Not long ago, the mindset for most customer relationship management (CRM) project was to acquire information technology (IT) as quickly as possible in order to keep up with the competition. This approach did not focus on economics and productivity; this was a race to see who could acquire the most software solutions the fastest. By the time most business executives began questioning the benefits of unfocused spending on business solutions—most of which ended up as useless "shelf-ware"—a worldwide economic slowdown stalled the exuberant growth of technology and forced decision makers to assess the real impact of business technology on internal and external business processes.
No longer is the mindset about acquiring lots of technology. Today, it is about buying CRM solutions that leverage existing infrastructure, assets, and skills. And, more important, it is about acquiring tools and solutions that people will use and that integrate easily into the existing business environment.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM version 3.0 was designed specifically to address these requirements. Microsoft CRM is designed to work the way you do, work the way your business does, and work the way technology should.
Microsoft CRM is a customer relationship management solution that provides the tools and capabilities needed to create and easily maintain a clear picture of customers, from first contact through to purchase and post-sales. With modules for sales, marketing, and customer service, Microsoft CRM delivers a fast, flexible, and affordable solution that drives consistent, measurable improvements in every business process, enabling closer relationships with customers and helping to achieve new levels of profitability.
A cornerstone of Microsoft CRM is customer choice. Microsoft CRM offers a broad scope of architectural, deployment, and licensing options designed to provide the maximum in flexibility to meet your business needs both today and tomorrow.
Even for companies with the most complex of sales processes, Microsoft CRM provides easy-to-use features and capabilities to help improve the way sales and marketing organisations target new customers, manage marketing campaigns, and drive sales activities.
The Sales module helps you:
In today's information-driven economy, most companies are awash in customer data. Success requires the ability to transform that information into clear, actionable knowledge and respond more quickly to changing customer needs and preferences. With Microsoft CRM, sales and marketing organisations can have instant access to complete customer information, regardless of where it is stored, along with the tools needed to turn that information into action. This allows your sales and marketing force to:
Every interaction with a customer is an opportunity to strengthen that customer's loyalty by providing high-quality, personalised service. Because it benefits your company to offer customers targeted, relevant information about the products and services that interest them, Microsoft CRM can help enhance customer relationships while maximising the ability to both up-sell and cross-sell. With the Customer Service module your organisation can:
Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile 3.0 lets your sales force use Microsoft CRM as effectively in the field as in the office. Because CRM Mobile 3.0 employs wireless technology, your sales team can manage account information, add and organise contacts, schedule meetings, and track existing opportunities to help them sell more effectively to close deals faster, regardless of location.
Microsoft offers customers choices and flexibility in how they integrate or extend their CRM technology into their business environment as they grow. Customers and partners can take advantage of pre-packaged connectors and connector templates to streamline and accelerate the integration of data and process flows between Microsoft CRM and other packaged and custom applications.
Additionally, Microsoft CRM allows for powerful customisation and integration to meet your evolving business needs. Your Microsoft Certified Partner can help you customise and integrate a hosted Microsoft CRM solution into your business. This includes the integration of third-party ISV applications such as specialised vertical solutions, giving you the ultimate in flexibility.
Microsoft CRM addresses the key opportunities and challenges that determine the success or failure of any CRM initiative: user adoption, business fit, and total cost of ownership. The Microsoft CRM hosted solution is built on the same code base as Microsoft CRM Professional Edition, providing a choice of user interface, online or offline usage, flexible solutions and deployment, and the ability to migrate data as your business needs evolve.
Users have a full range of client interface options, just as they do with an on-premise solution:
Note: Users can switch between access methods any time they wish.
*All options may not be offered by your service provider.
Most customers will use Microsoft CRM in conjunction with other solutions, such as Microsoft Exchange Server and third-party ISV applications. To address these instances, Microsoft provides a variety of Software as a Service (SaaS) arrangements, creating flexible options to best fit your unique business needs.
Following are three possible solution scenarios:
*All options may not be offered by your service provider.
In more than 200 interviews and site visits with Microsoft customers and their customers, the Microsoft Dynamics CRM product and research planning teams found several common themes among companies that were considering customer relationship management solutions.
First, customers expressed an expectation that software must work the way the user does, and, without requiring the user to learn an entirely new set of tools, it must streamline basic tasks in a non-invasive manner. Microsoft CRM addresses this issue by making tools and applications more intuitive and easy to use, enabling companies to increase user adoption and corporate compliance across the organisation.
Additionally, by simplifying complex tasks and ongoing administration, companies are able to free up IT staff and budgets for more strategic purposes, thereby improving customer service throughout the sales cycle. Moreover, because Microsoft CRM 3.0 integrates seamlessly with key software programs such as the Microsoft Office System and Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft-centric IT organisations are able to empower their users to work with the tools they already know, allowing them to take advantage of the power of a full-featured CRM system. This maximises the business value of the CRM system and drives usability excellence.
A second theme was the need for broadened CRM applicability throughout the entire business process. Generally, CRM systems were used almost exclusively by the sales representative or the customer service agent to manage contacts and track cases. however, few organisations were able to extract additional value from the rich business data contained within. Microsoft research has uncovered great potential in increasing the role of CRM as the hub of a customer-centric ecosystem. By improving access to CRM data for use in activities outside of sales, such as marketing and product development, the entire organisation can exploit the capabilities of the CRM system to create more satisfying customer experiences and develop strategies for sustained business success. Furthermore, when combined with Microsoft's Software as a Service (SaaS) approach, your selected CRM system ensures that everyone in your organisation is able to access critical information or get the support they need—quickly, easily, and regardless of where they are or at what time of day they log on.
Finally, regardless of industry or business size, each customer expressed unique CRM requirements that could not be addressed by "out of the box" solutions or without undertaking expensive or difficult customisation work. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 delivers vast improvements that empower users, developers, and administrators to form CRM solutions that address their specific needs, all without adding unnecessary time, effort, or cost.
Today, customers can find a myriad of CRM solutions to fit a variety of needs—from the fully customisable self-hosted solution for the global enterprise, to the Web-hosted solution for smaller businesses dependent on outside expertise. Through its interviews, Microsoft learned that customers wanted a solution that would enable businesses of any size to realise the value of their CRM investment—without requiring users to fundamentally change the way they do their jobs. That is, they wanted a CRM system that would maintain current business processes. Rather than take on a wholesale change in operations to fit the technology, they sought a solution that would work effectively within the requirements of their established IT infrastructure. Microsoft CRM delivers on these requests while staying true to the design principles that support the Microsoft vision of customer relationship management.
The following are the overarching principles and design objectives used to create Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
Integration with the familiar tools users already use and the automation of everyday tasks should be key goals of any software solution. Microsoft has gone beyond the minimal level of compliance by delivering native integration with the Microsoft Office System as well as with new wizards that help users increase productivity for sales, service, and marketing functions.