Blogs

New CommitCRM 6.0 Release

Hi Commiters,

We are very excited to inform you that a new major version of CommitCRM has just been released!

The development of CommitCRM 6.0 has been a labor of love and some interesting new features have been added.

CommitCRM 6.0 is ready and available for download!

As usual, the new and powerful additions to CommitCRM 6.0 are a direct result of the great feedback and ideas we have received from you, our community members. Thank you for contributing to the growth of our product and our company. We appreciate all of your feedback and support!

Warning: the list of new features and options added to this major release is long! :-)

Here’s a hint of what’s included (click the link below to see the entire list):

CommitCRM Web Interface - Now Optimized for Mobile Devices!

CommitCRM Web Interface - Now Optimized for Mobile Devices!

==> Click here for a complete list of new features and upgrade instructions.

Enjoy!

Until next time,
The Commit Team

Posted in CommitCRM Company, CommitCRM Product | Leave a comment

GFI MAX RemoteManagement™ and CommitCRM – Now Integrated


Hi Everyone,

We are happy to officially announce the integration between CommitCRM and GFI MAX RemoteManagement.

Dr. Alistair Forbes, General Manager, GFI MAX said:

“The two key tools for an IT Services business are their RMM tool and their service management tool and having these two tools work together in a seamless and efficient way is a very substantial operational enabler. The CommitCRM integration with GFI MAX RemoteManagement provides this and will help our shared customers to focus on growing their businesses with confidence that they can deliver great service and high levels of internal efficiency.”

We couldn’t agree more!

The official press release can be found here.

Overview

CommitCRM-GFI MAX Link module offers a direct integration with GFI MAX RemoteManagement RMM solution.

The integration can link GFI MAX Site and Device information with CommitCRM’s Account and Asset respectively, in real time. This integration module has been developed by Commit and is based on GFI MAX’s API.

The integration enables you to manage all RMM Tickets from within CommitCRM to streamline your workflow. Failed Checks in GFI MAX are automatically converted into service Tickets in CommitCRM. Also, the information about Devices and Sites that is recorded in GFI MAX is automatically sent to CommitCRM, and you can easily select whether to link or import the data into CommitCRM.

Main features include:

  • Easily link GFI MAX Sites and Devices to CommitCRM Accounts and Assets.
  • Automatically syncs GFI MAX failed checks to CommitCRM Tickets.
  • Allows you to manage all issues (RMM events and standard Tickets) from within the Tickets module in CommitCRM.
  • Failed Checks status changes in GFI MAX automatically update the Tickets in CommitCRM.
  • Saves you time and helps you avoid duplicates and errors common in manual data entry by automatically sharing data between GFI MAX and CommitCRM.
  • If you are already using GFI MAX RemoteManagement please contact us to learn more about linking it to CommitCRM.

    To learn more about GFI MAX visit the GFI MAX RemoteManagement Web site.

    Until next time,
    The Commit Team

    Posted in CommitCRM Product, RMM | Leave a comment

    Speaking Their Language

    Knowing how to best sell your services is an important and, often, underrated skill. Many IT support providers assume that they can use the same language they use with their suppliers, technicians and industry connections when they go about marketing or pitching their services to potential customers and even providing their customers with service. That however, is high up on the “What not to do” list!

    Customers do not speak the same language as their technology entrenched support providers. Your customers probably don’t use three letter acronyms to describe the services they are looking for, nor do they always know the names of the Assets they need monitored. They might not even know how to accurately describe the hardware or software problem they encounter.
    IT Acronyms
    Whenever you interact with your customers, recognize that not all of your customers have a firm enough grasp on technology to enable them to use industry lingo and to understand your more advanced explanations or instructions. So, based on preliminary interactions with your customers, assess the best language to use in your current and future interactions.

    In other words, make your customers feel comfortable. Develop a relationship with your customers that does not make them feel inferior, confused or overwhelmed. The language you use with your customers should convey an understanding of their comfort level and their needs.

    When need be, simplify, explain everything, and ask your customers questions to make sure they understand the problem you are addressing, what you need to do to correct the problem, and they ways they can prevent the problem or properly use the device in the future. Use jargon that informs your customers, empowers them and addresses their needs. In doing so, you will succeed in developing a relationship with your customers based on trust, openness, understanding and respect. Not only is this dynamic advantageous to your customers, but it also benefits you by keeping your customers happy, feeling tended to and appreciated. In turn, these sentiments will help you increase your customers’ loyalty, build up your business reputation and client roster.

    Until next time,
    The Commit Team

    Posted in CommitCRM Product | Leave a comment

    Turn ON the Light – Geeks Corner

    [Warning #1 - This post is for geeks only!]

    A few days ago @lpopejoy posted something in the CommitCRM user forums that drew our attention.

    He wrote:

    On a side note, I also have a stoplight in my office – yellow light turns on when there’s new tickets in the inbox…

    At first we thought that this must be a joke, so we wrote back:

    @lpopejoy, Is this for real? If so, can you take a photo of this and email it to us?

    It wasn’t too long before we received an email from @lpopejoy saying:

    So here they are! Didn’t believe me did you?

    Well, we have to admit, we did not, but if a picture is worth a thousand words… what can we say? We were wrong!

    No New Tickets in the Queue:
    Stoplight OFF - No New Tickets

    New Tickets Alert!:
    Stoplight OFF - New Tickets Alert!

    Excited about this cool thing we asked @lpopejoy to tell us how it all works:

    [Warning #2 - Try this at home at your own risk]

    Just be warned it isn’t very elegant. I got a parallel port powered relay and wired the stoplight into that. From there, I setup some batch files that send special commands to the relay board that turn on the lights that I want.

    What pulls it altogether is a script that I wrote that runs every 15 minutes that queries the [CommitCRM] database via [CommitCRM API] ODBC to check for the existence of tickets that are both unread AND in the inbox. If they exist, then it send the “yellow” command to the parallel port and the light comes on! When it runs next time, it turns the light off, if the alert has been cleared.

    Thank you @lpopejoy! You made everyone here smile!

    Until next time,
    The Commit Team

    Posted in API, IT Industry, Misc | 1 Comment

    SMB and the Cloud – Are You Ready?

    Microsoft® has recently published the ‘Microsoft SMB Business in the Cloud 2012’ research report which was designed and conducted in conjunction with Edge Strategies Inc. in December 2011. The research questioned 3,000 SMBs that employ 2 to 250 employees across 13 countries worldwide, completed in December 2011.

    SMB Cloud

    From this research it is clear that there is a big opportunity for IT services providers and MSPs to serve as the central point of contact between their SMB clients and the different cloud solutions providers.

    Most SMBs do not employ in-house IT consultants and most rely on service providers to manage everything related to technology in their business.

    The research presents interesting findings and we thought of sharing some with you:

    Of all surveyed SMBs:

  • 60% don’t have resources to implement new technologies and applications
  • 65% expect to be using cloud email services in the next 2-3 years.
  • 70% want to know where their data is located.
  • Voice communications, online backup and databases, and IM are also expected to be used by 1/2 of all companies. [within 2-3 years]
  • The number of very small companies (2-10 employees) using paid cloud services will triple in the next three years.
  • You can download the research from Microsoft’s Web site here.

    While we cannot tell whether or not things will end up exactly as the research suggests, one thing is clear – more and more SMBs will start using more and more cloud services and will need someone to handle it all for them.

    Are you ready for the job?

    Until next time,
    The Commit Team

    Posted in IT Industry, Misc | Leave a comment

    The Power of Communication

    The power of good communication is undeniably great. Effective communication skills is one of the specific abilities that enables some people to succeed while many fail. In fact, the building and sustainability of all relationships, from personal contacts and family members to business related contacts, is largely dependent on effective communication skills.

    It is these skills that help you know when to be assertive and when to be supportive, how to be persuasive and how to be an active listener. Mastering the art of effective communication enables you to improve all of your relationships, including your relationships with customers, coworkers, suppliers and prospective customers.

    By knowing how to be an effective communicator, you can inspire your coworkers to do and learn more, convince your suppliers to give you better deals, encourage your customers to trust you with bigger contracts and persuade prospective customers to choose you as their service provider.

    In order to achieve these goals however, mastery over multiple components of effective communication is required. Once obtained, you can harness the power of effective communication to not only help you strengthen your personal relationships, but your business relationships and bottom line, as well.

    In your quest to maximize your communication skills and improve the way you interact with others, you should be sure to remember the ABC’s of effective communication, namely Active listening, Body language, and Communication.

    Active Listening:

    People speak at an average of 100- 175 words per minute, but we can listen at a rate of 300 words per minute assuming however, that we are actively listening. If our minds wander or we think about multiple things, our ability to hear, comprehend and retain information decreases.

    In order to become a good communicator, we need to be more than a good orator; we need to be skilled at receiving information, as well. To be a skilled listener, it is necessary to not only show that you are interested in and paying attention to your speaking partner, but to also be actively interested in and paying attention to your speak partner. This skill not only gives you the ability to strengthen lines of communication so that you can better address the concerns and needs of your speaking partner, but it also helps you to figure out the best way to relay your own needs and concerns.

    Traits of active listeners are their ability to encourage their speaking partner to engage in conversation by focusing attention on the speaker and following-up on the speakers’ remarks with questions or comments to show that they are listening and that they care.

    Body Language:

    Body language is an unspoken form of communication that conveys to your speaking partner that you are engaged and trustworthy. Even small things, like making eye contact and nodding, reaffirm to your speaking partner that you are committed to the conversation and the exchange of ideas. Similarly, body language also encourages your speaking partner to participate in the conversation while ensuring that lines of communication remain open so that follow-up exchanges are possible.

    Communication:

    In addition to being a good receiver of information, through both active listening and body language, it is also important to be a good disseminator of information. Being able to be tactful, open and honest while communicating your message in a clear and concise fashion is the true mark of a great communicator. In other words, good communicators use language to convey ideas without being malicious, argumentative, coy, or unengaged. Instead, language is used to express oneself and one’s message in a way that the listener can hear and be open to the information.

    Using good oratory skills, you can sway your customers, prospective clients, suppliers and technicians to be open to your suggestions and initiatives. Combined with mastery over active listening and body language, good communication skills can help you transform into an effective communicator who can be persuasive, understanding, a problem solver and a leader.

    In this capacity and with these skills, you can maximize your professional and personal relationships, bringing added success to all of your endeavors.

    Until next time,
    The Commit Team

    Posted in Misc | 2 Comments

    CommitCRM at the Snow!

    CommitCRM at the snow!
    CommitCRM at the snow!
    CommitCRM at the snow!

    Posted in CommitCRM Product | Leave a comment

    Putting Your Customers First

    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

    Posted in CommitCRM Product, IT Industry, Misc | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

    Saving Time with Activity Templates

    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

    Posted in CommitCRM Company, CommitCRM Product | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

    Building from the Inside


    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.

    • Listen

      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

    Posted in CommitCRM Product, IT Industry, Misc | Tagged , , | 1 Comment