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CRM: Building Bridges Between Customers and SMBs

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Posted September 12, 2003 By Patricia Fusco     Feedback

A growing number of small businesses recognize that in order to compete they must cater to Web-savvy customers. Surebridge provides small businesses with a cost-effective way to bridge online communication gap.

Customer relationship management (CRM) not just an application, it's a way to network with your customers in an exchange that delivers greater value to them and greater profits to your business.

Software makers have been berated for failing to deliver CRM products that produce an adequate return on investment. But it's not the software that's failed — it's the business strategy that's failed to turn information about customers and prospects into profits. This is where Web-based CRM systems come into play — customer interaction is effectively woven into the very fabric of your online business strategy — your business' website, e-mail prospecting, and post-sale follow-up systems are intertwined with profit-making.

The only question that remains is whether to develop your CRM plan in-house or outsource it to a third-party? Surebridge, a Lexington, Mass.-based application service provider, believes it's easier for smaller businesses to implement a CRM strategy when they can easily control costs upfront. This is why Surebridge is now offering new bundled pricing options for its CRM Online services. Surebridge is bundling its Web hosting services with Microsoft Business Solutions CRM software licenses for one low monthly fee.

The CRM-hosing bundled is designed to providing greater purchasing flexibility for small businesses, while enabling Surebridge's Microsoft-certified channel partners to offer competitive pricing. Surebridge is one of the first application outsourcers selected by Microsoft Business Solutions to offer its CRM solution in a hosted environment.

Anytime, Anwhere
CRM Online by Surebridge enables smaller businesses to obtain immediate access to all the functionality of Microsoft CRM anywhere and any time, without the costs associated in deployment or daily management of the technology. The bundled of services also allows small businesses to begin to see the benefits of deploying a Microsoft CRM solution faster.

Stephen Pace, Surebridge executive vice president of sales and marketing, said the bundled pricing makes it easy for our smaller businesses to budget and purchase their CRM system.

"CRM Online is a fast, easy and affordable way for businesses to get all the power of Microsoft CRM, without the deployment, maintenance and upgrade issues to consider," Pace said. "In the five plus months since launching CRM Online with Microsoft, we've seen considerable demand for the offering, which is a testament to the need in the business community for a highly functional, cost effective and quickly deployed online CRM solution."

By combining Surebridge's hosting services with Microsoft CRM in one convenient, low monthly rate, small businesses eliminate large capital outlays and IT consulting expenses associated with deploying, managing and maintaining a CRM strategy.

Unlike other competitive point solutions, CRM Online by Surebridge works completely within, and as a part of, Microsoft Outlook. The Microsoft CRM solution is integrated with other Microsoft solutions, including Microsoft Office and Microsoft Exchange and it can be easily integrated with additional Microsoft solutions such as Microsoft Business Solutions financial management applications, as well as Microsoft-centric third-party CRM applications.

Vertically Inclined
Surebridge targets mid-market companies in six different vertical industries — manufacturing and distribution, financial services, healthcare and pharmaceutical services, publishing and communications, and the public sector. Small- and mid-market businesses have not always enjoyed the same CRM solution benefits available to the Fortune 500 companies because the costs of deployment, hardware, software, and systems management have typically been daunting.

With CRM Online by Surebridge, businesses of all shapes and sizes can get instant access to Microsoft CRM and leverage its fullest potential from any Web connection and Microsoft Outlook, but for a fraction of the cost of deploying and managing the technology themselves.

CRM Online is ideal for smaller companies that want to deploy a CRM system, without worrying about the deployment and daily management of the technology — they can leave that up to Surebridge. This leaves small businesses the time and energy to tend to their business processes — not their CRM solution.

The Bottom Line
Microsoft Business Solutions and Surebridge collaborated on the development of CRM Online, which is being sold through Surebridge's network of Microsoft-certified channel partners.

There are two ways that smaller businesses can purchase CRM Online. They can purchase CRM Online starting at $99 per user, with a one-time set up fee of $695. Microsoft CRM software licenses are purchased separately. Or they buy into Surebridge's bundled pricing for CRM Online that includes combines Surebridge hosting services and Microsoft CRM licensing together. Pricing starts at $122 per user and could go up to $162 per user, depending on the modules and number of users needed. There is also a one-time set up fee of $695. The price range is based on the type of Microsoft CRM module that is selected — Standard or Professional. The Professional Suite has all the features and functionality as Microsoft CRM Standard but also provides customers with the ability to automate workflows and business processes.

A growing number of smaller companies recognize that in order to compete effectively nowadays, they must cater to and service Web-savvy customers who prefer new channels of communication such as e-mail, chat and instant messaging over 1-800 numbers, archaic call canters and maddening experiences with "permahold." CRM software is designed, among other things, to track sales leads, accounts and orders and help service representatives handle customer complaints better. Surebridge CRM Online is designed to help smaller businesses make their businesses better.

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