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Hello there, everybody. I’m here to share a little more info about basic CRM (Customer Relationship Manager) practices and especially about beginning to use the Salesforce CRM platform.

One of my posts introduced the Salesforce CRM platform.

And another one outlined the steps needed to design and build CRM capabilities for an Extension program, complete with timelines.

But in case you were still wondering, there are many practical (and simple) ways in which your program will derive benefits from the advance to CRM practices. Here are examples of powerful results you can expect from this new tool. Thanks for reading on!

Organize your contacts, see a history of their interactions.

A CRM’s core purpose is managing relationships. Those relationships you have with constituents, clients, agencies, and industry partners are the lifeblood of the work you do. You spend time interacting with them as individuals, other times as groups, and the CRM will help coordinate both.

You will benefit from the sophisticated ways it maintains information about the people with whom you collaborate and get work done.

The system will, yes, provide a simple phone number or email address you need to reach out. But at a glance, you’ll also see when the last time was that you had an interaction with that person and what the outcome was. In case you ring her up to answer a big question and she’s out of the office, not to worry. The CRM’s awareness of relationships between people lets you track down the contact info for her colleague inside that organization who’s also a contributor to the same project — problem solved!

Then type in a summary of that new conversation in the CRM, allowing you to access the details any time.

Likewise for relationships with Extension clients and constituents. Go ahead and pick up the phone for a conversation with someone who’s in the midst of submitting critical paperwork. You’ll have access to an interaction history for that person in the CRM, showing you what steps have already been done and so you are able to advise them about the next step, simply because you pulled up their detailed info before calling.

Send smarter emails.

Let me share this example from an earlier post.

Let’s imagine a class or workshop that just took place. The last hour of the workshop was dominated by a very interesting discussion topic. One idea the instructor can have is to follow up with even more relevant resources to enhance what the group is learning. The steps would look like this:

  1. Login to the CRM immediately after class
    this makes the information timely and helpful
  2. Create a custom email message; fill it with relevant links
    make use of an email layout with attention to branding and readability standards
  3. The new email delivers out to the cohort
    the people from that class—the appropriate audience—see the email and experience the benefit
  4. The cohort may continue the discussion
    include a link to a discussion board where they continue sharing ideas
  5. Afterwards, extend the usefulness of the content
    flag that helpful content so it’s then used in an upcoming enewsletter – broaden the impact on a wider audience

Additionally, the CRM will allow for an increasing reliance on automating certain emails. Automatically deliver messages even for simple things like a note to say “thank you” after a person fills out interest forms on the Extension web site.

Consider the ability to send automated reminders for upcoming project due dates and important events. Has a calendar date come and gone and an important document hasn’t shown up? A well-crafted gentle reminder can make all the difference. Salesforce can be enabled to react to predefined conditions and automatically trigger messages to the appropriate people.

Your partners — relations and support.

Another key point of a CRM is that it is a database. It stores and organizes incredible amounts of information.

Using this data, you will be empowered to manage the many various aspects of working with a program partner.

Your team will want to research prospective new partner organizations. For each prospect, you’ll need awareness of each one’s presence, capabilities, and capacity in the various geographic regions your team serves. Simply record this complex info in the CRM.

As your team’s regional specialists plan outreach efforts, lists appear for them, each one pre-filtered to show relevant information for that region.

Maintain profiles of your partners that are accurate over time. Because your entire team has access to the shared data, their contributions to the system keep up with various changes for that partner. An important piece of the partner relationship is assessing and evaluating the efficacy of the work being done with them and you will save these details in the CRM to inform future efforts.

With established partners, those vigorous periods where the actual work is getting done will lead to new relationship management challenges. Make use of the CRM’s database features to design and manage workflows. Salesforce will be a quick and easy way to manage the sometimes complex communication plans you’ll need to customize for each partner.

Though its true the possibilities are endless, hopefully you’ll agree I have shed light on a few effective examples that will save your team time and energy? I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

 


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.

Extension website updates.

  • The OSU Extension homepage looks a little different now. Updates were made based on user data. We are also working on a more comprehensive homepage design to come this fall.
  • Minor feature update: added ability to change list style and anchor id of collection sections
  • We made changes to the main menu based on user feedback. “Find us” is now “Contact us”. We added a link to ‘Ask an Expert’; And the latest website content is now available under ‘About us’.
Posted in CRM.




So, we have arrived at the point where you’ve dreamed up some digital engagement strategy magic for your Extension program that, once deployed as a Salesforce site, will advance Extension’s mission of serving Oregonians. That’s great! What now?

What’s the time commitment?

The next questions are the obvious ones: what does a CRM project (see “What exactly is a CRM?“) look like in real life? What decisions will need to be made and how will it move from inception to deployment? And… how much time do we need to get the job done? Let’s review a pretty typical framework that helps answer that very question.



Step 1: Assessment, resulting in a Project Charter

Duration: 3 weeks

Time commitment: 15 - 20 hours


Time commitments

The CRM project team will consist of the primary stakeholders inside your Extension program and the Navigator digital engagement strategy team. Work sessions will be scheduled in advance to allow the project team to meet for about four to five hours per week.

Objectives

The team will focus on establishing what reporting needs exist for the program. In other words, what data points need to be delivered to governmental bodies/agencies, division leadership, program leaders, constituents, or other audiences. Decisions based on this assessment will lead to planning the CRM app design to facilitate collection, analysis, and delivery of that info using Salesforce. The info we glean from this step yields the set of Project Requirements.

Project Requirements

The operational features of the CRM software that provides the functionality needed for the project to be successful. In other words, if each and every requirement is satisfied by the performance of the CRM software, then the overall project is a success.

Deliverable

Once the Project Requirements are established, we express an agreement to proceed with development work using a Project Charter document signed by the team members. Now, the project may move ahead.

Project Charter

A project charter is a formal, typically short document that describes your project in its entirety — including what the objectives are, how it will be carried out, and who the stakeholders are. It is a crucial ingredient in planning out the project.


Step 2: Develop, test, iterate... and repeat

Duration: 4 - 8 weeks

Time Commitment: 2-3 hours per week


Time commitments

As the Salesforce developer, I will be engaging in dev (development) cycles that fulfill our project requirements. This does mean the time commitment of other members of the team will be relatively low. The primary requirement is time spent reviewing the individual deliverables provided by the developer and providing thorough feedback and/or approval. Review sessions will be scheduled to correspond with incremental milestones reached during each dev cycle. The sessions are expected to occur on a weekly basis.

Objectives

The goal here is to produce working CRM components, to test each one thoroughly, discover what works and what doesn’t, and then create new iterations of the components until they meet everyone’s behavior and performance expectations.

Deliverable

The Salesforce source (programming) code that delivers the functionality needed to satisfy the project requirements.



Step 3: Deploy, CRM training

Duration: 2 weeks

Time Commitment: 15-30 hours


The light at the end of the tunnel appears! As we run our project through its final paces, and conquer our last set of bug reports, all we are left to do is celebrate our new CRM app  that’s ready to launch for the world to see! Our party will include cupcakes and/or some organic, nut-n-berry muffins, plus a round of high-fives for everyone who contributed to the project’s success. This is the point at which full deployment of the new source code means the new CRM app is “live” for your target audience to access online.

Deployment

The deployment of a project is the final step that makes the new CRM app available to your users and the broader public. Now that beta testing has been completed, the app is ready to be used for actual work.

Time commitments

Build it and they will come? Well, no, we know better than that. Your team will benefit from a new CRM app only to the degree they’re informed about best practices and how the app becomes a digital tool they can turn to in their day-to-day work. As we did back in the day when Microsoft Word or a web browser was first introduced to our daily routine, a strong “habit” can be hard to establish, but progress should be steady and consistent.

The Navigator team will be there to schedule periodic trainings as well as provide ad hoc support.

Objectives

The goal is for everyone on your team to make a contribution to the success of new CRM practices. The highest rate of success will come from nearly everyone pitching in to the effort. The Navigator team will coordinate with the leaders in your program to ensure we set the appropriate expectations and respectful approach to the time constraints you face during this time.

 

 


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me (Mark Kindred) as I begin a phase of needs assessments, as a step toward producing a long-term CRM strategy. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring my work is in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The digital engagement team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.


 

Clock icon created by bezier master from Noun Project.

Posted in CRM.

Arriving at effective use of CRM (see “What exactly is a CRM?“) practices will require collaboration between the Navigator digital engagement team and the Extension faculty and staff who create and foster valued relationships with partners and constituents across Oregon—all of you, right?

All that collaborative work is done by people.

The single greatest factor to allow people to perform better together is trust. In the case of building a CRM practice together across the Extension Service, I’m thinking of trust we will build upon in these areas:

  • Our shared goal to follow through on OSU Extension Service’s organizational mission
  • The urgency of collecting information about partners and constituents in a shared resource — a database
  • Constant vigilance on issues such as the safety and privacy of all information
  • Safeguards on the responsible use of information that is shared among Extension programs
  • Ongoing availability of training and support to help use the CRM in effective ways

The current reality across Extension is people’s contact information for various Extension programs ends up saved in different formats, tucked away in different locations, accessible by separate people who communicate sparingly with each other.

Meanwhile, by virtue of their varied interests or engagement with Extension events, our constituents navigate through numerous Extension program areas, popping up in contact lists owned by different programs (or county offices).

The result is ongoing outreach efforts that land in their mailbox or In box coming in from different  Extension program areas. Thus increasing the potential for them to become bombarded with messages from Extension… how are we to measure the efficacy of all our time and expense in this current system?

We can do better!

The Navigator team is making plans for our CRM future

The hope, then, is we collaborate to create a new system together.

As our trust — in each other, in our ability to build effective partnerships, and in the awareness how CRM practices save time and build efficiencies — grows, so will our ability to design new online tools to tackle the unique challenges we face as an organization. The Navigator team can’t face these challenges alone! Our planning and design phase relies on your inclusion in understanding where the day-to-day business needs are and how to address them with appropriate, scalable solutions.

And about that training and support…

Workshops and training sessions will be recorded for viewing year round.

As we work through the latter half of 2019, the number of opportunities to interact with the Navigator digital engagement team for consultations, trainings, and partnerships will steadily increase. We look forward to working with you!

Our conversations will provide hands-on guidance as to how to use a CRM for your program’s unique business needs. We’ll strive to use multimedia with an aim of broadening availability of learning resources to everyone who needs them. We will have recorded webinars and in-person sessions, viewable online at any time.

If you have any questions about how to begin thinking of the CRM as your next tool to streamline communications, our team is ready to hear from you and listen to your unique view of Extension from where you’re at.


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.

Meanwhile… Extension Website updates.

New example program pages have launched since our previous blog post. These are great examples of how you can lay out your content for program participants, volunteers, and other people who are involved with or interested in your program.

Posted in CRM.

Some characteristics of the people Extension serves across Oregon—our consituents or clients—are changing. Broadly speaking, digital literacy, for one, is a big driver of some of the changes we see in people’s behavior. Perhaps we see some web traffic head to Google search that we’d like to see arrive to the Extension web site.

Naturally, our goal is to retain and enhance people’s awareness of the unique expertise and perspective brought to their questions and challenges by OSU Extension Service.

The prevailing thinking on this topic, across many areas of a client’s day-to-day activities—from banking to purchasing an item to seeking out a workshop from a local Extension office—is the degree to which it helps to receive communication messages that appear personalized to the individual. The sensation of “wow, this is just for me!” Whether it’s a postcard in the mailbox or an email message in the IN box, in those cases where it’s the right information coming to them at just the right time, we can expect that message to be well received. We would expect it to be perceived as relevant and worth their immediate attention.

Pause for a moment to think how many emails land in your own IN box and go unread? In cases where we can increase the relevancy of that subject line and the information inside the message, we can seek to change the nature of that problem.

Opportunities abound to personalize!

So, the challenge we set before us is to discover ways to begin delivering timely information in a personalized way. To achieve this goal, you devote some time to creating a strategy fitting the unique aspects of your corner of the Extension landscape. In collaboration with O&E’s digital engagement team, you’re then outfitted with the appropriate mix of CRM tools to meet your needs.

From there, the next steps are powered by your own creativity! It may help to see an example? I recently brainstormed one simple workflow that I thought would make a big impact. Let’s walk through it.

A simple example

We can imagine a face-to-face class that takes place and some hot topic emerges, organically, from the discussion. One idea we can have as the instructor/facilitator is to follow up to send relevant, topic-related resources to that cohort. The steps would look like:

  • Login to the CRM immediately after end of class
    for timeliness
  • Create a custom email message; fill it with relevant links
    use an email layout template for expediency
  • The new email delivers out to the cohort
    only the people from that specific class
  • The cohort is able to continue the discussion
    perhaps by linking to a discussion board where they can share ideas quickly online

And it doesn’t stop there…

There happen to be so many ways to implement personalization that they don’t all fit in a single blog post. I would even like to begin exploring “proactive customer service,” which is a strategy by which we answer people’s questions for them even before they ask them and that just seems like it will be an exciting option. Look for it in a future post!

What ideas can you dream up? I would welcome your vision of a personalized experience for your constituents, clients, and partners! Send me your ideas?

We can’t personalize what we can’t track

In the example above, we see a chance to really effectively communicate with a distinct audience. But there happens to be prep work needing to be done to achieve that success. Let’s discuss some of the ways a CRM platform will help us get there.

  • create the list of names and email addresses for program participants—our Contacts
  • track registration for upcoming classes
  • the ability to track attendees for each class—the cohort
  • use a simple filter to end up with a list of Contacts making up that specific cohort
  • quickly pull from a set of beautifully designed email templates
  • rely on the CRM to provide email delivery directly to each person
  • then… sit back and wait to hear from satisfied clients!

About the O&E digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me (Mark Kindred) as I begin a phase of needs assessments, as a step toward producing a long-term CRM strategy. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring my work is in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The digital engagement team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.


Meanwhile… Extension Website updates.

  • If you missed the May 31st webinar training, you can now watch the recording. You will learn about Managing County Landing Pages and Local Focus Areas. County pages have a new description section. You are able to move information about your county farther down the page, if needed.
  • We have switched the map technology used on the site. You’ll notice some difference in how it looks, but the intent was to make it function in all the same ways. One improvement worth noting: the process for entering an event location is simpler. You can type in the address—no longer need to find it on the map. Also improved: the map on the Find us page is wider.
  • Our History page in the About menu is recently published. Check out the historical photos of Extension, which also serve as a great example of how programs and local programs, such as 4-H and Master Gardeners, can add and display images on their pages.

 

Posted in CRM.

In a nutshell, CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager, and what this means is it’s a type of software to organize, build, and maintain strong relationships.

At OSU Extension, it’s true we refer to the people in the communities we serve as something other than “customers,” so we will find another way to describe that part.

Yet we do know the nature of Extension getting work done across Oregon continues to be reliant on relationships. Thus, the ability to efficiently manage the ties by which we relate with individual communities becomes more and more critical.

A sample image of analyzing visits to a web site

The CRM development for Extension will be driven by the goal of strengthening relationships.

So, a big motivator to use a CRM software platform is to allow our organization to act more efficiently with, about, or on behalf of a contact—i.e. a relationship with a constituent or program partner—and in the long term, increase the overall value of that relationship over its lifespan.

Have you ever found yourself wondering “How often did I connect with this person on my region’s programs?” If so, as you begin to open up the CRM and review its reporting tools, you will find that answer!

Adding a set of technology tools that organize and analyze information about activities in your region allows OSU Extension Service to perform work efficiently, having an impact on more people over time without overtaxing existing resources. The eventual aim is to provide improved services to Oregonians by engaging in data-driven decision making, relying on information that shows us what has been relevant and successful in the past.

Salesforce logo

How does Salesforce fit into this conversation?

As far as CRMs go, they happen to have many shapes and sizes. The cloud-based software company, Salesforce, is at the top of this category. In recent years, OSU has made significant investments in Salesforce CRM infrastructure and this investment is growing.

The reasons to have selected Salesforce include the fact it offers many valuable and flexible features. And I am personally excited to begin exploring the benefits it can provide to your own operations.

As Extension’s impact grows, so does the need to manage relationships

As we apply a thoughtful process — informed by conversations I have with each of you — to the roll-out of CRM features to help you work, the benefits include:

  • 360-degree view of constituents and partners
    Awareness of all the points at which you interact with constituents can help you find and focus on individuals and what they truly need.
  • Enrich the relationships, person by person
    Insights drawn out by a CRM report will pinpoint potential program enhancements to deliver benefits to specific people or communities. That sense of individualized attention, known to be time consuming using current tools, can become a powerful communication method inside the CRM-driven outreach efforts.
  • Enhancing communication
    As you know from experience, learning all we can about people and their distinct needs matters. It makes it easier to add  relevancy to the information they receive from Extension. As new people come your way with perhaps more complex questions, a trove of details inside the CRM means you quickly see more about them in one place, making your response and advice more informed.
  • And many many more!

My name is Mark Kindred, and I am in the newly-established role of Salesforce Developer for OSU Extension Service and the division of Outreach & Engagement. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I begin a “needs assessment” phase of a longer-term CRM platform strategy. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring my work is in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term strategy of the university.

The digital engagement strategy team looks forward to talking with you about how CRM is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits to you.

Posted in CRM.