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Archive for January, 2013

What Is Customer Relationship Management?

January 31st, 2013

A large amount of any company’s efforts and budget go toward finding and retaining customers. What if database and programming technology combined with innovation could automate much of this work, reduce costs, and improve customer relations, all while improving overall efficiency and value to the customer? It can, in fact! Effective customer relationship management is vital to any business, and CRM software makes the entire process much more successful.

But what is customer relationship management? Below is a brief description of the customer relationship management model, how it works, what might keep it from working to its greatest potential, and some related trends that it has recently created in the marketplace.

What is it?

Customer relationship management (CRM) is a model for managing the interactions of a company with its customers, clients, and prospective sales contacts. It manages sales activity, customer support, technical support, and marketing by automating and synchronizing similar processes throughout a business. The goals of CRM are attracting and keeping customers, bringing former customers back into the fold, and streamlining activities to reduce the costs of marketing and customer service. The model is also used to simplify and organize internal company relationships.

Benefits of CRM

Although a CRM model is intended to save a business money, its primary goal is to improve efficiency and relationships with clients. The benefits of adopting a CRM model include the following:

  • Quality and efficiency
  • Lower overall costs
  • Higher productivity

A well-thought-out model will create a seamless interface and help a company realize its full potential, but businesses often experience some challenges getting into a streamlined CRM process. These initial hurdles are completely normal, and are overcome with some time and practice. Challenges can include a lack of training for employees, a lack of commitment or continuity from senior executives, and an overly complex or unwieldy interface. Certain areas of the model may be more difficult to manage and therefore can be ignored or underused by employees, which leads to fragmentation and inefficiency. If the interface is difficult to navigate, it presents obstacles for both employees and customers. Hiring talented technical staff to create an interface that is usable and can grow and flex with an increasingly complicated business model and data set, as well as securing a commitment from employees at all levels, are at the heart of a successful CRM model and a sustainable implementation.

Types of CRM

  • CRM automation uses a contact management system to track every stage of the sales process, requiring fewer representatives to initiate and maintain contact with potential and existing customers.
  • Marketing processes track and measure multichannel campaigns, including social media and direct email or mail, to generate leads. A model called prospect relationship management (PRM) tracks customer behavior and brings them to the first sale, cutting out active sales campaigns entirely.
  • Software for customer support, such as call center programs, also helps to reduce the work force required to manage existing customers. It is designed not only to assist clients with problems but also to identify and reward loyal customers.
  • CRM models have also been designed and implemented for the special requirements of small businesses, social media channels, and not-for-profit organizations.

Similar Trends

  • Cloud computing and “software as a service” (SaaS) allow customers to subscribe to a cloud and access software for a reasonable subscription fee.
  • Vendor relationship management (VRM) is a counterpart of CRM that allows customers to access vendors without forming long-term relationships with them.
  • Extended relationship management (XRM) is in part the practice of applying CRM disciplines and technologies to all levels of the enterprise and all associated constituents. This involves not only the associated customers, but other levels of partnership such as the government and the media.

CRM is changing the intricate relationships among companies, customers, vendors, and other business partners. Technology has made it possible to track consumer behavior precisely and make successful sales happen with virtually no exhaustive effort on the part of the company, allowing them to focus efforts on nurturing new and existing relationships, and placing efforts into other areas of company growth.

PCI Announces Plug-in License Manager System

January 29th, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Diego, CA – January 29, 2013 – Productive Computing, Inc., a Platinum member of the FileMaker Business Alliance, today announced the release of their Registration 2.0 licensing management system for use with the latest versions of all PCI plug-ins.

Prior to this registration upgrade, PCI plug-in users requested a method to review which license codes were registered to which specific computers. Furthermore, they needed a way to easily disable licenses from computers no longer in use and reassign those licenses to other machines.

To address these requests PCI developed an intuitive registration system which allows end users to self-manage their plug-in licenses provided they download the latest version of their plug-ins. Users can now easily free up licenses as necessary when old machines are no longer employed. Another new feature allows users to conveniently review their plug-in purchase history as well as the number of user seats available for each product. In addition when new licenses are purchased, the system ties directly into PCI’s shopping cart system and will now automatically generate new license codes, thus allowing customers to immediately register plug-in purchases.

“Our innovative and one of a kind registration system sets a new standard for how plug-in manufactures can license and register their software. It truly balances the need to protect the software we are selling at the same time empowering our customers to easily maintain their own licenses.” —Keith Larochelle, CFO, Productive Computing, Inc.

You can see the sytem in action by watching the video below:
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The Registration 2.0 functionality is embedded within the latest versions of each plug-in and is free to download from the PCI web site. Customers who are not running the latest plug-in versions will need to purchase an upgrade in order to use the new Reg 2.0 functionality.

 

About Productive Computing, Inc.
Since 1996, Productive Computing, Inc. has been helping its customers become more efficient and profitable by implementing custom software solutions using FileMaker Pro. Utilizing FileMaker Pro as a rapid application development tool, their certified FileMaker developers can create custom applications that a business can run on their Windows or Macintosh desktop computers, in a web browser, on an iPad or iPhone or shared simultaneously on all of these platforms.

Productive Computing, Inc. also produces several off-the-shelf productivity solutions such as Core4 CRM, Core3 CRM, Core2 CRM, Core2 Invoices, Music Director Pro, FM Work Orders, OrgPlanner and IT Asset Manager as well as a suite of FileMaker Pro plug-ins that allow FileMaker Pro to integrate with third party applications including Outlook, QuickBooks, Apple’s Address Book and iCal, PDF forms, credit card processing, digital signatures and biometric fingerprint scanners.

In addition to building custom and off-the-shelf FileMaker Pro solutions and plug-ins, Productive Computing, Inc. is a full service FileMaker Pro hosting company. FileMaker hosting services allow customers to host their own FileMaker Pro solutions on Productive Computing servers in the cloud instead of purchasing and supporting the necessary server infrastructure themselves. These same servers also provide the infrastructure for customers who would prefer to subscribe to Productive Computing’s Core4 CRM, Core3 CRM, Core2 CRM, and FM Work Orders products under a SaaS (Software as a Service) pricing model.

Productive Computing, Inc. is one of only a few companies in the United States to have earned the highly respected Platinum level membership within the FileMaker Business Alliance and recently won the exclusive FileMaker Business Alliance Partner of the Year award.

Productive Computing, Inc.
950 Boardwalk, Suite 205
San Marcos, CA 92078
http://www.productivecomputing.com
info@productivecomputing.com
(760) 510-1200

Press Contacts:
Productive Computing, Inc.
Keith Larochelle
(760) 510-1200

Author: Categories: FileMaker Plug-ins Tags:

A New System for Superior Efficiency

January 28th, 2013

Nth Generation Computing, Inc. hosts over 25 Special Events each year including an annual 3-day technical symposium.  Nth’s Special Events bring customers together with industry analysis, technical experts, and introduction of new technologies.  These events offer all attendees the valuable elements of both networking and education.

Although Nth was faced with a problem―they were using separate systems to manage their event registrations.  Registrants would have to enter their information on a web page with a static ASP form, and subsequently an e-mail would be sent to Nth’s marketing department.  The marketing department would then have to find the registrants in a contact file, manually add them if they didn’t exist, and finally register them in the FileMaker system.  The company needed a way to convert their existing web registration into a FileMaker back end to interface with the rest of the marketing process and database.  Nth had never used web applications with a FileMaker database before, so this was inevitably going to be a challenge for them.  This is when Productive Computing, Inc. was contacted to help solve the problem.

Utilizing custom development and programming techniques, PCI was able to integrate FileMaker Pro with Nth Generation’s event web registration.  The end result proved to be highly beneficial to Nth.  A substantial amount of time was saved during the registration process for all parties involved.  Registration results turned out to be far more immediate, efficient, and accurate compared to the manual system they had previously used.  Considerable amounts of labor and overhead were saved since Nth had made the change.

“The new web registration system you guys built for us is saving us from having to hire two people. That’s huge!” —Rich Baldwin, President, Nth Generation Computing, Inc.

Not only was Nth excited about the quick registration aspect, they were also pleased with various other features of their new system.  Using PCI’s Outlook Manipulator plug-in for FileMaker, registrants were automatically sent convenient Outlook calendar items and reminders.  Furthermore, qualification and dynamic survey features gave the company a valuable summary of their client base.  Nth’s new registration system offered just what they needed―built-in flexibility with customization based on event data.

 

About Nth Generation Computing, Inc.:

Nth Generation Computing, Inc. has been providing technical consulting and IT infrastructure solutions for enterprise-class organizations since 1987.  They are a full-service IT engineering firm dedicated to helping clients protect, access, and manage their enterprise data.  Nth’s customers range from Fortune 500 companies to mid-tier organizations across many industries. All share the need to protect mission critical information while maintaining rapid, reliable, and secure access.

For more information please visit:  http://www.Nth.com

 

FileMaker Hosting Services Kept Simple

January 25th, 2013

FileMaker® databases are incredibly intuitive to use but the costs and time involved in setting up and maintaining them on your own in-house server isn’t in everyone’s budget or wheelhouse of expertise. Serving your vital business and personal FileMaker databases on your own can be a daunting task. Do you have a server that you can dedicate to this task? Can you afford the licensing costs? What happens if the server goes down? Who will you call and how long will it take to get back up and running? Who will setup and monitor your database backups? Did you know that you can’t back-up “live” database files with 3rd party back-up programs? If you don’t have a skilled person on staff to help you answer these questions and carry out these tasks, perhaps you should consider hosting your FileMaker databases in the cloud.

 

FileMaker Hosting Differences You Can Count On:

While there are many choices out there for hosting a FileMaker Pro Database, keeping things focused and simple to efficiently accomplish your hosting needs is our philosophy. Here are some things that make Productive Computing, Inc.’s FileMaker Pro Database Hosting service different:

1.  We are a large FileMaker Platinum development firm with an expansive and expert knowledge of all things FileMaker (not just a hosting company who may or may not know how FileMaker works under the hood).

2.  We have dedicated servers with SSD drives (nothing virtual, nothing slow) and as a result have read/written times faster than just about any traditional hard drives. Would you believe our servers can do a full reboot in 35 seconds!

3.  We don’t “pig pile” our servers with too many files or customers and we always use the latest version of FileMaker server and OS security patches.

4. FileMaker WebDirect™ hosting is available to bring a desktop-like experience to users via a web browser without the requirements of traditional web programming.

5.  We perform local backups, backups to a physical attached drive, and to the cloud. That gives us 3 points of redundancy for disaster recovery and up to 30 days of data.

6.  We provide a daily DropBox backup for those customers who want the peace of mind to know their data is at their fingertips. No cumbersome FTP programs are required to get at your data should you need it.

7.  We provide direct FileMaker Server Admin console access for users on FileMaker 12 – 13 where they can close and open files, download files, etc. We can provide direct access to FileMaker 11 Server Admin as well for developers who request it.

8.  For developers who are thinking of referring their customers to us, we treat their customers as if they were our customers. Often developers want to know that your customers will be treated as well as you would treat them in the event your customers would call us directly.

9.  We provide a unique IWP scenario for FileMaker 11 – 12 users that will auto redirect to a web page of your choosing upon IWP time out or IWP Log out. We developed this technology here in-house and it’s truly one of a kind.

10.  Distance from the server to the client is a big factor which is why we are continuing to invest in our infrastructure by putting servers in all corners of the country.

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Keeping Web Hosting and FileMaker Hosting Separate: Why?

We recommend to our customers to have and/or keep their websites hosted using a traditional web provider (like GoDaddy, Bluehost etc.). The reason for this is that for a very low price you get a standard web server has all the bells and whistles needed for your web development team (i.e. the correct PHP version, standard web security, robust web control panel, population and performance stats, scalability, accessibility, redundancy, secure certificate, standard PHP reusable code snippets / built-in plugs for hit counters, forms, validation, shopping cart, Word Press, etc.). If you host your website on a double-duty FileMaker/Web server, the service provider has to provide all these extras which gets complicated fast and providing service and maintenance on all these other technologies is time taken away from being an expert maintaining your databases. And you wonder why they don’t return your call or answer the phone when you have a problem. They are up to their eyeballs in all that stuff.

Even still, we offer IWP and the ability for anyone to use an external website with PHP while at the same time talking via PHP directly to our hosted FileMaker servers. The only requirement for a client is to have their PHP files and the web files on a web server outside our infrastructure. Typically when a client comes to us for hosting, they already have their own website hosted elsewhere and prefer that as the location for their PHP files.

Keeping it simple and focused allows us to be your on call experts for FileMaker Services and FileMaker Database hosting. Our brand has a strong reputation because we do not try to be everything to everyone. Focused expertise is our key to servicing our customers in the way that they expect to be serviced.

FileMaker Database Hosting