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Upgrading Your Network for CRM? Six Things to Consider

If you have a secure data network in place, you've got the foundation you need to add the tools—such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software tied to your unified communications phone system—that will help you serve customers better. Before upgrading your network, there are some things to consider. Such as:

  • What do your customers want? It's no use spending on technology that doesn't solve your company's particular customer service problems. Talk to customers and send out surveys to determine what improvements they'd like to see. Then make sure any technology investments you make will help you specifically accomplish those improvements. Talk to others in your industry to see what's working and what's not.
  • Ask your employees what they need. Frontline sales people and customer service reps have a good idea of what's working and what's not. Involve them from the beginning as you create solutions designed to meet everyone's needs.
  • You don't have to go it alone. Certified Cisco partners that specialize in working with small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can help you throughout the entire process. Even before providing you with a bid, your partner will thoroughly inspect your current network and phone system to determine what equipment is needed to help you improve customer service.
  • Prepare your workers for a change. Create a transition plan that alerts employees to the changes to come. Focus on the benefits to them. You can request additional training to help your workforce transition to the many customer service features that will be available. Be sure to ask your partner what training he or she recommends.
  • Work with your partner for an easy transition. The time required to upgrade your network and add customer service applications depends on such factors as your company's number of employees, locations and customer needs. Ask your partner for a real-world estimate of how long it might take and how best to transition with minimum disruption. Also, ask what can be done to minimize any potential down time. For example, if your business operates during traditional Monday-Friday business hours, your partner might suggest the installation process occur on Friday evening or during the weekend. Either way, chances are the process will go a lot faster than you might have imagined.
  • Decide how you want to handle ongoing support and maintenance. Discuss with your partner a service-level agreement (SLA) that guarantees specific levels of support at different fee structures. Depending on the size of your business and your needs, you might want to hire one or more people to provide ongoing support and maintenance. Whichever direction you take, carefully consider the pros and cons of each as early in the process as possible.


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