An interview with Micah Feldkamp: “As with most CRM systems, start with the fundamentals: organization-wide buy-in and best practices.”

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Editor’s note: CRM market includes a broad scale of difficulties experienced by the companies that try to keep up with times in the highly competitive business world. CRM consultants are the experts who can help your organization become more successful, especially when the question comes to the new platform's implementation.

Today we present you an interview with Micah Feldkamp, CRM consultant, and Insightly Guru. Together with Micah, we will explore the essential aspects of the future CRM setting up, check out the interesting facts about Insightly, learn more about customer service and discover the predictions for the next year.

1. Micah, you are an active person with the different interests and experience in various areas. Please, tell us about the tipping points of your career path?

When I was 18 years old, I landed an internship as a part-time marketing rep at a consulting firm called QuickBooks Resource Center. In less than a year, I graduated to a full-time solutions consultant after I won two software contracts increasing revenues by over 25%. I attribute much of my success to my supervisors who invested a lot of time and effort mentoring me.

While working at the QuickBooks Resource Center, I also volunteered at Toastmasters as a club president, Audit Committee Chair for their Arizona District, and won some local speaking contests with help of my mentor, Dennis Clark. He and his wife kept persuading me to become an entrepreneur and instilled in me the confidence to walk my own path, which led me to become an Insightly Consultant.

2. So, you have been working with CRM systems for 6 years now. Obviously, CRM implementation is a complicated process that consists of multiple factors. Being a CRM consultant, can you mention some technical benefits of incorporating the platform into an organization?

Ideally, a CRM system tracks and aggregates all communication activity, preferences and contact details about your contacts both online and offline creating a complete contact profile. When your database has enough information to build accurate trends and sales projections, the system prioritizes resources allocated to each contact through an intelligent rating system. The CRM system also provides automated communication services to all parties involved such as notifications on customer orders, scheduling appointments and determining whether the contact needs a human touch, notifying your staff in real-time. This reduces costs while increasing conversion and customer retention rates. Most importantly, a secure CRM system gives you an instant peace of mind considering cyber attacks can potentially put you out of business at any time.

3. As I can see from your profile, you are Insightly CRM authorized partner. Why did you choose this platform to work with?

a) I wanted to start with an up and coming small business CRM software to grow my expertise as the platform grows. When I found Insightly they were the #1 most popular CRM on the Google G Suite (formerly called “Google Apps for Work”) marketplace, so they were in a good position for growth yet the software was still easy to implement.

b) I knew I was not going to standout in a saturated market like with QuickBooks ProAdvisors, so I wanted to find a partner program where there was little to no competition.

At the time there were no Insightly CRM consultants or even an Insightly partner program for that matter. However, this didn’t stop me from becoming an Insightly consultant. A few years ago I attended a seminar with the Chief Customer Officer at Gainsight, which is G2Crowds #1 Rated Customer Success software. There I learned how service operations evolve in a SaaS company. From $1-50 million in annual revenue, consulting services are kept in-house. At around $50 million SaaS companies start referring consulting work to their partners.

I found Insightly when they were doing a little over $10 million a year. Today they are in the $25-50 million range according to Glassdoor. At the time I knew if I worked hard by gaining credibility in the community, I would one day be the #1 consulting partner for Insightly.

c) The platform had to have an open community where I could contribute and gain credibility. When I was working at the QuickBooks Resource Center, we became the #1 custom reporting firm for QuickBooks Enterprise Solutions because our consultants participated heavily in the QuickBooks ProAdvisor community. I took what I learned and spent a lot of time giving pro-bono consulting in the Insightly community. Today I am the #1 in the Insightly community for giving the most contributions.

I also flew out to San Francisco to meet with the people at Insightly as choosing to work with the people who run the platform are just as valuable as the platform itself. It goes without saying we had a very positive and fruitful time together during our visit.

4. What needs to be done to ensure the successful Insightly CRM adoption?

As with most CRM systems, start with the fundamentals: organization-wide buy-in and best practices.

Leadership is key. Whether you have a big or small business, managers must listen to their user’s needs. This is where a lot of software investments go wrong. Management buys software for management not the common user. Both parties have an interdependent relationship, so ideally both parties should have their needs met by the software solution. Lastly, if management decides to purchase the software despite what the common user survey says, at least your users had the opportunity to be heard showing good leadership.

When it comes to best practices a lot of small businesses disregard them, which may be “okay” for a 1 to 10 person businesses that operate on lots of tribal knowledge. Insightly was initially designed for this type of use because small businesses could quickly see benefits without much set up work involved.

As Insightly is used more by bigger organizations, they will need solid best practices in place because tribal knowledge will fall flat on its’ face in larger enterprises. Best practices start with an effective user onboarding processes for insightly and it’s 3rd party integrations, proactively measuring and resolving user support requests, providing just-in-time support services to your users before they make a support request, data management strategy and maintenance, etc.

If you have a faulty process in any one of those procedures, you may lose user’s trust in the system. When users lose trust in the system not only do user adoption rates fall, users also lose trust in management too. Bottom line… the fundamentals come first.

For more information on CRM best practices, read my article on Insightly’s blog called “5 Best Practices for Insightly CRM”.

5. A number of CRM vendors emphasize the effectiveness of social media in data gathering and marketing campaigns evolvement. In your opinion, can social networks enhance the customer experience or have an adverse effect?

Generally speaking, social media is absolutely necessary for data gathering and enriching contact profiles. Profile enrichment services such as FullContact and Clearbit offer +95% accuracy rates on supplying matching contact data because they use social media profiles as a primary data source. Five years ago those accuracy rates were unheard of even for companies with multi-million dollar marketing funds.

Social networks can have both a positive and negative effect on the customer experience. Here’s a good example…

Recently, I was learning the Krav Maga self-defense system and my instructor added me to the gym’s WhatsApp group. All of the students were highly engaged, but for me it was a nuisance. I use WhatsApp to replace texting and calling not as a social networking platform. My phone was ringing constantly with messages not related to class schedules or events. I opted out of the group and asked my instructor to notify me via WhatsApp with schedules and event details on a need-to-know-basis. He was very understanding and invited me to join their Facebook page instead. When I made time to go on Facebook, I would enjoy watching our videos while maintaining privacy over my Whatsapp. As you can see every type of message needs its’ own channel.

6. The clients’ preferences and expectations are changing just as quickly as improvements in technology. What are your CRM predictions for next year?

Artificial intelligence is going to seep into every aspect of the CRM from the user interface to process management. CRM software must learn to adapt to the client’s preferences without any user or administrative intervention needed.

For example, if a user is in a contact record and always checks emails and tasks activities and not files, notes, or events… then the emails and task activities section should be moved to the top of the contact’s activities list.

This is a simple example yet those little adaptations to user preferences and expectations are going to keep users more engaged.

7. To wrap it up, is there anything else you want to share with our readers? Can you provide any valuable resources you obtain or suggest books to read you have found to be useful after years of experience?

You must have the mindset of a lifelong learner and develop your brain’s creative muscles.

The reason creativity is more valuable today than ever before is because artificial intelligence and robotics will rapidly replace various roles in business, big and small, but the new technology will not replace creativity for the foreseeable future.

Learning a musical instrument, new language, or dance are all proven ways to develop your brain’s creative muscles. I believe everyone is born with creativity, you just have to stimulate those muscles with the right learning activities.

Many thanks to Micah for an in-depth interview with practical suggestions that will help our readers to succeed in the CRM implementation and customer experience improvement.

P.S. Willing to reveal the new business opportunities with the efficient platform? Take advantage of the automated migration service Data2CRM and move your data effortlessly. Don’t wait up, start free Demo Migration right now!

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