How To Be Proactive Rather Than Reactive in Customer Service

The default approach to resolving issues relating to customer service is to respond to problems when they arise. This reactive approach may satisfy the customer, but it most likely will not enchant them. In fact, many unhappy customers will not call to complain,they will simply take their business elsewhere.

Instead, imagine resolving problems before they take place. Or better yet, think about being able to address the issues before customers become aware that there is a problem in the first place. This approach, which is a proactive approach, is not only viable but possible as well. A recent survey conducted by Enkata found that being productive and proactive can reduce call volume by as much as 30%. As well, the survey found that this approach increases customer retention rates by 3-5%.

So how do you go about in being productive? What actions will you have to take in order to employ a successful, proactive customer service strategy? Here are 5 tips to follow.

customer service

1. Create Content That Answers Common Customer Questions

Many customers hope to find answers to their inquiries on their own, as opposed to them having to call or email a company for support. This means that if you make helpful information difficult or impossible to locate, you’re depriving yourself of a valuable opportunity to satisfy customers. A good place to start – create an FAQ page on your website. Include a link to the page below your signature in every correspondence you have with customers and prospects.

2. Pay Attention to Every Word Customers Say

If you’re not paying attention to what your prospects and customers are saying about you online, you’re missing out on the opportunity to resolve conflicts before they escalate. Reaching out to customers who mention your company, be it good or bad, allows you to pre-emptively address their needs and enhance their experience and satisfaction.

3. Integrate CRM Software – Empower Front Line Employees

Anyone who spends a day in an office environment knows you’re almost guaranteed to hear at least one staff member complain about the limitations of their tools, whether it’s a slow desktop PC or an application that doesn’t have the features they expect. Today, it’s much easier to give employees more choice about how they do their tasks without compromising on company policies. All you need is a powerful CRM that documents every conversation, every job order, or customer request.

4. Collaborate in the Cloud

The ability to access the most up-to-date information is essential for employee productivity. Adopting cloud solutions gives employees access to key applications and the most recent versions of documents, no matter where they are located.

5. Break Down The Barriers

You more than likely hired people for different functions, such as technical supports, sales, customer service etc. But if these people don’t collaborate, your customers may not receive the service they expect. Imagine how much better your products and services could be if sales tells technical support agents what customers are asking for and customer service shares the most frequent customer complaints with the rest of the staff. Such cross-functional collaboration could result in new productivity that boosts sales and increases customer satisfaction, which translates to more streamlined operations, increased productivity, and increased profits.


4 Tips for Training Staff on New Software

Forward-thinking businesses seek opportunities to bring in new software to help run their business more efficiently. The most common problem they face is their staff – who do not want to see change and are worried about not being able to understand the new technology in place.

If you decide to implement the new business software, you should make sure all your staff understands the purpose of the new software, the benefits of this, and any important points of what the software package can do to improve their productivity and performance. The more you explain the more likely it is that your staff will understand and enjoy the new training.

Here are 4 tips to keep in mind when training your staff on new software or any technology introduced in the workplace:


new software



  1. Pair up workers-Encourage all employees to teach one another through what is called the buddy program. In order for this system to work, your company should have support and established structure in place. Otherwise, staff members could get tied up in their daily duties and let opportunities slip away.


  1. Mentorship opportunities – Start an in-house version of a formal mentorship program.  Pick 10 of your best employees from among a group who has volunteered to become mentors.  In order to ensure that both sides commit to the training process, it’s important to set up a framework. Both parties should make a long-term commitment (i.e. 3 months) and that means meeting for at least 1-2 hours a week until the mentee is comfortable using the software.


  1. Cheerlead– Opt for a more realistic, yet positive portrayal of the upcoming changes. Your employees will look to you as their manager for direction on how to feel and what to think about the new implementations, and many will resist change simply because it’s change. Experts advise mangers to answer the “‘what’s in it for me?’ question for anyone you expect to use the software—which is really just another method to ensure your staff knows the importance of why they are learning what they are learning.


  1. Use positive reinforcement -Want your team to stay motivated during the training and beyond? Use positive reinforcement every step of the way.  Experts argue that positive reinforcement both shapes behavior and enhances an employee’s self-worth. And if you use positive reinforcement immediately after someone learns something new, you’ll encourage fast and thorough adoption.

Although there is an upfront cost, the long term value far exceeds the cost. If your employees do not know how to use the system properly, they won’t buy into your proposal. When staff members don’t buy into what you’re doing, this nullifies any potential future returns. With Carmel Vision you don’t have to worry about lost investments. Our account managers will prepare you for the transition and provide you with the ammo you need to ensure the staff that the investments you are making are smart ones.


Continuing The Discussion on Outdated CRM Software

smart luggage

In one of our previous posts we discussed the implications of working with outdated software.  The highlights include costly outages, inadequate support, increased concerns over security breaches, and sharp learning curve for new employees. No one can decide for you whether to upgrade the older software to a much newer one or to continue using the old outdated software and simply offer intensive training to all staff. You have to make the decision yourself.

What we can do is help you make informed decisions by providing you with the facts and best practices.

Recently, I was browsing through CNN and came across an article on smart luggage. The article got me thinking and made me scratch my head once or twice. I traveled 7 times overseas to Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Of the 7 times I traveled, twice an airline lost my luggage. I eventually got the luggage back…but the first twenty four hours were the most hectic. The airline would not reimburse me within the time period because they claimed that 95% of the lost luggage cases are resolved within 24 hours.

I don’t know about anyone else’s experience, but I was very upset. I was traveling throughout France and the next day I would be going to a remote city of Avignon. The day after was a Sunday and holiday in France and the likelihood of me getting my luggage that day was zero to none. I ended up getting my luggage the same evening, but the worry and the sweat of spending my holiday without my personal goods was unfathomable. The entire trip was only 10 days.

The Jumbo Jet Maker Airbus recently unveiled a new concept design for smart luggage at the Paris Air Show. The luggage would have an embedded tracking device capable of transmitting their locations to travelers and even contacting airlines directly when they get lost or misplaced. This product is still in the development stage, but it gives travelers like me a sense of relief.

Getting back to outdated CRM Software….when using it, you never realize the additional perks that come with newer, and more advanced software. You may be struggling to juggle various tasks and ensure that every employee who works for you stay productive. But why struggle, when you have so many options out there to help you make the most out of your work day and to better streamline operations?

Same thing with those old, ripped suitcases. Why keep those old suitcases when you have ones that are more light weight, more durable, and soon will even be embedded with a GPS tracker?

Call Carmel Vision at 1-855-Infoflo to learn more about how our contact management system can help you become more productive, greener, and proactive in resolving customer complaints and concerns.  Let us show you what you’e missing out on and help you fill in the gaps.



How to Beat the Competition with Price

When you are offering a quality solution to a company’s office management problem and it comes with a reasonable price, you have an offering that most software companies can’t compete with.

Enterprise management software comes with a high price tag and is usually very expensive to implement, especially when you have to buy additional modules to run the office the way you want and every module is costly.  The trend towards ERP systems that operate every aspect of your business is what I see most companies lean toward as a complete office management solution.  The fact is that if you want to spend thousands of dollars implementing and learning how to operate the system that you most likely won’t use in its entirety, then you have to make a long-term decision about what works best for every department in your company and ensure that you’re ready to experience long-term budget constraints.


Every department in your company requires function-driven software like accounting, inventory, purchasing, human resources, and sales systems that integrate with each other seamlessly and offer reporting and tracking of the companies information.  Accuracy and time-sensitivity in real-time business operations is what drives managers to consider high-end business systems to drive their business operation.

Although many managers that I talk to on a daily basis choose the path that leads to the purchase and implementation of a company-wide software system that runs their entire business, there are just as many managers that are scratching their heads and trying to figure out the best way to save money now that they have spent their entire budget on monthly/yearly subscription fees and long-term contracts along with implementation fees, service contracts and training costs.

What you have in the end is a very expensive system that works great to fill the basic need of accounting and capturing the most pertinent information, which is a customers contact, billing and purchase history information.  Everyone just uses the system for what they need it for.  Most employees use other software programs to help them manage their workload because the module that is intended for their specific department is designed as a work-flow solution that processes information as a whole instead of an easy-to-use solution that aids in the day-to-day operability of each individual employee.  Individual software modules like InfoFlo CRM software is intended to make an employee’s job easier and gives them more time to spend performing their actual job function rather then getting stuck in the workflow system and producing less results.

Sales people are the companies bread-and-butter.  We are the ones that initiate and build relationships with buyers that want to make the best purchasing decisions for their company.

The last thing a sales person wants to do is become stuck in a system that is intended to work well for every other department, except for sales.

When I open my CRM, I want to access my emails and dashboard so I can see what tasks I have to accomplish today.  I know that all the information that I need to perform my job is at my fingertips because I am the one that put it there.

The business managers that I talk to that have implemented company-wide systems often tell me they don’t have a CRM solution for their sales people.  Sure, they will have all of the customers contact information that is captured with their billing and customer purchase history, but what about the one simple tool that sales people need to build and manage their pipeline.

Sale people need to generate leads, convert prospects to customers and keep ongoing relationships with them.  Its a simple process that is over complicated with larger systems that focus on other areas of the business.  As a sales person, in the past I just used the software that I was given by my employer and created my own system of tracking and following up using additional software because it was the only way to manage my own personal workload.  This took my selling time away from me and added an additional level of stress that could easily have been alleviated had the company managers made the choice to buy specific software for my needs.

Everyone is trying to save money.  That is the biggest trend that I have encountered in my experience in dealing with managers and selling them relationship management solutions.  There is nothing that compares to an affordable and easy-to-use software product that does exactly what it is intended for.  InfoFlo is designed for the sales person or small business owner, not every other department in the company.  That is why it is an affordale solution for managers when they want their sales people to focus on their client relationships and make money for the company.  Sales people need CRM software so they can better manage their time and concentrate on relationship building, and managing their sales cycle.  We all want to reach the last stage of our sales cycle (the close) without having to wait for screens to load and wasting time looking at insignificant information that slows us down.

Why should business owners worry about paying high monthly subscription fees for a product that is intended to track the progress of making money?  InfoFlo is the CRM solution that all business managers need to look at and seriously consider as part of their business management solution because it will pay for itself with the first few sales made by one of your sales people using InfoFlo.  It is that affordale.


5 Ways to Enhance Email Marketing Campaigns

Is email marketing a thing of the past? NO! Not only is it alive and kicking, but it remains one of the most effective and profitable ways to reach out to prospective customers.

To many C-level executives and marketing coordinators, email marketing strikes them as something old-fashioned. More advanced venues, such as social media and SEO get all the attention, and seem more powerful than email marketing. Unfortunately, reality is not on their side. Email marketing is still powerful because it moves the conversation about your business to a more personal environment – the inbox.

Follow these 5 Quick Tips to cut the fat from your emails and become the purple cow in the inbox rough.

Permission Marketing


1. Permission Marketing:

Take a few minutes to watch Seth Godin’s TEDTALKS video on Permission Marketing. The premise of this theory is that marketing emails should only be sent to recipients who have provided their consent to receive such information. Organizations that have not obtained consent from the recipients prior to the sending of the email are sending out spam. Businesses that spam recipients’ inboxes are defeating the purpose of meaningful email blasts. It is equally important to honour an individual’s request to be removed from the email blast’s list.


2. Clear Purpose:

Every email marketing communication that is sent out through a contact management system should clearly identify the sender of the email. The subject line and body text in the communication should also clearly reflect the content, origin and purpose of the communication. The reader should not have to read between the lines to understand the purpose of the email blast.


3. Clear Call to Action:

Whether it is ‘Call Now’ or ‘Buy Now’, the single call-to-action emails should channel the customer to the intended destination without any distractions. It’s equally important to make sure that the customer/prospect has sufficient time to take action that is offered in the message.


4. Focus on the 3Ps:

Focusing on the three “p’s” is a smart place to begin writing your email message. Conveying an idiosyncratic personality via copy, images and design is one way to differentiate yourself from the rest of the emails sitting in your recipient’s inbox. Also, your emails should clearly stipulate your value proposition and positioning.    When writing the message, think of Seth Godin’s purple cow analogy. Ask yourself: am I the ordinary black and white cow or the purple cow that stands out?


5. Mobile Friendly:

Smart Phone usage is increasing exponentially, and with it, so is the number of people that are reading email on mobile devices. According to a recent study, 43% of emails are now opened on a mobile device. That number is up 138% from 2010, and it’s pretty safe to say that it’s going to continue to increase. That’s why it’s important to have emails in both html and plain text – allowing people to read the email if it doesnot display correctly on their mobile devices.


About CarmelVision:

InfoFlo lets you create professional email marketing campaigns in a quick and efficient manner. Don’t pay for a 3rd party email marketing tool, we’ve got you covered.  Click Here to start your free trial today.


Calculating your Total Cost of Ownership for Software

Cloud computing is becoming more and more popular in enterprise software. As a result, more buyers are comparing Cloud-based systems against traditional on-premise ones. One of the most important factors to consider when deciding on a deployment model, among many others, is cost. However, on-premise vs. software as a service (SaaS) comparisons can be a difficult a time-consuming task.

Many buyers already know the major difference between the licenses: on-premise licenses are purchased with a large, upfront investment; Cloud-based systems are licensed for a relatively lower subscription price. But often, buyers do not consider other key factors beyond licensing, and thus do not have full understanding of what their total cost of ownership (TCO) will be for a software investment. For instance, the need to customize your software and integrate it with existing applications can have a significant impact on the total cost of your software.

When broken down even further, we can see that comparing costs of on-premise and Cloud software is a complex process that must consider a multitude of elements.

Derek Singleton of Software Advice recently worked on finding a way to help buyers calculate their TCO of their software investment–and to take a little bit of the hassle and confusion out of it. So, he put together an interactive TCO calculator for software buyers to use as a tool to compare SaaS and on-premise costs for a 10-year ownership period.

The calculator is pre-populated with the data for an example situation, but users’ inputs will override those values and show how each change alters the outcome of the total cost, and a graph at the top of the page updates to reflect that. With this tool, users can insert the cost data provided by software vendors and find out where the TCO of a Cloud-based system will that of an on-premise system, which is modeled on a yearly and cummulative basis.

While there are many individualized, specific possible factors that the calculator does not account for (e.g. the cost of employing an internal IT team), the “Other” category allows users to calculate any additional considerations they may have. Of course, the calculator cannot produce an exact figure for any particular business, but it helps give users a ballpark estimate of what their costs would be. Check it out here:


What is Contact Management Software?

When owners need a supportive and user-friendly business tool capable of handling day-to-day administrative tasks and streamlining customer relations, contact management software is often the wisest investment.  Given the high demand for this versatile software, it helps to know exactly what it is and how it works.

Let’s start with a good definition:

Contact management software organizes company information and details, including contacts, emails, documents invoices and more, according to built-in or customizable parameters, and may also automate several routine business tasks such as reports and analytics.

Note that the basic function of all contact management software is organization of company contacts, but most systems strive to go above and beyond the basics.  The best contact management systems offer a wide variety of features in addition to primary contact management.

Some systems organize internal business functions by automating emails or social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook – enabling quick customer responses and up-todate information for a community of consumers. Other systems seek to improve customer relations by placing detailed customer information across several transactions at the fingertips of each customer service representative.

One of the biggest benefits of contact management software is its ability to relate data across many different categories. For instance, when you enter the contact you met last night at the latest business convention into the system, all the information associated with that contact, including past invoices, emails and even internal related documents are displayed on one screen, fully accessible and available.

Knowing the basics is a great way to start your well-informed pursuit of the best contact management software for your business. For an extremely user-friendly and well-organized contact management software system that includes all the basics and benefits noted here and so much more, try Carmelvision’s Infoflo – a system specifically designed for small businesses starting at just $99, with free upgrades for life.


5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Service

Customer service is the pulse of life for companies large and small. Without proper organization of it’s ins and outs, sales slump and the way forward can quickly become a murky mess.  Consistent customer service gains is not a mystery however, for those who’ve managed to whittle their customer service game down to a few crucial essentials.

1. Invest in a powerful contact management software system

Today’s smartest companies have realized that contact management must go beyond Outlook in order to meet the challenging needs of an forward-moving company.  With the variety of choices available today, it’s worth it to research top contact management systems and determine which will work best for your company’s present and future needs. A good  software system will organize your contacts, grant shared access to calendars and facilitate email marketing.  An excellent contact management software system will track sales, provide detailed customer analysis and statistics, automatically connect contact information with data from any source within the system and more.

2. Create Visible Success Markers

Your customer relations efforts need a swift pace and pulse to get things moving forward consistently. What better way to achieve this than to set visible and realistic markers for success among your customer service workers. For instance if your goal is retaining customers, give rewards for workers who successfully achieve present numbers over sales cycles.  If consistency is also key, be sure to reward workers who may not have the numbers but can be counted on for recurring accomplishment.

3. Realize You’re in the Education Business

Injecting the notion of constant education into your CRM never fails. Customer service departments with a good grip on practical and informal ways to educate customers about the product and train them a little bit with each conversation on how to use it and its unique benefits repeatedly excel beyond the competition.  No matter what the nature of your business is customers will appreciate and emphasis on education and so will your bottom line.

4. Employ only the Best

Keep in mind that the definition of “the best” has changed in today’s modern markets.  What used to be the go-to criteria, the familiar “at least five years experience” is not necessarily the most effective – especially in customer service.The same five years of experience that made the grade in the past could be what’s holding back your team today as workers used to the routine are less welling to connect with customers in new ways. It may be risky, but an alternative is to hire fresh outlooks and positive, upbeat character and train for skill later.

5. Deepen Your Customer Perspective

Do you know what it’s like to buy one of your own products or what it’s like to chat with one of your customer service reps? One of the biggest customer service pitfalls companies make is being completely out of touch with their customer base.  Surprisingly, it takes more than full attention to the bottom line to keep customer service ticking. An in-depth analysis of customer obstacles, beliefs and opinions about your company could be an invaluable resource you have yet to tap.  Try reaching out to your customers with a blog comments section on your website or conduct an survey to ascertain where you customer’s interests lie.

To improve your customer service efforts give InfoFlo a Try! Free 30 day trial…here

Top 5 Customer Service Standard Guidelines

No matter how great your company’s mission statement or how qualified your executive staff, your business simply cannot thrive and prosper consistently without a solid customer service standard.  All the service-related conferences, seminars and workshops rolled into one can’t deliver the one that’s right for your company.  A customer service standard must be tailored specifically to the unique and special characteristics of your particular company.

Acknowledging this, here are a few guidelines to try on for size. Feel free to creatively shape and hone those that stand out the most for your business until just the right fit emerges.

1. “Success is in the details.”

It’s always good to start with a few good customer service values like the familiar ‘success is in the details’ to get a solid foundation for developing more specific customer service standards.

2. “If you call or visit a branch office, you will find…”

Try developing standards based on the various customer relations scenarios that a customer might encounter.  For instance, determine what level of customer service a customer will find if they were to write to one of your facilities, call or visit a branch office or visit your website.

3.  “You can expect…”

Developing a standard based on what the customer can expect in terms of service provides a clearly communicated, shared service objective.  This results in mutually agreed upon criteria that sets the pace for your customer service team and grants an added sense of security to customers. Customers just may be more open to sales tactics and strategies when they know what level of service they can rely on.

4. “We’re committed to providing service according to the following standards…”

A clearly stated and well-defined customer service commitment can work wonders.  Employers gain added confidence with a clear cut standard that focuses their intentions and customer service aspirations.  A stated commitment can also boost morale among teams. A shared customer service belief system that teams can easily stick to begins with a realistic commitment statement.

5. Timeliness, Accuracy and Appropriateness

These are the three key elements can help define customer service standards like no other.  They form the backbone of any successful customer-company relationship and just so happen to be a close description important service issues. Try setting basic standards with these elements in mind. Broad strokes at first can develop into more specific definitions tailored to fit your company’s unique characteristics. Starting with key elements that keep customers happy will get your company well on its way to standards that produce solid results.




Taking Stock with Contact Management Software

Often back-end activities like taking stock of inventory and order management need complex arrangements and multiple database management software systems in order to run smoothly on a day-to-day basis.  Companies need business software that can streamline front-end service like email management and calendar coordination with back-end essentials.  Contact management software has the ability to do just that and more.

A complete contact management solution has the ability to track all vital information associated with an account including inventory statistics, order details and other back-end information.  Because this information is also automatically linked with contact information, a tremendous amount of time and energy is saved for managing your activities.  With contact management software, it’s also easy to pool information from a variety of different sources within the system for comparisons and annotated contrasts. The document management features make it possible to create detailed reports of fundamental business practices.

The best strategy for management of business activities that form the backbone of a company is integral organization. This software not only delivers integral organization, it defines it and lets you customize and tailor it to your company’s changing needs.  Every shift and transition affecting back-end procedures can easily be updated and tracked using document management features as well as added pluses like task management and even remote office integration, a feature that allows employees and contract workers alike to remain in the loop and stay on task.

The heart of any business sometimes lies not in what can be seen on the outside, but in what is done and successfully accomplished on the inside, where employees and executives strive to remain as productive and organized as possible. Contact manager software meets these needs and exceeds expectations, managing much more than contacts and keeping emails in order.  Give it a try as soon as possible to learn more about its dynamic features for taking stock and staying on top of the back- end.