Automate business processes for maximum effect.

Impel’s Alerts and Workflows Engine can automate your business processes to a great degree. Read about how one of our customers used Impel successfully through their Admission process.

Workflows Exam Example
Green blocks are Impel workflows. Light blue blocks are operations by Impel users. Dark blue blocks are external systems. Shift+Click for a larger image.

Our customer is a leading educational institution offering Degrees in various disciplines. The customer has a fairly complex process to track prospective students from the first point of contact until admission. Step 1 When a prospect first contacts our customer (via inbound phone call or email), Impel checks to see if they already exist in the system, Opportunity Sourcebased on their phone number. If they do, their contact details are presented to the agent. If not, their details are entered into Impel by the agent.  Our customer uses Impel to track prospective students from a variety of sources including print and online advertisements, hoardings, referrals, education fairs, their website and inbound calls.  Regardless of how the leads came in, they are automatically added as Leads in Impel, sometimes manually by Call Center agents, sometimes via data uploads and sometimes through workflows. All prospects are contacted by agents. The agent takes the prospect through the various course possibilities based on the prospect’s interests and prior course of study. All conversation with the prospect is recorded as notes / activities in Impel.  All contacted leads are automatically sent a welcome email and text message through a Workflow. Step 2 email for testProspects  go through a pre-defined Opportunity process. At each change in Opportunity Stage, specific events are triggered off. For example, at one specific stage change, the prospect is emailed a link to an Online Test. The test itself is hosted on a system external to Impel.  An Impel workflow generates the user-id and password for the test, update that information into the Impel opportunity record automatically.  This data is then submitted to the Online Test system through an Impel API. Another Impel workflow then automatically sends an email to the prospect with a link for the test and their credentials for logging in. Step 3 test scoresOnce the prospective student takes the test on the Online Test system, the completed Eval PDF and scores are pulled from the test server by an Impel API. The prospect’s Opportunity record is then updated with score details and the Eval PDF by another Impel workflow.  The appropriate Territory Manager (Impel user) gets a push notification that he has a Follow-up task. The details of the activity are automatically added to the User.  An email is automatically sent to the prospect via a workflow. With this level of automation, Impel enables our customer’s team to focus on their business, while ensuring that things run smoother, faster and more productively!

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6 ways to decide: Keep It or Drop It

OK, let me get some things clear first. This blog is not about that relationship you’ve been mulling over – Pinterest will tell you better things than I can! And it’s not about that old Daimler-Benz in your garage. This is about how we decide to keep or drop a specific feature in Impel. Reading Alex Turnbull’s terrific blog-entry of how Groove handled this set me thinking about our own process. Every time we’ve considered adding or dropping a feature, we’ve looked at it in at least these different ways.

Do our customers use it?

Alex begins his description with this specific factor and that’s clearly very important. Early in the evolution of Impel, for example, we used to have this way to “skin” the product – you could choose your own colors and fonts via a set of “themes”. We thought that was way cool (remember, this was way back in the late 2000s!), but we rarely saw customers use this. We’d even promote it in our demos – and prospects did say that was cool – but rarely would someone make the effort to change their theme. We discussed the reasons, we agonized over a really neat feature, we finally dropped it. And no one even noticed.

Do we want our customers to use it?

Sometimes, we believe that a specific feature out there is something people should use, but may not know how to. Our SMS Commands are a case in point: lots of users in non-Western geographies need access to Impel out on the field, when they want it. But they rarely have access to a laptop or a smartphone. SMS Commands are a great way to get to Impel, but it has been difficult to help users understand their use and their power. A lot of people see SMS as being just a way to communicate, they don’t see it as a way to do business, But users and customers who do see the point just love it. So we continue to keep it and invest into it. And into making it easier for users to understand it.

Do we want customers who will use it?

This is really a strategic issue: do we want to expand our offering in a manner that will make sense to, say, an adjacent market? Our Impel Touch offering was a result of such thinking: we saw the value SMS Commands delivered, but we also saw a number of our users buying Android phones. And we saw that customers were willing to buy smartphones for their users, if we could make life easier for them. Further, by adding the Impel Touch option, we could address a much larger variety of the operational problems that customers use Impel for.

Should we rather partner with someone for it?

As Alex says in his blog, this is the most important reason they dropped Live Chat. For us, too, its been very clear that working with a partner for some things is a lot better than building it ourselves. Our integration with Knowlarity, for example, has worked out very well with them, us and our mutual customers. Companies can go from thinking of improving call-center efficiency to actually making it happen just by signing up for Impel+Knowlarity.

Can we do it faster/cheaper/better?

Honestly, this is the toughest discussion of them all, but it needs to happen. Every Engg team thinks it can do better than anyone else – that goes with the turf. But there really ARE things that some teams can do better than others, and that’s not only because they know tech better. In building our Reporting Engine, for example, we decided to license the code from another company and build on it, to deliver a seamless user experience within Impel. We know there are lots of Analytics products out there, but we believed that the near-term issue for customers is really Reporting, not Analytics. And we could solve that best ourselves, since we understand the internals of Impel best. Luckily for us, our customers validated our belief with their check-books!

Can we afford to drop it?

This is something we have to consider, no matter how prosaic it seems. Losing potential revenue is one thing, losing customers who signed up because of that specific feature is a big one. In our case, since we’re mostly working with mid-size customers, features tend to impact large numbers of users within an organization. So something going away – even something as simple as a link at a list level instead of a detail level – causes untold hardship. And that leads to lots of support calls and emails, lots of heartache. Historically, this has been a big factor for us, possibly because Customer Support has the loudest voice in the team!

I’m sure there are a number of other ways to agonize over this issue. Would love to hear them!

 

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Enhanced Linking, Remembered Data Views and more. July 4th 2014 Release Announcement

On Friday July 4th 2014, we released some enhancements and new features to Impel, based on customer requests and feedback. Here’s a summary of the enhancements released.

  1. Enhanced Link capabilities among Account, Contact and Opportunity. You can now link multiple Accounts to a Contact, multiple Accounts or Contacts to an Opportunity. On the View page for Account, Contact, Opportunity, you will now see Relate… links on the right side (in the Functions area). Use this to Relate a new Account to the Contact or to the Opportunity.
  2. Remembering the last Data View used. Previously, every time you went to a specific set of Data Views, say Opportunities, you would always see the data listed per the topmost Data View in the set. Now the last-used Data View in the set is remembered. So you don’t have to search and set to your favorite data view every time you login to Impel. Impel automatically remembers your favorite Data View.
  3. Enhanced Similar pop-up. On Account and Contact pages, we had a pop-up (a “Similar” pop-up) that listed similar Account / Contact names as you started typing in an Account or Contact name. Now the names in the pop-up are clickable, so that you can go into a View of the Account / Contact that you select. This helps to check if the Account / Contact already exists in Impel and therefore avoids duplicates.
  4. Enhanced “Similar” pop-up for Contacts. Previously, the Similar pop-up for Contacts only appeared when you keyed in the Contact’s First Name. This feature has now been extended to the Mobile Phone and Primary E-mail fields too.  Again, this avoids duplicates by allowing you to check if the mobile phone number or primary e-mail already exists in Impel.

Some more details about the Remember data view feature:

  • On a page that lists Data Views, every time you select a specific Data View, Impel remembers that Data View.
    • The next time that you go to the same page, Impel will automatically show you the Data View that you last selected
    • If the previously selected Data View is not available (maybe a Shared Data View that some other user has deleted), then the first Data View in the set will be shown
  • If the Data View is shown from a menu or a sub-menu(because it was added as a Menu directly), then it is not remembered. This is because the user may not even be aware that it is a Data View and not a list of some kind.

If you have suggestions for improvement or requests for new product features, please send us an email to info@impelops.com and we’ll be happy to add it to our product roadmap after consideration.

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Why Freemium is unfair to customers

Talking to a VC friend (yes, I have those!) last week, he told me how we should embrace Freemium as a lead generation process and how that will help us “scale” the business. And the same week, I see this report that, overwhelmingly, companies are going AWAY from Freemium. And then, along comes this one that implies that Freemium is the only way to survive in the world going forward. This is just way too confusing, particularly when we’re just beginning on a journey that takes Impel global. WHAT DO WE DO?

Well, I did what the sages of yore advise: Look within yourself (I looked to Yoda for advice, too, but there’s nothing there about SaaS…). So I looked inward. And found that I have a basic disagreement with the Freemium model. And that’s after what I DO know:

  • Freemium is a great way to validate your product. Thousands of people banging away on your software, without being paid for the testing – sounds like a plan.
  • It can be a great lead generation mechanism. With an average of 3% converting, it’s a lot better than outbound email, if that’s you comparator.
  • It’s a great way to plan an exit – millions of users, two-millions of eye-balls…
  • It’s the way of the Coming Economy – no cost of distribution, only the cost of engineering. And support. And marketing…
  • It’s a terrific thing to say at parties – “Yes, we have a million customers” (with about a 1000 paying for it).
  • VCs love the idea – and, after all, it’s their money.

So what’s the problem? Well, I have only one problem with all this: that this completely ignores the CUSTOMER’s perspective. To me, the one and only gating issue with Freemium is this: How can I tell my customer that, of the $ 210 she just paid, we’ll be spending $ 196 supporting customers who do not pay? Don’t believe the numbers? Take a look at this two-year-old analysis that actually puts Freemium in a POSITIVE light: for every 100 Freemium users, 3 convert; it costs $ 2 to support the 100 users ($ 200) and the 3 “converts” pay $ 70 each ($ 210). That’s the math, simplified. Work in the fact that conversions happen long after the user signs up and you’ll not make the $ 210 for the year anyway. And I haven’t even begun to account for the cost of actually running the business itself. Sure I can explain this to my investor: after all, there are hundreds of people using our software. But how do I tell my paying customer the same thing? And if I can’t convince customers of my business model, how will we scale anyway?

I’m not saying Freemium is a bad idea always. I’m sure it makes a lot of sense for consumer-oriented companies. But in a B2B situation like ours, where our customers review our business as deeply as they do our offering, I just can’t justify carrying 97 people for every 3 that pay. So we’ll stay away from Freemium till our customers tell us that they’ll happily pay for the others.

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Retain your Customer

Marry your Customers -
Does that sound funny? Yes to retain the SaaS Customer we need to get used to their behavior, ( Not Changing Ourselves) get adjusted and understand their needs and nature. images (2)
Today the most painful stage of any business is Customer churn if you are in a cloud business. Cloud companies continue to struggle in sustaining long lasting relationships with their customers. There are multiple ways to retain customers those are not going with the next subscription. We all are aware that selling to the existing customers is much easier a sale than to acquire a new one. Finding out the reason is very important for us. We need to question ourselves whether they are looking for a Brand name ? Do they need any new feature? Are they not satisfied with the support.
But we do have a choice if we want to really retain the customer or win back the lost customer in short term or Long term. Here are some views listed below:

1) Reason why they left your organization
Understanding why your customer switched to your competitor will help you improve the quality of your product or service. May be initially, your customer was happy with the services you provided. However, due to inconsistency he preferred switching to another brand. In this case, talking things out with your customer service team, encouraging them to provide exceptional service, giving them proper training on customer management, etc. would help to a great extent.

2) Remember everybody likes attention
Firstly, your organization should not reach a stage, wherein it loses its customers to competitors. However, if such a scenario arises, we need to remember that everybody likes to be wanted. Try getting in touch with your lost customers, show them how much your organization values them, and show them that you miss working with them. How important the company and people are.

3) Regular Follow ups with Friendly Touch
Earlier letters had a long lasting impact on the minds of the readers. In today’s competitive business world, emails are widely used. Most of the times, since there are so many emails received per day, your customer may just miss reading the mail sent by you. It can also be lying in the junk/spam folder, unattended! In such a case, sending a personal SMS/Chat/what app will leave a lasting impact. Not necessary, your customer may come back to you, but again here you have the upper hand. Simply because, for the kind gesture you showed, the customer may continue referring you to friends and his circle. Engage customers through various Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin etc.

4) You really want them back
Now, not necessary every customer that you work with will turn out to be profitable. May be you had a customer who expected a lot out of you and your executives and you just wanted to get rid of him, cause it was getting increasingly difficult to work with him. The best thing you can do at that point, is to make sure that they are leaving happy and that they will continue to refer you.
5) Offering what they want
After going through various discussions, you will definitely come across innumerable reasons your customer left your organization and switched to a competitor. However, taking ownership and responsibility is vital. You can always fix up a meeting with them or discuss things over phone that went wrong or visit their office for a quick chat. You can then, talk about all the measures the company is taking to sincerely improve on the areas, With this gesture may be the customer is convinced but he isn’t ready to come back. But, the good thing is that, he will continue referring you.

6) Focus on the Deserving Customers
Focusing the deserved customer is as important a effort you put on a sales closure. Definitely the deserved customer needs attention and appreciation in terms of throwing some free reports, highlighting the customer on our website. In a nutshell, the customer needs to feel the company cares and will go the extra mile to make the effort to retain. I read somewhere Customers don’t owe you their loyalty. You have to earn it — continually. Isn’t that true we all know that we have to put that extra effort to make them use the product for years.

7) Customer Service
One of the most important part that any business plays in the Saas world is the customer Service. Impel is always known for its dedicated support. In the Indian Scenario you must have noticed that people love to talk and needs support. Now that we have started spreading our wings internationally, am very sure and confident of our support services. Service needs a polite and lots of patience to deal with. some understand quick but there are people who are totally new to computers as such.

8) Functionalities and Features
Now you may figure out that customer is looking for some specific reports, feature or just a simple field that could help them reduce the time. In fact while your various conversation you figure out that they should have this for better management or better vision. To keep them happy and to avoid losing the company for a reason the user count being high, the company brand or the vertical.

9)The users
One of the key component that we see other than the above mentioned points is the kind of users that use your system. Now you might want to keep calling all of them on regular basis and befriend them just to make the users comfortable. Will that solve the issue for you as a company? Yes & No. But if users are not using the system the company might look at it as an overhead. This is really something where your system is not the cause for the customer deciding to stop the usage. Think of a situation if the users are using the system and generating the same amount of business that they do without the system. Do you think the company will still see it as the value for the Management?

The discussion could go on and on but like we know every situation has pros and cons so does this.
Companies that understand the above said points can RETAIN BETTER, THOUGH they can’t just retain them forever and ever…

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Cloud CRM Squared,Customer Relationship Management