Microsoft Dynamics CRM: top-notch Customer Relationship Management software

 

Effective business management requires well-integrated software.  For communication to be simplified within the company and customers, many companies choose to implement Customer Relationship Management software.  The most powerful, scalable and easy-to-use system that allows employees and customers to benefit from effective organization and communication is CRM.

Effective Customer Service

A company’s success rate and its strong position in the market is most often determined by the customer satisfaction index just after a completed trade or exchange of services.  Studies show that in 70% of cases the reason for a change of service provider is poor customer service.  To avoid this happening, companies should monitor the level of realized needs and customer satisfaction on a regular basis.  Doing so can translate later into customer loyalty.  Every entrepreneur in today’s world dreams of dealing with a customer who is constantly making purchases, recommends the company to others and is easy-going.

It turns out that measuring consumer satisfaction and service quality does not have to be a tedious, time-consuming or laborious process.  Today’s technology allows you to fully mechanize your research so that employees can immediately react to the deviations from the norm after making a purchase or receiving a service and thus creating a positive image of the business.  CRM systems are responsible for this type of management of customer relationships. 

It’s worth remembering that not all customers who express satisfaction with a company’s service can be dubbed loyal, as they may not want a long-term relationship with the company.  Recurrent research using a CRM system in the form of email, web, or phone surveys allows for such issues to eliminated quickly.

Mechanization of business processes

All company related activities can be understood as business processes.  In order for a process to be successful and profitable for the company, certain conditions must be fulfilled:

– The process must be clearly defined. The goals, elements of implementation, beginning and end of the process must be precisely defined
– All activities must be sequenced in the right order and their order pre-determined (usually by managerial staff)
– The outcome of the process should add value (positive or negative) to the company and recipient
– The customer must be the recipient of the process results
– The process cannot exist in itself, it must be ingrained in the organization

An example of a business process can be a client order, eg. from an editorial office to a printing house.  The editorial office signs a contract with the printing house allowing them to produce a newspaper which had been prepared and put together beforehand.  The printing house prints this paper daily.  It also handles the delivery of the paper to both newsagents and newsstands and it coordinates subscriber shipments.

An example of a business process can be a client order, eg. from an editorial office to a printing house.  The editorial office signs a contract with the printing house allowing them to produce a newspaper which had been prepared and put together beforehand.  The printing house prints this paper daily.  It also handles the delivery of the paper to both newsagents and newsstands and it coordinates subscriber shipments.

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For many years, the end of the above-mentioned process (eg. the newspaper being read by the consumer over breakfast) was the result of manual labor.  Printing of a newspaper was a process that involved a large number of human resources, equipment, paper, ink, etc.  The development of the IT industry and the popularization of personal computers in the late 70s and 80s sparked a revolution in this area.  This allowed for an almost complete mechanization of business processes.  With IT solutions, all elements – from the editorial office order to the delivery of newspapers to its recipients – take place with the help of computers and the systems installed, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management.  It is a multifaceted and centralized platform where communication and data regarding the company’s relationship with the client is stored.   CRM evolved from the concept of Customer Relationship Marketing and Customer Service Support and came into use in the mid 80’s.  The use of CRM in the functioning of a company is so multifaceted that it is difficult to have one concise definition.  Several areas have been identified that are crucial in understanding the concept:

-Management – the basis of every company’s activity is contact with the customer that drives the work and exchanges the service or product for money (business profits). The essence of managing any kind of business is fulfilling the needs of the client and achieving the goals as efficiently as possible.  A well-implemented CRM system that management chooses comes into play here.

-Sales – unlike some branches of management, the sales department is the area where the company is able to have direct contact with the customer. Trade is conducted for the benefit of both parties.  Every buyer expects the highest quality products but they also desire speed of service and effective communication with the company.

-IT – this branch focuses on the technical, software, internet and hardware capabilities that can successfully deliver the tasks set by all of the above-mentioned sectors of the company. It is important that CRM is integrated with the rest of the systems operating in the company.  This will eliminate chaos and will allow new employees to be better familiarized with the systems.

-Strategy – CRM is not just a tool but also part of an ideology (the company’s goals and mission). The way in which a client-company relationship works projects to the whole company regarding prospective clients and competitors.

Generally speaking, CRM is a system that consists of a series of programs and applications that are responsible for communication with the client and company.  It is estimated that business profits increase by 15% to 20% just after the introduction of CRM systems.  Most of the software commercially available is based on funnel architecture – best illustrated by comparing it to a funnel.  The wide entrance are the leads which can be understood as potential customers and the small exit are the contracts.

The potential customers who come into contact with the company’s CRM software can be divided into three types of sales:

  • HOT LEAD – customers that are determined to use the services of the company. Their service needs to start immediately, otherwise they can choose a competitor’s services instead. Example of a hot lead: Mrs. X opens a shoe store and needs a system that will be responsible for delivery and orders.  She reaches out to the company representatives who have such software.
  • WARM LEAD – potential customers that express an interest in using the company’s services and often want to develop this trade relationship with a delay. In this case, you need to maintain ongoing contact with the customer.  After some time, a warm lead often turns into a hot lead.  For example: Mrs. X plans to open a shoe store and needs a system that will be responsible for delivery and orders, but she is currently waiting for her loan to be granted.
  • COLD LEAD – those who are not interested in the company’s services but there is a possibility that in the future they may become warm or hot leads. In this case, the company does not have to rush to use CRM, but should bear in mind that in the future this person may become a potential customer.  Example: Mrs. X plans to open a shoe store, but at this stage she does not know what she will need.

The three most important elements of CRM are:

  • Communication – it directs all access channels to the customer (eg. phone line, website, online store, email, sales representatives) and reflects customer service standards
  • Operational – responsible for automating basic business processes (eg. marketing, sales, management, advertising)
  • Analytical – analyzes customer behavior across all available and used communication channels and groups them (customer segmentation) and assigns a specified business priority (loyalty analysis, value)

The technical side presents a slightly different, shorter CRM system layout:

  • Main server
  • Databases and possible secondary servers
  • User interface (clients and employees)

The tools and segments that are used when working in CRM are:

  • Management of promotions and advertising
  • Management of addresses and leads
  • Creation of database
  • Sales automation – SFA
  • Call Center – telephone customer service
  • Contact Center – expansion of call center by e-mail, chats, SMS, fax etc.

An example of this type of system is Microsoft Dynamics CRM, a multi-lingual server application that is synchronized with other Microsoft products.  Who isn’t familiar with these popular programs – Microsoft Word or Microsoft Excel?  Both programs are part of the Microsoft Office package.  Taking this factor into account, the implementation of CRM will be much easier for employees, given their familiarity with previous Redmond products.  The most popular versions of this system are Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 and Microsoft Dynamics 365.

CRM Capabilities

Economists and management experts define CRM as not only a tool but also as a key element of the business strategy in which the consumer is the most important.  The capabilities of these systems are still expanding.  It often happens that companies that offer customer relationship management software propose extremely different (and often unhelpful) program features.  The most effective company in this case is Microsoft which is constantly improving the most advanced CRM software, Microsoft Dynamics.

Below are some example capabilities of Customer Relationship Management software:

  • Creating a customer database the system (especially with Microsoft Dynamics CRM) provides servers where you can catalog and archive information about potential and existing customers, their purchase history, preferences and contact details. This will improve the level of sales and contact with the customer (the best way to reach individual customers).
  • Communication with the customer – the previously described customer database will make it easier for employees to select an effective communication channel. Also, the customer should be able to contact the company quickly so it’s a good idea to have an attractive interface and an easy-to-use business website.  It’s also vital to mobilize staff to respond quickly to emails and phone calls.
  • Analysis – CRM collects all information generated by the company. It catalogs, stores and analyzes the data and helps with the development of reports, statistics and analysis
  • Organization of work – all the information you need is in one place. Employees can use a calendar that lists individual jobs and tasks.  This is especially useful for forgetful people.  You can set a special reminder feature (even on your mobile phone) so you do not forget to call a customer
  • Access to mail, calendar and documents anywhere and from any mobile device

Implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM into your business

Mechanizing the important process of creating and maintaining customer relationships can prove to be a challenge for executives and employees.  It’s worth taking some time to develop an implementation plan prior to purchasing a CRM system.  Here are some example steps to take:

STEP ONE – Analysis of the business model, goals, needs, financial position of the company, employee satisfaction and their expectations (duration: 1-6 months)

It is important to firstly consider what are the company’s weaknesses and how to develop the system so that it becomes a well-used tool after its implementation.  Analysis should not be conducted briefly or rashly, as it is better to conduct detailed research and draw conclusions from the data to help improve your business.  You can organize a meeting with employees, get an idea of what your business needs to improve and what their opinion is about implementing a new system;

STEP TWO – Planning the budget, expenses, estimation of loss (duration: 2-4 weeks)

Based on the assessment of the company’s current financial condition, the managerial staff create a preliminary implementation plan of the system (they may be able to make small attempts to implement different systems and analyze their impact) and estimate the financial amount they can allocate to this.

Leaving out the first two steps may result in buying a system that does not meet the needs of the business which can lead to a financial loss.

STEP THREE – Trial implementation, tests, corrections (duration: 1-6 months)

This is the longest lasting stage.  Management takes action by following the analysis and plan that was developed.  They consult with internal and external specialists in order to purchase the right product.  They then conduct a series of tests beginning with actions performed by employees and ending with the client.  This way everyone can report bugs and make suggestions on how to fix them.  The system is also checked to see if it works well, especially on the technical side.  Later down the track there will be no time for corrections.

STEP FOUR – Training (duration: max. 1 month)

Employees must be fully prepared for changes in the company.  This step must not be omitted during the CRM implementation process.  Management should arrange a series of training sessions and be prepared for any kinds of questions.  At the early stages of the reorganization of work it is worth being quite gentle with the employees, as they also need some time to get used to the new system and new way of working.  The advantage will be a pleasant and easy to use system interface.  Additionally, a photo gallery can be added to the program as well as a social forum and calendar for important events within the company.  Anything that can help loosen up the atmosphere and build up the employee’s comfort at work.

STEP FIVE – System launch, profit and loss (duration: max. 1 month)

After months of analyses, corrections and training, the system is finally put into operation.  At this stage problems may also arise, so do not assume that the task is complete. 

If everything goes smoothly, the staff responsible for CRM will prepare a report on the performance and usefulness of the program, as well as a profit and loss statement for the entire company.