Tag Archive: CRM


By Steven Cohen, managing director, Sage Pastel Accounting

Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen

To succeed in business, exceptional service is essential. Everyone says they do it but I question its true impact, particularly when I consider that everything is automated these days. In the world of electronic communications, everyone auto-signs their emails with a warm and fuzzy salutation, your birthday is recorded in a customer relationship management (CRM) system that triggers a congratulatory SMS on the appropriate date and it’s seldom that you get to talk to a real person at a call centre anymore. The result of the, so-called benefits of technology is a techno-void between a company and its customers.

The Extraordinary Customer Experience

Sage, the global parent of Sage Pastel Accounting has launched a new Extraordinary Customer Experience initiative which will benefit its 4 million clients globally. The programme’s key objective is to build real relationships with customers using an old-fashioned method; people.

Initially I was cynical about the advantages such a plan would bring to the business. Our local contact centre is manned by real people and it’s considered one of the best – it wins local and international awards all the time and is currently a regional finalist in three categories of the highly regarded Contact Centre World Awards run by ContactCentreWorld.com.

However, our new service initiative requires more than just people to offer extraordinary customer service; it’s their attitude and approach to the customer that is so crucial. In addition to the programme’s need for passion, accountability, collaboration and being enterprising when dealing with customers, I am drawn to its requirements for creating working conditions that encourage people to succeed!

It’s all about attitude

As a business leader, I’ve always said that it’s important to stimulate the thinking of those around you. This can only be applied if you understand that attitude and not just aptitude is essential when employing at any level in the organisation. I like to see the interview process as a gate that only lets exceptional people in – and it’s part of my management ethos to pay more for a good person. So, I think I am on the correct path to getting the customer service experience right but now the hard work really begins.

For the Extraordinary Customer Experience to become a reality we need to change the way we think about customer service. I want us to own every customer experience and not simply sell stuff to people because we have targets to meet. We need to build real relationships with all of our clients and recognise that a new client or a satisfied contact centre customer is not just another successful transaction. In addition it’s important to define what we are delivering to our customers in relation to what our customers think they are getting – a disconnect at this point is the difference between exceptional or deficient service.

Parity Software celebrates three decades of business success by being awarded the Sage National Solutions Provider for the year 2012.  This is the highest recognition awarded by Sage for excellence in development, sales and technical expertise.

The award was given at the Sage Insights 2013 conference, held from 7-10 February. This annual conference serves as a platform for players in the industry to network with the purpose of providing some insight into 2013 and what to expect in terms of trends and product developments in the fields of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI).

“We are extremely pleased by the fact that after 30 years in business we continue to receive the highest industry accolades and that we still provide top quality business solutions for Sage and other business partners.” said Parity’s managing director Warren Williams.

Parity Software also received recognition for Highest Sage ERP X3 Sales, Best Performer of Sage CRM and for achieving Premier Status as a Sage ERP Africa Solutions Provider.

Headquartered in Johannesburg, with branches in Cape Town and Durban, Parity Software provides and supports Sage CRM, Sage ERP X3, Business Intelligence solutions, as well as third party products including Cashbook, AP Recon, Parity Report Server and Debit Clearing, within a wide range of commercial and industrial enterprises worldwide.

“Our focus continues to centre on the provision of best in class business solutions that cater for the expanding and ever-changing needs of modern businesses, using our proven methodology that has advanced over the past 30 years, together with excellent staff” said Williams.

Parity Software operates in a wide range of business sectors including finance, manufacturing, distribution, agriculture, automotive and hospitality.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners and customers who have supported Parity over the last year and previously, since the synergy we have with them has allowed Parity to receive this acknowledgment,” concludes Williams.

By Jeremy Waterman, the Managing Director of Sage ERP

Jeremy Waterman

Jeremy Waterman

The Sage Insights 2013 Conference was a resounding success and a true celebration of the mobile revolution and the challenges it poses for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).  More than 250 Sage ERP Africa’s business partners attended, which included 32 partners from East and West Africa.

The opening address focused on the mobile revolution and the challenges it holds for software vendors. It is not really the concept of mobility that is revolutionary, but more the reality of the delivery mechanism that has undergone an evolution.

Himanshu Palsule, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product Strategy at Sage Group said in his keynote address that in going forward all Sage products will be built with a mobile and cloud strategy in mind. This is not a trend with an end in sight; it is a new way of life.

Benoit Gruber, Vice President of Product and Alliances Sage ERP X3, Product Marketing Europe and Sage mid-market, spoke about the road ahead for Sage ERP X3 and the planned release for version 7.0. This new technology update will make native thin client access to Sage ERP X3 a reality from any device, desktop or mobile.

Sean Mooney, the Head of Research and Development at Sage CRM assured partners that Sage CRM will remain at the heart of integrated business.

A strategic sales summary was delivered by Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President for Sales at Sage ERP Africa. He spoke about the Group’s extraordinary year and said that the success of Sage ERP x3 in Africa continued with triple growth digit growth in 2012. It is an ideal fit for many of the larger companies in Africa.

Another highlight of the conference was the announcement of Parity Software as the winner of the Sage National Solution Provider award for 2012. This is the highest recognition awarded by Sage for excellence in development, sales and technical expertise.

Parity’s managing director, Warren Williams said they are extremely pleased by the fact that after 30 years in business they continue to receive the highest industry accolades and that they still plan to provide top quality business solutions for Sage and other business partners.

By Sandra Swanepoel, Director Sage VIP

Sandra Swanepoel

Sandra Swanepoel

Companies consider replacing their payroll and HR systems from time to time. The reasons may vary, ranging from questions about the technology and problems with service, through to group decisions, mergers or features that lack in current applications. The ten most reasons why Companies, that have been using Sage VIP for many years, continue with our product, are mainly the following:

  1. At Sage VIP CIDCustomer Intimacy Discipline’ means that we deliver world class customer service. This can be attributed to the fact that we invest in customer service training, which uplifts and measures our employee performance on an on-going basis. It is addictive and clients that experience it want more, which explains why 99.39% of our users recommend Sage VIP as the payroll and HR solution of choice.
  2. The biggest cost facing companies is their human resource costs that need to be managed effectively. Sage VIP’s software is designed in such a way that you can manage your ROI per employee or per department with optimum accuracy. The data is available online, in real time at the click of a button which underscores informed decision-making.
  3. How much do you need to know when you want to be a Payroll or HR consultant? At Sage VIP a graduate is given classroom product training for four months, which is followed by supervised practical sessions with the assistance of specialists. Some may consider it to be a bit of an over kill but when you work at Sage VIP you realise just how much a customer depends on your expertise, it can never be underestimated.
  4. Feature rich software sounds so yesterday, yet you cannot invest in anything less than that if you need software that is flexible. It is essentially an investment in the future of your business and if your payroll and HR system cannot cater for the requirements you never thought would happen, it will cost you dearly in the long run.
  5. Legislation is a must for all payroll and HR applications, and often I hear companies say that every payroll calculates tax; but how quickly are legislative changes made available, and does it include all the legislation? Catering for legislative changes means doing it across multifaceted environments and countries, accurately and comprehensively.
  6. Sage VIP walked away with the Deloitte best company to work for award for the third year running in 2012. It means that our employees are challenged and content, which directly translates into longstanding client relationships that are built on integrity.
  7. The infrastructure that Sage VIP offer provides support to companies in remote parts of the country with fully functional offices in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein, Gaborone, Windhoek and Nairobi. It is a key consideration that companies, who are planning to expand their operations across South Africa and Africa, should heed.
  8. Sage VIP’s operational systems such as its national call centre and CRM products are state of the art.  Some may question the value of these systems but it saves time and underpins flawless customer service that will help you solve your query quickly and efficiently.
  9. Innovation is a core value at Sage VIP that defines software that is fresh and up-to-date. We invest in technology solutions so that our clients never need to reinvest in new software.  One of our customers has been with Sage VIP for 23 years, which is unheard of in the industry, yet part of the package at Sage VIP.
  10. Sage VIP has ample resources available that companies can utilise. If you are looking for a payroll and HR administrator that is well acquainted with Sage VIP’s products you can rest assured that there are many expert people available and looking for opportunities.

By Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President of Sales for Africa at SAGE ERP Africa.

Keith Fenner

Keith Fenner

This years’ annual Sage Insights 2013 Conference is taking place from 7-10 February at Misty Hills in Johannesburg and brings together local and international Sage staff, solution providers and third party developers.  The conference serves as a platform for players in the industry to network with the purpose of providing some insight into 2013 and what to expect in terms of trends and product developments in the fields of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Business Intelligence (BI).

An opening address from Managing Director of Sage ERP Africa, Jeremy Waterman, will kick the event into gear on Thursday, 7 February 2013.

Himanshu Palsule, Chief Technology Officer and Head of Product Strategy at Sage Group will address the roadmap that is planned for the launch of Sage 300 ERP, formerly known as Sage ERP Accpac, which is in line with Sage Group’s directive to consolidate its brand name globally.

Keynotes will be delivered by Sean Mooney, the Head of Research and Development at Sage Group, on developments that are expected for Sage CRM in addition to Benoit Gruber, Vice President of Product and Alliances Sage ERPX3, Product Marketing Europe and Sage mid-market, speaking on the road ahead for Sage ERP X3.

The launch of Sage ERP X3 Version 7 is also one of the big announcements scheduled for Sage Insights 2013.  This new technology update will make native thin client access to Sage ERP X3 a reality from any device, desktop or mobile.

For more information visit:  www.sageerp.co.za

By Keith Fenner, Senior Vice President of Sales for Africa at Sage ERP Africa.

Keith Fenner

Keith Fenner

The continued pursuit of mobility will fuel the uptake of Cloud solutions and requests for software on a subscription basis in 2013.

The sales of our solutions in the cloud have doubled in the last year, and I believe it is mostly attributable to the decline in bandwidth costs.  This trend has underscored the uptake of cloud in the last year.  A cloud solution can be tailored to meet the needs and pockets of the user, which makes it adaptable to suit the needs of the organisation.

A trend that will certainly continue to stamp its presence into 2013 is the demand for connected services, especially around service, sales and stock.  The days of spending hours to compile data and to debug excel formulas, are numbered.  Clients want to know what their key performance indicators (KPIs) are at the touch of a button and with a host of cloud enabled Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions you literally need an internet connection and a laptop, tablet, PC or smart phone to review your performance.  Slick and easy to use is the name of the game and that is why the uptake of applications for mobility has mushroomed.

Many vendors with modern architecture have easily adapted to the new challenges of mobility, but not all software is architected to allow for a rapid response to changing market conditions and that is something that the industry will need to work on in 2013.

Mobility will continue to gain traction well into 2013, in addition to the uptake of solutions in the cloud from both a consumer and enterprise point of view.  Devices, applications and social media are revolutionising the way that we communicate and it will have far-reaching effects on the South African IT industry going forward.

By Jeremy Waterman, MD Softline Accpac and Sage MMD Africa

Part of the Sage Group plc

Image

Jeremy Waterman

Enterprise ERP and CRM solutions were historically designed for large corporations and typically come with appropriately large price tag.  Many ERP software vendors have adopted that same approach in the African market, not realising that they are entering a different playing field where the average African company is no larger than upper mid-market in size.

For a continent that doesn’t have a large enterprise ERP requirement, we have not really seen suitable mid-market solutions that have been able to establish the critical mass in the African market in order to compete effectively.  Our Sage ERP X3 and Sage ERP Accpac solutions are specifically designed to support the upper and mid-market companies, this presents a big opportunity for us to dominate the space in Africa that has been falsely dominated by large enterprise ERP players.

Due to the lack of credible upper mid-market software vendors in the African market companies have, in the past, had to compromise and buy lower mid-market products or overspend on solutions that are better designed and suited for very large global enterprises.

We are particularly excited about the launch of our Sage ERP X3 Standard Edition that is targeted at the heart of the mid-market and is delivered with a set of implementation methodologies that guarantee an effective solution in a short period of time.

The African market is hungry for technology and demands that new features are made available a lot faster than before.  We are moving into the age of intelligence and companies in Africa are well ahead of much of the world in embracing the mobile revolution.  As a result, the average African business is driving their business in the mobile direction and we need to be able to provide ERP and CRM solutions that are able to adapt and address the needs of this growing market.

Companies ultimately want the ability to ‘listen’ to everything and they want solutions that will allow them to react in real time.  How quickly and flexibly we, as product developers, can deliver that information in a usable and mobile format is the name of the game.