As social media and cloud-based solutions become more widely adopted, companies will have to evolve to respond to new customer relationship management challenges. With this in mind, Singapore-based business software solutions provider is now targeting the Philippine market, setting its sights on addressing the needs of the country’s small and medium-sized businesses.

“With Internet speeds improving continuously and prices of mobile devices getting more affordable these days, people will turn to cloud-based options for increased mobility and flexibility. And this trend is likely to continue as local telcos offer public cloud infrastructures to help boost local adoption,” Sales and Marketing Director Gerald Corteza told e27, sharing his outlook on the Philippine market.

Gerald noted that SMBs comprise an estimated 97 percent of registered businesses in the Philippines, 76 percent of which belong to the “micro to small” classification which he said is the target market of

A cloud-based solution that allows businesses to facilitate collaboration among its workforce, 8force offers two major applications: 8force Workspace (includes Newsfeed, Taskboard, Document, Pages, Contacts and Phone) and 8force CRM (includes Sales, Invoice and Helpdesk). The company is giving away 8force Workspace for free to Philippine SMBs by adopting a freemium model – companies can try the free plan and then pay if they want to upgrade.

“More than making money out of it, we’d like small business owners to gain access to a free yet valuable software application, which they can use on demand — to help them boost productivity,” Gerald said.

He said what’s important is to make customers happy with the product and generate positive buzz. Satisfied customers could then decide to switch to a paid plan depending on their needs – for instance, to accommodate additional users, or to enjoy extended features.

The first customer of in the Philippines is E-Learning Edge, which aims to push world-class online education in the country and across the region, including the Certified Digital Marketer Program which it is running with Ateneo de Manila University and De La Salle University.

“We connected with E-Learning Edge at a time when they were problematic with their former CRM solution. As they claimed, it took them so much time to accomplish a task and things were complicated — so we thought 8force is for them. It didn’t take long for them to decide to consider 8force, but what took time was the re-engineering of their sales process, with which we helped them. This collaboration resulted in a better sales process, which became the basis of the sales funnel we set up on 8force,” Gerald recounted.

“We are excited about 8force’s lead-management functionality,” Hans Eric Roxas-Chua, CEO of E-Learning Edge, said in a press statement. “Straight from our website, 8force captures signups as leads, queues and assigns them automatically to our salespeople and records every conversation with our potential enrolees  from a mere sales lead up to the time it matures into a paying customer. The customer information management functionality is very important to us as it gets us closer to our target enrolees, affording us every possible time to know them more, their needs, and wants, based on which we are able to determine what better solution to offer them.”

Apart from being simpler to use because it was built from the ground up with the small business owner in mind, Gerald believes that equips SMBs with the right tools to address changing CRM needs in the age of social media and the mobile workforce.

“8force is basically a social platform in itself in that it provides an avenue where conversations, activities, and tasks can be captured and associated with a particular account. For example, Prospect A sends in a product inquiry for the first time and initiates a conversation with a salesperson. Prospect A will be captured as a ‘lead’ and his concerns as ‘communication’.

“If the salesperson is effective, this conversation will mature into a sale and Prospect A will become Customer A and all other post-sale communications (whether another inquiry or complaint) will be associated with his account. This allows the salesperson or business owner to know the customer better — his needs, wants, preferences, behavior, and even the manner by which he uses the product/service. In effect, a social intranet is created within 8force, connecting the customer and the company on which they can exchange messages in real time,” Gerald said.

After all, in the age of social media, not only is the customer always right, but he or she is always talking – whether your company is listening or not. The last thing you want is for them to get tired of your silence and talk to someone else.

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