CRM...Show me why you're so cool
My job is hard.
No, no, it really is.
I’m presented with new applications and new versions of existing applications all the time.
Before you start feeling too sorry for me, I’m not complaining. It means there’s always new stuff to play with. What’s sometimes difficult however, is needing to differentiate between similar tools from different vendors.
Let’s face it, accounting solutions’ core functionality is essentially the same: record an order, send an invoice, manage payments (I know it’s much more than this, of course). All vendors have one eye on the competition; they all have battle cards; they all argue theirs is the best.
As an independent provider of technology services, TSG is in a strong position to sift through the PR buzzwords and offer reasoned advice on which solution best fits your business.
When it comes to CRM however, there are a number of features that differentiate Sage CRM, Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, for example. So, when a new version of a product is released, we’re all keen to get under the bonnet, try out the new stuff, and work out how best to position it.
With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, that factfinding is happening more and more frequently. It doesn’t seem long since I posted on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Spring 14 Update.
It's been six months to be approximately precise (oxymoron), which is fulfilling the commitment to six-monthly updates that Microsoft made when launching the 2013 version.
This week marks the launch of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015. So, let’s get on with it. What’s in the new release?
Microsoft are making a lot of noise about the changing sales landscape and how, as social media butterflies, we all engage with the providers of products or services in a different way to days of ye olde worlde.
The theme from 2013 continues with more improvements to break down departmental barriers. If you have Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, you will be able to publish your campaign calendar to CRM so that your colleagues in Sales can see what’s happening and opt customers in.
One of the complaints about 2013 was the change in navigation. It’s something that you have to get used to, and if you have a touch device, it’s much better, but 2015 now allows you to see and navigate between records in a hierarchy. This is particularly useful when dealing with a group of companies or companies that are just linked together, and much more intuitive to the user.
Guiding the Sales Team
As much as we’d like to think we know our internal processes, sometimes it’s good to give a helping hand. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 introduced business process flows and they’ve been welcomed with open arms. Now, improved business processes allow you to branch off based on certain decision trees (if this, then that etc.) – handy.
Hooking right into the idea that users want to be as efficient as possible, Microsoft has finally introduced a feature that we’ve needed to write ourselves for several CRM projects previously.
Rather than having to add individual products to a quote/order/invoice that make up a bundle of products, these can now be pre-defined. You add one bundle, all the products are added as part of the record. There are also suggestions for cross-sell opportunities based on what you’re selecting. Now that’s clever.
Flexible Customer Service
If you remember from the last instalment, Microsoft introduced a much welcomed SLA function into CRM. Well, further improvements have been made, with SLAs now being able to be paused, giving a bit more flexibility.
As part of the whole Dynamics solution, there is a push on what is being branded ‘Parature by Microsoft’ – still a separate product for omni-channel engagement (oops, buzzword, sorry Carole) but slowly being brought into the Dynamics family.
Licencing models have changed on this element with ‘Parature by Microsoft’ now being included as part of the Enterprise licence.
Upgrading from version 2013 is relatively painless. The new look and feel that 2013 introduced has matured, so those older forms, transitioned from 2011, are no more.
Code suitable for 2013 will work with 2015. What this means for you is that, as we continue with the six-monthly cycle, the sooner you can move from 2011 or older, the better. It may be a significant jump initially, but it really is worth it in the end.
The Cool Stuff
I’m not saying all the features above aren’t cool, but this blog likes to bring you innovation, and here it is.
We all know, by now, that we use multiple devices. The Microsoft Dynamics CRM mobile app is a great tool that now offers role-tailored dashboards and, importantly, an improved offline experience.
But the pièce de résistance is the use of voice commands for Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana. The premise is that you can create tasks, appointments, phone calls, view your customer lists and so on, on the go, with the help of your built-in digital assistant.
This video is, well, a bit cringeworthy, but it gets the idea across:
In reality, the number of commands is currently limited, and you have to speak very loudly and very clearly for it to understand.
But Cortana is currently in beta, and the phone model is bound to have an impact. Nonetheless, the fact that you can talk to your CRM system certainly sets Microsoft Dynamics CRM apart from its rivals, and such technology helps make my job a little easier.
If you’d like to see Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 in action, we are running a launch webinar on Thursday 18th December at 11am. To get yourself on the advanced attendee list please email firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can contact your Account Manager to arrange a live demonstration.