(This post originally appeared on Forbes)
One man’s poison is another man’s medicine. Necessity is the mother of invention. You’ve heard this and it’s true. Even in the world of CRM.
As the coronavirus pandemic rages on many CRM companies – both large and small – are stepping up to provide tools that will help customers in different industries better and more quickly engage with their customers and community. Here are just a few examples.
CRM giant Salesforce, for example, is providing what it calls a COVID-19 Response package that’s targeted at emergency response teams, call centers, and care management teams for health systems affected by coronavirus. The company is providing, for free, its Health Cloud contact center application as well as other applications that can help distribute self-service information, safety and testing protocols to a health care provider’s internal and external communities.
Zoho is launching an emergency assistance program for small businesses impacted by the Coronavirus which will give them free access to many of the company’s powerful CRM tools for three months. “Every bit of help we, and other companies, can offer to keep these small businesses afloat will go a long way, not just financially but emotionally as well,” Sridhar Vembu, Zoho cofounder and CEO. said in a statement. “We are in this together, and contributions from every business help our community get through this pandemic.”
Service and CRM provider Zendesk has introduced a remote software bundle for both new and existing and customers that will provide collaboration, analytics, productivity tracking as well as training credits for companies – and their work from home employees – who are trying to keep things business as usual during this outbreak. The tools are free and are offered for a six-month period of time, with no commitment required afterwards.
What’s a COVID-19 “assistant?” According to knowledge platform provider Satisfi Labs, it’s a free artificial intelligence-powered tool that will specifically help companies in the sports, tourism, and live entertainment clients answer their customers’ coronavirus-related questions in real time right from their websites. The Assistant can handle questions automatically and companies using it can adjust responses depending on the nature of the question and fast changing current events. There is also an alert feature included so that customers can request updates when specific information changes at locations.
Another maker of artificial intelligence software called Gong has released more tools to help remote salespeople be more productive during these work-from-home days. It’s newly launched Activity Calendar gives managers an online, real-time view of scheduled calls by salesperson and a new tracing tool can identify calls and emails where the virus is mentioned by customer as well as the surrounding context of the conversation so that salespeople can be aware of the problem and when and how it’s affecting their prospects and customers.
“If there’s ever going to be a time to digitize the business model and increase effectiveness, that time is now. Only those publishers that operate a lean and effective organization will survive in this market.” Those words are from Robert Bergqvist, the CEO of RunMags, a cloud-based CRM and magazine production tool designed specifically for print and digital magazine publishers. RunMags, a vertical CRM that provides collaboration, process, proposal management, cash receipts and marketing tools for its wide base of magazine publishers, is offering a special that waives onboarding fees in an effort to help these publishers soften the blow of any revenues losses created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “This is what we believe that we can do to help publishers survive this [potentially] imminent financial crisis,” Bergqvist says. “We believe that we need to help each other out of this situation.”
Finally, jumping into the work-from-home opportunity created by the COVID-19 pandemic, SharpSpring, a cloud based marketing and sales automation platform has released a free video calling solution that it says will help marketing agencies and small businesses connect with their leads, contacts and clients. “In one-click, requiring no software, you can communicate with people outside your company without having to worry about what platform they may or may not be using,” Rick Carlson, Founder and CEO of SharpSpring said in a statement. “It’s built right into the CRM and designed to help companies land more deals, provide outstanding support, and help maintain and save customer relationships.” The application allows users to open a contact record and immediately start a video call or share their screen.
All of these companies are doing very smart things. They’re using the pandemic – and the fear that comes with it – to encourage their customers to try things that may have been reluctant to try before. They’re doing this because they know that their customers can benefit from their tools. And they’re smartly offering these tools at discounts or even free to give make it difficult to say no. Profiting from the pandemic? No. Just moving forward. Sometimes times like these are the times that make us consider things that we wouldn’t have otherwise considered.