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- What is Professional Services Automation?
- Knowledge Management with CommitCRM
- CommitCRM Launches “Drone Drop” Feature
- How to Grow Your IT Services Business with Outsourcing
- A Quick Overview of Quick Preview
- 12 Ways to Kill Your IT Services Business
- Accounting for Account Status
- Yet Another Way to Create Tickets
When etiquette classes were in fashion, service was always delivered with a smile and the customer was always right. During the golden age of customer service, business people understood that they were selling much more than a good or a service, they were selling themselves.
Whether you’re an IT support provider, a managed services provider(MSP) or a computer repair technician, appealing to your customers as a likable, memorable, knowledgeable, resourceful and proficient technician will benefit you and your business. Your customers and potential customers will be swayed by your professionalism. Their choice to bring you their business will be based on your trust and reputability more than the services you provide.
In order to capitalize on this unique dynamic, you need to channel the customer service of decades passed, choosing to provide users with customer service not just customer support.
To this end, we, at Commit, believe that for quality and memorable customer service you need to:
- See criticism as a great opportunity to learn and improve.
No one wants to be critiqued, but being able to do something constructive with criticism is a tremendous asset. The ability to take criticism to heart and make appropriate changes shows customers that you are truly committed to providing them with the highest quality of service. Moreover, apologizing to customers shows greatness of character and commitment to quality customer care that will not be overlooked.
- Recognize that there is a direct correlation between happy employees and happy customers.
Your employees are the figure heads for your business. Your customers associate your business with your employees, their faces, the quality of their service, their demeanor, etc. So, if your employees are happy, thereby providing superior service and customer care, your customers will be happy. This is “paying it forward” hard a work!
- Make sure that your customers know that they are appreciated and special.
Don’t underestimate the power of personalized customer relationships.
Developing a rapport with your customers ensures that they relate to you as more than an IT services provider. When they think of you, they will think of both the expert technician and the amiable associate.
- Exceed your customers’ expectations.
Your customers will notice and appreciate when you exceed their expectations by providing the the highest quality service. In doing so, you are demonstrating that you appreciate their business and value your reputation. Providing service that is beyond the pale will not only help you retain your current clientele, but will also help you attract new customers, as your business becomes synonymous with excellence.
Putting your customers first not only helps to build your reputation, but also builds your customer roster, your customers’ loyalty and your businesses revenue. So, make sure that you go the extra mile for your customers. In return, they’ll be sure to tout you as the IT support provider that proficiently and efficiently makes IT problems disappear while making your customers happy. Now, that can’t be said about most services providers, can it?
Until next time!
-The Commit Team
The best thing about business automation systems is that they automate your workflow, right? Right!
But if every customer is different, every service call is unique and every lead is unlike any other, then how can a business automation solution actually automate the management of your business and business related activities?
One of CommitCRM’s foolproof tools to automate your workflow is its Activity Templates.
This special and easy to use feature enables you to save time by standardizing your work. Instead of manually adding all tasks and appointments required to manage an Account, a Sales Opportunity, Ticket, Asset or Contract, you can simply apply a previously created Activity Template to a selected Account, Sales Opportunity, Ticket, etc. to save yourself multiple steps in managing your workflow and tasks. Meanwhile, the Activity Templates also help you optimize your resources.
Let’s look at the following case as an example:
You get new business leads often, other from a referral, an inquiring perspective customer or some sleuthing on your part. You apply the same basic formula for managing the new lead:
- Create a new Sales Opportunity with the lead’s information
- Call the lead to discuss various business opportunities (i.e. recurring services, managed services, warranty services, network/server install)
- Go on-site to compile a list of all Assets (hardware and software) that can be covered by our services.
- Prepare a Quote outlining the discussed services and related costs.
- Follow up with the perspective customer three business days after you emailed them the Quote.
- If needed, follow up with the perspective customer another week later. Either get the Quote approved by the customer or close the Opportunity as a “Loss.”
Instead of manually entering these tasks into your calender and spending time to make sure that you adhere to the time constraints on each task, you can create an Activity Template for “New Lead Management” and apply it to every new Sales Opportunity to which you would want to apply this list of tasks.
By going to Settings > Activity Templates, you can create a new Activity Template to use on a recurring bases. Here, we have created an Activity Template based on the list of tasks and appointments listed above for New Lead Management.
Notice that on the top half of the Activity Template screen you can see the entire list of Templates, and can sort by Names, Statuses or Type (Opportunities, Accounts, Assets, Contracts and Tickets). In the lower half of the screen, you can see all of the entries (tasks and appointments) related to the Activity Template. In this case, our “New Lead Management” Template includes all of the previously listed tasks and appointments.
Not only does the Template now include a description of all of the tasks and appointments related to managing a new lead, but all of the due dates have also been incorporated into the template, so that applying this Activity Template will ensure that the schedule of tasks and appointments required for the management of a new lead will be spaced out accurately.
In addition to being able to select the days and times in which each activity should be carried out, you also get to select the technician to carry out each task.
In this example, we have selected Anna as the employee who should prepare the Quote for the perspective customer because Anna is responsible for all Quote and Contract related activities. Likewise, we can customize other tasks and appointments in this Template to be assigned to a specific employee, a manager or shared between all employees (based on availability).
Once you have created your Template. You can easily apply it to a new Sales Opportunity and automate the new lead management. From within the Opportunities module, select a specific Account, the “Pending” tab and the “New” icon at the bottom left corner of your screen. Then, select “Apply Activity Template.”
The Activity Template Wizard will immediately appear, giving you the ability to select the appropriate Template. After clicking on the “New Lead Management” Template, CommitCRM will automatically apply all of the Template’s settings, scheduling all included tasks and appointments based on the specified intervals.
Notice that CommitCRM has not only applied the tasks and appointments to the predetermined dates and employees, but it has also made the necessary changes to the schedule based on our selection. CommitCRM has automatically rescheduled the day of the February 6th task so that it falls on a work day (and not on the weekend).
The Activity Templates you can create for Accounts, Assets and Contracts Activity not only offer you the ability to create templated tasks and appointments, but also offer an added feature that enables you to add Ticket items into the Template. For an Asset Template to cover all New Server Installs, for example, you can add in a variety of tasks, including ordering the needed parts, an appointment for installing the server on-site, AND a service Ticket for 15 day’s later to go back on-site to check on the status of the server and address any issues your customer is having with the new install.
Other examples of Activity Templates include creating standard procedures for new Account set-ups, automating the tasks needed to be performed after each Contract is renewed, and creating Templates that standardize the steps required to resolves specific Tickets.
Even though every customer, device, problem, contract and service Ticket is unique, CommitCRM’s Activity Templates give you the tools you need to automate your operations in order to save you time and streamline all of your operations.
The question that still remains is what are you going to do with all of your newly found free time?!
Until next time,
The Commit Team
Most often, when people think about building a company, they think about expanding. For IT support providers, when you think about building your business, you probably think about increasing the number of recurring customers, the number of Assets being serviced and managed, and the number of different services being provided. Just as integral to the growth of a company however, is all the building that happens within the company. Creating an even stronger and broader foundation for a business is one of the key tenets behind every successful venture. And at the core of every business’ foundation are its employees.
Employees or fellow technicians are the business’ life support. In addition to being the face of your IT support business, they are the brains of your operation, the heart of your business and the muscle that enables the business to actually function. By fostering a sense of community, comradery and a commitment to excellence among your team, you will be giving your IT services, managed services or computer repair business a competitive advantage and the foundation it needs to expand.
Keeping this tenet in mind, a very natural and obvious question arises: how do you build a sens of community and a commitment to excellence among the team?
There is no single answer to this question, but there are a number of important elements to consider:
- Be selective!
A group is only as strong as its weakest link, so if you are trying to build a successful team of support providers, make sure that each individual is strong on his or her own merit. The better trained, more congenial and harder working each individual is, the better your entire team will become. All team members can learn from each other, problem solve together and help inspire each other to reach goals on an individual and communal level.
- Incentivize and Reward
Aside from peer mentoring and peer support, another way to give technicians the drive to pursue more leads, sign more customers, get extra training and so on, is by providing incentives. Incentives can include a commission or a paid day off for every new lead that is converted to a new, recurring customer. It can also include tuition reimbursement options to inspire technicians to further their training and increase their expertise.
- Build Community
Creating a fraternity in which members look after each other, support each other and encourage each other is also a pivotal part of strengthening your business’ foundation. To imbue your staff with a sense of community, incorporate team building activities into your business’ schedule. From mentoring programs to Happy Hour outings, paid volunteer days, and company outings, nothing will pay off more than giving your fellow technicians the incentive to come to work and the support system at work to make their days more enjoyable and their work more manageable.
Your fellow technicians are a well of information about the needs of your team, the industry and your customers. Work to create an open environment in which your fellow technicians feel comfortable suggesting ways to improve your company, your customer service, services rendered or internal morale. To add this dynamic to your business, you can use a variety of tools from suggestion boxes to employee surveys and organized discussion forums.
We all want to see our businesses burgeon. Who wouldn’t want to see revenues increase and business flourish? In order to be able to successfully grow your business outwardly, you should start by growing your business from within. By building a solid foundation, you will have the basis you need to truly success.
Until next time,
The Commit Team
One of the perks of using a professional services automation (PSA) solution like CommitCRM is that you can use one platform to manage your entire workflow. CommitCRM’s countless tools coupled with bidirectional integrations with leading tools, like QuickBooks, GFI MAX, QuoteWerks, and Zenith, ensure that CommitCRM can be your one stop shop for all of your business activities.
CommitCRM can even be your single address for getting access to support and community resources.
That’s right! For CommitCRM newcomers and veteran users alike, you don’t have to look beyond CommitCRM’s homepage to get access to informative and experience enhancing tools.
Under the home screen’s “Service Management” tab, you can easily view and explore the workflow that CommitCRM helps you manage. In addition to laying out an easy to follow depiction of your workflow as a means of helping learn which modules to use in the various stages of your workflow, this home screen tab can actually link you to CommitCRM’s modules. So, as you follow the Ticket Management workflow, for example, which takes you on the path from “Manage Accounts” to either “Generate Charge Reports” or “Create QuickBooks Invoice” by way of “Create Ticket,” “Dispatch Ticket” and “Enter Charges,” you can actually access the corresponding modules by clicking on each task’s icon.
This simple feature enables you to save time familiarizing yourself with CommitCRM’s default workflow and corresponding modules.
The CommitCRM home screen also provides immediate access to additional business management tools, such as “Sales Opportunity” creation, “Generate Reports” and “Import and Export (data).”
While not a direct part of an IT support provider’s fundamental workflow, the various tools included in the home screen’s “Data Management” section are advantageous — helping you to both save time, increase efficiency and bolster your business.
By keeping these tools on the home screen, we ensure that you are aware of the tools’ existence, that the tools are easily accessible and that you can take full advantage of their various benefits.
Another worthwhile aid is the home screen’s Setting’s section. This section makes it easy for you to customize your CommitCRM experience! Following each one of the Setting’s links with a single click takes you to specific menus that walk you through CommitCRM’s customization options. From controlling CommitCRM’s default Font settings to customizing CommitCRM templates, to controlling access to privileged information, the Settings’ menu simplifies the customization of CommitCRM by making each customization tool one click away!
Similarly, by including user resources on the home screen, we ensure that you can get instantaneous access to a number of beneficial information and support related resources.
Both the home screen’s “Learn More” menu and the support navigation bar on the right hand side of the screen provide you with a number of resources to help you maximize your CommitCRM experience. With a single click, gain access to CommitCRM’s support forums and online community, tutorial videos, user guides and the CommitCRM blog and Twitter account.
These many resources can help you problem solve, gain new insights into CommitCRM tools and features, participate in CommitCRM community interactions and learn about our latest news and activities.
Using CommitCRM’s home screen, take full advantage of CommitCRM’s many tools and modules so that you can not only manage your business in one centralized system, but also master your PSA from one centralized system, as well!
Until next time,
The Commit Team
We know that Shakespeare was legendary. On top of being a playwright and a poet, Shakespeare is even credited for introducing over 1700 words to the English language.
In spite of his genius however, we’d like to stipulate that Shakespeare didn’t always get it right. In Romeo and Juliet, for example, Shakespeare asked “What’s in a name?” For him, “That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Over at our Commit Business Solutions office however, we are inclined to disagree.
Sure, for some companies, even if known by another name, their company would be the same. But, for these companies, their names are little more than a string of conjoined sounds used to create arbitrary titles. For us at Commit Business Solutions however, our name is our identity. Our name encapsulates who we are and what we do. We are Commit and we are committed to bringing business solutions to our users.
We take pride in our name and believe that our company’s mission is reflected in it. Our name reflects our commitment to helping our users maximize their resources in order to bolster and grow their companies.
Perspective customers often wonder what differentiates CommitCRM from other professional services automaton (PSA) solutions on the market, especially those that, like CommitCRM, are geared toward IT support providers, such as IT services providers, managed services providers (MSPs) and computer repair technicians. The uniqueness of our PSA and our company is our commitment to business practices that benefit our customers.
To assist our perspective and current customers, we are dedicated to complete transparency in pricing, policies and functionality. All information pertaining to CommitCRM is readily and easily available on our website. From our fully functional 30 day free trail to our fully disclosed pricing options, we make sure that perspective customers understand what it is they are purchasing when they choose to get CommitCRM and at what price they will acquire their PSA solution.
At Commit, we want to make sure that CommitCRM is never lumped in with other PSA systems and described as being too heavy, too complicated, too basic, too expensive, too bloated or too simple.
It’s hard to strike a balance between robust and overly complex, and powerful and affordable. Achieving this equilibrium and continuing to provide our balanced PSA solution to small to mid-sized IT support providers is our goal. We want to keep providing IT support providers with a solution that is both easy to navigate and robust. We also want to ensure that our PSA solution can be acquired by any sized IT business, from a fledgling business of one to a 30-technician company, so we regulate CommitCRM’s pricing.
If you haven’t yet seen for yourself what CommitCRM can do for you and your IT business, go ahead and download a fully functional, 30 day free trial of our PSA.
Also, you can share our business management solution with friends, family and associates by sending them a link to our free trial, as well.
We enjoy bringing you affordable, easy-to-use and comprehensive business automation solutions, and we are committed to continuing to make CommitCRM an even more beneficial business solution for you.
Until next time,
The Commit Team
Most things are better faster. You’re not sure whether or not you agree? Think about the Internet, race cars, delivery service, even a trip to the dentist. Generally, faster = better. It’s just that simple.
So, as we kick off 2012, we find ourselves wondering if our users know how to make their dispatching and time management procedures as fast as possible. We want you to have to the best (i.e. fastest) business management experiences.
For starters, did you know that you can click and drag a Ticket marked for dispatching to a specific technician’s time slot in your Dispatcher in order to schedule the Ticket? You don’t have to go back into the Ticket window to schedule a new appointment or task for the Ticket. From within the Dispatcher window, simply click a specific pending Ticket, drag it and drop drop it into your Dispatcher calender. Once it has been allocated to a specific technician and time slot, you can change the scheduling by clicking, dragging and dropping it to another time slot/technician. How’s that for speedy scheduling?
Saving time can also be an aesthetic experience when you assign each technician a specific color so that each one of your technician’s appointments, tasks and service calls are marked in that specific colors to make it easier to manage schedules and appointments and evaluate your technician’s availability with just a glance.
To create recurring color assignments, open the Employees module using the left side pane, select an employee from the list of employees at the top of your CommitCRM screen. Then, click on the Employee tab. You can subsequently click on the blank “Default Color Box” toward the left of your screen and assign the technician a color from the assortment of available standard and pastel colors.
Keeping your fellow technicians informed about scheduled on-site visits and appointment, and changes to their schedules can also be made faster using the CommitCRM’s Alerts Server. With Alerts Server, automatically send email notifications to technicians about important business matters, such as when new appointments and tasks are assigned to them and when changes are made to their assignments.
You can also quickly send copies of the new scheduled appointments to technicians and customers from within the Dispatcher window. Simply right click an appointment box within the Dispatcher calendar, then select Send Email > Appointment/Task Details – Designed HTML.
By selecting this options, a template email containing the information specific to the Ticket and Appointment will automatically be opened in a new email window of your email application (such as Microsoft® Outlook®). After inputting the appropriate recipients (or using the default email recipients set for the corresponding Account), click “Send” and immediately provider your customers and technicians with the specific information.
Faster really is better. And with these speed enhancing features, we hope you succeed in increasing your speed without increasing your workload. With CommitCRM, safely exercise your need for speed!
Until Next Time,
The Commit Team
As the end of the year rolls around, we all get a little preoccupied. We start worrying about menus, budgets for holiday, New Years Eve plans, family gatherings and impending vacations. And that’s just on a personal note. On the business side, we worry about what the end of the year reports will reveal about our profits, revenues, productivity and overall performance.
With all of the personal and professional end of the year tasks at hand, it seems natural to table marketing campaigns, and prospect and lead generating activities. Not only is it hard to imagine fitting more work into our end of the year schedules, but we generally assume that all businesses slow down this time of year, making it an imperfect time to pursue new leads.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the end of the year may actually be an ideal time to pursue new and improved business opportunities.
Like you, your customers and suppliers are assessing their expenses and revenues for the year, and are evaluating ways in which they can reduce their expenses and increase revenues for the upcoming year.
Because everyone is taking stock of their contracts and business relationships, this time of year is ideal for touching base with your customers and suppliers to discuss with them ways in which partnering with you can help them reach their fiscal goals for the upcoming year.
When you go about contacting your customers and suppliers, make sure you are prepared so as not to waste their time or yours. Like we’ve already stated, time during the holiday season is a very valuable commodity. Respect the time your associates spend with you and make the most of it.
For current customers, demonstrate the value of the services you provide by preparing a report outlining the services, time, parts, resources, etc. that you have provided over the last year along with the corresponding costs to your customers. Use the report as a springboard to discuss plans for the upcoming year. In addition to determining additional services you can provide to your customers, together, you can develop mutually beneficial, customized billing agreements for the upcoming year based on a set of services, hours or projects. By giving your customers more competitive rates and addressing more of their needs, you should be able to win additional or more regular revenue opportunities.
Similarly, when meeting with current suppliers, prepare reports showing the services, parts and time that they have provided you. Based on the data in the report, discuss with your suppliers various customized arrangements that would benefit you both — lowering your costs and increasing the recurrence of your business or payments.
While it is always easier to broach current customers and suppliers than it is to pursue new leads, the end of the year also presents you with an ideal opportunity to follow up on new leads while your competition focuses on end of the year paperwork and festivities.
Make the most of the lull in your competition’s active marketing activities by giving your current customers rewards for referrals, and by daring to be different as you use the holiday season to grow your business.
By impressing current and perspective customers and suppliers with your business’ efficiency and meticulousness now, you can secure for your business a rewarding future before ringing in the New Year. Isn’t that something worth celebrating?
Until Next Time,
The Commit Team
The holiday season draws out the best, warmest, fuzziest, and most cinnamon-y of all things. From log fires to hot apple cider, cashmere sweaters and family gatherings, this really is the best time of the year.
Something especially unique about this season is the fact that people put each other first. The season of giving extends from the exchange of gifts to the giving of charitable donations. Brightening up the faces of others becomes just as important as the aesthetic of holiday decorations.
In keeping with the spirit of the holiday season, businesses show appreciate for employees this time of year. Budgeting for office gifts however, always poses challenges. So, here are a few gift ideas that are budget friendly, meaningful and can even improve your business’ image or boost morale!
Firstly, for many people, money is tight around the holidays, so instead of gifting your employees another unique gift that they may or may not appreciate, give them the gift of money. Everyone always appreciates a little extra cash to be used at their discretion. Whether your employees need the money to pay their bills, celebrate the holidays with a little more abandon, or they want to pad their savings account a bit more, the gift of green is always appreciated and gives employees the freedom to spend it on what They want!
Other options for meaningful, season-oriented gifts are paid time off so that your employees can enjoy more stress-free time with their friends and family, or charitable donations made in their honor. With paid leave, you help boost moral and increase workplace productivity upon your employees’ return from their holiday vacations. Moreover, it probably doesn’t cost you more per employee than you originally budgeted for the year. Conversely, while making a charitable donation in your employees’ names does cost you, the gift is both tax deductible and is something that contributes to the sense of giving the season inspires. That will undoubtedly lift everyone’s spirit!
Another, possibly more cost-effective gift idea is to purchase a gift that can benefit the entire
office, like an espresso machine or a team outing. Generally, employees are looking to be recognized and appreciated by their company. By providing the entire office with a gift that makes the workplace more enjoyable, employers will meet their employees’ expectations without breaking the bank. So, whether you treat your employees to bonding outing or equip your office with fun magazine subscriptions to enhance in-office lunch experiences, you can find ways to gift your entire office at once.
Another way to be considerate of your staff is by being conscious of the financial burden some may face. As such, institute a Secret Santa gift exchange so that employees won’t feel compelled to exchange gifts with the entire team. Secret Santa also diminishes the hassle and cost of office gift-giving because all employees will only have to buy gifts for one employee. Moreover, for fairness’ sake, it makes sense to set a budget for the Secret Santa gifts so that everyone receives a gift of approximately the same value as what they spent.
We all love getting gifts, of that there is no doubt. But more important than the gifts we give and receive, is the spirit we foster and the cheer that we spread.
Whatever it is that you decide to do for your team, make sure everyone on the team feels appreciated for the work they do and incentivize to make next year even better!
The tech world is all abuzz over Match, iTunes new application that enables users to access their entire iTunes library from multiple devices. The new iTunes application scans your entire music library, either matching it to one of iTunes’ library files or importing it directly from your library, and, subsequently, makes your entire music library accessible to your password protected account from up to 10 devices.
At Commit, we love music and we are very excited that Match has just been made available to the international iTunes community. As an extension of the iCloud, Match enables your entire music library, including imported files to become accessible from a variety of locations.
Without a doubt, Match has added layers of convenience and fun to iTunes users and music lovers everywhere. Who wouldn’t love the ability to get access to their music library from multiple locations?
Likewise, as an IT support provider, managed services provider or IT consultant, you would probably appreciate being able to access your work-related data from multiple locations. For CommitCRM users, the option is available to not only access your CommitCRM data from up to 10 devices, but you can actually access your CommitCRM data from as many devices as you want using the CommitCRM Web Interface.
The CommitCRM Web Interface allows you to access all of your CommitCRM data, including Account information, Ticket information, Dispatching schedules and Calendars, Asset histories, your Knowledge Base, Reports, sales opportunities, billing agreements and Charge details, from any Web browser! Via the Web Interface, you can also edit, update and create new entries in different CommitCRM modules — giving you the power of CommitCRM’s business automation and management features from any browser, anywhere in the world!
Also, the user name and password protected Web Interface gives you and any additional technicians access to all of your CommitCRM records. You can also specify specific privileges for each technician, thereby controlling each technician’s access to CommitCRM records. You can even configure Web Interface to use industry standard SLL (https) secure communication to have all communication encrypted end-to-end.
In addition, CommitCRM Web Interface can be branded with your logo and name using standard HTML code to create a unique and customize look for your Web Interface portal.
As music lovers around the world laud the release of iTunes’ Match application, we invite Commiters who are not yet familiar with the CommitCRM Web Interface to discover how the branded Web Interface will not only add convenience to your business operations, but will also increase your efficiency, save you money and help you provide improved service to your customers.
Until Next Time,
The Commit Team