4 tips for successful customer relationship management

The key to running a successful business is building relationships with your customers. For most modern business, keeping up with customer communications can be difficult with so many different communication options like email, telephone, text, and web-based chat available.

A recent study found that businesses are spending nearly $26 billion a year on customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you’re looking for a better way to manage your customer relationships, consider these 4 tips for implementing CRM software in your business.

1. Find the right CRM solution

With all the different CRM software programs on the market, selecting the right one may be difficult. Consider consulting your managed IT service provider for help finding the best CRM solution for your business.

The main difference between the CRM programs on the market are the features they have. Growing companies will need to find a program with features like advanced lead generation and call center features. You’ll also want to find a program with customizable features that you can add or change later as your business grows.

2. Implement the software

Once you have found the right CRM program to fit your business needs, it will be time to implement it. Having professional IT support during this process can save you a lot of time and stress.

You’ll also need to train your team on the new software. Make sure not to overload them all the new features at once. Focus first on the basics like creating records and assigning tasks. Consider regular training meetings to train your staff on the more complex features as they become more comfortable with the system.

3. Customize your approach

A well-built CRM system will allow you to customize both the customer and employee experience. Not everyone on your team will need access to every bit of customer data you collect. This is why you need to work on creating a single pipeline and then limiting access to some of the elements within this file.

Some business owners make the mistake of creating separate folders for the same client. If a client has separate folders for things like sales or support, it can become confusing. The beauty of using a CRM system is you can store customer data in one place and while limiting access to different parts of the information as needed.

4. Utilize mobile CRM tools

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past decade, you know how popular mobile devices have become. While the mobile CRM tools on the market are not as detailed as desktop software, they do provide you with the ability to update customer data from your mobile device.

These apps will also help your team pull up information like a customer’s contact data. Most CRM mobile apps allow users to create tasks and make notes about a client with the click of a button. If you have lots of employees who work in the field, then having these mobile tools is essential.

Are you ready to embrace the power and convenience of CRM software? If so, contact your managed IT services provider for help finding and implementing the right CRM solution for your business.

3 different approaches to CRM systems

It’s essential that you have a CRM system (Customer Relationship Management) for managing customer data. Deciding which type will best fit the needs of your business will depend on various aspects of your company, including your budget and who’ll be using it.

There are three general types of CRM systems to choose from.

Implementing a basic CRM system

A basic CRM system is your general cloud-based implementation. The configuration would be limited to UI layout, with built-in configuration that would edit necessary fields. This type of CRM typically does not include any type of customized coding or involve any extensive processes.

This is a basic cloud solution that can provide standard functions, yet is still powerful enough to make a difference for your company.

Using this type of CRM system, you would likely focus on one single component of the modules such as sales, which would further limit the scope. Pre-built additions can be added to the basic CRM.

A basic CRM also involves transferring data of your accounts, contacts and leads into a CRM application. It won’t be necessary for the user to have all the data entered manually before using the application. With a basic CRM, a company can implement and use the CRM solution with a minimum amount of costs and in the shortest time. Some of the benefits include saving time in tracking and consolidating customer information.

Choosing a standalone CRM system

Standalone CRM is considered the superset of a basic CRM system.

This will involve the implementation of more complex processes including custom reporting, custom views, customized workflows and add-ons. Some of the benefits include the following:

  • Send automated emails or notifications
  • Gather and accurately maintain customer information
  • Analyze data and uncover various trends
  • Improve your customer service

It’s important to note that the data migration sometimes involves multiple sources which can require the need for data cleansing.

For a company that decides to use a standalone CRM, employee training will be required. CRM training for administrators will also be required if the business plans to self-maintain this kind of CRM application. This training will help those using the system gain greater efficiency and enable your company to better understand and meet the needs of your customers.

The benefits of an integrated CRM system

Integrated CRM includes the range of a standalone solution while integrating the CRM application with an external system. An external system could include an ERP application, different websites or some type of home-grown application.

This enables the systems to share data.

The integration of systems can be accomplished by either using some type of commercial off-the-shelf middleware application or by custom programming. By creating your own website to function seamlessly with the CRM system you’ll find there are several benefits for your business.

  • Maximize the company’s overall operational efficiency
  • Increase and improve the automation process
  • Spend less time on administrative duties
  • Increase employees’ time spent marketing and servicing customers
  • Eliminate the duplication of data entry
  • Provide synchronization for all your data
  • Provide better leads for your sales team

Companies using an integrated CRM solution will need to provide training for their employees. And, like a standalone CRM system, administrator training for an integrated CRM will also be needed if the company plans to self-maintain the CRM application.

We recommend finding an experienced technology company to assist with both implementation and maintenance of your CRM system, no matter which type you choose. Many managed IT services providers can help with your CRM, in addition to other critical areas like cloud solutions, enterprise resource planning, security services and basic IT support.

Closing the most common cybersecurity holes

Are you sitting down? We’re going to begin with an alarming stat.

Half of all small-to-medium-sized businesses have encountered at least one cyber attack. Wait. It gets worse. In cases involving theft of data, SMBs spent an average of over $955,000 to recover from the attack. Even for businesses that do post profits in the millions, nobody wants to drop that kind of money on a cyber attack.

There’s a host of things you can do to protect your business from cyber criminals, but one of the most important security measures is easy to overlook. A staggering number of cyber attacks start by targeting one specific weak point: your employees.

The average user may not be aware of the creative, devious ways hackers work. To give your business an instant cybersecurity boost, start by educating your people.

If you’re wondering what your staff needs to know, you’ve come to the right place. Below, you’ll find several critical tips and tricks any SMB can put into play immediately. While a cybersecurity training session may not be the most exciting way to spend an hour, the stakes are high and the information is priceless.

Be (a little) Paranoid

First, tell your people, candidly, to ditch the “it won’t happen to me” attitude. Even tech savvy folks get duped from time to time. In the ever-changing world of cyber crime, there’s no room for arrogance. A little paranoia is appropriate.

Alert aware iconIn general, assume there are people outside your organization who want your data. Assume they want access to your network. Assume they’ll go to impressively creative measures to get it.

That doesn’t mean you have to avoid the internet at all costs. Email, web services and remote access are all necessary tools. You can’t take take your business back to the Stone Age and still be successful.

Instead, shoot for balance. Make sure your employees know the same time-saving, profit-generating technology they use every day can be turned against them. Cultivate an awareness of the possibility of cyber attack.

Security is a shared burden. Everyone on the team needs to pitch in.


If you want to see an IT guy cringe, tell him you use one password for everything, and it’s “123456.” When he’s done convulsing, he’ll most likely launch into a tirade about password security (and justifiably so!).

Tech news sites routinely warn of the dangers of using “123456” and “password” for web services, but both of those examples still show up on lists of the most commonly used weak passwords.

Hidden predictable password

What makes for a better password? Several things:

  • Passwords should be long. The generally agreed upon minimum length is 12 characters. The shorter the password, the easier it is to crack.
  • Passwords should be unique. Don’t use the same password for multiple services. If you do, one security breach can easily turn into dozens of security breaches.
  • Passwords should be complex. Include numbers, letters, and symbols. Steer clear of dictionary words as much as possible. And, no, obvious substitutions (like using a zero in place of an “o”) don’t do nearly as much to discourage hackers as one would hope.

Of course, passwords also have to be memorable, which is one reason why so many employees use low security passwords. To get around that issue, consider using a password manager. LastPass, for example, makes it a breeze to up your password game.

Stranger Danger!

Email SecurityEmail is a prime point of entry for malware, phishing and ransomware attacks. Seemingly legit downloads and links can lead to epic cybersecurity breaches. Even if your email server scans inbound messages for dangerous content, don’t make the mistake of assuming every clickable option is safe.

Warn your employees to only download files from people and companies they know and trust. Also make them aware of the hazard of links. Cyber criminals capitalize on curiosity to worm their way into networks. No matter how interesting the article, or how cute the kitten pictures, strongly encourage your staff to never click on email links from unknown senders.

Other Tips

Consider the above the big three. If you only have a few minutes with your employees, those are the tips you should share first. If you can carve out a bit more time, here are some other areas worth covering.

  • Updates Are Your Friends. Way too many people ignore update notifications. Even if you’re right in the middle of a flow, churning out work, when your software or operating system requests permission to apply an update, do it. Keeping your tools updated is a basic rule of cybersecurity.
  • It’s Good to Share. In this case, we’re talking about sharing to a local server or the cloud – AKA, backing up your work. Never rely on a single version of any file. All your data should be duplicated somewhere secure.
  • Lock It Down. When an employee walks away from their workstation, they should always lock it. Not only will that protect staff from . . . interesting aesthetic changes applied by coworkers (think David Hasselhoff desktop wallpaper), but it also adds an additional layer of security. Lock computers when not in use, especially if guests are frequent in your office.
  • Know Your Network. When you’re mobile, be careful about the Wi-Fi networks you use. Public networks are convenient, but not always safe. Be discerning. And never use an open, unknown network. That’s just asking for trouble.

Go over these cybersecurity tips with your employees, not just once, but repeatedly. Bad cybersecurity habits are hard to break. Frequent reminders will help you close some of the most common holes in your network security, helping to stave off costly attacks.

If you’d like even more help shoring up your cybersecurity, the expert team at CCS Technology can help. We know what it takes to protect businesses. To find out more about how we can help, contact us today.


Top 3 signs your business needs a custom app

If your business is on the right track, you already have a captivating, user-friendly website that is optimized for both desktop and mobile use. The next step in promoting a better relationship with employees, customers, and potential customers is to create a custom app that maximizes value  through unique features and functions.

Here are 3 signs you are ready to talk about app development.

1. Your customers need an easy way to connect.

Keeping customers happy is one of your top priorities. To accomplish superior customer satisfaction you need to listen to your customers and provide solutions to their problems. If your customers are looking for easier ways to connect, make requests or complete a certain task, then it’s time to consider app development.

Here’s an example:

Breakdown: As a manufacturing company, you interact several times daily with customers to ensure complete orders.

Problem: Your customer wants to track order progress without having to send multiple inquiry emails or call your dedicated line.

Solution: You work with professionals to create an app that focuses solely on tracking progress of orders.

There’s a special anagram created by the Navy that is the secret to success in app development: KISS (keep it simple, stupid!).

When apps were first created, creators took an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach. This is the opposite of what you want. The entire concept of creating an app is to make things work easier and better for users – in this case, your customers. So, instead of creating one app that does everything, you will actually want to create multiple apps that are hyper-focused to address specific needs or outcomes.

In our example here, you want your customer to use the custom app to see the progress and status of their order as it moves through the inventory, production, packing and delivery processes. Paying an outstanding invoice or inquiring about product specifications should be addressed in a different app altogether.

Focus on your customer wants and needs, and your app will be a success.

2. Your internal operations need more efficiency and flexibility.

In the same way that apps help connect customers in a one-touch approach, app development can also be effective for improving internal business.

Many companies have custom apps for office communication, human resources access, and presence. Here’s one example of how that might work:

Breakdown: Your mid-sized office requires constant communications between employees in different departments.

Problem: In the office, your employees communicate via an internal messaging system, but you don’t have a way for them to access messages out of the office without using company email via cell phone (security risks include internal theft and insider threats).

Solution: You work with professionals to create an internal communications app that accommodates your current cybersecurity protocols and mobile communication functionality. This app integrates with in-office tools to provide seamless communication between office and mobile environments.

Your employees deserve a quick and seamless workflow. Why? Time is money. If work satisfaction and efficiency run hand-in-hand, then creating apps for your employees is a no-brainer and it will save you money by improving productivity.

3. You are ready to tackle the mobile market opportunity.

Mobile productivity essential in most industries now, with over 62% of companies utilizing mobile applications. One recent report showed that each company had an average of 10.6 apps. Don’t let that intimidate you, though. Start with the most important issues and address others as they arise. The important thing is to remember that one app will not, and shouldn’t, solve all problems.

Once you have your apps out there, you’ll find that you’ve succeeded in a few different ways.

First, you have put yourself out there in the mobile realm. That’s huge. In fact, you should have FOMO (fear of missing out) if you don’t have an app. Your competitors probably already do. Second, you’ve created a new connection and a sense intimacy. And finally, you have made it easier for customers and employees to collaborate and solve problems.

How to Develop an App

When it comes time to develop your app, you’ll need to work with a team that is experienced at providing the right design, content, and development to fit your specific business needs..

Whether the needs are driven by customer, staff or market requirements (or all of the above), we can assist. Here at CCS we have proven experience developing apps and we’d be happy to speak with you about how that process looks. Feel free to give us a call or shoot us a message.

The top 5 reasons to prepare your business continuity plan

The last thing you want is to go out of business in the event of an unforeseen circumstance. A business continuity plan is essential for modern businesses in any industry. Regardless of what kind of technology you use, think of this plan as a blueprint for keeping your business running in the event of a major disaster.

Disasters come in many forms, including natural disasters, human error, cyber attacks, and insider threats. The worst disasters always have the same effect: stopping your business dead in its tracks.

Sometimes, it’s hard to really conceptualize the importance of a continuity plan without looking at what happens if you don’t have one.

Take, for instance, the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Urban legend has it that the conflagration started when Mrs. O’Leary’s cow kicked over a lantern in the family barn. The fire’s origin is debatable. The aftermath, however, is well documented and devastating by any standards.

The Great Chicago fire completely destroyed 3.2 miles in the heart of Chicago, rapidly consuming homes and businesses. The inferno resulted in the death of 300 citizens, the destruction of 17,500 buildings, Of the 300,000 residents of Chicago, 100,000 were left homeless.

The 185 firefighters employed within Chicago were ill-equipped to handle the ferocious spread of the fire, which was attributed to a drought as well as the mostly wooden construction of the city’s buildings, roads, and sidewalks.The total cost of the fire was estimated at $222 million, or roughly $4.6 billion today.

When a disaster this large happens, the only way for a business to survive is to have an understanding of what needs to be protected, how you want to respond, and which practices to follow to continue operations. Here are the 5 most important things to focus on when putting together a continuity plan.

1. Minimizing Downtime

The primary reason for a business continuity plan is to eliminate downtime. 75% of businesses don’t have any sort of business continuity plan or disaster recovery plan. Skipping out on a continuity plan is not only reckless, but extremely expensive.

ITIC’s latest survey data finds that 98% of organizations say a single hour of downtime costs over $100,000.Those aren’t numbers to be ignored. Whether you suffer a natural disaster or a cyber attack, the only way to stay in business is to continue your work as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may very well go out of business.

2. Protecting What’s Important

A business continuity plan should detail the necessary components and data that will keep your business running. This involves inventory of backup devices and cloud services, as well as an outline of your data backup specifics (when and where) and an overview of how company assets will be handled when disaster strikes.

3. Communicating with Confidence

One of the primary benefits of creating a business continuity plan is to establish a state of order amid the chaos. Your plan should focus on a chain-of-command delegation of responsibility, and should include reliable communication channels prioritized for contacting employees, partners and customers to minimize breakdowns in collaboration and service.

4. Resuming Operations

The goal of any business continuity plan is to get you back in business as soon as possible. Many companies have taken the extra precaution of utilizing backup and recovery sites. These are off-campus facilities where your business can be relocated to continue operations regardless of any damage or limited access you may experience.

These sites run the gamut from “cold sites”, which are bare-boned facilities without any installed operations, to “hot sites”, which are exact duplicates of your current operations.

5. Ensuring Your Recovery

A recent report finds that 60% of small businesses close within 6 months of a significant cyber attack. But this doesn’t have to be you. Implementing a business continuity plan to your current backup and data recovery solutions will allow you the peace of mind that even if disaster strikes, you don’t have to become a statistic.

We Are Here to Help

CCS Technology Group would be happy to help your business create a specific business continuity plan. We have proven experience developing solutions that will keep you in business no matter what outside forces may arrive.

It’s important to plan ahead. It might just save your business.

Give us a call or send us a message to learn more.


The advantages of working with IT pros

Some seemingly good ideas come with wildly inconvenient side effects. Like the time a corned beef sandwich almost ruined a NASA mission.

In the 1960’s, NASA was in an all-out race to put a man on the moon. The Gemini 3 mission was a significant step forward. It was the very first two-manned mission to achieve orbit. Astronaut John Young was one of those two men.

Not one to pay too much attention to pesky rules, Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich onto the spacecraft by hiding it in his suit. But when crew-mate Gus Grissom took a bite, crumbles scattered throughout the cabin.

Because of the lack of gravity, crumbles could easily get into the circuitry, potentially leading to disaster. As it turns out, NASA had good reasons for regulating the food available to astronauts during missions.

The lesson? Some projects legitimately warrant expert input.

Paving the Way for Growth

IT spending is an undeniable part of the cost of doing business. Not only that, but IT spending is on the rise. 42% of small businesses expect to increase their IT related expenses this year.

But while additional IT spending should result in improved efficiency and reduced costs, that’s not always the case. To illustrate the point, consider this alarming statistic: 55% of small business owners suspect their current technology solutions are actually holding them back.

Business owners clearly see the value of investing in IT solutions for everything from customer acquisition and retention to process automation. There’s obvious benefit to harnessing the power of available technology – if you choose the right solutions.

Choose the wrong solutions, and the technology might only get in your way.

Choosing Wisely

Making strong IT decisions for your organization is easier said than done. A quick Google search will reveal literally dozens of options, even for basic IT solutions like cloud-based storage.

When it comes time to tackle an in-house IT project, how can you be sure the solution you pick is the one that will work best for your company? After all, you don’t want your business to be yet another organization whose growth is limited by the very tools that should make you more efficient.

Thankfully, there’s a way to tap into expert knowledge without becoming an expert, yourself.

“Professional services” is the industry term that describes outsourced IT project management. Companies of all sizes routinely rely on professional services when analyzing and upgrading their technologies. Even organizations with robust internal IT departments find value in utilizing professional services firms.

The Case for Expertise

There are three compelling reasons to consider working with a professional services provider.

First, expert input helps businesses identify the best solution for their needs. Sure, you might be able to limp along with a solution that mostly works. But why put yourself through that? Why not instead find the solution that perfectly matches the demands of your specific business?

Second, working with experienced professionals expedites the upgrade process. IT changes are rarely fun. There’s an inevitable adjustment period, even if the change is small. The sooner you can push through the growing pains and reap the benefits, the better.

Finally, a professional services provider can help lower costs in the short and long terms. When it comes to project management, few phrases sound as pleasant as “under budget.” Short term savings come in the form of finding the most cost effective solution possible.

Long term savings come in less tangible forms, but the impact on ROI is just as real. Improved efficiency, employee satisfaction and customer experience each profoundly affect your bottom line.

Your Professional Services Provider

The professional services team at CCS Technology is serious about making your next IT project a raving success. Each team member has a minimum of five years of experience. Our clients always work with someone who knows the industry.

We’re certified in the most high-demand areas of specialization, like Acumatica, Microsoft, Cisco, Amazon, VMware, and EMC. We also pride ourselves on maintaining a student mentality. We’re always learning and growing in our expertise.

What’s more, we have a proven track record for IT implementation. We’ve even taken on existing projects that were behind schedule and over budget, bringing them to successful completion.

If you have IT projects on the horizon, we have the professional services know-how to help. Contact us today to find out how we can guide you through the process, saving you both time and money.

Justice is servered: The ultimate professional services superhero team

As managed service providers (MSPs) develop more expertise to fit the specific needs of their clients, it’s often beneficial to offer advanced professional services to growing businesses. You can compare this to superheroes teaming up in the Justice League to save the world and take on nefarious criminals. Sure, Batman might be able to fight off a dozen assailants, but it’s a big bonus when Superman is there to round them up and fly them off to jail at the speed of sound.

Ideally, when choosing your managed service provider, you want to make sure they have experts on their team who can fill the following roles:

1. The Heart, Wonder Woman

One of the primary professional services you’ll encounter is physical installation. For this, you’ll want to look for an MSP with the physical resources and knowledge to properly set up your office network and system to fit the needs of your team and your customers.

Think of Wonder Woman. She’s a fierce warrior and easily capable of the physical work, but one of her greatest strengths is her compassion. She longs to understand and honor the human element. This is a quality that is super important when setting up a physical network. An MSP needs to know how the network will be used and how to apply the infrastructure to your specific business and organizational needs.

2. The Fortifier, Batman, Cyborg

Remember that time you snuck into the Batcave? Probably not. That’s because Bruce Wayne has built a veritable fortress with the best cybersecurity and physical security in the world to guard his secret identity and to protect his Bat-family.

Many MSPs will do the exact same for your business, by installing physical security components to work in collaboration with your cybersecurity solutions. Physical security options can include cameras, electronic access, and more – all designed to eliminate external and internal threats. Sometimes, this even requires educating employees and adjusting current behaviors. Especially when 55 percent of organizations have had a security incident or data breach due to a malicious or negligent employee. Even Robin needs a lesson or two about how not to blow things up in the armory.

3. The Mindreader, Martian Manhunter

The Martian Manhunter is the Justice League’s resident telepath. He knows the best path for people’s lives, because he excels at reading their hopes, dreams, and goals.

The best MSPs know what you need for your business, because they put in the time and effort to get to know your business and its operations. From a professional services standpoint, this means they are often able to create custom IT solutions for your business.

One of the hottest professional services right now is app development. Any leading MSP should be able to create a custom app for your business that will help streamline your particular workflow. In fact, app development is practically becoming mandatory for businesses who want to win customer loyalty. OuterBox reports that 40% of users will go to the competitor after a bad mobile experience.

4. The Speedster, Flash, Superman

When Lois Lane gets a craving for authentic Thai cuisine, Superman is off like a rocket to Bangkok. When some poor gal falls from a 45-story building, the Flash runs up the facade and catches her, depositing her safely on the rooftop garden.

Many MSPs provide the same level of on-call service. Make sure to always check your MSP’s hours of operation, service response standards and after-hours options. Some MSPs even offer a Batcave-like Network Operating Center (NOC), where your network can be monitored 24/7/365. This is the best way to make sure your network issues are solved in a flash.

5. The Backup, Green Arrow

In the world of IT solutions, it’s important to create redundancies. If the measures you have in place to keep your network running end up taking a beating, then you better make sure you have a backup plan.

In the Justice League, that means Batman might have to call in his pal Green Arrow, who happens to have a knack for hitting the bullseye when things go awry. In IT, that means that your MSP can help you target areas of data that need to be backed up more frequently, and create a disaster plan.

Please give us a call or send us an email when you are ready to chat about these super Professional Services and more.