Customer Relationship Management with Microsoft Dynamics 365

We’ve talked before about the importance and function of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, but CRM is more than a technological tool – it’s a systemic approach towards building a relationship with your customers. Let’s take a deeper look at the strategy that drives customer relationship management and then how technology like Microsoft Dynamics 365 can properly enable it.

What is Customer Relationship Management

The process of customer relationship management can be understood as a combination of practices, strategies, and technologies used to manage and analyze customer interactions and data – with the goal of improving relationships with leads, prospects, and customers to boost customer retention and drive sales growth.

Essentially, the CRM process seeks to improve relationships throughout the customer lifecycle and can be thought of as a five-step operation that touches three important areas of your business: marketing, sales, and customer service.

The Five Steps of the CRM Process

The process begins by reaching out to potential customers and then supporting them through sales support and customer service with the ultimate goal of winning their loyalty.

  1. Generate Brand Awareness
    This is where your marketing team expands the reach of your business. Their job is to get your target audience aware of your brand and services through marketing campaigns. Marketing will conduct research into demographics, interests, buying patterns, and other relevant data points in addition to creating useful tools like buyer personas to develop effective campaigns.
  2. Acquire Leads
    This step can be a coordination of sales and marketing, where your teams use different communication channels (sign up forms, direct emails, webinars, live chats, etc.) to gather contact information and other important information about your target customers.
  3. Convert Leads into Customers
    Here, targeted messaging does the heavy lifting as leads are nurtured through a variety of content and encouraged to take advantages of different sales opportunities. Continuous communication is crucial, and it should be personalized and contextualized.
  4. Provide Quality Customer Support
    The customer has made a purchase, now ensure that they’re satisfied and more likely to return. Customer support teams need to be able to reach out through whichever channels are most convenient for your customers, and then be able to quickly answer questions, take feedback, and resolve issues.
  5. Drive Upsells and Referrals
    Direct your customers towards upsells related to their purchase or general interests. One way to do this is by checking in and following up. For example, offer a customer an incentive if their friend makes a purchase. If your team can make your customers feel valued, then they’re more likely to become advocates and recommend you to others.

With a set strategy in place, companies can then effectively execute the CRM process by setting an organizational structure and employing the right technological tools.

How Businesses Can Support the CRM Process

A foundational approach to enabling the customer relationship management process starts by developing and focusing on the capabilities of your organization.

  • Plan Processes – Establish the best practices about how your marketing, sales, and customer service teams should interact with customers. You’ll want to have guidelines on how individuals and teams can build relationships, access data, develop resources, communicate with each other, and receive feedback.
  • Build Knowledge – Determine the most effective means of capturing and then utilizing customer data. Rather than locking data into separate silos, gather content in a centralized database so that teams can share and collaborate. Have the data analyzed to provide regular feedback on how your processes are working, and then make any necessary adjustments.
  • Support Your Team – Review the capabilities of your internal teams, with the goal of understanding the strengths of different departments and what their responsibilities should be. Follow-up with training on processes and then provide individuals with the tools they need to succeed.

After determining a structure, technology – like a CRM platform – can be employed to support the customer management process by:

  • Tracking leads through their customer journey via the collection and analysis of data involving marketing, sales, and customer service or field service.
  • Conveniently storing customer information in a central place so that team members can have immediate visibility into whatever they need, the moment they need it. This also ensures that data is complete and consistent across all departments.
  • Centralizing tasks and data to help increase the efficiency of sales and marketing teams, so they’re able to focus on what matters most, mainly staying on top of opportunities and building a more optimized customer experience.
  • Employing a cloud CRM system to provide additional benefits for your team, including a more scalable system to handle larger teams and more data, easier access from any location, and simpler integration with other applications.

The 9 Most Important Things You Can do with a CRM Solution

The real power of a CRM solution is less about what the tech does, and more about what your team members can do with it. Here are nine of the specific benefits afforded to your marketing, sales, and customer service teams when they employ a CRM system for customer engagement.

  1. Gain a more comprehensive understand of customer behavior – Employees can see different points where customers engage with the CRM process, from initial outreach to any customer service issues. This customer 360-view can highlight possible pain points or areas of the customer journey that are causing problems, which will spotlight areas to be improved or optimized.
  2. Connect with customers through multiple channels – It’s easier to leave no stone unturned when employees can use all possible methods outreach from within one solution/interface. Whatever is the most convenient means of outreach – live chat, email, social media, direct calls – can be used to connect with customers to build trust and loyalty.
  3. Quickly complete tasks through automated functions – Automated tasks and workflows help to streamline the process of sending out marketing materials, entering customer information and recording sales data. By eliminating the need to complete repetitive tasks, employees are enabled to focus more on higher level (and higher impact) activities like developing strategies and directly connecting with customers.
  4. Enhance security and roles to protect data – Greater access to data and more opportunities for collaboration also require that users protect data integrity. Different models of security, such as field-level, form-based, and role-based “apps” can be configured to allow or restrict different points of access for users. This helps to maintain accountability across the organization and protect important data.
  5. Be better able to track leads – Employees can better track engagement throughout the customer journey with a clear view of who else has engaged with specific customers. Employees can get an instant understanding of a customer’s history, a view of current status and even recommendations for future action.
  6. Monitor sales more effectively – Access sales performance data in real time to gain the most accurate and timely picture of current sales. Compare current sales to past performances to evaluate the performances of teams and campaigns as well as identify and catch slowdowns or bottlenecks before they become a problem.
  7. Get faster with automated insights and analysis – Apply machine learning and AI models to better understand customer data and get actionable insights, including recommendations for prescriptive actions, such as alerts for following up with customers or handing them off to different parts of the sales process.
  8. Produce more detailed reporting – More effectively create, analyze, process, and render reports through user-friendly interfaces that allow for specific customization, integration of large data sets, and improved process and rendering times that can be done in seconds. This increases efficiency and helps in identifying the best course of action.
  9. Easier integration with other products – No more disparate platforms, so employees can say goodbye to data system silos. Integrating CRMs via software development kits (SDK) and application programming interfaces (API) allows for the system to integrate with any number of third-party services or technologies.

Why Use Microsoft Dynamics 365 for CRM?

As one of the most comprehensive CRM platforms across all industries, Microsoft Dynamics 365 provides all the general benefits of CRM technology in conjunction with features and flexibility that are unique to Microsoft.

  • D365’s familiar and intuitive user interface ranks highly for ease of integration, as well as quality and availability of training for end-users. Users can create powerful and flexible workflows thanks to the Power Automate custom workflow builder.
  • D365 has a direct, seamless integration with other popular Microsoft products, including other D365 apps and all the Office 365 apps. This increased familiarity means more straightforward training and easier employee adoption. Plus, seamless integration with other applications like LinkedIn Sales Navigator further improves productivity and efficiency.
  • D365 has the potential for long-term savings by maximizing a company’s investment into its Microsoft technology stack. A full digital transformation and adoption of cloud services can further maximize efficiencies and save on maintenance costs of hardware. Different pricing options can be tailored to fit the needs of an organization.

Here’s where Dynamics 365 fits into the CRM process:

Marketing

D365 Marketing can:

  • Better engage customers in real-time through content that seamlessly connects across different channels.
  • Build loyalty faster through improved communications, a consistent end-to-end journey experience, and more opportunities for nurturing leads.
  • Maximize customer engagement through AI-recommended offers and content. Track goals and performance through real-time KPIs and develop insights through analytics.

Sales

D365 Sales can:

  • Give your sales team the capability to automatically prioritize customers and activities and enable better communication through built-in collaboration features.
  • Provide managers with the tools to better plan and forecast campaigns and opportunities. The capability of more oversight through automatic updates allows them to coach individuals at any scale.
  • Offer configurable sales processes and customizable AI to allow your team to tailor functions for specific roles and purposes – it’s a tailored process instead of one-size-fits-all.

Service

D365 Customer Service can:

  • Enable customer self-service support thanks to virtual agents and community portals through direct access to the company knowledge base.
  • Generate at-a-glance overviews for CS agents to anticipate customer needs and allow them to interact directly through a customer’s preferred channel.
  • Facilitate faster communication between CS teams and subject matter experts and give instant access to analysis and insights about customer actions and feedback.

D365 Field Service can:

  • Integrate with IoT sensors and AI-powered insights to allow for the detection of issues before they become problems, making for faster and easier resolutions.
  • Allow technicians to have access to mixed-reality tools for more detailed maintenance process, collaborate remotely, and easily manage schedules and appointments with mobile apps.
  • Increase customer engagement and satisfaction through personalized surveys, self-service scheduling, and real-time technician location updates that speak to specific needs and keeps customers informed.

Why Hitachi Solutions

For all the power that Microsoft CRM technology offers, understanding best practices in integrating it with your organization needs to be the foundation for your customer relationship management process. Hitachi Solutions has years of industry experience and our own unique IP in integrating the D365 platform for different teams.

We understand how the D365 CRM platform works with other parts of the Microsoft stack – including ERP services like Finance, Commerce, and Project Operations, as well as other Microsoft products and services – such as Azure, Power Platform, and Teams – to benefit every aspect of your organization.

Our curated business services provide

  • A complete and integrated solution portfolio
  • Robust advisory capabilities
  • Flexible delivery models
  • Faster time to market
  • And more

To learn more about how Hitachi Solutions can make D365 technology a part of your CRM process, contact us.