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R & D Review

R & D activity in 2018 has been lively, to say the least. Here is an update.

Integration with Salesforce and Dynamics: We recently tightened the integration between Advantage and these applications. Many of our prospects and clients use one of these CRM applications to manage sales leads and want a seamless integration between said package and Advantage.

For example, a user in Salesforce or Dynamics might want to enter a quote and have that result in a quote in Advantage. At the same time, they may wish to view information in Salesforce or Dynamics about orders taken or payments made in Advantage. They may also wish to view information managed in Advantage which is not in the CRM application, such as information about an existing subscription agreement.

Current technology allows a user in one application to see information in another without really knowing (or caring) where the information is stored. This is exactly the kind of integration we’ve built with Salesforce and Dynamics.

Customer Service in Salesforce or Dynamics? While I’m on this subject, we’ve noted a trend over the past few years towards a desire to perform customer service in one of these big CRM tools. Prospects ask us about this with some frequency. We have been in numerous sessions with prospects who have received an edict from their management to do everything in Salesforce or Dynamics, including customer service on complex transactions which are performed by a separate application.

This is not easy, since the transaction system holds sometimes complex business logic which does not translate well into the CRM application. Additionally, these transaction systems, like Advantage, come with customer service views which are specifically designed for a customer service agent to be able to perform relevant actions on a customer’s account while they have them on chat or the telephone. I know we at AdvantageCS have spent thousands of hours developing customer service views which empower the agent to assist the customer in any way they need. They are designed to be powerful and extremely efficient.

Select Set Builder: Another R&D project which we’ve just finished up is a redesign of our select set builder. This is a powerful part of Advantage and is used extensively by all of our clients. It is essentially the place where a user can get at the database based on any criteria desired, with outcomes such as a renewal set, or a report, or a telesales/teleservices call list, or a SQL table, for example.

The redesigned interface is more intuitive and uses more plain language, rather than Boolean language, which will make many users happier. The UI employs drag-and-drop selection criteria, is built on a browser, and makes these capabilities in Advantage much more accessible to more users than ever before.

I was invited to be part of a test where users who hadn’t seen the new UI were asked to use it with no instruction and to “think out loud” as they played around with it, so the observing engineer or designer could hear what some of the less-than-obvious issues were. This resulted in some tweaking, which improved the final result. I have to say that I love the new builder!

Members Advantage: Finally, we have developed a number of enhancements to Members Advantage, providing even more capabilities to our prospects and customers. These include membership application entry features, chapter assignment improvements, enhanced group renewal capabilities, member service workflows, membership bundle opt-in/out features, and better upload support.

As we serve both consumer membership organizations as well as professional membership bodies, we will continue to build up the capabilities for both types of organizations.

R & D work is still happening at a fast and furious pace; I’ll update you again in a few months.

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