An increasing number of companies are looking to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to deal with their expanding relationship base, according to Neil Young, solutions architect with Ergo.
‘‘While customer relationships are important to every business, most organisations, regardless of scale and sector, will need to manage multiple types of relationships. Many find their existing systems are just not flexible enough to accommodate this,’’ said Young.
CRM involves a company-wide approach, in which the customer is at the centre of everything the organisation does. ‘‘A good CRM system should be organic - constantly evolving and easily developed in line with the business,’’ said Young.
Ergo - one of Ireland’s largest Microsoft partners and twice winner of the Microsoft Country Partner of the Year award - deals with a range of clients deploying Dynamics CRM.
All types of businesses, Young said, were looking for smart solutions to facilitate the delivery of sales and customer service. While many are in areas such as pharmaceutical, distribution and financial services, health is also represented.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM could be used, Young said, to manage all kinds of relationships, be they with customers, partners, job candidates or hospital appointments.
‘‘Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital, for example, is currently in the process of deploying Dynamics CRM to help manage consultant appointments more effectively,’’ he said.
According to Young, CRM systems should be rolled out on a phased basis. ‘‘Don’t take a big bang approach. It is important that you pick certain areas of the business that you want to concentrate on, and roll your CRM system across these in a step-by-step approach. Don’t just roll it in across all sales, marketing and customer service functionalities simultaneously.’’
An important part of the service provided by Ergo is consultation about the business case for implementing CRM, according to Young.
‘‘You can’t just turn on a CRM system. We go into organisations to understand customer requirements and then work to tailor solutions, providing an estimate of cost and timeframe which can vary greatly depending on the scale of the project.’’
An online CRM model could be introduced from as little as €40 per user per month and implementation can vary from weeks to months depending on the requirements and size of the business, he said.
Companies should take a bottom - up approach when adopting a CRM system, according to Young. Failure to involve staff on the ground - and garner support for the implementation of the system - could lead to its failure, he warned.
‘‘If you don’t get that adoption correct at the start, negativity can spread quickly.You need senior level sponsorship, but the key to success of any CRM system is to get your staff involved,’’ he said.
CRM offers a slew of benefits to organisations, according to Young. They include the provision of more customer-focused streamlined processes and easily accessible information.‘‘You now have a central system within your organisation that has a single picture of customers and that has to drive benefits to your business.’’ Organisations are in a position to be more responsive to their clients at a time when customer service is all-important," Young said.
He stressed that a CRM system won’t manage customer relationships for an organisation in its own right.
‘‘CRM systems can facilitate this but good business processes must be in place to start with and Ergo can help you review and improve those business processes,’’ he said.
‘‘Customer Relationship Management is not just about implementing a new system. It should be about improving the customer experience and helping everybody in the organisation to serve the customer better,’’ said Young.
One major benefit of Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the ease with which it integrates with other Microsoft technologies such as Dynamics Nav, Lync, SharePoint, and MS Project, he said.
‘‘When everything is well integrated and working together, that is when you get the real benefits. Information no longer exists in silos across the organisation. For example, if a customer has reported an issue to the helpdeskor if a payment is overdue,their accountmanager will be able to see details and ensure that it is being dealt with,’’ said Young.
‘‘Typically organisations have customer management systems. There are tangible and intangible benefits. Having structured customer data will streamline sales processes, improve the customer view and offer a 360-degree view of the customer’s interactionwith the business,’’ he said.
‘‘Achieving that 360-degree view can be a key driver in introducing CRM technologies into an organisation.
When integrated with other business systems, a good CRM system will provide a 360-degree view of all customer interaction points, from the customer service desk to the initiation and tracking of a marketing campaign. It will integrate existing systems that contain key customer information such as accounts or stock control.’’
Microsoft continually invests in the development of its Dynamics platform,Young said. Numerous developments are taking place in social networking to allow organisations to empower their business relationships, he said.
Microsoft ramped up its CRM offering in 2011 with the launch of Dynamics CRM 2011 and Dynamics CRM Online.
Both systems added increased integration with Microsoft Office, allowing users to access customer information through the familiar dashboard of Microsoft Outlook.
Integration with Microsoft Outlook has meant that firms can track what customers are doing with their outbound email, giving them a greater sense of what works when it comes to CRM.
Among other features it also links CRM with social media, providing users with leads from sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.
The Dynamics CRM 2012 update offers an array of new features. These include a new process bar, providing a simple intuitive way for users to work their way through the company’s business process, automatic saving of data and Bing maps on leads, account and contact forms.
Find out more about Microsoft Dynamics CRM Watch a quick video about Microsoft Dynamics User Adoption
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