We’re very excited about having our CTO, Leonid Mamchenkov, feature in the latest edition of Game Changers magazine with his article “The key feature of a successful CRM – Flexibility”. You can either view the article on the Game Changers website or you can read it below:
The key feature of a successful CRM – Flexibility
BY LEONID MAMCHENKOV
CTO of Qobo
Q: Very briefly, can you please describe what Qobo and Qobrix are, and what is the difference between the two?
A: Qobo is a company. A group of companies actually. Qobo is the main developer of Qobrix. Qobrix is our software, which comes in a variety of shapes and forms. To begin with, Qobrix is a software development platform for rapidly building business applications. We have developed a number of products and solutions based on the Qobrix platform:
- Qobrix CRM and Qobrix Member’s Area/Trader’s Cabinet for the Forex Industry
- Qobrix CRM, Client Portal and Agent Portal for the Real Estate Industry
- Qobrix Intranet
And of course, the generic version of our CRM System plus other applications.
Q: What are some of the features of the Qobrix CRM for the Forex industry?
A: Qobrix CRM comes with all the usual features you’d expect in any CRM, such as leads and accounts management, customer activity tracking, and document storage. However, we have extended and optimized a few of the features specifically for Forex. For example, funds management, trading accounts and trading history handling, KYC and AML processes, and more.
We have also integrated Qobrix CRM with a variety of external tools and services, such as trading platforms, payment gateways, mass mailing solutions, telephony and more.
Q: Which feature do you consider to be the key for a successful implementation of a CRM System in a company?
A: Companies vary considerably, even in the same industry. So, do their needs and requirements. What works for one, is often completely useless for another. The one feature that we therefore consider to be an absolute necessity for a successful CRM is flexibility.
Q: Can you provide examples of the CRM flexibility that you have had to deliver?
A: Sure. Here are a few areas where we’ve seen significant variations between different companies: marketing channels, onboarding process, partners, management, fund management, trading, support, document management, etc.
Q: Let’s dig deeper. For example, what are some of the most significant differences that you have seen in the onboarding process?
A: Most retail Forex companies use marketing campaigns to bring in potential clients (leads) who register on the website and then follow a particular process, during which they are assisted via automated emails and telephone calls from the sales team. In this scenario, a CRM system needs a solid API for the integration with the website. It also needs email automation and tools for lead assignment. Reporting is an important part of such a system too. Integrations with telephony systems, calendars, and other tools are important as well.
But that’s not the only way, of course. We’ve seen many younger companies put more focus on their partnerships. Introducing brokers and affiliates, in this case, are responsible for bringing in leads and help during the conversion process. A CRM system for such setup needs tight security and improved controls for batch processing, as leads are often imported periodically (once or twice a day), instead of coming in one-by-one.
A further variation are companies that provide a VIP-like service. Each client is hand-held through the process, and the company works only with a few clients, but provides them with a much more personal service. A CRM system for a company like this does not require importing or a complex API. Instead, it
should provide more control for managing non-structured data and extended customer information. Having to manage fields like “Wife’s birthday” and “Child’s name” would be a major annoyance for most retail Forex companies, but it’s crucial for the VIP service.
Q: How does such flexibility apply to funds management?
A: We’ve seen a number of variations in this area as well. Starting with the simple fact that there are countless payment gateways available for integration. All of them do the same thing – handle the transfer of money from and to the client. But each service provides a different API, with different
features, rates, and quirks. There are significant variations in what a company can and cannot do based just on which payment gateways it decides to use.
Furthermore, there are different approaches to how to handle deposits and withdrawals internally, within the company. Some Forex brokers transfer funds directly to and from clients’ trading accounts. Others work with wallets, which provide a layer of control and flexibility. Internal transfers or transferring of funds between trading accounts is something else to think about. Some brokers don’t offer it at all. Some allow such transfers only within the same trading platform. Others expand the functionality to support all kinds of transfers, including not only the transfers between trading accounts of a client, but between the client and an introducing broker.
Over and above this, we are seeing many Forex companies experimenting with the cryptocurrency world, which brings its own challenges and benefits. CRM flexibility is a vital component to all this. Not only does the modern world provide many options to choose from, but it continues to change and any successful CRM system needs to adopt and change with it.
Q: What are, in your opinion, some of the future challenges to CRM flexibility?
A: These are plenty. In our view, CRM systems are moving away from being solely useful for sales and marketing functions. Instead, they are becoming more of a centralized system for the entire company, all of its departments, and even expanding further into a tool for partners, vendors, and even clients.
Also, the market is becoming more and more dynamic, with significant paradigm shifts happening every few months or years, instead of decades, so CRM systems need to adopt faster and to a wider range of problems. That also brings the challenges associated with larger data sets and an increased number of active users, meaning that CRM systems need to continuously improve the performance and security that they offer.
Q: How are you approaching these challenges? How do you make sure that Qobrix stays flexible, secure, and fast?
A: We have a number of approaches that help us with this. Firstly, we follow best practices established in software development. We use a number of tools and processes to help us stay on track. These vary from code management and testing tools to project management and documentation.
Secondly, we build Qobrix as a modular system, where each part is as independent and autonomous as possible. We rely on a lot of Open Source Software to make sure that we don’t reinvent the wheel. We try to minimize custom development that we do for each client, and instead build reusable, flexible features which we iterate over and over. We favour convention over configuration, and configuration over development.
Thirdly, we utilize a lot of the cloud infrastructure that helps us with scalability and security. Amazon AWS is an integral part of our development process and is crucial even for projects which are hosted on the client’s infrastructure.
Lastly, we focus a lot on the integration of Qobrix with available tools and services. Qobrix provides a full featured API, so it is easy to plug it into an existing company’s infrastructure. And it also comes with a variety of connectivity options to common and widely used solutions.
Q: Are there any challenges, current or future, where CRM flexibility is important, but where the technology alone is not enough to solve the problems?
A: One particular challenging area in the Forex industry is regulatory compliance. There are many regulations which are already in place, and a few which are changing or upcoming. Stricter compliance for the KYC (Know Your Client) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) procedures, as well as the upcoming GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) come to mind.
This is one area where CRM vendors will need to work more with compliance officers, lawyers, and specialist from other professions in order to adopt and adjust to these ever-changing rules.