A systems junkie tells all after 30 years in the industry.
A systems junkie tells all after 30 years in the industry.
To Felicia Meagher, CRM is not about software. It’s about people. So it makes sense that when she’s consulting with small businesses on their CRM, she starts by looking at the business through the lens of its customers. From there, she builds a strategy around strengthening customer relationships using the CRM technology, with the ultimate goal of business growth and profitability. Felicia has gained such insight after over 30 years in the CRM industry, having worked with major business consulting firms and clients including Nestle, Kraft, IBM, BP and Fujitsu before starting her own CRM consulting firm, CRM Success.
From Modern Ontrapreneur
“We recognize that CRM success is made up of multiple components including the systems you use, the business processes that drive action, and the people who directly or indirectly influence the customer,” Felicia said. “Ensuring that these three areas work in harmony with your overall business and customer strategy is where we excel.”
A process-oriented strategist and Ontraport Expert, Felicia shared with us her insights about the importance of business process automation, the most underused features of Ontraport, and the one thing she sees entrepreneurs are often missing.
This issue of Modern Ontrapreneur is all about Business Process Automation. Can you share a bit about your background in supporting clients in automating their business processes?
In many ways, I fell into working with business process automation very early in my career. I was involved in the setup of the first call centers in Australia. It was crucial to have good processes and systems in place so that a large number of people could deliver the same level of service.
I hate to admit it but that was over 30 years ago and before the term CRM became known. Since then I’ve worked with process automation and systems solutions around many aspects of marketing, sales and customer service.
This enabled me to work from the vendor perspective, directly with clients and mainly in large consulting firms as a CRM specialist within Business Process Improvement practices. Of course, now I bring what I call those “corporate smarts” to small business.
Why do you believe automating business processes is so important? What kinds of results/impact have you seen after supporting companies in doing this?
One of the biggest benefits of automating business processes is to provide a consistent and repeatable customer experience. Whether you are an entrepreneur with a small support team or a small business with one or two on the team or something much larger, automating processes means everything can be done the same way, all day, every day.
It’s also possible to leverage your time and that of your team since the automation can take care of the repeatable processes sometimes better than we can remember to do them. Implemented correctly, automation not only performs certain tasks automatically but also can remind us, humans, what we need to do in the most timely manner.
It creates manageability of the flow of work and can free you up from certain administrative and non-productive tasks. When adding then the sophistication of what can be implemented within Ontraport, it’s possible to nurture and strengthen the relationship with a prospect, or even a client, and ensure the best possible use of the team’s time when providing a good customer experience.
The added bonus from a business owner’s exit strategy perspective, of course, is that the use of consistent systems and processes allows the owner to remove himself or herself from the business and for it to continue to grow. The business is also likely to get a higher purchase value with good processes and systems.
“One of the biggest benefits of automating business processes is to provide a consistent and repeatable customer experience. Whether you are an entrepreneur with a small support team or a small business with one or two on the team or something much larger, automating processes means everything can be done the same way, all day, every day.”
What are the features in Ontraport that you use to automate business processes? Why are these beneficial?
I have used and configured many different CRM systems of varying complexity and costs over the years and have been really impressed with what Ontraport can do and how it continues to evolve.
There are several features which are my “go to” features for automating a business.
The first is the campaigns. In some ways, the name “campaign” does not do the feature justice since it allows you to do much more than just execute a marketing campaign. It provides a visual map of what is happening but also executes all the elements that make up the process. It also gives you an approach to measure the performance and a way to configure and manipulate data that drives the process flows. A campaign can be fully automated with a “set and forget” style approach that includes different process streams automatically acted upon under the right conditions, or you can have a campaign that generates activities and reminders when human actions are required.
That brings me to tasks. Whenever there needs to be a manual action performed or a personal touchpoint with a client, tasks are brilliant. They act as the reminder of an action to be done but also to initiate new paths of automated processes depending on the outcome of the task.
Many of the processes we set up are data-driven, so we used stages or statuses to indicate where someone is in the process. As an example, in a sale, the stages might be lead, call completed, sale won or sale lost. Alternatively, for an event, the status might be booked, attended, no show or canceled. Ontraport’s new Card View feature makes the updates to stages or statuses simple. It has a visual interface which most people love because of its simplicity and ability to see what is happening at a glance.
Most of the time I am working with clients who are high touch with their clients, so being able to log a call, take notes, and add files and attachments in Ontraport allows the system to be the “source of truth” for all things client related.
As with any business processes, you then need to have the ability to report on activity and measure results. There are several options ranging from groups, dashboard metrics and campaign statistics that help to determine what is effective and should continue, what needs improvement, and whether perceived improvements actually made a difference.
What was your background before you became an Ontraport Expert, and why you did you decide to become an Ontraport Expert?
Before becoming an Ontraport Expert, I had been working as a corporate management consultant with some of the Big 5 Consulting firms. I was a subject matter expert in CRM and associated disciplines, which meant a lot of travel in Australia and throughout Asia Pacific to work with clients or teach other consultants the knowledge and skills for client engagements.
I decided to take a break from CRM consulting and focus on another area of interest — personal leadership success. It was during my time setting up that business that I came across Ontraport (well, OfficeAutopilot at that time) and saw many business owners adopt it but not know what to really do.
It occurred to me they were struggling in the “don’t know what you don’t know” situation and therefore could use some guidance to achieve a return on their investment. After working with clients to set up their processes and systems, it became the next obvious step to become an Ontraport Expert. That was five years ago.
Of course, I could have kept doing what I was doing without the certification; however, doing the certification and maintaining it ensures I am up to date with the latest features so that I can guide my clients through them better.
Please tell us a bit about your consulting business — what types of clients do you work with and what areas do you focus on?
CRMSuccess takes a business strategy focus first approach with the aim of improving growth and profitability for a business through the lens of their customers.
Initially, like many people, we started with automating sales funnels and standard CRM functionality as that is what clients thought they wanted. Over time I realized many businesses needed my corporate approach, albeit with a small business focus and agility, to have the strategy drive the processes and the systems. Taking this approach enables the most appropriate strategy to be configured for both the short- and long-term objectives, which may not be the most obvious solution at first.
Due to the extent of my experience in CRM and strong technical background, we tend to work across the full range of features available in Ontraport as required to meet the client’s needs. Typically I work with small to medium business owners or thought leaders who have been established for at least a few years and are profitable. They know their service and their market and now want to leverage their time and grow the business.
Which aspects of Ontraport do you think are most useful or underrated?
Campaigns and tasks are the two things that spring to mind as being both useful and underrated. Although many people use them, they are often used in a limited way and, therefore, don’t deliver the full benefits that are possible.
At one stage, CRM was referred to as database marketing, so my focus is often on data-driven actions and processes. We use features within both campaigns and tasks to drive much of the process automation. We also balance the use of campaigns as a performance measurement tool with its ability to program the process flow. Some campaigns are there purely to execute a process, others are just for performance measurement, and others are designed to do both.
Of course another underrated area is custom objects, which allows the flexibility to structure data to reflect how you interact with the client. The big advantage of custom objects is that the flexibility is limited potentially only by your imagination. Unfortunately, that is its disadvantage as well, as many business owners struggle to see what is possible.
If I was to say a feature was overused, it would be contact tags. It’s a feature that serves a great purpose but is often overused when custom data fields would be more applicable.
“Due to the extent of my experience in CRM and strong technical background, we tend to work across the full range of features available in Ontraport as required to meet the client’s needs. Typically I work with small to medium business owners or thought leaders who have been established for at least a few years and are profitable. They know their service and their market and now want to leverage their time and grow the business.”
You have your finger on the pulse of the small business owner and entrepreneur. What gaps are you seeing? What’s your advice for them?
A common thing I see with small business owners and entrepreneurs is confusion. They’re bombarded with different products and services constantly, all claiming to be the best or earn them large amounts of money.
Each expert, guru, new system or tool provides them a single point application but very few cover the width and breadth of experience. On its own it may be great, but does it really fit into a bigger consideration or strategy of the business? There is a reason large corporations have strategic objectives to guide their decisions.
A key skill to develop is then wise discernment to be able to view any potential offering from the overall perspective and a view to strategy. In order to do this, there must be a business strategy that decisions are filtered through. A rule to go by would be “pick and stick:” Once you start with an approach, carry it through while testing and refining. Leave those shiny objects where they are!
What’s next for you?
As with any business, to grow and expand is about leveraging my knowledge and experience in a way that can be made available to more people at a lower price point.
Also, my plan for personal leadership success was put on pause to help small businesses with their CRM. It may have to be unpaused. Stay tuned!
Anything else you’d like to share?
I have been approached by other CRM system vendors to work with their products, but I have not seen anyone provide the features and flexibility in implementation that Ontraport provides. It is also great to see the new features unveiled regularly to make it even better.
My “pick and stick” CRM is definitely Ontraport, as I have not encountered a client requirement that, with the right process and configuration (and some creative thinking), could not be done.
Work with Felicia