Before we can jump into details of customization capabilities of Microsoft
Dynamics CRM 3.0, we need to cover a little background information about
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 and introduce some of the core concepts and
terminology you'll use throughout this book.
Life Without CRM
Think back to a particularly bad customer service experience. Maybe you called
a customer service phone number and were transferred to five different people,
and every single person asked you the same questions, so you had to keep
repeating the same answers over and over again. Or perhaps a salesperson pulled
together a proposal for you but forgot to include your preferred-customer
pricing in the quote. Or maybe a credit card company mailed you an application
for a new account, even though you've had an account with that company for 10
years. You probably thought to yourself, "Why doesn't this company know who I
am?" Does this sound familiar?
As its name implies, the goal of customer relationship management (CRM) is to
enable businesses to manage each and every customer experience better. More
importantly, CRM strategy recognizes that customer experiences span over time
and that a typical customer might interact with your business 50 to 100 times
in the course of your relationship. Ideally, your company could provide each
customer a personalized experience based on the customer's unique history of
interactions with you. For example, you wouldn't ask long-standing customers if
they would like to open an account; when customers call your customer service
department, you wouldn't have to ask them to answer the same questions over and
over again; and your most valuable customers would always receive preferred
Important The purpose of CRM is to enable businesses to track and manage
all of their customer interactions over the lifetime of the customer
relationship. CRM is a business strategy, and companies typically use a CRM
software system as a technology platform to help implement their CRM strategy,
processes, and procedures.
In today's competitive business environment, mistreated customers can easily
find other vendors or suppliers that are eager to replace you. However, if you
give your customers a personalized experience, they're more likely to value
their relationship with you and continue to patronize your business. The CRM
philosophy makes so much sense, so why do so many companies force good
customers to suffer through bad experiences every day? As you probably know,
it's very difficult for companies to embrace a CRM strategy and create
consistently great customer experiences. Some of the factors that make a CRM
strategy difficult to implement include:
we'll review the following security topics:
Multiple customer management systems
Almost every company uses more than one system (such as sales tracking,
warehouse management, or financial accounting) to run its business. Most of
these systems can't easily communicate with each other to seamlessly share
data. Therefore, you can imagine how salespeople using a sales tracking system
might not know that a customer just opened an urgent customer service issue in
your customer service system.
Even if your company is lucky enough to use a single system to track all of
your customer interactions, remote and offsite workers might not have the
ability to access data in the customer management system.
Rapidly changing business processes
You might recognize the saying, "The only thing constant in life is change," by
French author François de la Rochefoucauld. This expression really hits home
regarding the business processes of our Internet-enabled world. No sooner does
a company finalize a customer management process than it must reconsider how
that methodology will change in the next month, quarter, or year. Rapidly
changing business processes challenge employees to adjust quickly, but most CRM
systems can't react and adjust as quickly as the business needs it to.
Multi-channel customer interactions
Customers expect to be able to work with your company using any communication
channel that they prefer. With the proliferation of different technologies,
these customer communication channels might include Web sites, phone, fax,
e-mail, mail, and instant messaging. If a company wants to track all of a
customer's interactions, its customer management system must work with each of
Difficult and rigid systems
Adopting a CRM strategy usually requires a company to select a technology
system as its customer management platform. Earlier CRM systems earned the
reputation of being difficult to use and complex to install. Even worse,
companies could customize their CRM systems to their business needs only if
they invested large sums of money and time in consultants who would customize
the software for them.
CRM isn't a particularly new concept and it's earned something of a bad
reputation among businesses. These are just some of the reasons responsible for
its less-than-stellar track record over the years.
So what would happen if a company could successfully implement a CRM strategy
and software? What types of benefits might the company receive?
CRM could track customer interests and purchase history over time and then
proactively generate new marketing initiatives for customers based on their
CRM could log a history of a customer's service requests so that a service
technician could easily view all of those requests when the customer called
with a new issue. Reviewing a customer's service history might help the
technician resolve a customer's new issue much more quickly.
A manager could view all of the interactions with a customer across various
functional areas such as sales, marketing, and customer service. People
typically refer to this cross-functional history as a 360-degree view of the
Marketing managers could analyze and report on the effectiveness of their
marketing lists and campaigns to determine how they should re-allocate future
An analyst could use business intelligence tools to segment customers and
prospects to identify trends and create predictive models for sales and
customer service planning.
This list doesn't include all of the benefits of CRM, but it's clear that a
successful CRM implementation can provide many short-term and long-term
benefits for any business.