“From Birth to Earth” – The Entire Life Cycle of Services Engagement and How an integrated CRM/ PSM Solution Will Help

By Mark Engelberg – TimeLinx

The entire success of your services business hinges around engaging clients. No service business can grow if clients cannot be attracted and then retained by successfully taking them through a Services engagement. Of course, happy clients that have completed that cycle lead to more clients. You end up with an upward spiral if you plan and run everything well.

All too often, however, new leads and potential client opportunities fall through the cracks. We are all human, and these things happen. Good CRM software should go the distance to making sure missteps are avoided in the sales stage but what happens when you get beyond the sales process? The handoff from CRM to PSM is where the biggest missteps happen and those can be quite costly for the business. Even to complete failure. Sales makes promises and service doesn’t know about those promises because they are on a different system. Throughout the entire lifecycle, from client awareness to consideration, to decision making and even post-service management you need the sequence to be seamless.

Client Awareness
The first stage of the services engagement lifecycle is Client Awareness. This is where your potential clients first get to know of your products and services and become interested. At this point, you’ve hopefully moved beyond spreadsheets and sticky notes to CRM software. I sure hope you don’t have to be nudged in the direction of the correct answer.

This is also where an integrated PSM solution can bolster and make your CRM software just that much better. When you have an embedded or integrated project and service management solution, you can neatly avoid most of the human error pitfalls that come with maintaining and building a relationship. Behavioral tracking is the norm with CRM but getting that information to be interdepartmental can be a massive challenge. It is essential to make sure that your infant client relationships continue to be nurtured and grown by the right people at the right time, and not every one of those people will be in the same department or be aware of what the others are doing. This is especially true when a sales opportunity is handed off to a project team to deliver what was sold.

The next step is Consideration. Here the client seriously weighs the pros and cons of creating a lasting relationship with your company. They believe that in some way your products or services will improve their business, so you need to be able to prove your worth. If you have been using nothing more than CRM software up to this point in the relationship, statistically, this is often where the relationship fails. Missed opportunities, lack of up-to-date information, and unmined data can all result in a lack of trust from the client. Embedded PSM software fills in gaps and reduces inter-departmental silos. Every face-to-face with the client can be properly prepared for with little effort from your human team. There is nothing better than nurturing a relationship with all the right informational tools at your fingertips. Imagine if raising a human child came with such a comprehensive manual? Being able to impress your clients with solutions to problems they didn’t even know they had will undoubtedly lead to higher loyalty and reduced churn.

Decision Making
Once you have hooked your clients, you now need to reel them in. They are now happy with your offering and have enough trust in you to sign a contract. This delicate stage needs to be very carefully managed. From sales, the project now moves to the actual service team. Whether it is service technicians, project managers or creative teams in an ad agency, everyone needs to be in regular communication and up to date on the work being done. Though the project is now in the hands of people delivering the work, it’s critical that the salespeople who built the initial relationship need to be kept informed to keep the relationship smoothly running during the inevitable wrinkles. And hence the reason for integrated CRM with PSM. The best way to avoid communication issues among staff and the customer, and potentially destroy your carefully nurtured project, is to make use of comprehensive integrated systems that track everything and keeps all of your important people in touch.

Post Purchase Client Management
The aftercare is as important as the actual project itself. Your project has come to fruition, and it’s very easy to simply put the customer on the back burner. The fact is this is where your customer experience cycle can put you strides ahead of your competitors. By maintaining the relationship and addressing your clients’ issues with historical knowledge at your fingertips will foster greater loyalty and can be leveraged to get new clients. In today’s world, no one does anything without getting reviews and doing research on services. Happy clients that appreciate you going the extra mile will result in new clients. Projects are involved processes and many steps sometimes delivered by many people and are far more complicated over “simply” winning a deal. Even if it’s not really simple, there are now paid deliverables beyond quotes and phone calls. The need for PSM software for recordkeeping to understand why and how something happened will keep the “blame game” to a minimum. But although keeping tabs on your completed projects is important, it should not consume cycles of time from either your sales or project teams, so it needs to be run by an automated solution

We know that CRM software is essential at the beginning of a relationship with a client, and as you progress further down the road with them to an engagement, making sure all that effort isn’t destroyed the first time a service person says, “I didn’t know sales told you that.”

The secret to making sure that the entire services engagement lifecycle runs smoothly from birth to earth is employing a comprehensive PSM that’s connected to your CRM solution. Ditch the data errors, the replication, and sleepless nights trying to fix issues to keep clients happy, and just get the whole thing to run itself.

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About TimeLinx
TimeLinx delivers innovative project & service management software as a complete solution that perfects the sell-track-manage-support-bill cycle that services organizations must have to delight their customers; TimeLinx brings the cycle together in a single application that offers less frustration, better project management, complete reporting, and improved profitability – all specially designed for Infor and Sage.