How to increase customer satisfaction with CRM software

According to a J.D. Power and Associates survey, the credit card industry has finally hit its stride after a number of legislative changes, increased fees and limited credit availability. This is due in part to the industry's focus on customer satisfaction, for which American Express was recently celebrated.

The survey revealed that overall credit card satisfaction averaged at 753 points out of 1,000 in 2012. This is up from 731 in 2011 and 714 in 2010. The major areas of change have been customer satisfaction with problem resolution (31-point improvement) and satisfaction with rewards (28-point increase).

"Although credit card companies have been criticized for some of their business practices, when we look at overall customer satisfaction, they're doing a good job," said Jim Miller, senior director of banking services at J.D. Power and Associates. "It is evident in the 2012 study that credit card companies have really done a great job in handling problems and achieving quicker resolution." 

If companies wish to obtain the type of customer satisfaction American Express is experiencing, they may want to invest in customer relations management software.

According to MarketCulture, a business consultant, there are many ways to improve customer satisfaction, but implementing custom database software that sets benchmarks to achieve and evaluates employee performance is one of the most effective.

By maintaining key customer demographic details in a database, company representatives will be able to communicate with clients in a more accurate and efficient manner. In addition, this information can be communicated across the company with custom software, making it useful for sales representatives when targeting potential clients, and research and development teams who may need the information to make new product innovations. 

Using database software to crunch digital advertising analytics

As more consumers are taking to the internet for their shopping and social media needs, many companies are starting to initiate internet marketing campaigns and digital advertisements to gain this traction and support. Because this form of marketing is so new, it can be hard to judge just how effective it is. But, with the use of analytical data and custom database software, companies can gain clarity into these advertising campaigns.

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are a few key statistics that marketing and advertising companies should keep track of that can help them understand just how effective their campaigns are.

One of the most easily understood ways to track how well a campaign is going is by viewing a company's conversion rates. A conversion is when a website viewer converts into a customer, most often through a purchase. Tracking conversions can be done quite easily with analytics software, which can help companies see how many conversions they receive on a monthly, weekly and even daily basis.

In addition, overall engagement is something that should also monitored with database software, as it shows whether the advertisements are actually creating an impact – a reaction – with the audience. Companies can use a custom database to crunch analytical numbers, such as how many Facebook likes a post may get and at what time.

Using FileMaker Pro to save on everyday administrative costs

While the economy may be climbing out of the recent recession, many businesses are still looking for effective ways to cut costs. Although some larger companies may have been able to cut major expenses by creating a smaller workforce and moving to a more affordable office, small businesses may not have the resources to make similar moves.

That being said, according to Entrepreneur Magazine, there are many ways for companies to cut costs. These businesses can create policies that limit employee spending on business travel, eliminate overtime pay and, most effectively, move as much of their operations as they can to an electronic platform.

By using custom database software, companies can transfer essential business practices such as bookkeeping, payroll management and tracking employee hours to a digital format, which can eliminate a litany of paper products, binders and office clutter. This can also create a more efficient workforce, as the ease and efficiency of using this software can allow employees to maintain this vital information on their own.

By putting corporate spreadsheets and travel budget expenses in software powered by FileMaker Pro, employees can input their own transactions and budget figures without needing to accost accountants with receipts. In addition, this information can be shared almost instantly with managers and executives.

Furthermore, this software can eliminate the need for creating unnecessary paper documents for meetings and internal circulation. Instead, employees can just upload key data, which can be accessed across all departments.

While it may seem as if this change is only cutting the costs on detail items that are usually in the peripheral of budgets – paper, copies, printer ink and the annoyance of  office clutter – it's these small things that add up quickly and put a strain on a company's bottom line and operating budgets. 

Big data becomes big priority with many companies

Facebook and IBM may not exactly be the same company on the outside – one is a nearly brand new social network giant while the other is a historic software and hardware manufacturer – but both of them have become deeply invested in managing "Big Data."

The term has become synonymous, recently, with businesses and software companies investing in technologies aimed at managing massive amounts of electronic data. But, the term also applies to businesses big and small that are using statistics more than ever to make operational adjustments.

According to Wired, Facebook has been developing advanced software platforms to aid it in juggling the massive amounts of data its 900 million users create everyday. The Washington Post reports that IBM has created massive mainframe computers the company claims to be "its most powerful and technologically advanced ever," capable of managing huge data numbers.

While these major technology companies are investing incredible amounts of time and resources into the development of processing and translating big data, small businesses may be able to do the same in a microcosmic way.

By using custom database software, small businesses can track and manage a number of statistics and analytical data. This can be especially helpful with the rise of internet marketing and e-commerce.

As more companies attempt to bring in leads via their website and search engine results, using the data provided by analytic services to process and understand this information can aid them in building a better website and engaging in more effective search engine optimization practices.

Furthermore, crunching data on customers and clients is becoming even more prominent with small to medium-sized businesses. By analyzing common trends and  issues among customers, e-commerce companies will be able to improve their operations and customer relationships as well as create a more thorough understanding of who their model clients are and what they may need from the company.

How software can help pharmacies protect against risks

The pharmaceutical industry has burgeoned into a mega industry throughout the years, earning roughly $200 billion annually, according to Forbes Magazine. With an industry that deals with such high-risk items as powerful drugs, which are often illegal if used without a prescription, some instances of fake drugs have started to find their way into the market. The source also reports that these counterfeit drugs have caused over 100,000 deaths each year.

It goes without saying that pharmacies need to run a well-organized and efficient operation. In fact, a new study says this can be done not only with the implementation of tablet technology, but also dynamic software.

According to Best Practices, a consulting agency, it may be critical for pharmacies to begin implementing improved technological innovations into the daily workflow. This includes using sophisticated pharmaceutical software that can maintain the critical and, oftentimes, sensitive information that accompanies the pharmaceutical industry.

With many state law enforcement departments beginning to crack down on the illegal use of prescription drugs through the use of their own custom databases, it may benefit pharmacies to consult FileMaker developers to create dynamic software that can keep track of critical client and prescription information. FileMaker Go, for example, offers an ideal platform for tablet-based pharmaceutical software.

In addition to tracking prescription information, this software can help pharmacy administrators protect against the threat of counterfeit drugs by taking an accurate account of exactly what was given to which individual.

Data housed within pharmaceutical software can also help administrators balance drug inventory details, organize scheduled customer pick ups and manage other internal affairs such as employee hours and payroll.

Customer service qualms can be cured with database software

According to FastCompany, "customer experience is how your customers perceive their interactions with your company," and these perceptions have become increasingly important in the age of digital connection. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to complain on social media about a bad experience than a good one with a company, which could be disastrous for small businesses that may rely on having better customer service than their corporate competition as part of their market niche.

This makes it especially important for companies to do what they can to tackle any issues with customer service.

According to a study by Customer Management Exchange Network (CMEN), the greatest challenge for the respondents – chief customer officers, vice presidents and directors of customer experience in the UK and U.S. – has been managing an effective customer experience.

Although cultural change and centricity has been a topic of heavy debate among business owners of both large and small companies, nearly 50 percent of all respondents to the network's survey cite customer service as one of the greatest three challenges they're facing.

The survey also states that most say this conflict in customer service may come from the need for all business units to "embrace the customer and align business strategies to move into a customer centric environment."

Doing this may require many companies to invest in new technology that can help aid in more effective cross department communication as well as create a stronger liaison between the customer and customer service representatives.

This can be solved by using custom database software to create a customer experience database that will allow employees to make adjustments to critical data that can be accessed across all departments. In addition, this software can help synthesize this raw data so that it is more customer centric and easier for customer service representatives to communicate to clients.

How businesses can effectively use big data

The term "big data" has steadily risen in the business world as a way for owners and executives to understand how well their operations are performing. But, the actual definition of the term and how the information is used has remained very vague. Still, a London-based consulting firm and a major industry voice have some ideas on how companies should approach this dynamic way of understanding business.

According to a study by Beyond Analysis, the consulting firm, big data should be used as a way to gain a holistic understanding of company's customers and adjust marketing and customer service operations toward that comprehensive picture. This can be done by using custom database software to maintain statistics on the relevant lifestyle, demographic and affluence measures and then turn those into customer patterns and models.

"Our study conducted over a period of three years surprised us by highlighting just how many businesses are taking the wrong approach to understanding their data," said Paul Alexander, CEO of Beyond Analysis. "But even more concerning is the amount of poor advice being offered. We are well versed in big data having worked in this field having worked with our partner Visa Europe for three years and understand that it isn't all about 'machines' but actually customer understanding and what you do with this information to deliver real, tangible results."

Forbes Magazine also recommends that companies use big data as a means to answer three important questions: "How is my business doing?"," What drives my business?" and "Who are my customers?, what are their needs?"

While Beyond Analysis emphasizes the customer service aspect of analyzing big data, the source recommends that companies consider all three questions at the same time. Custom database software can help with this method by providing one location to house the data relevant to each focus, allowing executives and managers more efficient access to critical information. 

Healthcare industry expected to increase reliance on database analytics

For many businesses today, the terms “big data” and “data analytics” are being used on an increasing basis. This behavior stresses the importance of using database software to compile and analyze all the necessary raw information.

One industry where this may be especially common is healthcare. In fact, consultant Frost & Sullivan projects that the use of “advanced health data analytics solutions” will increase in hospitals by 50 percent by 2016.

Most of these changes, the report says, is from the growing implementation of electronic health records (EHR), which are stored in custom database software.

These EHR systems are still relatively new and, therefore, being improved in efficiency at an increasing rate. While only 10 percent of hospitals used EHRs in 2011, the report predicts that as the industry matures, more providers will realize they need to adapt to technological advances in order to stay competitive in a changing market.

“Hospitals will increasingly invest in advanced data analytics solutions to monitor end-to-end care delivery across a variety of settings,” said Frost & Sullivan health care principal analyst Nancy Fabozzi. “Due to growing competitive pressures, hospitals need to provide comprehensive reporting on performance and quality measures to a variety of stakeholders. Advanced analytics capabilities are absolutely critical for survival – there is no way to avoid it.”

One way for healthcare providers to effectively to analyze data is by investing in custom database software by consulting a FileMaker developer. By acquiring this software, hospitals will be able to implement an analytics program that is customizable to what is important to that specific branch.

In addition, by using custom database software to create an analytics solution, healthcare providers will be able to improve everything from daily operations up. These tools can assist with payroll, hours and scheduling, medical records as well as crunching numbers for more accurate shareholder presentations.

Custom software development may help healthcare industry face criticisms

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts and Healthbox – a three-month accelerator for healthcare startups – are hosting an intensive program in Cambridge that will bring together 10 medical startups and put their projects on the fast track to be exhibited at the program’s culmination in November.

Ideally, the efforts of the companies can help qualm the criticism the industry has been facing, as evidenced by a survey from Wolters Kluwer Health, a healthcare industry researcher.

The survey says that 30 percent of Americans have reported that either they or a family member have experienced a medical mistake. In addition, 45 percent reported to have received an incorrect bill from their healthcare provider.

“What is clear from survey findings is that there is a high level of concern among American consumers about medical mistakes, which could impact the doctor-patient relationship as well as how consumers approach their own healthcare,” said Dr. Linda Peitzman, chief medical officer at Wolters Kluwer Health. “Clinical decision support tools can play a significant role in reducing instances of medical errors and improving communication among parties involved in a patient’s care.”

It’s clear that there are some clerical and organizational issues plaguing the healthcare industry. These can be solved with updated custom database software that will allow administrators to keep a more accurate account of which patients must be charged for what. It will also help provide practitioners with better insight into their daily tasks and responsibilities.

Furthermore, staffing issues have proven to be a major concern to consumers. The survey found that 35 percent of consumers believe that miscommunication among office workers has resulted in a medical mistake. In addition, staff members being in a hurry, fatigued and worker shortages were also common citations from respondents on why hospitals may be underperforming.

Using a customized, intrapersonnel software can enhance communication between nurses and doctors can help keep the pace of work at a more reasonable rate.

Small businesses can use software to manage complicated interchange fees

A group of lawyers representing U.S. retailers are expected to submit a proposed $7.2 billion antitrust settlement against Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc. for court approval within upcoming months. But, this settlement will arrive despite heavy opposition from small businesses around the country that may find their hands tied due to the proposal.

The antitrust settlement against the major credit card companies is designed to allow merchants to charge more on products paid for with a credit card to offset the fees retailers pay to the credit card companies for each transaction. Merchants had previously never been allowed that ability, although many have held strict credit card minimums and offered customers bargains encouraging them to make cash purchases. But, for merchants that accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express, the new settlement presents a Catch-22.

When a customer buys a product with a credit card, the merchant has to pay an interchange fee, which is why many companies prefer cash. But, according to the New York Times, under the new agreement, a merchant that accepts transactions via American Express must treat every electronic payment equally, per mandates from the credit card company. But, this ruling also applies to Visa and MasterCard debit cards, which prohibit surcharges on these types of cards. This makes it impossible for any merchants that accept all three to add a surcharge to any transaction as a means to pay for the interchange fee.

It’s clear that with this settlement, there are new complications to how retailers approach the way they keep track of their incoming revenue and outgoing expenses. When it comes to monitoring this important aspect of business, companies may want to invest in custom database software that can provide financial clarity, especially when monitoring interchange fees.

This customizable software can also be used to gain insight into payroll expenses, taxes, costs of inventory and product sales. This will help retailers identify strengths and weaknesses and curb reckless spending.