Microsoft CRM 2013 Releases Spring 14 Update

AKA – even more stuff comes to CRM (Customer Relationship Management).

Where to begin. You’ve watched our history lesson on CRM, right? Good. Let’s take it up a gear.

Say ‘hi’ to the snappily named Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2013 Spring 14 Update.

This follows the new release pattern for Microsoft Dynamics CRM: twice yearly updates, with some only being available on Microsoft’s cloud based version, Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online.

However, in an unusual move, the Spring 14 update is available to both online and on-premise customers.

Here’s a rundown of the new features which are available now:

Market Smarter – Microsoft Dynamics Marketing

Although it’s part of the Spring 14 release, technically Microsoft Dynamics Marketing is a separate product, formed from the acquisition of MarketingPilot.

There are plenty of e-marketing solutions about, many with integrations into CRM solutions, so why pick Microsoft Dynamics Marketing as your solution of choice?

The integration between Marketing and CRM is tight. In a single system, you can plan and manage budgets, collaborate with your team and agencies, and manage your content.

As a result of the excellent campaigns you create, and the pushing of the results to CRM, you will be able to demonstrate the value of your team’s efforts, and the contribution Marketing can make to the bottom line.

Gartner predicts that, by 2017, more IT spending will come from the CMO than the CIO. With the introduction of Marketing into the Microsoft Dynamics family, we’re seeing Microsoft’s response to this.

They acknowledge that customers are changing the way they engage with businesses. You can’t simply send out a piece of direct marketing and expect someone to take up the call to action.

Today, your customer is 70% of the way through the buying process before they even start talking to you. By the time you speak to them, they have already formed a hypothesis. And where have they formed this?

In part, by social media – that noisy place without filters. As a result, social selling is on the rise.

Sell Effectively – Microsoft Social Listening

How do you keep track of how your brand is being perceived? How can you leverage this to increase sales? (I’m starting to feel sorry for my Marketing colleagues – all these questions!)

What if you could spot trends in sentiment analysis in one place? Ta-dah! Microsoft Social Listening is here to help. In my view, there are two key ways to use Social Listening.

1. Keep track of your brand terms (e.g. ‘TSG’) and see what people are talking about. React by responding to this directly from within Microsoft Social Listening. Address any negativity.

2. Spot opportunity by searching terms that fit what you do as a business. For TSG, we might search ‘SharePoint’. Where someone tweets ‘I’m having a mare with ’ you interact, help, save the day and generate a lead.

According to Peppers and Rogers (2008), highly engaged customers deliver a 23% increase in profitability and revenue. In a world of similar services, crowd-sourcing and very public reviews, the customer service you provide is often how you differentiate from your competitors.

Here’s a video to help explain Microsoft Social Listening a little more:

Care Everywhere – Unified Service Desk

I was recently relayed a tale of how a friend of mine had a rant on Twitter and the response came back asking her to call the Customer Service department, helpfully providing the telephone number. When she called, the call centre agent had no knowledge of the rant and promptly asked for all the details.

People now expect businesses to have a connected approach to customer service. If your customer service strategy doesn’t meet this expectation, you’re potentially alienating people at a time when they’re already frustrated. With the Spring 14 release, there is now a single tool with which to deliver this joined-up experience.

The Unified Service Desk gives your team the tools to respond to the channel of the customer’s choice. It provides a single place for them to go to find the right answer and tools to help them make the right decision for the customer.

The USD is a client that is installed locally on an agent’s computer, and is ideal for businesses with a call centre type environment. But even if you have a relatively small team, there are added features in the update, such as Service Level Agreements and service-oriented workflow tools, which you can benefit from.

Driving resolution times down, by providing your team with these tools will improve customer service, ensure you retain the customer and help generate further opportunities.

Want more?

Of course you do.

Finally, we get server-side synchronisation of activities. You no longer need to be in Outlook and connected to your CRM system to synchronise. This is great news for any users in the field, such as field-based engineers, who can just get on with the job as they come in. Furthermore, if your users are out and about, why not use the updated mobile apps for iPad and Windows 8?

If you have Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, and want to test changes before rolling out live, then you can now do this with the free Sandbox environment. Nice and safe.

So, what to do. If you have an online system, you will have the option to switch on new features that are available. For on-premise customers, this is listed as Service Pack 1 and must be applied. Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and Microsoft Social Listening are available as separate subscriptions, regardless of whether you are an online or on-premise customer.

How this affects licensing is a little complicated. But we’re more than happy to talk you through the precise details and we can also give you a demonstration – you have to see this release!

Within it, Microsoft have three new areas (adding further functionality to an already excellent product) and have broadened its business solution to also cover marketing automation, social analytics and improved customer service.