PL-900: Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals

PL-900: Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals

About PL-900: Microsoft Power Platform Fundamentals

 

Candidates for this exam are users who aspire to improve productivity by automating business processes, analyzing data to produce business insights, and acting more effectively by creating simple app experiences.

This exam covers the following: Describe the Power Platform components: Power Apps, Power BI, Microsoft Flow, Common Data Service (CDS), connectors, and AI builder; describe cross-cloud scenarios with representation across Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Microsoft Azure, and third-party services; identify benefits and capabilities of Power Platform; identify the basic functionality and business value Power Platform components; implement simple solutions with Microsoft Flow, Power BI, and AI Builder; and create a basic app in a no-code environment.

Delivery

Instructor-led classroom or online training. Classroom training is hosted at The CRM Team training suite, Allandale Offices, Waterfall Drive. 

Course Content
1. Understand the business value of Power Platform

Describe the value of Power Platform applications
May include but is not limited to:
• analyze data by using Power BI
• act with Power Apps
• build solutions that use Common Data Service (CDS)
• automate with Microsoft Flow
• interoperate with external systems and data
Describe the value of connecting business solutions
May include but is not limited to describing the benefits of connecting:
• Dynamics 365
• Microsoft 365
• Microsoft Azure
• third-party services and apps
Understand Power Platform administration and security
May include but is not limited to:
• understand how Power Platform implements security
• understand Power Platform as a service
• describe how to manage apps and users
• describe admin centers
• understand how the platform supports compliance

2. Understand the Core Components of Power Platform

Understand Common Data Services
May include but is not limited to:
• user experience vs unique job role using Power Apps
• identify entities, fields, and relationships
• describe environments
• describe use cases and limitations of Business process flows
• describe use cases and limitations of business rules
• describe the Common Data Model (CDM)
• identify common standard entities
Understand Connectors
May include but is not limited to:
• describe uses for and types of triggers
• describe actions
• describe connectors
• identify use cases for custom connectors
Understand AI Builder
May include but is not limited to:
• identify the business value of AI Builder
• describe models
• consumption by the Power Platform

3. Demonstrate the business value of Power BI

Understand common components in Power BI
May include but is not limited to:
• identify and describe uses for visualization controls
• describe types of filters
• describe Tabs
• custom visuals
• compare and contrast dashboards and workspaces
• compare and contrast Power BI Desktop and Power BI Service
Connect to and consume data
May include but is not limited to:
• combine multiple data sources
• clean and transform data
• describe and implement aggregate functions
• identify available types of data sources
• describe and consume shared datasets and template apps
Build a basic dashboard using Power BI
May include but is not limited to:
• design a Power BI dashboard
• design data layout and mapping
• publish and share reports and dashboards

4. Demonstrate the business value of Power Apps

Understand common components in Power Apps
May include but is not limited to:
• describe canvas apps
• describe model-driven apps
• identify and describe controls
• understand uses for templates
• understand use cases for formulas
Build a basic canvas app
May include but is not limited to:
• connect to data
• use controls to design the user experience
• describe the customer journey
• publish and share an app
Understand Power Apps portals
May include but is not limited to:
• describe use case for and the business value of portals
• describe how to extend CDS data, use controls, and embed Power BI objects

5. Demonstrate the business value of Microsoft Flow

Understand the common components of Microsoft Flow
May include but is not limited to describing the use cases for Flow components:
• flow types
• templates
• connectors
• triggers
• conditions
• expressions
• approvals
Build a basic flow
May include but is not limited to:
• create a business process flow
• implement a Microsoft Flow template
• modify a flow
• run a flow
• export a flow to Logic Apps

Customer Insights FT

Customer Insights

Transforming data into actionable insights

Companies that win, are the ones that know their customers best.

The value of good data lies in what insights it generates to positively influence your business processes. Personalize your customer engagement with Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and gain the advantage.

Why Customer Insights?

Unify Siloed Customer Data and Have a Single View of your Customer

Predict Customer & Business Outcomes with Behavioural Analytics

Optimise Decision Making with Actionable Insights

Direct Business Process Automation based on Insights derived

The data challenge most businesses experience

Capturing, consolidating, cleansing and analysing customer data continues to present a significant challenge
for many businesses.

Dynamics’ Customer Insights has been specially designed to enable businesses to quickly consolidate data for a single customer view and work with actionable data insights to make decisions that grow their revenue.

All this without having to commit to a significant investment in a data management infrastructure.

Narrow the gap between data and action.

The journey toward the single customer involves four simple steps:

1. Unify

Understand your current position on the data maturity journey. Bring historical data together as the basis for single view. Consolidate disparate data sources to create a rich analytical environment that generates useful, actionable insights.

2. Transform

Transform unified data into insights through embedded AI and ML capabilities. Construct tailored customer profiles based on consolidated data environment, segment customer pools based on static and dynamic attributes.

 

3. Discover

Utilise customer, data and business measures to draw insights from data. Formulate hypotheses based on data strategy and evaluate theories through the development, testing, and training of machine learning algorithms.

4. Optimise

Push insights into the places where they can be utilised by business users, business analysts, and administrators. Connect to Microsoft Flow for automation, PowerApps for customised business applications, and Power BI for more in-depth, visual reporting.

 

Unleash the power of your data today!

Optimise Decision Making With Actionable Insights

Get a single view of every client within a unified interface.
Combine and leverage all your data – spanning policies, premiums, opportunities, open claims, relationships and their assets – with a single view. Create a seamless customer experience, while empowering your sales team. Supply client information to those in your team who need it – improving office productivity and ensuring consistent client management.

Predict Customer and Business Outcomes

Give your clients a consistent and seamless customer experience across various platforms with our solution. A unified front end allows you to switch seamlessly between channels and devices, while still ensuring the same experience for your clients. You’ll be able to bring together SMS, email, social, chatbots and more for a consistent and powerful experience.

 

Connect and View Multiple Sources of Data

Use data-driven customer insights that will proactively recommend the right product to the right client at the right time. Offer extra products or services that match the client’s profile for a highly personalised interaction. Real-time dashboards and reporting bring all your information together in a meaningful view for actionable advice.

Get In Touch

Discover how our Customer Insights solutions can unlock the
hidden potential in your business through data Intelligence.

Omni-channel vs Multi-channel. Is there a difference?

Omni-channel vs Multi-channel. Is there a difference?

Omni-channel vs Mutli-channel. Is there a difference? 

The words multi-channel and omni-channel are often used interchangeably by experts and consultants alike, but is there a difference? We believe there is.

 

Multi-channel refers to the fact that organisations interact with their customers over multiple channels including email, phone calls or social media. The problem with this is the transition between these channels isn’t smooth. As a consumer we find ourselves in a position where we have to explain and re-explain our situation or requirements, wasting time and building up irritation. 

 

Omni-channel, on the other hand, means there is channel awareness that allows for smooth transitioning between interactions. If I receive an SMS recommending a specific product or promotion and call the contact centre to take up the offer, the agent is immediately aware that I’m calling because of the promotion. They would also be aware if I wanted to complain.

 

Being constantly connected on digital platforms has changed how businesses need to interact with customers. Let’s take a look at the benefits an omni-channel solution could bring to your business.

 

1. Increase customer satisfaction

Customers want to interact with your business online, through a call centre, on social media, in-store, and they want these interactions to be consistent and immediate. An omni-channel approach prevents your customer from getting lost in a constant loop of communication with no resolution.

Nothing irritates your customers more than not having their voices heard. This happens when a customer phones your call centre, but they don’t have the information to resolve the call and so they email the service desk and then they might be pushed back to the call centre. With an omni-channel approach your business can make first call resolutions a reality, by having consistent and accurate customer data.

 

2. Make informed decisions with a data-driven view of your client

Understand your customers better, identify untapped market opportunities and make smarter business decisions. Omni-channel is about helping customers at the right time, with the right product and the right advice.

 

Using customer insights will help you track behavioural patterns in how and where your customers find information, and what products or services they want to buy. The data you have on hand will also allow you to ask better questions, and these questions will drive improved processes.

 

3. Reduce operational costs

Consistent and relevant data also allows you to measure operational efficiency where it counts. Omni-channel allows you to automate standardised processes. Automation could reduce call centre agent handling time, help reduce time to resolution and in turn reduce operational costs while increasing customer interactions.

 

4. Improve productivity and collaboration

Remove information silos between departments to encourage collaboration. Omni-channel brings together data from many sources, into one view for client-facing teams.

 

Gone are the days where the person who has been with a company for the longest usually holds all client information. This causes key man dependency and is a business risk. An omni-channel system removes this risk by giving the people in your business a full view of your clients.

 

Give your business the advantage with an omni-channel system that can increase profitability through increased customer satisfaction. Why not get in touch with us to see how we can partner to create a consistent customer experience.

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Prepare for change – Dynamics 365 Unified Interface is here!

Prepare for change – Dynamics 365 Unified Interface is here!

Prepare for change – Dynamics 365 Unified Interface is here!

Your experience with Dynamics 365 is about to change – the Unified Interface is here. This responsive experience for Dynamics 365 is becoming the primary and only experience for users, replacing WebClient. Here are the five things you should know about the sleek new Unified Interface to help you adapt to this change.

Unified Interface features

  1. Consistent responsive experiences

You now have consistent and equal functionality across all channels, from your computer through to mobile. What you see as an experience on your mobile device will be what you see and access on your computer. This consistency allows you to manage your client relationships and processes at any time, and on any device.

  1. Enhanced timeline control

Timeline control replaces the activities wall within your forms. You can configure the timeline control to only show the information you want to, such as only notes or only phone calls. While the visual filtering capability allows you to drill down into your data, giving you a quick and accurate view of your client interactions.

 

  1. Visually engaging dashboards and charts

You can display and access information in visually rich dashboards and charts to better engage with your business. This visualisation through custom controls adapts across all devices, giving you easy accessibility to valuable client information.

  1. Tabs have made a comeback

The Unified Interface is moving back to the tabbed experience for easier navigation. Having these tabs visible at the start of the form’s loading is a huge help – especially with forms that are heavy with data and client information.

  1. Upgrades to suit needs

The Unified Interface will be constantly updated with new features and optimised for enhanced client experiences. These upgrades are automatically made, so keep a lookout for new features.

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Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

Better service from a bot? How A.I. is remaking customer service

For years, the human touch was considered the cornerstone of great customer service. Friendliness, a helpful attitude – it’s easy to imagine.

But can machines augment this and help make customers even happier?

A recent study from McKinsey identified marketing and sales as among the top areas that will soon be transformed by A.I.:

‘A.I. technologies are finding applications across the value chain, but some parts of the value chain are getting more attention than others… customer service as well as operations and product development, all tend to use the most commonly cited A.I. applications.’ 1

Many think A.I. is still an aspirational technology, but the numbers reveal that it’s a revolution already up and running. Consider some of the numbers:

78% of brands say they have already implemented or are planning to implement artificial intelligence … by 2020 to better serve customers. With regards to chatbots, which are in many ways the most recognisable form of A.I., 80% of sales and marketing leaders say they already use these in their CX or plan to do so by 2020.’ 2

 

‘By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.’3

 

A.I. and, in particular, machine learning not only helps make self-service interfaces more intuitive but anticipates specific customer needs by learning from context, chat history and preferences.

Getting down with data

A major reason for A.I.’s edge when it comes to keeping customers smiling? It’s all down to data – and the ability to process and make sense of it rapidly.

Simply put, machines can locate and process information far quicker than we can. Given the vast quantities of both incoming and outgoing information a typical customer service department has to deal with digital tools provide a genuine edge.

Audio calls. Live chats. Troubleshooting queries. Service scheduling. Maintenance requests. Machines can do it better and faster – and they don’t need any breaks.

More than this, A.I.-enabled customer service tools can:

  • Gather and learn from information
  • Define customer behaviours
  • Identify customers’ frequent decisions and preference types
  • Provide solutions and suitable products based on feedback
  • Provide proactive alert messages
  • Suggest personalised offers and discounts for each unique customer
  • Offer real-time support in the form of uniquely curated FAQs or blogs
  • Help lessen customer complaints and abandon rates

Personalisation perfected

Today, all great customer service centres on personalisation. It’s based on understanding a customer, their history with a company and their unique needs. This means being reactive to both what’s happened in the past, as well as understanding how to help shape the best outcomes for that customer in the future. But its also about maintaining an ongoing, value-adding relationship, and not just coming into the picture when its time to make a sale.

With complete access to customer information and buying history, A.I. helps make this process – of building and maintaining relationships – smart. More than this, A.I. is always 100% brand consistent. So customers know what to expect, every time they make contact. A real trust builder.

Future forward

Today, companies can no longer focus only on customer satisfaction post-sale. It’s about providing ongoing, meaningful and helpful interaction, and crafting amazing, personalised and highly relevant experiences. A.I. is the driver behind that personalisation process. The more relevant an offer or advice is to a customer, the more cared for that customer feels.

In this way, A.I. helps turn everything from a quick query to the sales process itself into a great customer service experience. Why? Customers are presented with a range of tailored options that speak intelligently to their unique needs.

Today, get customer experience wrong and you push your customers into your competitors’ hands. Do it right and you build brand advocates.

It’s about keeping up, keeping an open mind, and listening to what today’s consumers want. And when it comes to a better, more personalised service, A.I. technology is what you need.

Want to see how you can deliver exceptional customer service? Check out an A.I.-infused customer service solution.

 

References
1.https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/Industries/Advanced%20Electronics/Our%20Insights/How%20artificial%20intelligence%20can%20deliver%20real%20value%20to%20companies/MGI-Artificial-Intelligence-Discussion-paper.ashx
2.  https://www.oracle.com/webfolder/s/delivery_production/docs/FY16h1/doc35/CXResearchVirtualExperiences.pdf
3. http://www.gartner.com/imagesrv/summits/docs/na/customer-360/C360_2011_brochure_FINAL.pdf

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Marketing Automation is What Your Business Needs, Right Now

Marketing Automation is What Your Business Needs, Right Now

 

Marketing Automation is What Your Business Needs – Right Now

 

$25 billion! If you are not part of this spend chances are your competition is! An April 2018 report from global research agency Forrester concluded:

‘As digital marketing complexity increases, more marketers are embracing automation tools to improve efficiency and speed to market. In our first Marketing Automation Technology Forecast … we expect global spending on marketing automation tools to surpass $25 billion by 2023, implying a 14% annual growth rate.’1

 

Personalisation, reactivity, relevance: words like these get thrown around a lot in marketing today. The reason: giants like Google, Facebook, YouTube and Amazon are changing what customers – including yours – are coming to expect from their daily digital experiences. Gone is the one-size-fits-all approach to marketing. In its place: relevance and reactivity – with a high degree of personalisation.

The Forrester report highlighted:

  1. Spending on marketing technology is increasing – 55% of global marketers planning to increase their expenditure on marketing technology in 2019.
  2. Personalisation enhances customer experience. More than that, it is now the norm:

‘Customers reward firms for personal, relevant, and value-added individualized experiences. As personalisation becomes the standard, consumers now expect this level of engagement across channels and digital touchpoints. Marketing automation technologies can help marketers scale their personalisation efforts.’

Slick, speedy, insightful and intelligent, top-tier marketing automation tools are remaking how marketers both reach and talk to their customers.

What is marketing automation exactly?

At base, marketing automation is a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that allows companies to run massive marketing campaigns with ease. No mess. No fuss. No unnecessary admin. More than that, marketing automation means companies can track and nurture leads at the touch of a button, sync customer information into a centralized hub and reach prospects in new, tailored, automated ways.   In a nutshell: gone are manual processes. Ditto for misaligned marketing and sales goals. In their place is a single solution that handles all elements of the marketing process, leaving marketers free to focus on the creative and relationship-based elements of their roles, not the admin burdens.

What can I do with a marketing automation tool?

It’s all about accuracy and ease. Marketing automation covers:

  • Social marketing
  • Landing page creation
  • Campaign management
  • Prediction and scoring
  • Lead management
  • Social marketing
  • Email marketing

More specifically, marketing automation is about:

  • Reaching out to prospects – With automated, customized messages across email, web, social media, and text.
  • Qualifying leads – Understanding where customers are in the purchase journey, and providing relevant information.
  • Suggesting the right products at the right time – By storing purchase histories, customer information and methods of contact, marketing automation means customers receive relevant suggestions – not the same old shot-in-the-dark product recommendations.
  • Information sharing between marketing and sales – By sharing insights gathered during the marketing process with sales teams, the entire organization becomes more reactive, responsive and attuned to customers’ needs.
  • Running multichannel marketing campaigns with ease – Marketing automation allows organisations to set up orchestrated email marketing, web landing pages, webinars, phone calls, events and more.
  • Leveraging the power of social media – More and more of our time is spent on social media channels. Marketing automation helps companies not only build up a robust social presence, but source new leads, and engage meaningfully with prospects.
  • Hand over sales-ready leads – Marketing automation allows companies to identify which leads are ready for sales engagement, with lead scoring and sales readiness grades.

Customer journeys are the sum of individual personalized experiences with a brand. With marketing automation, companies can tailor every interaction based on customer data to create resonant, seamless journeys through every brand touchpoint.

Upping the upside

The benefits of marketing automation are many, but here’s a snapshot:

  • The ability to both automate and streamline the segmentation process to find the right audiences rapidly and at scale.
  • Messaging and landing pages are tailored automatically using customer profiles.
  • Creating relevant and personalised experiences becomes possible, with a few simple clicks.

A great marketing automation tool’s other great feature is what it lets marketers know about campaign performance. Integrated analytics allows companies unprecedented insight into how their campaigns are performing. Meaning ROI is never murky, and the result of campaign spending is always crystal clear.

The sum-up

With marketing automation, companies can effectively and meaningfully connect with customers through their purchasing journey, no matter how far along they are, be it acquisition or advocacy.   Providing great, relevant content to customers in the way they prefer not only drives sales, but helps turn prospects to brand advocates.

Best of all, it’s automated. And happens in a snap.

Do you want to learn more about marketing automation? Read what our marketing automation solution offers you.

References 

1 https://go.forrester.com/blogs/global-marketing-automation-spending-will-reach-25-billion-by-2023/

Make this a reality!

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The Future of Field Service is Here

The Future of Field Service is Here

The Future of Field Service is Here

Field service of the future is automated, autonomous and above all, connected. Actually, scratch that. That’s best-in-class field service of right now.

In place of a call from a customer for servicing or repairs – an automatic, detailed notification from the machine itself. Manual updating? Not any more: inventory changes reflect on their own, in real time. Diagnosis by a technician? How about machines that self-diagnose.

This is field service enabled by the Internet of Things. Sounds futuristic, but it’s far from it. In fact, more and more organisations are beginning to adopt IoT technologies. The results are enhanced efficiency, lowered costs and the one-touch approach to business more and more customers are coming to expect.

IoT and field service: from first steps to the future

As early as 2015, Kevin Ashton, who founded the Auto-ID Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, noted at a European customer service conference that field service management was the first industry being transformed by IoT. In fact, IoT is considered by many to trace its origins precisely to field service applications.

So, what are the benefits of embedding IoT technology in a field service business? Here is some food for thought.

Another miscommunication? Answer: automation

Your customers aren’t mechanical experts. Nor should they be. However, when something goes wrong, your customer isn’t always able to provide a clear description of the problem, or what needs to be done.

The result: delays and frustration, technicians dispatched with the wrong parts, or no need for a dispatch at all.

With IoT, however, issues are instantly clear – because reports are generated automatically by intelligent software. This means problems can be isolated instantly and addressed efficiently.

Consider the following scenario. A customer phones in because a piece of equipment has stopped working. He says that a certain part is definitely to blame. A technician is dispatched, carrying just that part. After arriving, it becomes clear that the problem lies elsewhere. Another component is needed – one the company doesn’t happen to have in stock. The customer becomes frustrated – he’s losing business every moment the machine is out of service. The technician is in an awkward position too – the best she can do is return with the right part in a few days’ time. In the interim, the customer has sought the help of a competitor.

With IoT-enabled devices, this situation never need arise.

Inventory, meet insight

Consider a twist on the above scenario. Ever run out of a part you could have sworn was in stock? Ever promised a customer a fix using just that part? With IoT-connected devices, this problem becomes a thing of the past, because the system sends out a signal when new parts should be ordered.

Moreover, technicians can get a view of company inventory instantly, even if they’re in the field. The result is an end to well-meaning but empty promises. It also means companies never over or under order, optimising warehousing.

Know thyself: Self-diagnosis means fewer unnecessary call-outs

IoT devices understand themselves. Meaning? They can self-diagnose, and report on their performance. By isolating specific faulty components and monitoring overall system operation, AI gets to work locating the root cause of issues being experienced.

The result is a reduced need for in-person visits by a technician, saving time and money. It also means that when a technician does need to be dispatched, the right part is always in-hand.

Future shock?

For many, the capabilities of IoT-enabled devices still seem a little futuristic. Moreover, a business-as-usual mindset may lead to a reluctance to change. In the unlikely event that a company has a total monopoly on the market, it’s true – there’s no need to change, as customers simply have to use that firm’s services, no matter the quality.

However, for most businesses, steep competition is a reality. Meaning: companies are always looking for ways to do things faster, better and more cheaply and turn to the providers best able to meet their needs. And if there isn’t a competitor yet, new technology is making it easier for companies to enter new markets – and quickly. 

Where to?

Many companies quick to adopt the new digital capabilities that began to emerge in the early 2000s reaped the rewards. That opportunity for first-mover advantage is now playing out again. Field service companies that get on board with IoT-enabled tech today may be poised to stand out from the rest of the field in a big way.

Want to find out more? Have a look at an IoT-enabled field service solution that’s tailored for you. 

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Building Profitable Relationships

Building Profitable Relationships

Building profitable relationships – here’s what you need to know about relationship selling

I’m reaching out – but leads aren’t reaching back. Is it my approach? Is there another way to connect better or more meaningfully from the get-go – one I haven’t thought of?

If this feels familiar, read on.

The rise of relationship selling

It’s been quick, but radical. The nature of the sales game has changed – profoundly.

Gone are the days in which cold calls – or emails – could be relied upon to get you the connections you need. In fact, selling through any ‘cold’ contact is becoming more and more difficult.

Today’s sales landscape is, more and more, about one thing – trust. And not only the kind of trust that is built up over years of working together, but up-front, just-starting-out trust. And the way to get that trust going is: through relationships.

Consider this: A warm referral is four times more likely to result in a sale than a cold call.1

This is the world of relationship selling. Let’s explore it in more detail.

 

1. Identifying the right leads

This is a traditional step – and still necessary. However, it’s being remade through modern CRM solutions.

With LinkedIn integration and machine learning capabilities, it’s possible to not only quickly identify who matters most, but who is most likely to buy, and how you can leverage your connections (or your colleagues’) for a warm introduction.

Then, once you’ve got a foot in the door, it becomes possible to make the most of that new connection: to find other meaningful contacts at the same company – and elsewhere, too.

2. Keeping it meaningful

We’re all inundated with digital messaging every day. In this hyper-saturated space, the only way to stand out is through relevance. By understanding a potential customer’s unique pain points and challenges – and offering them a tailored solution – you show interest and build trust.

One way to do this? Keep track of what your connections share on LinkedIn and the discussions they participate in. Have they shared particular news articles? Commented on trends? With insight into this, you’re far better to understand their specific wants and needs.

3. Getting the timing just right

Contact a prospect or current customer when they’re overburdened with other things? At best, you’ll get silence. At worst, you’ll hurt the relationship, adding just one more pressure they need to deal with. You can leave the approach to chance or intuition, or you can get data-savvy.

How? By evaluating the health of your relationship, based on transactions, sentiment, social network messages, emails and the frequency and level of those interactions.

Predictive analytics allows you to identify not only where new business opportunities lie and which accounts to reach out to, but where potential risks for each account may lurk.

4. Have the right info ready to go

Managing many accounts – and doing it well – is tricky. Some people you interact with all the time. Others go quiet, only to make contact at an unexpected time.

When a customer feels they’ve caught you off guard or that you’re not ready to help just when they need it can mean a relationship red flag.

However, by keeping content ready to go when your customers are, you emphasise your interest and commitment. Moreover – you’re now able to tell when someone interacts with your content or if it’s been shared with other decision-makers, adding new leads to your book.

5. Get your priorities straight

It’s easy to lose focus – or to focus on the wrong client, at the wrong time. Trying to keep track of where every customer is in the buying process is impossible without a top-down, data-driven view.

Wading through emails and correspondence doesn’t work. And it saps time. However, it’s possible to easily prioritise tasks and opportunities with the right technology. Need some guidance as to what to do next? With machine learning and analytics, that’s possible, too.

The sum-up

Relationship selling is remaking everything – from how connections are formed and nurtured to how they’re grown and leveraged.

Today’s always-on world of business means that impersonal, untailored contact is ignored more and more – it simply forms part of the mass of unasked-for communication we’re all faced with each day.

The solution: trust.

By leveraging your existing connections, you move from a cold caller to a known caller. Moreover, with better insight into potential customers’ pain points and needs, you’re not only trusted, but able to offer more relevant, targeted products, at just the right time.

At every stage of the sales process, relationship building is coming to take centre stage.

To find out more about how you can embrace relationship selling in your sales process, check out our Microsoft sales solution.

1 http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2015/recommendations-from-friends-remain-most-credible-form-of-advertising.html

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6 Ways Technology Can Supercharge Your Sales Process

6 Ways Technology Can Supercharge Your Sales Process

6 Ways Technology Can Supercharge Your Sales Process

Today’s marketplace is always on. And it’s always evolving. To keep up, leading-edge organisations are turning to technology. Why? Because technology drives market traction. Greater forecast accuracy, real-time insights, touch-of-a-button pipeline tracking and improved relationship management are all possible with the right tools. The result? A supercharged sales process that’s clearer, leaner, meaner and more effective. Better yet: more time to spend on the ground actually selling. So how can technology reboot sales? Here are six key ways:

 

1. Improved Forecast Accuracy 

Uncertainty is the enemy of every business. Access to the right data equals insight. By tracking your sales pipeline, you can help ensure you reach your targets. More accurate forecasts also mean enhanced stability and trust across the business. When sales managers and their teams have a definitive overview of the overall sales landscape, it’s also easier to put resources precisely where they need to be.

 

2. Opportunity Management

When you’re able to track your sales opportunities and keep a close eye on your pipeline, you always know when to take action to accelerate certain deals. Dashboards can provide a complete view of sales performance, allowing you to monitor close rates and see how your sales team are tracking towards their individual targets.

3. Activity Management

Admin saps critical time that could be spent on selling. By streamlining the back office, you free up time and resources that could be far better spent. The right tools allow emails, phone calls and appointments to be tracked at the click of a button. Customers and prospects can also be kept in the loop, with updates made from any device.

4. Single View Of A Customer

Personalisation is everything. In fact, customers have come to expect tailored interactions. With the right tools, even complex account hierarchies can be displayed in a single, simple graphic. Customer information can be shown with a history of every interaction. This allows salespeople to really connect with clients. Tailoring gets a further boost when you’re able to send targeted marketing information and shape interactions around your customers’ specific needs.

5. Mobile Sales

Forgetting files at the office becomes a thing of the past with mobile sales solutions. All your customer data is at your fingertips – on your phone, tablet or laptop. Better yet, new data can be automatically synced across all team members’ devices, ensuring everyone is always working with the latest information – whether you have internet access or not. Then there’s the final benefit: productivity goes up when you can work from anywhere.

6. Sales Reporting

When you understand your customers, you can build stronger relationships. By analysing sales data, you can learn how your customers act, turning data into key insights. Then, you can move from the big picture to the finer detail. By drilling down into underlying reports, you can see the impact of your sales efforts first hand. The ability to generate reports on salespeople, contacts or accounts on-demand can drastically reduce managerial headaches.

The Wrap Up

So – now you’ve got the low-down, here are two final pieces of the puzzle. First, your customers are often way ahead of you. Statistics show that customers are 57% of the way through the buying process before they even start talking to a supplier [1]. That means that to be – and stay – relevant, you need as much information as you can going into the sale. That information needs to be easy to understand and available at the touch of a button. Second, by increasing the time you spend on the sales process itself, you can leapfrog your competitors. According to the numbers, reps spend more than 67% of their time on non-selling activities [2]. With tools such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, you can not only up the time you can spend talking to or meeting with customers, but better understand the market you’re operating in. This means the ability to offer your customers reactive, personalised service. All of the above combined can mean that critical edge over the competition.

Want to explore how we could help you transform your sales? Get in touch.

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Never lose a prospect? What lead nurturing can really deliver

Never lose a prospect? What lead nurturing can really deliver

Never lose a prospect? What lead nurturing can really deliver

The sales and marketing funnel is all about conversion. Curious prospective buyers enter at the top and happy customers exit at the bottom.

But what happens when your funnel looks more like a sieve?

By certain estimates, as many as 8 out of 10 marketing leads fail to convert. Other stats focus on buyers’ readiness. By some calculations, only half of the leads are ready to buy.

However, by simply implementing a few intelligent, tried-and-trusted tools and techniques, it’s possible to:

  • Convert more leads
  • Source higher-quality leads
  • Significantly shorten the sales cycle
  • Boost revenue

Which is exactly what today’s leading companies are doing with nurture campaigns.

 

From generic to genius

It’s the age of the individual. Today’s customers won’t settle for generic content and messaging. They want to be met on their own terms. They want to know their custom is valued. They want to be treated as an individual. To have their unique tastes and preferences catered to.

More than this, they want to feel that the company whose products or services they’re buying is engaged and aware of how they want to be treated.

It’s a reciprocal relationship. And it’s the foundation of long-term business and repeat customers.  

Building that kind of relationship takes time. It involves creating awareness. It centres on emphasising knowledge and expertise. It hinges on openness to answering questions and dispelling lingering doubts. Finally, it’s about onboarding new, quality customers likely to buy again and again.

 

Why you need to nurture – hint: it’s about connection

Every day, each of us is swamped with messages from companies trying to catch our attention.

Hey you, buy this!

What about you, sir? Madam? Look at this amazing product!

How can you imagine life without Product X? Product X will change everything!

What happens when we’re exposed to something over and over? Our brains begin to screen it out, so we can focus on other (more important) things.

Think about the way you stop noticing the background noise in a restaurant, so you can listen to the conversation at your own table. Or the way you forget about your breathing – until someone reminds you about it, that is.

Here’s the thing: every day, consumers are subject to the same marketing background noise. And after a while, it’s all the same, over and over, so people just filter it out.

 

From Noise to ‘Notice Me!’

Is there a way to craft a message that’s listened to? To be the single voice customers hear above the marketing noise?

The answer simple. Yes.

How?

  1. Have a great product or service
  2. Connect meaningfully – and personally – with prospects.

Enter the nurture campaign.

It’s a journey, not a pit stop

Unlike regular, once-off marketing campaigns, nurture campaigns are repeated exposures to your company and its products/services.

From establishing thought leadership to introducing positioning, the aim of a nurture campaign is to help a prospect evolve from an explorer or discoverer of company and its capabilities to a decider and finally – a buyer.

The best lead nurturing campaigns ensure that as many qualified prospects as possible end up as buyers.

How? By keeping prospective customers interested and engaged. By avoiding information overload. By making sure marketing messages are highly personalised – tailored not only to who the prospect is, but where they are in their buying journey.

 

How the right CRM system helps companies build amazing nurture campaigns

It all starts with prospecting and the lead. From there, it’s about qualifying and – when a buyer begins to get warm – accelerating their journey. Email and content marketing are the cornerstones, but keeping it personal is the key. Moreover, focusing efforts where they’ll yield the most returns – with intelligent lead scoring – is what it’s all about. Then there’s getting the timing just perfect – approaching prospects at a time that they’re most receptive.

The key to unlocking these capabilities is using the right technology. Managing an effective lead nurturing programme – on a massive scale – requires the right data and the right systems. Automation is critical. As is intelligence.

Dynamics 365 delivers all this and more. Find about more by seeing how our marketing solutions enable incredible, personalised lead nurturing.

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How a CRM Solution Can Fix Your Sales Forecasts

How a CRM Solution Can Fix Your Sales Forecasts

How a CRM Solution Can Fix Your Sales Forecasts

Sweaty palms? Nervousness? Fingers hovering over the keyboard, afraid to commit to a single figure? Sales forecasting can rattle even the most seasoned sales director.

When forecasting – for the month, quarter or year – accuracy is everything. Boards, company management and shareholders all expect solid, reliable numbers. They’re a guide to how well the company knows itself – and how dependable its pipeline is.

At the same time, below-par projections leave no one smiling. Submit a less-than-fantastic forecast and you’ll need to explain those lacklustre numbers.

Particularly for publicly traded companies, accuracy and impressive projections are the key one-two punch. When a public company’s actuals fall even a couple of percentage points short of predictions, analysts begin to penalise, shareholders start to doubt and boards begin to grumble.

Exceeding expectations?

Of course, historic sales figures are an unavoidable benchmark. That one massive high will forever be remembered. Past performance doesn’t guarantee future returns – but it certainly sets an expectation.

However, boards and managers begin to lose trust when forecasts are consistently overstated. At the same time, understated forecasts imply a happy surprise – but a surprise nonetheless. In business, certainty rules the roost.

How do you deliver? With CRM.

A great CRM solution makes sales forecasting easy and accurate. Gone is the guesswork. And gone are the sweaty palms that come with uncertainty.

More than this, by allowing a company to engage meaningfully and personally with customers, it’s easier to build strong client relationships with CRM. The upshot? Selling becomes easier – and sales more predictable.

At the end of the day, forecasts are not only more reliable, they’re more impressive too.

The Fantastic Forecast – Here’s how a CRM solution makes it a reality

Every moment of every day, managers need to know how sales are going. Are targets being met? Are salespeople performing at their best? Are deals in the pipeline coming to fruition – or are prospective buyers pulling out along the way?

With a good CRM, real-time analytics, critical sales information like this is available at the touch of a button. Moreover, with predictive insights, there’s a window into likely sales scenarios and deal outcomes.

Accurate as-of-right-now forecasts also allow managers to take action. By setting team goals, monitoring outcomes and providing real-time coaching, forecasts become part of an active feedback loop – they turn into a ‘live’ number. This puts an end to the black box effect. Effort in becomes measurable in results out. This equals not only stronger forecasts, but more control – and control is key for forecast accuracy.

CRM solutions give sales forecasts yet another boost. One that comes from data-based insights into how customers think. Great CRM solutions take huge volumes of information and distil it down into informative – and often surprising – insights.

How do your customers want to be engaged? Could the way you interact be more personalised? More relevant? By understanding how your customers think, and what they want, it becomes possible to better engage in future. The result: improved – and more predictable – conversion rates. Sales forecasting gets a boost on both fronts.

A final forecasting fire-up comes with speed. Fast analyses mean fast figures and fast answers. Needing to wait for the numbers slows down decisions – it may also cast doubt on them – forecasting that’s not automated is both prone to error and a major time-sapper. With at-a-glance dashboards and contextual charts providing instant insight, you boost precision, speed and trust.

No more subjectivity, no more stories

A sales director’s reputation can be made – or destroyed – by their forecasts. Often-wrong forecasts cast doubt on competence. Yet, it can be a real challenge to tease out hard reliable data from salespeoples’ subjective assessments of how things are going.

Forecast reviews often start with a story. A story about why a certain deal is a sure thing. About why another has started to fall through – inexplicably – but why the next one won’t. We’re all loaded with subjective biases. We often overestimate our abilities. We also misattribute causes and effects. Managers needing to put together an accurate team forecast out of all the subjective noise face a mammoth task.

It’s an unnecessary headache. With a Sales CRM solution like Microsoft Dynamics 365 in place, forecasting becomes rapid, accurate and automatic.

Why not have a look at what a Sales CRM solution can do for you? 

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Power BI: Microsoft is the BI and Analytics leader –  Gartner Magic Quadrant 2018

Power BI: Microsoft is the BI and Analytics leader – Gartner Magic Quadrant 2018

Gartner 2018: Microsoft No.1 for BI & Analytics

Microsoft’s been innovating in analytics and business intelligence for a long time. However, Gartner’s 2018 BI and Analytics report ranked PowerBI as the no. 1 product in terms of both vision and the ability to execute. This put Microsoft ahead of 10+ niche tech firms. But it also put it well beyond the established big players, including SAP, SAS, Salesforce, Tableau and IBM.

2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms*

 

Why is this so exciting? The top spot in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Analytics and Business Intelligence Platforms can be claimed only by a company with huge amounts of both vision and grit. A company that can see the future – and then make it happen. For real.

It’s no big surprise. For 11 consecutive years, Microsoft has come out as a leader in the Gartner rankings. And for 3 of those, it has claimed the spot for having the most complete vision of in the BI and analytics space. All testament to the calibre of Microsoft’s global leadership and unceasing drive for innovation and excellent execution.

What is Power BI?

At its core, Power BI is a suite of business analytics tools to analyze data and share insights. The technology enables decision makers to monitor their business and get answers quickly with rich dashboards available on every device. It’s built on the same data model as Office 365 and Dynamics 365 so it has deep integration there, but it also has hundreds of data connectors, making it very simple to bring in your data and start giving you the insights you need. 

The Magic of Microsoft

Hundreds of thousands of businesses are already plugged into Microsoft’s BI solutions. And the reasons include everything from cost-effectiveness (the professional license is only $9.99/user/mth and is often bundled in many Office 365 plans) to how comprehensive the end solution truly is. 

It’s also great for multinationals with offices across the globe – Microsoft guarantees great performance and security everywhere in the world.

Check out the experiences of some of Microsoft’s major clients:

“We use Power BI in Office 365 to turn data into insights, so we can ensure our place in the future of the luxury car industry.” 

– Andrew Palmer, Chief Executive Officer, Aston Martin

“With Office 365 E5, we’re delivering an intelligent workplace, where employees gain self-service access to interactive, graphical reports and dashboards through Microsoft Power BI … It’s easy to use Power BI to analyze real-time sales data and fine-tune our marketing activities to drive sales.”

– Markus Petrak, Corporate Director, Henkel

The solution is both scalable and flexible, too. Power BI allows companies to tap into architecture allowing easy and rapid integration with both Microsoft and 3rd party products. Moreover, businesses only pay for the capacity they need, meaning no wasted spend – but plenty of room to grow.

Rave Reviews

At The CRM Team, our own customers rave about the insights they receive. These insights have led to higher lead conversion, reduced customer churn and better engagement. Whenever we do a Dynamics 365 implementation we always leverage PowerBI to provide incredibly rich and relevant data visualisations. It’s such a great product and it enables us to add a lot of value to our clients. 

All businesses search for that ‘edge’ over rivals. Microsoft is no different. It is determined to remain a leader and visionary in the BI platform environment. And it looks like Microsoft is getting it right – delivering modern BI and analytics solutions for a variety of users, and getting rave reviews in the process.

Why? Not only does the technology behind Power BI enable users to create and share insights in real time, but Power BI lets users create develop rich, compelling stories. These stories perfectly visualise data, allowing decision makers an at-a-glance understanding of how their business is doing. Custom visuals only add to the magic and personalisation.

What new heights Microsoft will reach from here is anyone’s guess. The company is on a rocket trajectory – who knows what tomorrow may bring?

Want to get more information what a Microsoft CRM solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page. All of our solutions incorporate Power BI to enable incredible data visualisation and reporting. 

 

*This graphic was published by Gartner, Inc. as part of a larger research document and should be evaluated in the context of the entire document. The Gartner document is available upon request from Microsoft (The CRM Team is a strategic partner with Microsoft). Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organisation and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

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4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

4 Ways a CRM Solution Helps You Close Customer Service Cases Faster

Customer service – the term calls to mind rows and rows of headset-wearing agents working through hundreds and hundreds of queries and, yes, complaints. They’re an operations director’s bugbear – running customer service can be a massive expense.

Customers do need a way to get in touch and get help. However, inefficient, people-heavy contact centres are (thankfully) on their way out. In their place are arising lean, tech-powered, data-rich powerhouses – where queries and service requests are handled seamlessly, rapidly, and at a minimum of expense.

Frustration and repetition, meet reactivity and results

The average customer service representative receives the same queries and requests over and over on any given day. Many of these are incredibly simple to resolve. A problem with how to use a product or system, for example. A service call-in. Reporting a known bug in the system.

Though each query may be quick to resolve, getting of hundreds of them on a daily basis begins to drain an agent’s time massively – and jam up the waiting queue.

There’s also the customer’s perspective to consider. For many of us, the thought of dialling into a call centre often provokes dread. Too many experiences with agents who failed to understand our problem didn’t have the right info, or couldn’t resolve the issue have meant many of us now prefer to self-serve – if we can.

Customer Service 2.0

CRM solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 make great self-service options a reality. But they also make interactions with agents more efficient and effective.

When it comes to customer service, every company – and customer – wants accuracy, helpfulness and speed. Closing customer service cases faster not only means happier clients – when done intelligently, it means lower costs too: less time, fewer resources.

Here’s how a CRM solution helps companies close service cases faster:

 

  1. The data powerhouse effect

Gone are the days of customers needing to wait while agents search for the information they need – often only to find it’s not there. Good CRM solutions collate all the information your company has with its customers. That single datastore is a goldmine. With access to all the data they need, agents are enabled to provide rapid, relevant information.

With a visual interface tailored to an agent’s role, all the guidance, data and tools each agent needs are in one place. Even third-party information can be integrated.

More than this, CRM solutions allow agents to view all customer engagements – from chat to social to telephonic interactions. With every customer interaction recorded and centralised, case handover becomes seamless.

 

  1. Streamlining for success

Your customers want information – and they want it fast. They’re busy. Maybe they’re tired. With scripting and intelligent recommendations, agents can follow the best route to assist customers. So they can do it faster, too. More than that, by integrating personal customer data into every interaction, agents can provide service that’s not only more efficient but more meaningful. Customers become more than just cases.

More than that, CRM solutions allow for knowledge compounding. With access to information about how other agents solved similar cases – along with forms, manuals and FAQs – the service department just gets better and better. It learns from itself.

 

  1. Keeping an eye on the clock

With access to real-time insights into every case, SLA timers and entitlements, agents can make sure that service level agreements are always met.

Collaboration tools also help agents connect – both with each other and with subject matter experts. So the right answer is always at hand. If an agent’s initial answer isn’t on the mark, cases can be automatically escalated to a specialist able to solve the problem.

 

  1. Stellar self-service

This is where CRM solutions really come into their own. Today, many people would rather solve their issue alone than contact an agent. CRM solutions make self-service seamless. Moreover, they keep people costs down. By leveraging searchable databases and community support options, customers are equipped to solve their issues in the way that suits them.

Live chat is a key component of the self-service revolution. Bots are a great way to engage portal and web customers. Intelligent systems guide users to the solutions and information they need. The result: customers not only feel cared for, but they no longer need to get in touch with contact centres, keeping costs – and queues – down.

 

Make this a reality!

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Automated and Amplified: Sales Meets A.I.

Automated and Amplified: Sales Meets A.I.

Automated and Amplified: Sales Meets A.I.

Sales is evolving. Predictive and powerful, it’s no longer just speed that separates the best from the rest – it’s processing power. Today’s strongest sales engines are not only blisteringly quick – thanks to A.I. they’re now intelligent.

Consider the research:

Why AI? To better optimise and prioritise

Consider a salesperson’s typical day: prioritise leads. Nurture some. Close others. Trawl customer data for new prospects. Send a follow-up email. Personalise a pitch…

At core is this: working out how best to spend the next chunk of time, when there never seems to be enough of it.

It’s a classic game of optimisation: working out how best to deploy resources – in this case time, energy and focus – in a resource-constrained environment.

So, optimisation is where it’s at. But here’s the kicker: the human brain isn’t all that good at optimising, particularly in data-dense environments.

And here’s the fixer: machines are great at it.

Using A.I. to simplify

Given the massive amounts of data salespeople need to draw from when both searching for new leads and managing existing accounts – data covering everything from business and personal details to buying histories and account statistics – getting machines to do much of the grunt work makes sense.

And it’s why many companies have already tapped into the abilities of A.I., in turn remaking how they approach the sales process.

5 ways AI can improve the sales process:

 

1. More accurate aim. A.I. is able to isolate the products, services and solutions that will best meet a specific customer’s needs with extreme accuracy. The input comes from data – a growing amount of it. Everything from internal customer records, customer interactions and a rising number of external sources yield the information needed to make suggestions and interactions more meaningful.

2. Superior speed. Real-time customer buying behaviour can be analysed by A.I. in order to refine its algorithms, meaning audience targeting stays dynamic. Moreover, admin is reduced. By automatically capturing the right data from email to populate CRM records, there’s less of a  need for manual updating by sales staff.

3. Better insight. By monitoring communications to and from a customer, A.I. is able to assess the health of that relationship. This allows salespeople to put in time where it matters most. And forcus on deal most likely to close.

4. Improved prioritisation. Analysing thousands of leads is an impossible task for time-poor sales teams. AI is able to identify which lead might benefit from a follow up email, specific pitch, or relationship nurturing – cutting through the complexity.

5. Better personalisation. The interactions that produce the best results – be that in terms of deal size, increased loyalty scores or customer satisfaction – are personal, tailored and above all relevant. In the digital age, customers expect personalisation as a given. By drawing on background data, A.I. is able to make targeted recommendations.

 

Microsoft Dynamics’ next-level A.I.

Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has been upgrading every node in its Azure cloud platform. This multibillion-dollar investment now allows Azure to run a host of A.I., cognitive computing and neural networking-based applications.

The result is that Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition brings together Microsoft’s customer relationship management suites and infuses the entire platform with new, advanced AI capabilities.

Two new stand-alone A.I. apps are also debuting as part of the Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition: Customer Insights and Relationship Insights. These apps leverage the power of Azure machine learning algorithms and Cortana predicative intelligence to bring new insights to data, whether that data is in Dynamics 365 apps or Office 365.

To find out more about A.I. and supercharging your sales process, check out our Microsoft sales solution.

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What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Field Service

What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Field Service

What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Field Service

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Field Service works in tandem with the Dynamics 365 Customer Service application to help organizations manage field-based service teams. The Field Service app includes these capabilities:

  • Work order management.
  • Scheduling, dispatch, and routing of field technicians to customer sites.
  • Repairs and returns management.
  • Inventory management.
  • Mobile app for field technicians.

Here’s what’s new with the 2018 Spring release:

1. New Unified Interface framework

With the Spring ’18 release, the field service app is built on the Unified Interface framework for improved user experience. The app delivers a consistent, uniform user interface, and follows responsive design principles for optimal viewing on any screen size or device.

2. A Common Controls Framework (CCF)

User interface controls use a Common Controls Framework (CCF) for consistency with other Dynamics 365 business applications. Controls follow consistent, familiar patterns on every surface in the application, making it easier for field service users to be on-boarded and become productive quickly.

3. Ability to hold 3D content about customer assets

Arm your technicians with 3D content to help them complete repairs. 3D models or sequences can be uploaded (directly to Dynamics 365 or hosted externally), and then associated with customer asset records for use by technicians within the mobile app. Supported 3D file formats are glTF, FBX, GLB, and OBJ.

4. Resource Scheduling Optimization (RSO) enhancements

Resource Scheduling Optimization (RSO) is an add-on capability for the Dynamics 365 for Field Service application that enables you to automatically schedule work orders for the most appropriate resources, while simultaneously optimizing appointment setting for travel time, work hours, and many other constraints.

a. Extensible scope

The Resource Scheduling Optimization solution uses scope to define the input for resources, resource requirements, and resource bookings, as well as the timeframes used for optimization. With extensible scope, the solution leverages entity views in Dynamics 365 to provide an easy and flexible way to define what gets optimized.

b. Run a simulation

The admin can run a schedule on demand as a simulation, which results in resource bookings that are simulations without affecting actual bookings. This capability helps an administrator better understand the effects of adjusting optimization scope, constraints, objectives, and other parameters, to determine what optimization configuration best matches business goals and objectives.

c. Enforce skill level

Resource requirements can include not only a skill, but also the level (or rating) of the skill required to do the work. By considering the skill (or resource characteristic) rating level required, the solution is able to find resources that better match required skills and proficiency.

5. Connected Field Service (IoT) enhancements

Syncing Dynamics 365 to devices and assets through the Internet of Things (IoT), Connected Field Service helps service organizations proactively detect, troubleshoot, and resolve service issues. This way a technician is dispatched only when necessary. Organizations can enable IoT alerts, device fault states, and preventive maintenance notifications to let field service managers or technicians know when to create a new case, create a work order, send commands to control customer assets remotely, prepare parts needed for a repair, or take other actions.

a. Unified Interface framework

With the Spring ’18 release, the Connected Field Service solution is built on the Unified Interface framework for improved user experience. The app delivers a consistent, uniform user interface, and follows responsive design principles for optimal viewing on any screen size or device.

b. Synchronization of device conditions and properties with device twins

Connected Field Service includes a representation of customer assets and devices that can be registered within Azure IoT Hub to enable messages to flow through Azure IoT Hub to create alerts.

In the Spring ‘18 release, in addition to receiving messages that require action, Connected Field Service uses the Azure IoT device twin capability. The device twin, which is kept in sync with physical devices, is a JSON document that holds metadata and configuration data, as well as a virtual cloud representation of physical devices.

Connected Field Service communicates with device twins to allow devices to report operating conditions such as device state, heartbeat for connectivity speed, and machine vibration. Field service operations managers gain visibility into device conditions and properties on a graphical dashboard. For example, the capacity of a tank can be monitored through IoT Hub and represented on the dashboard. When capacity reaches a threshold, an alert is sent to designated users for follow-up action.

Field service managers or technicians can also use pre-defined commands to control a piece of equipment, such as when to restart or shut down.

Want to get more information around what a sales solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page.

 

 

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What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service is a business application from Microsoft that is designed to empower agents to deliver fast, personalized service and support. With interactive dashboards, guided business process flows, and a timeline that delivers a unified view of customer communications, the application simplifies an agent’s job and helps increase productivity. The application is available on the web in a browser and on mobile. Here’s what’s new in the 2018 Spring release: 1. Improved dashboards Customer Service Hub dashboards are a one-stop workplace where agents and supervisors review their workload and take actions to resolve issues. Dashboards make it easier to review and act on information coming from various entity views and queues, and make it easier to apply additional filtering with visual, global, and timeframe filters to quickly narrow down what is most actionable and urgent. a. Tier 1 dashboard for agents The Tier 1 multi-stream dashboard is displayed by default. The Tier 1 dashboard is tailored to help agents deliver the initial level of support needed, and handle multiple customer issues at the same time. b. Tier 2 dashboard for service managers or team leaders The Tier 2 single-stream dashboard helps customer service managers and team leaders monitor more complex or escalated cases in a single view. Users can drill down in to any section and the detail they need. 2. Improved business process flows with floating and docked mode Business process flows ensure that agents enter case data consistently and follow the same steps every time they interact with a customer. Business process flows now support floating and docked mode for process stages, which lets agents view case information and update the process stages simultaneously. 3. Timeline view of customer interactions and activities You can now capture customer interactions and communications by adding them as activities in the timeline section of the dashboard. The timeline section presents a unified view of everything that has happened with a case, such as email received, follow-up tasks, and automatically generated system posts, plus any notes taken during customer interactions. 4. New reference panel to search for knowledge articles The new reference panel tabs allow agents to quickly find related records, or search knowledge articles for accounts, contacts, cases, and other knowledge articles. 5. Knowledge base article editor Author and edit well-formatted content for knowledge articles using the new rich text editor. The editor brings common word processor features like advanced styling, linking, find and replace, and insert images and tables. Search, publish, and translate knowledge articles. Preview how the knowledge articles render on different devices before publishing. Knowledge managers and authors can monitor the status of knowledge articles using new interactive knowledge management dashboards. Want to get more information around what a sales solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page.

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What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Marketing

What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Marketing

What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Marketing

Dynamics 365 for Marketing is a leading marketing-automation application that is part of the Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 platform of business apps. It delivers comprehensive capabilities for creating and running multi-channel campaigns. The application includes event management, lead management, embedded intelligence for segment targeting, lead scoring, and interactions insights. Being built on the same platform as Dynamics 365 for Sales, your marketing and sales teams can share common information and business processes to help them collaborate closely throughout the sales cycle. Here’s what’s new in the upcoming 2018 Spring release:
  1. Multi-channel campaigns
Create automated multichannel campaigns using the customer journey designer. Each journey establishes a target market segment and can then deliver automated communications, make automated decisions, generate internal tasks, deliver follow-up communications and respond to customer interactions. Run high-volume email campaigns to deliver personalized messages that look great on all platforms and screen sizes. Judge the effectiveness of emailing campaigns with detailed counts of opens, clicks, forwards, etc. Use the embedded segmentation engine to set up sophisticated, dynamic marketing segments that perfectly target your campaigns. The engine queries against a high-volume database that uses your collected behavioural, demographic, and firmographic data to find targeted prospects. 2. Rich content creation Create modern online content, including visually rich email messages, landing pages, and forms using intuitive, graphical digital content designers. You can get to work quickly by starting with professionally designed templates, which can easily be customized and saved to help reinforce brand identity and build brand awareness. 3. A new event management module The Marketing application features comprehensive event management, which helps you plan, execute, promote, and follow-up on webinars and in-person events. Start your planning by modeling your venue, booking speakers, collecting sponsors, and setting up your event schedule. Then publish your event details directly to an event portal, where attendees can read about the event, view speaker bios, register online, and build their session schedule. Finally, set up a customer journey to promote the event, collect registrations, and follow up with attendees.  4. Improved Lead management Use landing pages to invite contacts to register with your organization and generate leads based on those submissions. An automated, rule-based lead scoring engine helps identify your hottest leads as they interact with your marketing activities. The engine can then automatically forward sales-ready leads to salespeople when they reach a defined score threshold. Run lead-generation campaigns on LinkedIn and import those leads directly into Dynamics 365 for follow-up, nurturing, and qualification. Dynamics 365 business apps share the same platform, making it possible to share data and collaborate with sales, marketing, customer service, and other business groups. 5. Embedded marketing insights The system continuously collects customer-interaction data, keeps records of marketing activities, and holds financial details. You can view targeted analytical dashboards right in the app and explore detailed interaction records for any email, landing page, or customer journey. Generate detailed analytics with pre-made widget-based reports. Gain qualitative insights, improve decision-making, and maximize your return on marketing investment (ROMI). Dynamics 365 for Marketing is an intelligent marketing application that will help you turn your prospects into customers. As well these features, it comes with a Microsoft Social Engagement, an application to monitor and interact with social posts and Voice of the Customer, an enterprise level customer survey tool. Want to get more information around what a sales solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page.

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What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Sales

What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Sales

What’s new in Dynamics 365 for Sales

Microsoft’s Dynamics 365 for Sales is a sales automation and forecasting business application that is part of the Dynamics 365 platform. It enables salespeople to build strong relationships with their customers, take actions based on insights, and close sales faster. You can keep track of your accounts and contacts, nurture your sales from lead to order, track your opportunities and forecast accurately.

Here’s what’s new in the 2018 Spring release:

  1. Embedded intelligence

Embedded intelligence (previously known as Relationship Insights) collects, manages, and analyses the diverse data and communications created throughout the sales process. It captures relevant activities and then automatically suggests the next best actions. In streamlining admin tasks, it free salespeople up to spend more time selling. Embedded intelligence has the following features:

 

  • Relationship assistant offers timely and actionable insights by continuously analysing customer interaction data stored in Dynamics 365, Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, and other sources, and then generating a collection of action cards with suggestions for relevant next steps.
  • Auto capture scans a sales user’s Outlook inbox for messages and appointments relevant to deals they’re working in Dynamics 365, and then offers them as candidates for tracking.
 

  • Email engagement monitors actions taken by recipients such as opened, clicked on a link, opened an attachment, or replied. Sales users can schedule when an email is sent and receive follow-up reminders.

2. Relationship analytics

Relationship analytics helps salespeople manage the opportunities pipeline by analysing relationships and presenting data and insights about the health of customer relationships. Relationship Analytics includes sentiment analysis to enhance relationship health calculations. Sentiment health analyses a range of customer interactions and signals to inform salespeople the health of their customer relationship. A simple, good, fair or poor scale is used.

3. Deeper LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration

With LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration, salespeople can tap into their professional networks and relationships to improve their pipeline.

In the Spring release, LinkedIn Sales Navigator controls have been added to forms. These give insights and help salespeople build connections as they work deals. The controls provide a full view into Sales Navigator member or company profiles, or focused views into lead icebreakers, mutual connections, and related leads, as well as account connections, recommended leads, and news.

With the LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration, salespeople now see LinkedIn profile pictures on dashboards, grids, and forms for any contact record synced with LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Seeing LinkedIn profile pictures for contacts helps salespeople build recognition of their prospects, and helps deepen connections throughout the sales process.

InMail is LinkedIn’s way of messaging people. Now with embedded InMail communication within Dynamics 365, salespeople get one-click access to people in LinkedIn.

4. Standardised Dynamics 365 Sales Reports for Power BI

Using Power BI, Sales managers can easily take Dynamics 365 data and track sales performance across products and salespeople. They can also monitor the health of their pipeline and quickly identify at-risk accounts that they may want to focus their attention on. The standard report provides key KPIs like win ratios, lead conversion rates, and year-to-date (YTD) revenue.

As well as this, entire reports can be themed with your brand colours. When you apply a report theme, all visuals in your report use the colours from your selected theme.

These Power BI reports can then be embedded back in Dynamics 365 so that all your data is in one place.

Want to get more information around what a sales solution could do for you? Check out our solution’s page.

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Reduce costs. Sell more. Make your customers happier.

Reduce costs. Sell more. Make your customers happier.

Reduce costs. Sell more. Make your customers happier.

Consistently great customer service is getting harder to achieve. Social media has enlarged a customer’s voice – good when companies are being praised, but damaging when they are being criticised. Since 2009, there has been a 12% decline in first call resolution. More complex questions means higher costs.

But the pressure isn’t just on contact centres. Cost cutting has meant field service agents need to see more customers per day. Project teams need to shorten the project length – with less and less personnel.

What’s needed is an intelligent, comprehensive solution. One that can increase efficiencies in the whole service division. It needs to be flexible enough to allow customers to find answers themselves, receive assistance remotely, or arrange for service personnel to come on site. And it needs to manage the process from first engagement right through to completion.

Welcome to Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service.

It’s a comprehensive way of managing every service interaction. With its incorporation of machine learning, intelligent analytics, and the Internet of Things, it will enable you to stay ahead of the competition: saving money and increasing your up-sells and cross-sells. All the while, you can ensure your staff give a consistently great experience to every customer.

Have a look at what Dynamics 365 for Customer Service could do for your company:

1. Encourage Self-Service
84% of customers use web or mobile self-service to find answers – before making contact with a customer service centre. This trend is great for the customer and great for you.

 

Easily embed branded self-service portals into your website. Provide answers to frequently asked questions and allow customers to log their own service cases. If they go on to make contact with your service centre, your contact centre personnel will see all the information your customer has already logged in your portal.

Not only does this enable customers to engage with you in the way they prefer, it also reduces your costs. With more people finding their own answers and logging their own service cases, you’ll need less customer service personnel.

2. Simplify Assisted Service
Even with increasing use of self-service portals, some people will still need to speak to a contact center. Why not make this as straight forward as possible? Dynamics 365 for Customer Service does just that:

 

Track all customer interactions in one place. From any channel, on any device.  Use this information to capture service cases and then check the service entitlements a customer has, before proceeding.
Monitor the progress of each service case. See the stage of each case alongside every source of information they need across diverse environments. With each service personnel being able to access the entire customer record, you can ensure your staff provide a personalized and effective standard of service.
Ensure access to consistent, up-to-date information. Empower customers and employees to access a single source of truth. Ensure your knowledge is relevant by simply capturing and publishing across your content channels. Measuring the impact of this on service costs through rich analytics.
Learn from each customer interaction to continually improve: Identify trends, anticipate opportunities and gain insight through dashboards, deep analytics and powerful data visualization. Dynamics CRM Service comes with fully customizable, interactive dashboards. This allows it to provide you with real-time views of key service metrics. You’ll be able to Identify trends and forecast outcomes, improving agent performance and identifying best practices.

 

3. Achieve more with Onsite Service
Whether you need to ensure your field agents increase the number of customers they see in a day or you need to ensure your larger projects deliver on time, to cost, and at a profit, then Microsoft Dynamics 365 is what you need. Do more, at less cost.
Field Service: Dynamics 365 for Field Service is Dynamics 365’s complete field service management business app. It’s incredible. Once you have it, you’ll wonder why you ever settled for anything else. Read all about it here.

Project Service: Working alongside project management software, Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation can manage your project costings, ensuring that your projects complete on time and on budget, and at a profit.

So, whatever your service needs, let us see how we can help you. Contact our team now
 

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What does a CRM implementation look like?

What does a CRM implementation look like?

What does a CRM implementation look like?

A refreshing new approach.

The real value of CRM is having a solution that is tailored to your specific business strategy. When you buy a solution from us, the first thing we’ll do is listen to your specific objectives. We’ll then plan an implementation that meets those.

Unlike traditional system deployments, we’ll get your team up and running on CRM very quickly. We know that time is money. The longer a deployment takes, the longer for you to experience its benefits and get a return on your investment.

How quickly can we implement a solution? It depends on the complexity of your requirements. Simple set-ups take a single week. More complex projects: 4 weeks.

Diagram showing the benefits of The CRM Team's agile approach to CRM implementation.
How do we ensure such rapid deployments?
There are two factors behind the speed of our deployment:

1. Our Solutions are Cloud-Based.
As well as faster deployment, we like cloud CRM because it is the securer option for your data. You can read all the reasons why we opted for cloud here.

2. Our Implementation Processes are Streamlined.
Our team have completed 100s of projects. This has enabled us to templatise a lot of the process. This doesn’t hinder us from tailoring a solution to your requirements, it just makes the tailoring process faster.

Another way we are streamlined is through carrying out early customer validation. In more traditional deployments, you’d agree on what you want up front. But the next time you gave input would be when the final product was presented to you. In our experience this only means one thing: extended project deadlines. In contrast, receiving regular customer input is the best way to ensure the project finishes on time.

On larger projects, we ensure on-going customer validation by using an agile methodology called Scrum. Scrum was developed to streamline software creation and we have adapted it for our CRM installations. It’s a process that ensures your involvement at every stage. This is extremely useful, because it allow for changes to be made during the install.

With complex deployments, customers only fully know what they need once they have seen a functioning version of the system. Scrum understands this and plans for it. When you opt to go for a CRM solution with us, it’ll be a process you’ll enjoy.

Want to see if CRM would be beneficial for you? Have a look at the business case for CRM.

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Increasing your marketing effectiveness with ClickDimensions & Microsoft Dynamics 365

Increasing your marketing effectiveness with ClickDimensions & Microsoft Dynamics 365

Increasing your marketing effectiveness with ClickDimensions & Microsoft Dynamics 365

Increasing your marketing effectiveness
If you have Microsoft Dynamics 365, you’re probably using the marketing area to automate many of your marketing tasks. But you may get to a point where you need greater functionality. We recommend adding in ClickDimensions. ClickDimensions is an award-winning marketing product that runs inside Dynamics 365. It’s not a separate program, but lives inside it, so you don’t have to learn a new system.

We love it. And you’ll see many of our packages come with ClickDimensions bundled in.

We’ll outline the marketing benefits of Dynamics 365, followed by the extra ClickDimensions brings.

Dynamics 365 Marketing area

The marketing area within Dynamics 365 gives you the following benefits:

1. Speed up campaign creation. With accounts, contacts and leads all stored in Dynamics 365, it’s simple to create target lists for your campaign. Just chose the inclusion criteria and draw the records automatically from Dynamics 365. Lists can be static, or dynamic. If you chose a dynamic list, when information is updated inside Dynamics 365, your list will get updated also.

2. Easily co-ordinate team activity. Once you have planned your campaign, tasks can be allocated to team members. You can even require certain tasks get sign off within Dynamics 365 for Marketing before the next stage can be carried out. Campaigns can use a variety of distribution methods.

3. Track campaign effectiveness. Once campaigns are sent out, reports can be generated on status and progress. Because the campaign is tracked within Dynamics 365, the return on marketing investment can be calculated. Accurate insight can be gained into which deals resulted from which campaigns.

4. Hear what people are saying about your campaign. If you have ten or more users on Dynamics 365, you’ll have free access to the social engagement module. This is a powerful way to view what is being said across social media channels about your campaign (or even just your business).

 

ClickDimensions Email Marketing and Marketing Automation for Dynamics 365 empowers marketers to generate and qualify high quality leads while providing sales the ability to prioritize the best leads and opportunities. Providing email marketing, web intelligence, lead scoring, social discovery, web forms, surveys, landing pages, nurture marketing, subscription management, campaign tracking and more, ClickDimensions allows organizations to discover who is interested in their products, quantify their level of interest and take the appropriate actions.

Adding in ClickDimensions gives all the benefits above, but in addition you’ll be able to…

1. Discover where your sales are coming from. ClickDimensions gives you detailed web analytics. Unlike other web analytics tools, ClickDimensions traces individual activity separately. Once a person identifies themselves, through filling in a form, downloading an article etc., ClickDimensions then allocates all their previous anonymous activity to the new Dynamics 365 record. Coupled with Dynamics 365, this means that every sale can be traced back to how they first made contact with you: which web page they first went to, whether they came via Facebook, Twitter etc. Consequently, you get detailed insight on what works, and what doesn’t. While you can work out your campaign Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) with Dynamics 365, ClickDimensions broadens this to allowing you to calculate your ROMI for all your marketing activity.

2. Send personalized communication that really converts.

Animation demonstrating ClickDimension's drag and drop email designer.
Like many programs, ClickDimensions allows you to create beautiful emails effortlessly. Simply drag and drop content into preformed templates and autofill details from lists in Dynamics 365. Once you send out the campaign ClickDimensions tracks which sections of the email was viewed the most, presenting you with a heat map at the end of the campaign. As you learn which parts of the mailer people interact with most, you can continually improve the design to improve the interaction and click through rate. You can also do A/B testing during a campaign, and send the design that wins to the rest of your campaign list. ClickDimensions also allows you to send personalized SMSes in bulk, which people can reply to.
3. Never miss an opportunity to capture a prospect’s info. ClickDimensions allows you to rapidly create forms, automatic responders and landing page scripts so that your visitors have multiple opportunities to identify themselves. You don’t even need to know any HTML. All this information is automatically stored inside Dynamics 365, so you’ll never lose track of it.

4. Nurture leads until they are ready to buy.

Animation demonstrating ClickDimension's nurture campaign creation module
After a lead makes contact, easily automate a follow up process. Set up multiple steps that activate according to certain criteria being met. This could involve sending an email newsletter, arranging a call, or sending certain product information. Form multiple options that react to what the lead does. Workflows and lists within Dynamics 365 will adjust automatically as the program progresses, and your lead should be feeling engaged with.

5. Never hand over dud leads again. ClickDimensions has an automatic lead scoring system that places leads in order of priority.  You can customize the scoring according to your specific criteria and then create thresholds that must be met before handing over a lead to sales. These can be tested and adjusted until you are confident that a lead with a certain score is of enough quality for sales to follow up with.

6. Understand your prospects better. Draw publicly available data from your prospects’ FB pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube, Flickr etc. into Dynamics 365. ClickDimensions will present the data next to the record, giving you a fuller understanding of your prospects.

7. Capture event information within Dynamics 365. ClickDimensions integrates with many of the popular event management tools (WebEx, Eventbrite, GoToWebinar etc.) This information will be brought into Dynamics 365 so that people who attend can be tracked, like any other prospect or lead.

8. Use surveys to engage more with your prospects. Surveys can be created and emailed to leads, accounts, and contacts to get valuable feedback. All responses are automatically stored in the account record in Dynamics 365.

If you want to find out more watch this brief overview:

Want to add ClickDimensions into your current Dynamics 365?

If you already have Dynamics 365 for Marketing, ClickDimensions is extremely quick to deploy. Fill in your details below to see what this could look like. We’ll get in contact to arrange a demonstration.

 

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Need sales to excel?

Need sales to excel?

Need sales to excel? Drop the spreadsheets.

1985 was a big year.

Madonna and Wham! were topping the charts with their songs: ‘Like a Virgin’ and ‘Wake me up before you go-go’. Ronald Reagan was being sworn in for a second term. And Microsoft launched Excel.

Excel transformed businesses. Accountants crunched numbers and sales managers tracked their deals. It was a game changer.

“30 years later, the world’s a different place. Excel is still a great tool – just not for sales managers.”

Here’s why:

1. No single, reliable source of data

Deal information is spread everywhere making accurate forecasting almost impossible. Collaboration on complex opportunities or tenders is frustrating. And different versions of sales proposal documents are stored in multiple places. Vital information can easily be lost, but it becomes impossible to know when or where.

2. Reporting is painful and takes too long

Sales reps should be maximising selling time. Instead, they are wasting hours trying to update shared spreadsheets and collate data from different sources. Usually just before the sales meeting. That means it’s nearly impossible to have truly actionable insights.

3. Limited visibility of sales activity

Adding info to the “comments” column in Excel doesn’t reflect the true history of sales activity related to the deal. When was the last meeting? What emails have been exchanged? Are there outstanding tasks? What makes it worse is that there are no reminders for follow-up activities in the future.

4. Information isn’t mobile

No access to important customer information while on the go. Getting access to your customer’s important information right from your mobile device is painful when it lives in a shared spreadsheet. We’ve all tried accessing shared spreadsheets from a mobile device, it isn’t fun!

5. Sharing isn’t caring

Scaling a shared spreadsheet across a team creates nothing but frustration. Online and offline versions, failed attempts to save new information and corrupt files when trying to save are par for the course with shared spreadsheets.

6. Every customer is treated the same

Not all customers are created equal. Without previous purchase history on hand, prioritising deals according to their likelihood to convert isn’t possible. That means all customers and deals are treated the same, and they shouldn’t be. Spend time on the customers or prospects that really matter.

Are you stuck on Excel? Here’s how to drop the spreadsheets in 2016:

After the Microsoft Office revolution, the next revolution was CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

CRM give you secure access to a single version of the truth. With all your important customer data in one place, reports are delivered in real-time and the insights gained are instantly actionable. All activities such as email, appointments, calls and follow-up tasks can be tracked  against a customer record. Keeping a comprehensive history in one place. This information is available on the go via any mobile device which means you have access to the info you need, when you need it.

Since it’s designed to scale from small teams up to tens of thousands of users, your whole team can work in CRM without anyone being locked out.

Best of all, customers can be profiled to ensure your people work on the most important deals first.

It’s simpler than you think. See it in action now:

At The CRM Team, we’re experts at streamlining your sales process.

Request a demo today. We’ll import a sample of your data and show you a different way of selling.

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The Business Case for CRM

The Business Case for CRM

The Business Case for CRM

The stats from 362 companies

Investing in CRM makes great business sense. Don’t just take our word for it: have a look at the hard numbers from 362 companies. The stats are grouped according to three key CRM benefits: sales force automation, marketing automation, and customer service automation.
Automating Your Sales Force
Automating Your Marketing Efforts
Automating your Customer Service Efforts
These results are from Nucleus Research Inc., a global provider of investigative technology research. They surveyed sales, marketing, customer service, and IT personnel from 362 companies. Company sizes ranged from 1-19 through to 10,000+, across twenty-eight different sectors.
At the time of the survey, the average time CRM systems had been in place was 14 months for cloud, and 25 months for on-premise. At this stage, 70% of the companies had already reached a full return on their investment.

The headline numbers above are average increases reported for each department. Much bigger increases are possible with full interdepartmental CRM co-ordination – something we call operational/analytical CRM.

If you do a CRM installation with us, we can get you to this operational/analytical level. It’s not something you can achieve overnight, but letting us help you makes the whole process a lot quicker. It’s something definitely worth doing. Nucleus Research estimates this unlocks a whopping four-fold increase on the benefits above.

Want the full Nucleus report? Click here

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Microsoft Office 365 & Dynamics 365

Microsoft Office 365 & Dynamics 365

Dynamics 365 & Microsoft Office – Better Together

Every month, more than 85 million people are more productive thanks to Microsoft Office 365. Users can work from anywhere, at any time and across any device.

Add Microsoft Dynamics 365 to your Office 365 subscription and transform the way you work with customers.

Let’s take a look at how Dynamics 365 and Office 365 work together.

Office 365 and Dynamics CRM logos

Outlook & Dynamics 365

Track customer interactions – in one click

Create new Dynamics 365  records in Outlook. Never fail to track email leads again. Click one button and the email sender becomes a record in Dynamics 365. You can also bulk create records from any of your Outlook contacts.

Quick create customer tasks. Create activity lists in response to emails. Simply drag emails that need actioning into Outlook Tasks. These are automatically scheduled as tasks in Dynamics 365 and added to the customer record.

See important account info in Outlook. View account info next to the message. Dynamics 365 draws sales activities, cases and opportunity information about the account and places it next to the relevant mail.

Log your sales activities from within Outlook Calendar. With a single click from within Outlook Calendar, track meetings and customer appointments. Managers get an update on these activities without the sales rep having to log in to Dynamics 365.

 

OneNote & Dynamics 365
Sync Notes. Never lose a piece of information about a customer. Record text, photos, voice, spreadsheets and even handwritten notes. Access them directly from the customer record.

Mobile. Take notes on the move. Dynamics 365 will connect these to the customer record.

 

Word & Dynamics 365
Merge customer data into word templates. Pull customer information into quote and proposal templates at the click of a button. Word imports account information from Dynamics 365 into merge fields. E.g. Company Name, Account Contact etc. Creating sales documents has never been quicker.

 

Excel & Dynamics 365
Use Excel Online directly inside Dynamics 365. Perform analyses within Dynamics 365 and cut out the frustration of transferring data between applications. View your data in familiar Excel spreadsheets and perform functions like ‘what-if’ analyses. All analyses are saved in Dynamics 365, maintaining the sales workflow.

Connect Excel to Dynamics 365 data at the touch of a button. If you prefer seeing reporting data within excel, Dynamics 365 will link with whatever reports you produce. The data in Excel remains linked to Dynamics 365, so your reports update dynamically. And because the data is drawn from Dynamics 365, user security roles are maintained. If the excel doc contains some data above your security clearance, that part of the data will be hidden on the spreadsheet.

 

Power BI & Dynamics 365
Blend data from Dynamics 365 with other data to get smarter insights. E.g. Draw sales figures from Dynamics 365 and compare it against weather reports to see if outside temperature has an effect on sales. View this graphically to spot trends.

Create custom dashboards. Set up all your key metrics in one window. Import datasets from Dynamics 365 with a few clicks, using the pre-built content packs. It’s never been easier to see the data you need, all in one place, on any device.

 

Sharepoint & Dynamics 365
Documents added to SharePoint can be instantly accessed in Dynamics 365 against a customer record. And vice versa.

See calendars and shared docs from within Dynamics 365. Your company SharePoint accounts automatically get imported to Dynamics 365, making integration easy and seamless.

Smart collaboration on proposals. Source customer data from Dynamics 365 and those documents automatically get attached to the customer record.

 

Skype for Business & Dynamics 365
Click to Call. Call anyone from inside Dynamics 365 using Skype for Business. There is no need to invest in telephony platforms. The best part is that all calls will be logged inside the customer record.

Instant follow up. Conduct webinars or whiteboard discussions with Skype for Business and then immediately send a record of the event to participants. Dynamics 365 will track who received it, and add it to their customer record.

 

Office 365 Groups & Dynamics 365
Enhanced Group Collaboration. Office 365 Groups automatically import into Dynamics 365. So, you’ll continue to have a central access point for all shared documents and calendars. But now you’ll also see all customer and potential customer records there as well.

 

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The CRM Maturity Journey

The CRM Maturity Journey

Where are you currently?

Consistently great customer experience doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey. But it’s a journey you definitely want to be taking.

How do we know? Because each stage you reach on the CRM maturity journey directly impacts your revenue. We’ve helped companies like yours do this time and time again. Whatever stage they’ve started at.

See where you are now, and where could you be.

Stage 1: Scattered CRM
You can’t be sure if your customer is getting a consistent experience. There are too many variables: which area of the business the customer connects with, the person they connect with, the time of day, how busy they are etc. You are getting customer interactions across many platforms. E.g. emails, phone call, Facebook messages, tweet etc. But you are not sure they all get a similar response.

You may hear this in the office: ‘Nobody click save on the sales excel doc for the next 10 minutes. I don’t want another conflicted document’. 

Your customer contacts are in different places. Some are in your email program, some are on business cards, some are on your phone, and some never got captured. While things seem to be functioning now, if the business grows there is no way of scaling processes.

Targeted marketing happens sporadically. When you do run a campaign, somebody has to import email addresses manually. If you outsource your marketing, you aren’t getting meaningful data back. Sales may go up after spending money on a campaign, but you don’t know which elements were the impactful ones.

You know that things ought to be better, but you are not quite sure how.

Stage 2: Tactical CRM
You have strategies and systems in place to connect with customers. And they are working. Your sales teams track prospects on a sales management program. Your marketing team creates mailers with things like Mailchimp. Your inventory is on an ERP etc. But these systems are spread across the business. They don’t talk to each other.

Because of this, you are wasting many hours collecting duplicate customer information. Worse still, you aren’t sure which information, in which system, is the most up to date. You wish there was a way to have a single, accurate customer record – right across your business.

You may be hearing this in your office. ‘Everyone! If you don’t send me your customer information today, they won’t be invited to the event.’ 

You want to be able to learn from all the data you collect, but you can’t. If you do get insights, they are only at a departmental level. They are not available to the rest of the company. And because of this, you are missing out on many up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Your customer service could also be better.

Stage 3: Operational CRM
You have one over-arching system that coordinates customer interaction across your business. Good job.

You are beginning to be confident that a customer will get a consistent experience. Marketing, sales, fulfilment and service can all see the complete record on a customer.  Not only that, you are tracking customer information across your business. Emails, calls, appointments, comments, surveys can all be seen in one place. Data from your ERP, marketing software, etc. all links up in one portal.

Every interaction is acted upon. E.g. Somebody tweets about a service issue. This gets logged by the marketing team and flagged with the service department. Because you have an over-arching system, this sort of co-ordination between departments is easy. The resultant customer experience doesn’t feel disjointed, but consistent.

You may hear this in the office: ‘Score! I just came back from the call-out and sold them a new machine!’ Because your CRM system prompts servicing engineers with upgrade opportunities, your up-sell numbers are increasing. Invoices are generated instantly. And because stock levels are accessible remotely, the customer gets realistic delivery dates.

As your system matures, you are able automate more of you processes and reporting. Staff spend more time on the things that matter and you have a better handle on what’s happening. This increased efficiency has a beneficial knock-on effect on your bottom line.

Stage 4: Analytical CRM
Because of advanced analytics and machine learning, your business processes are evolving daily. You are seeing the impact of changes in real-time. And the information is visible to everybody who needs it. Your competitors are sweating. But they can’t work out how you are accelerating away from them.

You can see the experiences a customer has in different departments. And when things go wrong, you have processes in place to intervene. When customers show certain buying patterns, promotional campaigns trigger automatically.

Accurate sales forecasting has reduced your inventory costs considerably. You are hearing things like this in your office:

‘Maximum revenue occurs when we offer these promotions, targeted at that set of customers’. 

Even though your business is large, it still feels very agile. Your processes are more efficient and your opportunities are increasing. Your bottom line is improving significantly. You wonder how businesses operate in any other way.

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Deliver projects on time, on budget, at a profit

Deliver projects on time, on budget, at a profit

Ensuring projects deliver: On time. On budget. At a profit.

Ensure your sales team, project managers, resource managers, and project personnel coordinate for maximum profit and efficiency. Dynamics 365 for Project Service Automation works in conjunction with your current project management tools so that you can manage your entire project lifecycle: from sales, to resourcing, to delivery and billing. And because Project Service Automation is part of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 suite, you can easily connect it to all the other Dynamics 365 business apps. Project Service Automation has all the features you’d need to run a project from a finance and resource management:
  • Coordinated Opportunity Management – Track and manage upcoming project opportunities, so that sales teams and project managers can work together to land as many projects as possible, without overlapping resources.
  • Accurate Project Quotations – Quickly create comprehensive project quotes using standard or customized templates.
  • Automated Resource Planning – Use Azure Machine Learning to forecast demand and resource allocation. It will automatically match people with the right skills and experience to the projects that need them.
  • Team Collaboration – Combine Project Service with Office 365 and share project documents. You will be able to monitor the status on project deliverables and receive real-time updates by project members, simplifying risk management.
  • Simple Tracking of Budget and Costs – Each project worker keeps a record of hours and expenses in their mobile device, which is automatically collated by Project Service. See the whole project costs visualized in real-time.
  • Easy Reporting – See key project metrics in powerful overview dashboards, on your computer, or on-the-go. Quickly export these metrics into your project reports.
  • Hassle-Free Billing and Invoicing – See project costs in a simple overview that can quickly be converted into an invoice – either within Project Service or in conjunction with your current accounting system.
Want to see Project Service in action? Schedule a demo, and see the benefits it will give you.

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What is CRM? | Customer Relationship Management

What is CRM? | Customer Relationship Management

What is CRM?

HINT: It’s not just about software.

Many people think that CRM is software. But it’s far more than that. 

Customer Relationship Management is about blending technology and strategy to guarantee great customer experience.

Customers are at the centre of every business. Whether you are B2C, B2B, B2B2C, etc. your business success depends on the experience your customer has with you. In every business this experience is shaped at four customer touch points:

1.  Marketing

2.  Sales

3.  Delivery

4.  Service

It’s not sufficient to be good at two or three of these touch points. Your relationship with your customer is dependent on all four.

A bitter let down

A guy in our office recently ordered a cell phone from a tele-sales company. Their marketing was excellent and they had created a strong brand that he trusted. The salesman on the phone was very knowledgeable. His easy manner made buying a simple process.

But when it came to receiving his phone, he had a different experience. On opening his package, he realised the phone was completely different to the one he ordered. When he contacted the company to correct things, nobody seemed to care. It took him a long time to get the company to deliver the phone he’d actually bought. When they eventually did, he vowed never to buy from them again.

Customers are lost through experiences like this.

It doesn’t matter how good certain teams in your business are, without consistency across the four touch points, you’ll always hemorrhage customers and revenue. This is where Customer Relationship Management comes in.

CRM gives you this consistency. A good, functioning CRM system provides great customer experience – right across your business. And because customers have a good relationship with you, you’ll be able to keep hold of them. This creates up-selling and cross-selling opportunities. Selling to current customers is far easier than attracting new ones.

Great customer relationship management doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a journey. But it’s a journey every company needs to be on.

Let us help you

At The CRM Team, we are experts on this journey. Whatever stage you have reached, we can assist you to get to the next one. See which stage you are at.

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10 Reasons Why We Use Dynamics 365 on the Microsoft Cloud

10 Reasons Why We Use Dynamics 365 on the Microsoft Cloud

10 Reasons Why We Use Dynamics 365 on the Microsoft Cloud

Here’s ten reasons why we’ve chosen to go with Microsoft Dynamics 365 on the Microsoft Cloud:

 

1. Higher Security

The level of data-security that Microsoft provide is far higher than many companies can afford to provide by themselves, and it is all included in the price, taking that worry away from you.

2. Less Hassle

Upgrades, maintenance, and system administration are all managed at Microsoft. This means you won’t need to spend time or energy managing a dedicated IT department or contractors when servers go down or software updates mandate a system tweak.

3. Lower Costs

Because there is not a big hardware install, your capital expenditure is much lower. So you benefit from better cash flow and greater flexibility, which reduces your overall costs.

4. Greater Flexibility

You can add or remove users as your business requires them. So short-term projects become cost-effective, because you only pay for additional license fees for the duration of the project. And as your business grows, so does Microsoft Dynamics 365. Because it can run 100,000 users concurrently, Dynamics 365 will never cap your growth.

5. Quicker Return

Time is money, and with the on-premise set up being far more complex, you will get a much quicker return in your business if you opt for an online system. The online system can be installed in a day and your business can be running it at its max in a matter of weeks, meaning you’ll quickly see a meaningful return on your investment.

6. Assistance Wherever You Are

Wherever your company expands to you’ll find that there’ll always be a Microsoft partner proficient in Dynamics 365 nearby. This means that help or advice will never be far away. With Microsoft Dynamics 365 currently operating in 40 countries in 41 different languages, it’s truly a global product.

7. Greater Access

With the world becoming more mobile, it’s essential that everyone in your business can access information wherever they are. With Dynamics 365 you don’t even need a laptop as you can get full functionality via your tablet or even your cell phone (Android, iOS, or Windows).

8. Greater Cost Efficiency

You only pay for the users that are active on the system. In traditional deployments you purchase a number of licenses up front but with Dynamics 365, you can adjust what you pay according to the needs of your business. So the cost is mainly an operational cost, and only increases as your business does.

9. Guaranteed Uptime

Microsoft promise a 99.9% uptime or they will give you your money back. With multiple global data centres, you don’t need to worry about glitches or bugs, or even cyber attacks, as Microsoft has this covered, leaving you to focus on your core business.

10. Strict Data Protection

Because we care about your data, if you go with us, we’ll place your data in centres in Europe, where the strict European laws ensure that your data remains your own. In contrast, if you house your data yourself, you come under the data protection laws of the country that you reside in.

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What is the Minimum Viable Product?

What is the Minimum Viable Product?

What is the Minimum Viable Product?

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a commonly misunderstood term. This video is adapted from Crisp’s blog by Henrik Kniberg explaining his, now famous, MVP drawing. His drawing shows up all over the place, in articles and presentations, even in a book (Jeff Patton’s “User Story Mapping”).

 

Many state that the drawing really captures the essence of iterative and incremental development, lean startup, and MVP (minimum viable product). However, some misinterpret it, which is quite natural when you take a picture out of its original context. Some criticize it for oversimplifying things, which is true. The picture is a metaphor. That’s why we’ve made this video to put the picture in its true context. Enjoy.

Want to find out more?

Check out how our implementation process makes use of the minimal viable product.

CRM implementation

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