Friday, May 30, 2014

Salesforce teams up with Microsoft to take customer productivity to another level.

Yesterday (May 29th) salesforce.com announced that it would be teaming up with Microsoft that will begin integrating the CRM giant's cloud-based applications with offerings from the software giant such as Windows and Office.

Marc Benioff (left) and Satya Nadella
Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said of the merger "Today is about putting the customer first. Together with Microsoft, we are building bridges that allow customers to be more productive."

Recently appointed Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella added "We are excited to partner with salesforce.com and help customers thrive in a mobile and cloud-first world. Working together we'll deliver new solutions that connect the customer insights of Salesforce to the cloud productivity of Office 365, the cloud platform of Azure and the mobility of Windows, so our customers can do more."

According to a Microsoft press release the collaboration between the two companies will result in: 
  • Salesforce1 for Windows and Window Phone 8.1, which will released in a limited roll-out in Q4 2014 and be available to everyone in 2015. 
  • Salesforce for Office 365 that will give customers the ability access Office content within Salesforce and Salesforce1 from Office-enabled devices, use OneDrive and Sharepoint to store data for Salesforce, integrate Salesforce with Outlook through a new Salesforce App, and connect data from within Salesforce to Excel and Power BI. 
SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting and customization company, is very excited about this partnership and makes us even more proud to be a Salesforce partner. We look forward to seeing the way we can use these new aditions to the Salesforce universe to better serve our customers. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

It's Monday! Time for another SkyPlanner Parachute!


It's SkyPlanner Parachute Monday! Find out what we at SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting company, have been reading, watching, listening to, and learning from in the past week. Click on each link to view our curated content.

  • Stress is an unfortunate part of everyday business life. How we deal with stress is the difference between burning out, and leading a long and healthy life. 

At SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting company, we love to hear from ours clients and supporters so please feel free to comment or email us with any opinions or suggestions for future content.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Keys to Effective Communication: A 7-item checklist you can follow to make sure your messages are getting through to others.

If you own or run a business chances are communicating with others is a big part of your daily routine. At SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting and customization company, we're in a constant state of communication. Whether on the phone troubleshooting issues for current customers, on Skype with members of our international team, or giving presentations to potential customers, a member of the SkyPlanner team is trying to get a message across to someone, somewhere at some time of the day.

For a lucky few communicating with other comes easily, but for many effective communication can be a very difficult task; almost to the point of becoming a huge stressor. But like with all thing in business one can train him or herself to become a more effective communicator. That's where the "7 C's of Communication" come into play. The idea of the "7 C's" was originally introduced by University of Wisconsin professor Scott Cutlip in his seminal work on public relations titled Effective Public Relations. Together, these seven rules provide a good starting point from which anyone can communicate effectively. If you can cross these seven things off your communications checklist it's more than likely that your message will get through to your audience without a hitch. The checklist is found bellow.

Your message needs:

  1. Completeness: Include everything the person on the other end of a communication might need to wholly understand the message you're trying to convey. Leave as little room for interpretation or guessing as possible. 
  2. Conciseness: Have you ever heard the phrase "keep it simple, stupid"? Use as few filler words and extra sentences as possible, be it in a speech or in a simple intra-office memo. 
  3. Consideration: At its most basic this is knowing your audience and communicating how they would best understand your points.
  4. Clarity: Try to convey a single idea per communication. If there has to be more than one idea then make sure to separate them or properly connect them as needed.
  5. Concreteness: Know your purpose and share it as clearly as possible. State exactly what you mean to say. This also conveys that you have confidence in your message and helps build the other party's trust in your authority.
  6. Courtesy: When trying to communicate you should be conscious of the fact that the other party will probably have a preexisting opinion or viewpoint on the issue, and that any communication should be made in a way that doesn't hurt the feelings of said other party. 
  7. Correctness: Keep grammatical errors to a minimum (preferably none). This should be self-explanatory. 
At SkyPlanner we know that the better we communicate the more credibility we have and the more trust our customers are comfortable placing in us. The same can be true with your own business. Just follow make sure to follow the 7 C's of Communication in your everyday business processes. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Eight easy rules your business should follow for positive customer interactions.

Customer interactions (the positive ones at least) are of paramount importance to us here at SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier choice for Salesforce consulting and customization. Over the last couple of weeks we've surprised you with some pretty shocking statistics about how negative customer interactions can cost your business big time, and now we're going to clue you in on how to make sure those negatrive experiences never happen.

These are the general rules we've found through our research on customer interactions that every business can follow when dealing with customers:
  1. Be available. When it comes to customer service you don't have to be on-call 24/7/365 but your customers should be able to reach someone at a reasonable hour if they need help. 
  2. Don't make promises you know (or aren't sure) you will be able to keep. It's always better to under-promise and over-deliver than the other way around. And going beyond expectations always leaves a lasting impression.
  3. Pay attention. Don't just let your customers run off their problems then respond by rattling off some prepackaged responses. Hold an actual conversation with them and give off the feeling of caring for what they have to say (even if you don't). 
  4. Then again, don't just pay attention but also act. Listing is well and good but you have to actually act on customer complaints, not throw them aside. Chances are that for every one person who actually gives voice to an issue there are many more who will just choose to take their business elsewhere. 
  5. Live in the now even if it doesn't mean money at the moment. Always be willing and ready to offer help to a customer even if it's a small favor with no expectation of return. It might seem like that favor is you doing something for nothing, you're potentially winning their favor which can lead to much greater returns in future. 
  6. Train your support staff so they can represent your business well. If you have employees chance are they're the face of your business. And while you yourself might be great at dealing with customers, if your customer service reps/cashiers/waiters/etc. don't share the same gusto for positive customer interactions it will eventually destroy the image you've so carefully built. Take the time to teach your staff how to treat customers the right way (or get new staff). 
  7. Put in the extra effort. Nothing is more irritating to a customer with a problem than being told to "check the website" or being told to just go to another part of the store. Going the extra mile to walk customers through issues, check inventory for them, or lead them to a specific product's location will pay dividends when they spread the word to others. 
  8. Surprise them with a little extra something. A simple example would be throwing in a sticker or coupon into the box when shipping an order. Those two things would probably cost your company close to nothing but it can mean free advertising or a more likely follow-up purchase, respectively. Just like in Rule 7, putting forth a little more effort can go very far. 

While industry and type of business can vary the exact lengths to which your business may have to go to please customers we at SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting and customization company, believe these eight rules provide a good base from which any business can develop its core customer-interaction plan. We'd love to hear the steps you take to make sure your customers come away with the best experiences possible so leave a comment or shoot us an email here. We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Another Monday, another Parachute full of helpful info to get your week started right.


It's SkyPlanner Parachute Monday! Find out what we at SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting company, have been reading, watching, listening to, and learning from in the past week. Click on each link to view our curated content. 
  • Have you ever been to an event and noticed that one person who seems to be able to bring everyone together? They're not just social butterflies, they're expert connectors.
  • Think your company's website has finally caught up with the times? If that's the case, then you might already be running behind again.
At SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting company, we love to hear from ours clients and supporters so please feel free to comment or email us with any opinions or suggestions for future content.

Monday, May 12, 2014

It's SkyPlanner Parachute Monday! Salesforce gets social, more Big Data, and MVP's galore!


It's SkyPlanner Parachute Monday! Find out what we at SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting company, have been reading, watching, listening to, and learning from in the past week. Click on each link to view our curated content. 

Salesforce has sought to become a marketing force for some time now and with the release of the Radian6 + Buddy Media Social Studio, or Social Studio for short, the company is primed to actively battle popular industry-leaders such as Hootsuite for enterprise social media-management title belt.

At SkyPlanner we've covered Big Data more than a few times over the last year or so, simply because it's becoming such an integral part of the cloud. If you haven't had the chance to check out any of our older mentions we find that this post from CloudTweaks.com is a great primer on Big Data and it's impact on the future of businesses.

And to piggyback on the CloudTweaks post here is our own post from last Friday. It deals with the Internet of Things and what it means for businesses.

Salesforce.com announced it's newest crop of Force.com MVP's last week. Force.com MVPs are respected evangelists that put forth a lot of time and effort into improving the platform through both coding and interacting with other developers within the community, especially in helping other developers improve their own skills.

Zendesk
If you own or manage a business that's more than a one man (or woman) show then you've surely learned valuable lessons on the importance of having the right employees in the right positions. At SkyPlanner we're lucky to have a great group of people who work hard not only for our clients but also for each other, and get along as if we're family. Unfortunately, not every manager is that lucky and can struggle with difficult employees. This article outlines how best to tackle dealing with those types of personalities. As a bonus, the infographic to the left sheds light on hiring employees who are your enterprise's face to the world.


At SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting company, we love to hear from ours clients and supporters so please feel free to comment or email us with any opinions or suggestions for future content.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Internet of Things and what it means for business.

In one of last week's posts SkyPlanner, South Florida's best choice for Salesforce consulting and customization, gave you a broad definition and history of the Internet of Things (IoT). This week we're going to go a little deeper into what the IoT means for business.

Source: DFKI (2011)
The advent of the Internet of Things has been hailed by many tech and business experts as the fourth in a line of Industrial Revolutions that have occurred since the late 1700's (as shown in the chart to the left) due to the fundamental changes it will force business processes to make; changes that transcend just the digital space. The advancement generally center around the ease with which huge amounts of data that will be easily collected thanks to the sheer amount of devices that will be connected to the World Wide Web.

Take for example the ability for Starbucks HQ in Seattle to gather real-time data about which roasts are most popular in a specific city thanks to specialty coffee machines installed in over 500 locations throughout the country. Or hospitals with equipment that can be tested remotely thus eliminating downtime in the event of malfunction or track their own levels of vital materials to avoid shortages during emergencies.  Those are just a couple of ways the IoT can improve businesses in two completely different industries. The infographic below outlines a slew of ways through which many industries will be connected.

Source: industrial-ip.org

According to McKinsey & Company, the use of IoT for business can be divided into two broad categories:: information and analysis, and automation and control. These two categories can be whittled down into three distinct application each. Information and analysis can be divided into tracking behavior, enhanced situational awareness, and sensor-driven decision analytics. Automation and control can be divided into process optimization, optimized resource consumption. Some of these applications are better suited for manufacturing and business-to-business (B2B) industries but all are in some way relevant to consumer-facing enterprises.

Of course the increase in data collection means there has to be a way to sift through, analyze, and present said data in a way that it can actually be used. That's where DaaS, or data-as-a-service, comes into the picture, and where a tool like Salesforce's Force.com becomes invaluable because it gives you the abiltity to customize the way your enterprise uses it's data. And where SkyPlanner, your best choice for Salesforce consulting and customization, can help you achieve what you want to achieve by working with you to make sure your data collection requirements are met by your Salesforce implementation. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Good and Bad of Negative Customer Interactions

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” ― Maya Angelou
At SkyPlanner, your best choice for Salesforce consulting and customization in South Florida, we touch upon the issue of customer interaction in many of our social media posts. That's because we believe providing our customers with positive experiences to be equal to, if not greater, in value to any other service or product we could ever provide. In fact, our core values- transparency, integrity, partnership, respect, and accountabiliy- revolve around our dedication to treating our customers as if they are members of the SkyPlanner family, and why we encourage face-to-face meetings (in person or through Skype) instead of phone calls..

Positive customer interactions are key to retaining customers, which in turn is key to keeping a business afloat. Some interesting statistics from a Gartner Group study that supports this include:
  • A 5% increase in customer retention can increase business profits by 25% to 125%. 
  • 80% of future profits will most likely come from just 20% of existing customers.
  • Repeast customers spend 33% more than new customers.  
According to salesforce.com 70% of buying experiences are influenced by how the customer feels they're being treated, and 60-75% of customers are likely to return to a company they feel treated them fairly, even if the end result was not in their favor. Then it is not shocking to see that companies that prioritize positive customer experience generate 60% higher profits than similar competitors who don't put an place a high value on their customers' concerns. Yet many businesses fail to do just that and ignore the very practices that .

Disregard for customer experience doesn't just cost businesses repeat customers. While a satisfied customer might tell, on average, nine other people how happy they are, dissatisfied customers tend to be much more prodigious when sharing their experiences to the tune of a whopping 22 people. This can clearly be seen in the multitude of review sites riddled with negative reviews centered around poor customer interactions (43% of people feel little to no inhibition about lodging complaints when they can do it online), not to mention social media where a single bad customer experience can go viral and spread like wildfire. If you're small business it's even more imperative to keep customers happy. Don't believe the power of word-of-mouth? Please refer to the infographic on the right (courtesy of Milo).

Unfortunately there isn't a set definition for what constitutes good customer interactions because it depends so greatly across industries, and customer types. Luckily this is a case where it is easier to highlight what not to do than what to do. In subsequent blog posts SkyPlanner will be expanding on this issue and diving into ways that our customers can keep their their customers happy and coming back for more business. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 5, 2014

It's SkyPlanner Parachute Monday! Register for Dreamforce '14, improve your leadership skills, and more!


It's SkyPlanner Parachute Monday! Find out what we at SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting company, have been reading, watching, listening to, and learning from in the past week. Click on each link to view our curated content. 

Salesforce.com's signature annual event is quickly becoming (if it's not already) one of the biggest events throughout the entire tech industry. While it is still close to seven months away the excitement is certainly palpable. Members of the SkyPlanner team have been fortunate to attend the last couple of Dreamforce events and are looking forward to making a return appearance. We strongly encourage everyone to attend. You can register here.


Any rise to the top is bound to hit a few snags along the way. Eleven successful entrepreneurs and business owners discuss their biggest failures and how they were able to learn from them.

Without question a big part of any organization is the leadership at the top. And a good leader is one who can also follow.

Wearing the same uniform or sitting in the same office might make you a member of a team but being a GOOD team member means putting effort into making everyone's job, and life, easier.

The world changed more in the last 100 or so years than in almost all of history combined, and that was all thanks to incredible advancements in technology. How will things continue to change in the future? These tech expert give their predictions concerning where we're all heading.

At SkyPlanner, South Florida's premier Salesforce consulting company, we love to hear from ours clients and supporters so please feel free to comment with any opinions or suggestions for future content.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Just what is the Internet of Things?

The term "Internet of Things" has been thrown around a lot the last few years and it's being lauded, without exaggeration, as a revolutionary contribution the future of civilization. But what exactly is the Internet of Things, or IoT? The idea of an internet where real world objects live and communicate on a virtual plan has been around for more than two decades, as this infographic from Intel shows (note: the projected number of devices connected to the IoT by 2020 is now projected to exceed 50 billion).


At its advent the IoT centered around M2M, or machine-to-machine, communication. At the time it consisted of companies using technology such as RFID tags to track inventory or hospitals track patient information using wristbands with barcodes, and have that information sent and stored in closed-circuit databases. While implementations like those are definitely still in use today, the modern definition of the IoT has shifted to emcompass the connectivity of devices in the cloud, and the explosion of data that has come about as a result. Everything from wearable tech like smart watches that track your heart rate to smart appliances that tell you when to stock up on milk are part of the IoT. In fact, you've been a part of the modern IoT since the day you first bought a cell phone that transmits data such as  your location back to Apple or Google.

Being the leader in cloud computing, salesforce.com is primed to be a big player in the growing IoT and is off to a commanding lead with the roll-out of the Salesforce 1 Platform. SkyPlanner, as your best choice for Salesforce consulting and customization in South Florida, is here to provide you with the latest on the IoT. Over thr next few weeks we will be dedicating our blog posts to going in-depth into what the IoT means for our customers. Stayed tuned!