Customising your CRM solution is easier than ever

Think customised CRM solutions are expensive? Think again!

Where do you start when you’re looking for a new business system? There are so many choices that it can often seem overwhelming.

If you choose solution A, it does so many things, but not this specific thing which is key to your business; or you could choose solution B, which doesn’t do as much as you would like, but has the key component you require.

But the key question is, why should you have to settle for something that doesn’t do everything you need?

Customisable CRM solutions with Microsoft

Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (D365CE) is built on the Common Data Service (CDS), a platform designed to give users a great starting point but one which allows you to extend beyond this with endless possibilities. That’s all very abstract, so let’s talk about some examples.

Every business in the world interacts with people, whether this is someone looking to purchase something, someone looking to get something fixed or replaced, or maybe someone looking for a bit of information. Information about this person may need to be captured – details like their full name, email address, telephone number, address and, in this GDPR era, marketing opt-ins/outs. This is a basic contact record in D365CE/CDS and everything mentioned above is already built and available when you use the application.

But that is a core aspect of a lot of customer relationship management (CRM) systems. What about something that isn’t included as standard, like loyalty cards and transactions on these cards? D365 does not offer loyalty cards or transactions out of the box, but these record types can be created.

That sounds a lot like custom development work, which sounds expensive. In reality, it’s not at all; I’ll explain why.

Customisation in minutes, not days

Dynamics 365 CE/CDS is designed to be extended beyond what Microsoft offers in a simple, easy way. The reason is that no business has the exact same requirements as another business. Taking loyalty cards as an example, we create a record type called ‘loyalty cards’ with the ability to record the unique loyalty card number, the person this card belongs to, when this card was given to the person and the last time it was used.

Technically speaking, we need a new database table with four attributes to be created, then we need to create fields on a form and mechanisms to populate these in the database. We also need a way to create new records, update them, delete them and custom code to do the automation in the field which shows the last time the card was used.

That sounds like a lot of work, 2-3 days maybe. But using Dynamics 365/Common Data Service, we can do all this in just 10-15 minutes. Yes, really!

We need four fields to be created. Firstly, the loyalty card number (which will be an auto-generated number for uniqueness); this is a built-in feature that we configure. The person this card belongs to is a link to the contact record, which is already part of the platform. This relationship we create is two-way, meaning we can see the loyalty card the contact has, and the contact that has this loyalty card. But we just create one field and the system does the rest, as if by magic.

We created the loyalty card record when it the card was given to the user, so by default the record has a created-on date which we don’t need to configure – another fantastic core component of D365CE/CDS. Lastly, we need the last time this card was used – this requires an element of automation. We create a date field to store the data and then create some automation to update this when the person purchases something.

Creating a CRM solution that truly meets your needs

The platform allows you to customise the user experience by removing or adding fields, redesigning forms or changing the way you enter data. If you need to record something else, you can build new record types within minutes and capture the data. You can model these data needs and create relationships so that you can report from this data. If you want to automate a process, it’s fully capable of doing that and with deep integrations into Office 365, activities like sending emails, creating tasks or appointments are all a doddle.

Dynamics 365 Sales or Customer Service turbo-charges this base platform, giving you everything in the Common Data Service but more specialised functionality around sales and customer service. Again, if the process, the fields, the forms or anything else doesn’t work for your business, we simply extend what it does in a matter of minutes!

The choice between solution A and solution B no longer needs to be a choice. Thanks to Microsoft’s innovative platforms, you can choose solution C(DS) or solution D(365CE) and get everything your business needs!

Interested in finding out how we can use the Common Data Service to create a solution tailored to your business needs? Get in touch with our Dynamics 365 experts today.