In a perfect world your business is able to run on its own, without need any software. Your sales people can sell, your marketing team targets the right customer, and your customer service representatives jump on problems before your clients call in to complain.
Unfortunately, we do not live in that perfect world. Hundreds of problems hit your desk every day and you need a way to handle them.
Some people try and solve this by throwing together random programs, or even worse, giving those tasks to a person to manually handle them. This ends up creating a lot of confusion at best, and make you lose money at its worst.
That is where a powerful CRM like Microsoft Dynamics 365 tool comes into play.
What exactly is CRM?
To really understand how powerful Microsoft Dynamics 365 it’s important to understand what CRM is. CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management and covers every step and process a small business needs to cover their day-to-day operations.
CRM takes all the information that a small business collects and produces and turns it into a powerful tool that lets you analyze information to support and improve customer relations while also giving your sales team the correct data needed to target and bring in more sales.
That is a lot of different solutions and programs that you use in your business and covers a really broad amount of tools.
If you are currently using Excel, Word, or any other Microsoft Office 365 to keep track of your customer’s information or using an online tool to send out automated emails to your clients then in a way you are already taking advantage of your own basic form of CRM.
Why get a CRM solution?
When your business is small these kind of half-measures will work fine. Keeping track of a handful of clients ordering ten computers is not hard, and is easily taken care of yourself. If your business sees any growth, that won’t stay the case.
Assuming you spend 10 minutes handling a client and keeping track of all their order details and information you can understand how that would add up and that does not include any additional tasks like sending follow up emails or setting up reminders for your customer service reps to follow up the order.
The main difference between this process and a CRM solution like Microsoft CRM is that many of the tasks you may be doing manually now are automated.
For someone like me who has to deal with marketing to clients and taking quick feedback from clients and partners, I do not have time to waste trying to get the most recent email or customer information. My colleagues could be out for lunch, sick, or out in the field.
With Microsoft Dynamics CRM any information you collect about a client is immediately available to you. If one of my company’s clients contacts me about a system crash, I can enter their phone number in Microsoft CRM’s search.
That will pull up their customer profile which includes all the information that was added when they first entered the business, and any other interactions they may have had with the company.
If that client tells me that he had been talking to my colleague John about the system crash I can even look at any emails that John had sent or received in relation to this client in Dynamics CRM without ever having to discuss anything with John.
This saves everyone involved an immense amount of time and means instead of everyone wasting the customer’s time and searching through old records and documents your entire focus is on meeting your customer’s needs.
Once I have all the clients information I can then troubleshoot any issues he may have. In this situation, I’ll assume that my client needs to replace some of his company’s hardware before he can get up and running.
Normally at this point if I was using another CRM solution or not using one at all I would call the warehouse, ask them if we have anything in stock, wait, then send an agent to deliver it to him.
With Microsoft CRM solutions I can check what’s in supply in the warehouse from my desk, check technician availability with a powerful tool that tracks my company’s technicians in the field, and schedule a time for them to deliver the items.
If for some reason I am not able to make it into the office the next day, all this has been tracked by Dynamics CRM and John will have access to everything I have done and will be able to take over where I left off.
Redefining efficiency and customer service with Office 365 integration
With my computer shop example we saw how a business using Microsoft Dynamics CRM can cut down on time spent trying to find information. Dynamics CRM really begins to differentiate itself with other CRM solutions like Salesforce when you start to dive into integration with Office 365.
Unlike other CRM solutions that offer integration through third-party programs or none at all, Microsoft CRM solutions provide a full and seamless experience that doesn’t compromise any information.
Not only does Office 365 give you the ability to quickly work on a document together with many other people and maintain the same version, that document can be quickly accessed by Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
One of the most popular functions of a CRM solution is the ability to quickly and easily create dashboards to visualize data and information. When putting together a chart you may pull from a variety of databases available in Dynamics CRM.
But if you find it easier to work with Excel to organize all your information, that is perfectly fine. You are still able to take that information and make it a source for your dashboard charts. That same document that you worked on can then be actively worked on by anyone who has access to it.
With the installation of a free plug-in from Microsoft you can also completely transform how you use Outlook by fully integrating it with Dynamics CRM.
Salespeople will find this especially useful because it cuts out a large bulk of time spent in CRM that salespeople would rather be spending selling by allowing them to do things like sending emails from within conversation chains in Dynamics CRM.
Your marketing team and support team can also use this integration to set up automatic emails and reminders through Microsoft CRM to keep your customers up to date. If a customer’s service agreement or license is about to expire you can set up an automatic email template for them that gets sent out automatically to remind them to renew.
Since you will have access to all your team’s contact information within Dynamics CRM you can have it pull their account manager’s information, send the email from their email address, and create a reminder for that agent to follow up on a future date.
That’s without any direct involvement from you or any of your team. Once you have a template set up for a specific type of event or action, you can have it apply to all accounts or limit it to certain cases. Dynamics CRM and Office 365 integration gives you an extremely high level of control.
Security and accessibility in the cloud or on-premise
Unlike some other CRM solutions out there Microsoft CRM gives you the ability to use your applications offline and more importantly store your data where you want to.
Especially at a time where data breaches, lost information, and security violations like the recent Amazon S3 leaks are possible points of weakness for a business. If you work with government or deal with customers who demand a high level of security for their information then Dynamics 365 gives you those options.
With other CRM solutions like Salesforce all your applications are online and in the cloud. You do not have the same ability to use your applications offline and much of your data is held up in the cloud.
I will be the first person to say that when used properly cloud storage and cloud solutions provide great value and security for any small business. But I am also realistic and will acknowledge that the customer’s security concerns always come first.
It’s important to note that the on-premise version requires a significant investment of time, capital, and professional experience to set up. While the experience may be the same, you will need to invest a lot more to get up and running.
If you do not have in-house experience with setting up Dynamics CRM then you will have a lot of trouble setting up, especially for an on-premise implementation. This is where a Microsoft partner or implementation specialist will come into the story.
Working with a company like Gestisoft will allow a smaller company to work with an experienced partner who has decades of experience putting together custom CRM solutions for small businesses.
While you run your business, partners like Gestisoft work with you and your team to not only get Dynamics CRM working for your businesses but to figure out the perfect, tailored implementation. That means meeting with your team, seeing how it works, and setting up a system that is easily managed by you.
Pricing that fits your needs
Microsoft CRM pricing continues the trend of flexibility that Dynamics CRM has. Rather than a single license price that all users have to pay, Microsoft has offered many different options for Dynamics 365.
If you’re only interested in few applications available in Microsoft CRM like Dynamics 365 for Customer Service or Dynamic 365 for sales, you can pick these individual applications.
The prices offered directly from Microsoft can vary greatly, but generally start at about 40 USD for businesses and can go up to nearly 200 USD depending on whether you purchase a business plan, an enterprise plan, or add on additional features and applications.
Here’s the price list of different Microsoft licences
However, one extremely important price point to keep in mind is the ability to bring on users with the extremely cost-effective Team Member license which starts at $9.70-CDN.
This gives you the ability to give people who don’t need the full functionality of Dynamics CRM like an administrator or a manager would, but still have access to many of the great features that Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers like:
- Update personal information
- User Reporting and dashboards
- Edit Custom Entities
- Managing person information
- Create requisitions
- Create, edit, delete a quote or requisition
If you are currently using an older version of Microsoft CRM or another CRM solution and find that it is too expensive for all your team to access this can be a great solution.
Previously it may have been too expensive for you to use a solution like this, especially for people who only have minor roles in sales or customer service, for you to consider budgeting for the user.
With this option you can easily have your entire team completely connected to the Dynamics CRM experience without compromise.
Choosing the right partner to build your CRM
We’ve covered CRM and the advantages of Microsoft CRM solutions over other solutions, but now comes the time to decide on how to get CRM working for you as fast as possible.
There are two ways that you can buy and implement Dynamics CRM: Directly through Microsoft or through a Microsoft partner. Both have distinct advantages and disadvantages for small business clients.
Going directly through Microsoft gives you the ability to get Dynamics CRM directly from Microsoft themselves and will receive support directly from Microsoft. However, a lot of the work will be left up to you.
While Microsoft will help you set up Microsoft Dynamics CRM they might not provide detailed customization like a partner would. Pricing will also be standard through Microsoft, but you may end up paying more overall, especially if you decide to get Office 365 or other services through them.
You will also need to do a lot of research on your own on exactly what you need, and how it should be done. If you have the expertise and time to take on a lot of the burden, going directly with Microsoft for CRM would be the right choice.
The main advantage you get with using a Microsoft partner is service and customization. When working with an experienced and professional company you’ll be able to figure out the most effective way to use CRM for your company.
You will be able to tailor that solution exactly how you need it, figure out the level of support that you need, and get a strong support system running. Partners may also offer additional services like migrations or additional technical assistance that Microsoft may charge you for.
The important thing to do when looking for a qualified partner to help with Microsoft CRM integration is to research, research, research.
Make sure the people you choose to help you implement Microsoft CRM have lots of experience, are always open to feedback, and clear about pricing.
If you decide to go with a partner you can also potentially save big on your licenses for Office 365 and other solutions that Microsoft partners offer. If you decide to get Office 365 directly through Microsoft you can end up paying up to two dollars more than getting the same service through a partner.
Take your small business to the next level
Microsoft Dynamics CRM can totally change how you do business by cutting wasted time and connecting all of your teams to empower their sales and customer service.
However regardless of the solution that you end up using, make it a goal to continue reading up on and researching CRM solutions. If you want your business to succeed in an age where a speedy response and premium customer service are directly connected, you need to start implementing ways to make your business more efficient.
If you are still unsure about the power of Microsoft Dynamics CRM then contact any potential Microsoft partners you are considering and ask them for a demo. They will be able to run you through some of the basics and show what a powerful tool it can be.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has really done a lot to change how CRM is used and redefined a lot of what we knew, so make the decision now before your competition gets ahead of you.