you stand out from the rest and gain advocates in the process? Easy, by building brand loyalty with a CRM, here’s how.

What is a CRM?
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management. It is one of the most important aspects of a business’s growth. Without a satisfactory relationship, businesses inevitably crumble under the strain of customer complaints and lost sales. A CRM application is a central system that works to improve a business’s relationship with their customers by creating easier ways for team members to track leads and contacts, take and access notes and review sales goals. It also displays real-time changes in buyer/prospect activity, including issues that may be occurring at any stage inside or outside of the sales pipeline.

The Importance of Customer Satisfaction
Customers aren’t just the lifeline of a business, they are its' lifelong support. If customers are happy, the business flourishes, gains more leads, more word-of-mouth advertising and their products can fly off the shelves. When customers are unhappy, sales dwindle, complaints circumvent and the brand is ultimately ruined.  LinkedIn gathered a few eye-opening stats that you should know about customer complaints. Here are a few:

•    96% of unhappy customers don’t complain; 91% of those will simply leave and never come back.
•    70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
•    A 5% reduction in the customer defection rate can increase profits by 5-95%.

From these statistics, it’s very plain to see that a business’s relationship with its' buyers can either make or break it, both now and in the future.

How a CRM System Builds Brand Loyalty?
So now that you see the importance of forging a better relationship with your customer, it’s time to explore how a CRM can help to simplify the process.

A CRM system takes all of hassle out of gathering important customer and sales data. Instead of having to log into multiple systems to grab this information (which can be slightly annoying if you have a lead on hold while you’re doing it), a CRM centralizes all of this info into one application. Insightly’s CRM app works in the cloud, allowing you to leave your desk, work out of the office or work on the go. Since it is accessed in the cloud, you can update your lead’s status in the sales funnel real-time from any connected device, anytime. By doing this, everyone on your team will remain on the same page.

When your lead calls in to close a deal, they may get another agent. If you’re not there to update the agent on the latest information, this could spell disaster and confusion both internally and with your prospect or customer. With a CRM, your team members have access to customer notes and history, so they can effectively close the deal in your absence, or address the customer's question. This boosts customer satisfaction, team collaboration and sales productivity. If your lead is happy, he will share his experiences with others and come back for future purchases.