Google Apps integrated with Solve360 CRM moves people, literally
Here’s a story most business folks can relate to — established in 1959, Taylor Moving starts with 1 truck and a handful of employees. Dad grows the business. Sons take over, expanding to 100 staff and operate a network handling international employee moves
Fast forward to the present and those sons find themselves asking “How can we stay competitive and keep growing the business?” Son Rick Taylor knew more of the same wasn’t going to cut it. “Our coordinators, our sales team, they were spending far too much time doing internal stuff and not talking to clients.”
The solution started when they looked at their email which, despite being mission critical for dealing with overseas moves, was unreliable. A friend introduced Taylor to Blair Collins, founder of Interlockit, who was asked to help. “They were paying $1000 per month for IT support yet none of their email history was backed up because it was scattered across the hard drives of everyone's computers.”, noted Collins. InterlockIT introduced Taylor to Google Apps and helped with the implementation. With email issues now out of the way they now had the resources to look at how they organized their moves.
For years, Taylor Moving managed moves through a paper-based filing system and initially a document management system seemed like the answer. The narrow access point of paper files was causing chaos and a lot of wasted time. “In the past, there would be a sales person at a coordinator’s desk eight times a day… they were always looking for information.”
But after a review, InterlockIT introduced Taylor to Solve360, which is a client management solution available in the Google Apps Marketplace. Solve360 focuses on helping businesses like Taylor manage their customers and their projects. “We quickly realized that a fully integrated CRM solution like Solve360 with its included project management could do far more for their business”, said Collins.
Taylor was quickly impressed by Solve360’s flexibility. Now any adjustments made to the move are now seen in real time, company-wide. Now everything is in one place, and easily accessed. “This is a big step up.”
Taylor and his team experience seamless integration between Solve360 and Google Apps. In fact, Taylor himself barely acknowledges a separation between the two, viewing them as a single system. The Gmail contextual gadget for quick access to contacts/projects, the ability to easily capture emails, the simple linking to Google Docs, and the Google calendar integration are key features for them. “Once you’ve got [Gmail], which I find to be a very user-friendly system, the changeover to Solve360 was far easier than I had expected. I expected a much harder learning curve.”
Streamlining the internal systems allowed Taylor and his team to turn outward and address what matters most to their business — the customer. In a service industry, you’re only productive if you’re talking with a client… if you’re doing background stuff, that’s offering no value back to your service. So, what are the things you can do behind the scenes so that you’re spending the majority of time with your clients?... That’s why we brought the system on.” Solve360 allowed his team to focus on what would really drive business forward.
Growing his business with Google Apps and Solve360 “is something he’s looking forward to”, says Taylor. “With software and servers you need to manage all the changes yourself to keep up. Now [with Google Apps and Solve360] that’s done for us automatically so we can focus on serving our clients.”
From Gaetan Fraikin, Audacity's CEO
STOP LOOKING - YOU FOUND IT
Let me guess your situation: your small business needs some type of organization tool for contact management, shared calendar / tasks, and, if at all possible, shared project management. Well, I am sure you found more than enough of those, both client or web-based, with prices ranging from free, to...way too expensive. At this point, after spending hours of research and testing, you probably feel even more lost than before you started. Well, don't feel bad - we all experienced the same process and emotions.
The good news is that, just like us, you did find Solve360. I can't tell you how ecstatic we were when we discovered the solution and started playing with it. We tried all the big and small solutions and came back to what we consider a truly pioneering platform that puts at small businesses' disposal a set of tools that were believed to be reserved for large companies. Each of the three modules built into Solve360 exists with competing systems, but the dramatic value gap of this solution lies into its modules integration. Every piece of information is entered once, and usable across modules. There is no wasted time, and no risk from data duplication. It is also highly intuitive and fun to use, which increases the chances that your team will actually use it. And as you know, if the system is not used, it is worthless. It is web-based, which means that your geographic limitation vanish, and there is no need for hardware and software investment and maintenance.
At this point, you are probably thinking: “sounds great, I should definitely spend time on this to fully evaluate, and maybe ...move forward and select it!”. Well, if you are not there yet, this next reason will do it. Even though Solve360 is simple and intuitive, there will be times where you need help. And with Norada, the notion of service has been pushed to the pinnacle. Every time I email the company, I receive a response within minutes, with accurate, and usable information. Every time we make recommendations for improvement based on what we believe most clients could use, we are listened to, and in most cases, our requests are implemented in a next release. And that is worth a lot!
Our agency, Audacity, is a premier San Diego based branding, communications and advertising agency with global reach. We engineer ultimate brands for Fortune 1000 technology leaders. Our clients expect from our agency nothing less than excellence when it comes to our solutions. We are today able to deliver at that level thanks to Solve360. All projects are set-up in the blog section, they are connected to our activities/calendar, and to contacts. We now have true visibility. Look no further - and welcome to the next level of collaboration.
Audacity is a premier San Diego based branding, communications and advertising agency with global reach. Audacity builds and delivers powerful brand experiences, unconventional product launches, and international market entries. Its core expertise lies in marketing strategy, international marketing and communications.
Current/past clients include Kodak, Samsung, Motorola, Siemens and Sony, plus a range of tech start-ups. We have client in Europe, Asia and the US.
From Adrian Sanders, Small Business Consultant
I recently helped a property rental company in Paris, France with the restructuring of its business work flow, particularly its contact database and email issues. The director was struggling to manage the influx of rental inquiries as the business grew. One key issue was the communication breakdown between the various roles in the business. We had selected SugarCRM because of the apparent low cost and the ability to quickly share information. But what we got was a total nightmare. SugarCRM was built by IT people for middle-management in large companies. The whole system reeked of hoop-jumping and bloated programming. Small companies don't have the time or money to train one person to run and maintain their database - the solution needs to be intuitive, quick to adopt and robust. I chose Solve360 because of several conversations I had with Steve Ireland at Norada.
A fantastic kitchen won't make you great food, but if you know how to cook, it makes the process that much easier. Solve360 isn't magic; it's a fantastic tool with the type of customer support that is unparalleled in the industry. I've had 12 second response times to email questions, seen major updates to the system with no downtime and the status update page that most companies wouldn't dare show you. Employees loved the speed of searching for contacts, easy email archiving and the great interface.
As I began using it to replace SugarCRM, I realized just how significantly different the approach of Solve360 really is and why it is better. In Solve360, employees and companies aren't asked to think in terms of databases, fields and reports. Instead the emphasis is on what matters most: contacts, activities and projects.
I started VM Associates as a small consultancy to help businesses get the most out of Solve360 because most small companies don't need to spend thousands of dollars on software and hardware only to learn it can't do what they need and isn't dynamic enough to support their business as it changes and grows. Cost aside, the whole philosophy of using new technology often confuses the tool with the practice. If your company is a chef, most other CRMs are microwave ovens. Solve360 is a kitchen.
The tools are there, but the true ingredients are the people you work with and for, the service you offer and how you go about doing that. I enjoy helping companies realize this process inside of Solve360 because it really does make life that much easier.
From Tom Schlenkhoff, CEO ScottyLabs
Finding my 'CRM' was something like an odyssey. After a few exchanges in a few forums and with Norada support it dawned on me, that is rather the rule than the exception.
This is my short story of how this came about. May there be interesting tidbits for others facing comparable problems.
It all started off with CabChap developing faster than anticipated. Telfish being an B2B business, didn't generate many leads, we were able to handle them with the standard Mac address book. CabChap on the other hand, is pure B2C play. And as leads, partner requests, customers, bugs and that stuff started rolling in, I needed a more capable solution.
Everybody knows 37signals and Salesforce, so these were the obvious places to start. I tried Highrise first, being an avid user of Ruby on Rails I deemed it fair for them to get the first shot. But I somehow didn't get the hang of it, found it was lacking to much in terms of integration with my contact and mail database.
On to Salesforce: Seemed to me, it's the gold standard of CRM on the web. Wrong! It feels reasonable fast, but it looks, feels and IS way over-engineered. It probably has all the (little) features I wanted but 1) at a price in terms of money, and 2) in terms of a steep learning curve.
Features I required:
On to a short stint with Gist.
Gist.com is something like a external information aggregator for your address book, feeds, blogs and Gmail. It pulls together all this information and helps you stay informed about what is going on with you important accounts. It bills itself 'social CRM' but its less CRM and more social. I am still playing with it, but more to find out if I may have other uses for it. Check it out, it's worth a trial.
So, a few days and a few address book rebuilds later, I found a hint on the CRM solution Solve360 from Norada. At first its an awkward mixture of CRM and project management. But the UI looked so good and it felt like it was engineered with passion (something I am very susceptible to as an avid Apple user). So after a few hours of importing my stuff and reading through the CRM forums I almost felt relieve, this could be it - at least for me.
So next morning I took the plunge and started to migrate all my stuff to Solve. Then I couldn't help it, I had to push my luck. I activated two very cool beta features that Solve is about to deliver: Google Contact Synchronization and Google Mail Integration. This sounds to good to be true, none out there, delivers a tight live integration of the most important poor-man's tools. But as I said, I hit a few problems here. At first the sync wouldn't work, this was resolved within hours by helpful Norada support staff.
But once the integration worked I got all my contacts (1000+) into Solve and this was not what I wanted. But again, very helpful staff sorted out (my) mess in a few hours and I am good to go again. What really shocked me was, how understanding and empathetic support was (thanks Mike!). Live email integration worked somehow nicely, but then again I have a complicated setup with different SMTP-servers for the different projects, and compared to the fantastic Gmail Client it has to lack big time. Remember, these both promising features are beta, so things will improve further and I will probably try them again one day.
So, my setup looks like this now: I keep my contacts in Mac and iPhone address book, my emails in Apple mail and Gmail and all neatly synced with Google Sync. This works like a charm, is fast as hell and push-y (and free, but thats not so important for me). I keep Solve separated, but mails for my projects are automatically forwarded to Solve via Gmail filters to my Solve360 dropbox. Sending mail is triggered via the Solve web app and then automatically sent to the dropbox as well (via bcc). Looks and works good so far.
Bonus tip: Back up your contacts in different formats (VCard and CSV preferred). You'll need these files for import into your chosen system anyway - and I messed up my contacts db in the process a few times.
CabChap.com is a taxi dispatch on steroids. CabChap helps passengers to hail or book a cab, limo or rickshaw, be it in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany or Australia. Use your iPhone (see App store), or any mobile browser to find cabs nearby and to rate drivers.