27 Şubat 2008 Çarşamba

SQL Server Reporting Services Report

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Another clever method for creating mass mailings in Microsoft CRM is to create a custom report using SQL Server Reporting Services. You can format reports however you want, so instead of including typical report items such as charts or graphs, you could simply include the text and formatting of your mass mailing letter.
Then you would add the data fields such as first name, last name, and so on to the appropriate mass mailing report fields. When you wanted to create your mass mailing, you would run the report and then simply print out the report results for use in your mailing. Some of the benefits and restrictions of this technique include:

You can access all the custom attributes in the filtered views.

You can access all the entities, including any custom entities that you create.

You can schedule reports to run on a specific interval (such as every Monday or once a month).

You can easily export the report results into other formats such as PDF, Excel, and XML.

You can include multiple data sources in a single report, so you could include different types of data in one mass mailing. For example, if you wanted to send a letter to all your contacts, you could include their five most recent Orders and their five most recent Cases.

You can launch reports from multiple places in the user interface, including the grid toolbar of various entities.

Developing complex reports with multiple data sources typically requires a more experienced report writer.

Microsoft CRM will not automatically create completed Letter activities for each of the records in your mail merge.

Word Mail Merge Using Microsoft CRM Exported Excel Data

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As an alternative to using Microsoft CRM filtered views as your mail merge data source, you could use an Excel data file exported from Microsoft CRM to create the recipient list for your mail merge. By combining the powerful Microsoft CRM Advanced Find feature with the ability to export data to Excel, users can quickly search and target the records that they want to include in a mail merge. They can use the Advanced Find feature to create their mail merge criteria, export the record set to Excel, and then use the exported Excel file as their mail merge data source. Some of the benefits and restrictions of this technique include:

You can access all the custom attributes in the filtered views.

You can access all the entities, including any custom entity that you create.

Users can create the recipient list by using the Web-based Advanced Find feature in Microsoft CRM and save the Advanced Find view for later use with future mass mailings.

You can save the list of mailing recipients in an Excel file for later reference, and you can programmatically import this mass mailing data into Microsoft CRM to create completed Letter activities with a custom script.

Microsoft CRM will not automatically create completed Letter activities for each of the records in your mail merge.

Word Mail Merge Using Filtered Views

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The mail merge feature in Word (different from launching the mail merge feature in Microsoft CRM) lets you choose from a variety of data sources, such as Microsoft Office Access files, HTML files, XML files, and text files. In addition, you can connect directly to a database that supports an OLE DB or ODBC connection. Because SQL Server supports OLE DB connections, you can connect directly to the Microsoft CRM filtered database views and use those records as the data source for your mail merge. To do this, simply create a new data source connection pointing at the SQL Server database that your Microsoft CRM installation uses, and then select the filtered view that you want.

After you select your filtered view, you will probably want to further refine the records included in your mail merge. You can do this by using the advanced filter tools that Word offers.

After you filter the records that you want to include in your mail merge, you can set up and create your letters just as you can with any other Word mail merge. Some of the benefits and restrictions of using this technique include:

You can access all the custom attributes by using the filtered views.

You can access all the Microsoft CRM entities, including any custom entities that you create.

You can use the advanced filter tools in Word to limit the records included in your mail merge.

Microsoft CRM will not automatically create completed Letter activities for each of the records in your mail merge.

You can select records from only one filtered view for each mail merge. For example, you could not include records from the FilteredOpportunity and "FilteredOpportunityProduct" views in the same mail merge file.
5 Şubat 2008 Salı

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Mail Merge Feature

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Within the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook, users can access the mail merge feature to generate mass mailings for records in their databases. The mail merge feature can be accessed on the More Actions menuon the grid toolbar for the Lead, Account, and Contact entities.

When you click mail merge on this menu, Microsoft CRM automatically launches Word with the records you selected in the grid as your mass mailing data source. This feature makes it very easy for users to quickly create mail merges because it simplifies the mail merge data source selection in Word. In Word, the mail merge behaves identically to the standard Word mail merge feature, in which you can select templates, insert mail merge fields, preview your letter, and so on. However, when you complete your mail merge, Microsoft CRM automatically creates a completed Letter activity for each of the records in your mail merge. Some of the constraints related to using this feature include:

You cannot include custom attributes as Mail Merge fields.

You can only create mail merges for Leads, Accounts, and Contacts (no custom entities).

If you're using Word 2002 or 2003, Microsoft CRM automatically creates a completed Letter activity for each recipient.

Word uses the records selected in the grid as the mail merge data source. Therefore, if you have five pages of records that you want to include in your mail merge, you must repeat this process five times, once for each page of records. You can change your user settings to display as many as 250 records at one time on a single page by clicking Options on the Tools menu.

You cannot configure the subject and body of the completed Letter activity that Microsoft CRM creates for each record in the mail merge. The subject will always be "Word Mail Merge," and the body will always be "Mail Merge document created in Microsoft Word."

You can access the Microsoft CRM Mail Merge feature using the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook only; you cannot use the Web client.
Earlier in this chapter, we discussed creating and using E-mail templates to send information to multiple records in your Microsoft CRM database. But suppose that you wanted to create printed letters, envelopes, or labels for a large number of records? Clearly, using an E-mail template isn't an appropriate choice for this type of printed (non-e-mail) task. Microsoft CRM offers you several options for mass mailing activities, including the following:

Use the Microsoft CRM mail merge feature in the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook.

Use the mail merge feature in Microsoft Office Word, using Microsoft CRM filtered views as a data source.

Use the mail merge feature in Word, using Microsoft CRM data exported to Microsoft Office Excel as a data source.

Write a Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services report.

Use the Microsoft CRM Campaign and Quick Campaign features.

Create a custom mass mailing application.

Although using the mass mailing and mail merge features of Microsoft CRM doesn't necessarily fall under the chapter title "Setting Up Your System," we've received so many questions on the topic that we felt the need to cover it in this book. Therefore, the remainder of the chapter examines the benefits and drawbacks of theseoptions to help you decide which one provides the best fit for you.


Explaining the details of setting up and using the Word mail merge feature is beyond the scope of
this book. We assume you're already familiar with the concepts and techniques related to using Word mail merge.
4 Şubat 2008 Pazartesi

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 E-Mail Tracking Tokens

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Microsoft CRM uses a unique identifier known as a tracking token to link e-mail messages with the appropriate records in Microsoft CRM.

This tracking code uniquely identifies the E-mail activity in the database. If a customer were to reply to this message, the Router would automatically recognize the tracking token in the message and set the Regarding field of the E-mail activity to the correct record. For example, if a user sent an outbound e-mail message regarding a specific Case, when the customer replied, Microsoft CRM would automatically create an E-mail activity and link it to the correct Case! For even more functionality, you can combine the Microsoft CRM Campaign and Quick Campaign features with the tracking token to automatically capture e-mail responses and record them against their originating marketing campaign.

The tracking token in Microsoft CRM allows the Router to automatically link e-mail messages (and entire conversation threads) to a specific record, such as an Opportunity, a Case, a Campaign, a Quote, or an Order. It does this by examining the tracking token and then updating the Regarding field of the E-mail activity to the appropriate record.If you don't care for the default tracking token format, you can specify your own unique tracking token configuration. To change the token configuration, browse to the Settings area and click Organization Settings.Then click System Settings, and click the E-mail Tracking tab.
30 Ocak 2008 Çarşamba

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 E-Mail Tracking

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If you deploy Microsoft CRM and you use Exchange Server 2000 or 2003 for your corporate e-mail, you have the option of installing the Microsoft CRM-Exchange E-mail Router (also called the Router), which you can configure to provide the following benefits:

Users can create and send e-mail messages by using the Web client interface.

You can automatically create copies of all incoming messages (to Microsoft CRM users) in the Microsoft CRM database.

Microsoft CRM can automatically track e-mail conversations and threads by using a tracking code appended to the message subject line.

You can manually track individual e-mail messages in the Microsoft CRM database on an ad hoc basis in the Microsoft CRM client for Outlook.

You receive the Router software with the purchase of Microsoft CRM, so there's no additional cost. When you install the Router, Microsoft CRM also installs the Rule Deployment Wizard, which you can use to help administer and manage e-mail tracking configuration. If you're using Exchange Server at your organization, you should absolutely plan on using the Router with your Microsoft CRM deployment.

Note You do not need Exchange Server to use Microsoft CRM. If you don't want to use Exchange Server,you can still send e-mail messages through the Web client with any Simple Mail Transfer Protocol(SMTP) mail server. However, without Exchange Server and the Router, you won't be able to track inbound and outbound messages automatically.

If you want to use the e-mail tracking features, you must confirm that the e-mail tracking option is activated for your deployment. You can verify this by browsing to the Settings area, clicking Organization Settings, clickingSystem Settings, and then clicking E-mail Tracking.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Queues

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Imagine that a sample organization, Adventure Works Cycle, has created the e-mail address bikesupport@adventure-works.com to handle all incoming customer support requests. The goal of this support alias is to allow the Adventure Works customer service representatives to monitor incoming support requests in a single location to make sure that everything gets resolved in a timely manner. Microsoft CRM uses the Queue feature to track and hold pending work items until they are assigned to a user. Adventure Works Cycle could create a queue called Bicycle Cases; then every e-mail sent to bikesupport@adventure-works.com would create a queue item in the Bicycle Cases queue. In addition to activities such as E-mails and Tasks, you can also assign Cases to a queue. Users can access the queues for your organization by browsing to the Queues subarea of the Workplace area.

Microsoft CRM removes items from a queue when they're assigned to a user, or when a user accepts an item currently in the queue. If you assign a queue item to a user, the item will move to the Assigned folder until the user accepts it. When a user accepts an item, it moves to the user's In Progress folder until he or she completes the item. Microsoft CRM automatically removes Cases and Activities from the In Progress folder when you complete them, except for completed E-mail activities. To remove a completed E-mail item from your In Progress folder, you must delete it. This does not delete the item, it just removes the item from your In Progress folder.


You can set up and manage your queues by browsing to the Settings area, clicking Business Unit Settings, and then clicking Queues. You don't have to use an e-mail address for each queue, but you can configure this functionality by following the detailed instructions included the Microsoft CRM Implementation Guide.

The following are additional important points to consider regarding queues:

You can use queues for any type of business activity that uses activities, including incoming sales requests and marketing tasks. You should not consider queues as strictly a customer service tool.
Queues do not own records, so assigning an item to a queue will not change its ownership (or trigger the workflow assign event), but it will add the item to the queue.

Although assigning an item to a queue will not change ownership, assigning a queue item to a user will change the ownership of the item.

Items listed in the queue respect the Microsoft CRM security settings regarding which records each user can read, write, delete, and so on. However, all users can view all the queues and all the items in the queue (even though Microsoft CRM won't allow them to open a record for which they don't have access).

You can configure multiple queues to suit various business needs.

If you set up an e-mail alias to automatically create queue items, Microsoft CRM will not automatically create Cases for each e-mail message sent to the alias. You must do this manually or with custom programming code.
17 Ocak 2008 Perşembe

CRM 3.0 Editions

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You can obtain Microsoft CRM 3.0 in one of two editions:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Professional

As the names of the editions imply, the Small Business Edition targets smaller companies, and Professional ismore appropriate for medium and large companies.

Some of the key differences between the two editions include:

You must deploy the Small Business Edition on a Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, but you caninstall Professional on various Microsoft Windows Server operating systems.

You can accommodate a maximum of 75 users in the Small Business Edition, but Professional allows youto deploy as many users as necessary. After you factor in performance considerations, a recommendedmaximum number of users for the Small Business Edition might range from 40 to 50 users, depending ontheir usage and the system hardware.

The Small Business Edition includes all of the functionality that Professional includes, in addition to
features unique to Small Business Edition such as CRM integration with the Small Business ServerShared Fax Service.
The Small Business Edition provides less flexibility in regard to custom third-party system integration andexternal user access because you cannot purchase and deploy an External Connector license with thisedition. We explain the External Connector license in the next section of this chapter.
Note Small Business Server is a specialized operating system version that bundles Windows Server2003, Exchange Server 2003 technology, and Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services so they canbe deployed on a single piece of hardware. Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition alsoincludes Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and ISA Server 2004 in the bundled software. You must deployMicrosoft CRM with Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition, because Microsoft CRM requiresa SQL Server database.
Although deploying Microsoft CRM with Small Business Server includes several great benefits, it does includesome notable restrictions:

Small Business Server 2003 supports only two physical CPUs and up to four virtual CPUs.

Each domain can contain only one installation of Small Business Server 2003.

Small Business Server 2003 does not support trusts between domains, and you must install the server atthe root of the Active Directory forest.

A Small Business Server 2003 domain cannot have any child domains.

You cannot run Terminal Services in Application Server mode on Small Business Server 2003.

Microsoft CRM Small Business Edition software licenses cost less than Microsoft CRM Professional licenses,but you can see that some constraints exist in regard to configuration of the underlying network.You
can obtain Microsoft CRM 3.0 in one of two editions:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Small Business Edition
Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 Professional

As the names of the editions imply, the Small Business Edition targets smaller companies, and Professional ismore appropriate for medium and large companies.
Some of the key differences between the two editions include:

You must deploy the Small Business Edition on a Microsoft Windows Small Business Server, but you caninstall Professional on various Microsoft Windows Server operating systems.

You can accommodate a maximum of 75 users in the Small Business Edition, but Professional allows youto deploy as many users as necessary. After you factor in performance considerations, a recommendedmaximum number of users for the Small Business Edition might range from 40 to 50 users, depending ontheir usage and the system hardware.

The Small Business Edition includes all of the functionality that Professional includes, in addition to
features unique to Small Business Edition such as CRM integration with the Small Business ServerShared Fax Service.

The Small Business Edition provides less flexibility in regard to custom third-party system integration andexternal user access because you cannot purchase and deploy an External Connector license with thisedition. We explain the External Connector license in the next section of this chapter.

Note Small Business Server is a specialized operating system version that bundles Windows Server2003, Exchange Server 2003 technology, and Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services so they canbe deployed on a single piece of hardware. Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition alsoincludes Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and ISA Server 2004 in the bundled software. You must deployMicrosoft CRM with Small Business Server 2003 Premium Edition, because Microsoft CRM requiresa SQL Server database.

Although deploying Microsoft CRM with Small Business Server includes several great benefits, it does includesome notable restrictions:

Small Business Server 2003 supports only two physical CPUs and up to four virtual CPUs.

Each domain can contain only one installation of Small Business Server 2003.

Small Business Server 2003 does not support trusts between domains, and you must install the server atthe root of the Active Directory forest.

A Small Business Server 2003 domain cannot have any child domains.

You cannot run Terminal Services in Application Server mode on Small Business Server 2003.

Microsoft CRM Small Business Edition software licenses cost less than Microsoft CRM Professional licenses,but you can see that some constraints exist in regard to configuration of the underlying network.

CRM 3.0 Software Design Goals

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Microsoft CRM is designed to resolve the common issues that historically caused problems during CRMimplementations. Some of the issues we've already reviewed include: offsite workers needing remote accessto data, multi-channel customer communications, and rigid software design. To solve these problems,Microsoft CRM targeted three software design themes:

Works the way you do

Works the way your business does

Works the way Information Technology (IT) expects it to


Works the Way You Do

Earlier CRM systems forced users to track information in multiple systems because the CRM software didn'tinclude all of the functionality, such as e-mail, calendaring, task management, and spreadsheets, needed forusers to complete their jobs. People performed their work with productivity tools such as Microsoft OfficeOutlook, Microsoft Office Excel, and Microsoft Office Word, but then they had to copy customer data into theirCRM system! This extra step caused negative user feedback because it slowed users down, createdadditional work, and forced them to learn an entirely new tool.

To address this problem, Microsoft CRM works directly within Office and Outlook so that users can performtheir normal job functions and track data in Microsoft CRM at the same time. Microsoft CRM is a server-basedproduct that you install and run on a Web server, and users can install the Microsoft CRM client for Outlooksoftware to work directly within Outlook. You can see that Microsoft CRM adds atoolbar to Outlook and adds Microsoft CRM folders to the Outlook folder list.

If your users know how to use Outlook, they already know how to use the key customer management tools in Microsoft CRM such as contacts, tasks, appointments, and e-mail. Microsoft CRM toolbar that allows a user to compose an e-mail message in Outlook and then simply click the Track In CRMbutton to save a copy of the message to the Microsoft CRM database.

This tracking concept applies not only to e-mail messages, but also to calendar items, contacts, and tasks. Byoffering this native Outlook experience to users, Microsoft CRM lets users work with their normal tools andeasily track and manage CRM data.

Real World

Believe it or not, many companies still require their employees to copy information fromtheir Outlook e-mail messages and paste it into their CRM systems. It sounds crazy, butwe've seen this process implemented at many companies, both big and small. The nativeOutlook integration of Microsoft CRM eliminates the need for this extra work.

Even if your company doesn't use Outlook, or if you use Microsoft Office Outlook Web Access, Microsoft CRMprovides you with additional user interface options:

Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser

Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) using Microsoft mobile technology

Microsoft CRM also integrates directly with additional business productivity tools such as:

Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Word
Microsoft Exchange Server
Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies

By providing a tight integration with tools that your users already know, Microsoft CRM provides an extremelyrapid learning curve to ensure maximum user adoption. More important, it's designed to work the way yourusers work.



Works the Way Your Business Does

So you've seen how Microsoft CRM works hard to make life easier for the people who use the system on aday-to-day basis. Microsoft CRM also offers several benefits designed to accommodate the way businesseswork. In particular, these benefits include:

Web-based customization tools Because your business processes change rapidly, you can quickly andeasily customize Microsoft CRM by using Web-based customization tools. In addition to customizingforms and adding fields, you can create entirely new types of data to track and manage in CRM withoutwriting a single line of code.

Robust security model Microsoft CRM uses a role-based security model to provide you with incrediblydetailed and flexible security configuration options. You can structure the system so that users accessand edit only the information they need for their jobs. Yet, the security model remains agile enough toallow users to create ad hoc teams for collaborative work on projects and customer accounts.

Open programming interfaces Because businesses use more than one system for their operations,Microsoft CRM offers you an open programming interface that enables you to connect Microsoft CRM withalmost any type of external application, such as your company Web site, a financial system, or a companyintranet. The Microsoft CRM programming interface uses Web services, so you can use almost anyintegration technology or platform that meets your needs.

Business process automation Microsoft CRM offers you a Workflow feature to automate business
processes and repetitive tasks such as automatically creating follow-up tasks for new leads or escalatingoverdue customer service issues to a manager. You set up these business workflows by using a graphicaluser interface, so you can easily customize and revise them without programming code when yourbusiness needs to shift quickly.

Multiple deployment options You can choose how you want to deploy the Microsoft CRM software foryour business. You can purchase the software and install it onsite in your local network, or you can rentthe software on a monthly basis from a Microsoft partner who will manage all of the hardware, software,network, and security issues on your behalf. You can also switch from one deployment model to another ifyour business needs to change over time. Regardless of the deployment option you select, you canalways configure the security settings so that your remote and offsite workers can log on and access thesystem with no problems.

More Info Part II, "Customization," and Part III, "Extending Microsoft CRM," explain how you cancustomize Microsoft CRM to match your business process and procedures.


Works the Way IT Expects It To


If you're in the Information Technology (IT) department, we're sure you've worked with some difficult systems.Maybe the software used some proprietary database format that only three people in the world understand, ormaybe the software was so fragile that you didn't want to upgrade it for fear of breaking it!

Microsoft CRM isdesigned to work with the existing tools, applications, and infrastructure that IT professionals use every day.Some of the Microsoft CRM benefits specific to IT include:

Industry standard technologies Microsoft CRM uses industry standard network managementtechnologies for its foundation. It uses Microsoft Active Directory directory service and IntegratedWindows authentication for user and password management. Microsoft CRM stores all of its data inMicrosoft SQL Server for easy backups, restores, and failovers. It also uses the SQL Server ReportingServices platform as its main reporting engine, and it works directly with Exchange Server for sending andtracking e-mail.

Wizard-driven deployment When you install Microsoft CRM, the software checks for all of the systemprerequisites and tells you which adjustments you might need to make. Depending on your networkenvironment, it's possible to install the Microsoft CRM software with 10 clicks or fewer!

Failover and disaster recovery Microsoft CRM supports clustering for Web, database, and e-mail serverenvironments, so you can feel confident about the safety of your mission-critical data.

Zero-footprint clients Users can access Microsoft CRM by using Internet Explorer and still use thesoftware's rich functionality. In addition, you can deploy the Microsoft CRM desktop client for Outlook sothat you can use the software if your organization uses thin-client technology for your users.

Automation support You can install Microsoft CRM from a command line or via Terminal Services.

In light of these benefits (and many more that we didn't list), you'll find that Microsoft CRM works the way ITwould expect it to.

Introducing Microsoft CRM 3.0

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Microsoft saw the need for a better CRM software platform and created a solution called Microsoft DynamicsCRM ("Microsoft CRM"). They designed this software for companies of all sizes to use as their technologyplatform for implementing CRM strategies. Microsoft first released Microsoft CRM (version 1.0) in late 2002and has continued to update the software over the past few years with new releases and feature packs. Thisbook covers the latest release of the software, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0. This chapter will give you a briefoverview of the Microsoft CRM 3.0 software to explain how it helps companies implement CRM strategies.We'll discuss the following overview topics:

Software design goals

Front office vs. back office

Editions

Licensing

Requirements

After we cover Microsoft CRM from a high-level perspective, the subsequent chapters will explain how you canconfigure, customize, and extend the software to meet your company's unique business needs

CRM 3.0 Overview

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We know you're eager to get into the details of how Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 works and learn more aboutits great customization capabilities. Before we can jump into those details, we need to cover a littlebackground information about Microsoft Dynamics CRM 3.0 and introduce some of the core concepts andterminology you'll use throughout this book.

Life Without CRM

Think back to a particularly bad customer service experience. Maybe you called a customer service phonenumber 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 pulledtogether a proposal for you but forgot to include your preferred-customer pricing in the quote. Or maybe acredit card company mailed you an application for a new account, even though you've had an account withthat 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 manageeach and every customer experience better. More importantly, CRM strategy recognizes that customerexperiences span over time and that a typical customer might interact with your business 50 to 100 times inthe course of your relationship. Ideally, your company could provide each customer a personalized experiencebased on the customer's unique history of interactions with you. For example, you wouldn't ask long-standingcustomers if they would like to open an account; when customers call your customer service department, youwouldn't have to ask them to answer the same questions over and over again; and your most valuablecustomers would always receive preferred pricing.Important The purpose of CRM is to enable businesses to track and manage all of their customerinteractions over the lifetime of the customer relationship. CRM is a business strategy, andcompanies typically use a CRM software system as a technology platform to help implementtheir CRM strategy, processes, and procedures.In today's competitive business environment, mistreated customers can easily find other vendors or suppliersthat are eager to replace you. However, if you give your customers a personalized experience, they're morelikely to value their relationship with you and continue to patronize your business. The CRM philosophy makesso much sense, so why do so many companies force good customers to suffer through bad experiences everyday?As you probably know, it's very difficult for companies to embrace a CRM strategy and create consistentlygreat customer experiences. Some of the factors that make a CRM strategy difficult to implement include:
Multiple customer management systems Almost every company uses more than one system (such assales tracking, warehouse management, or financial accounting) to run its business. Most of thesesystems can't easily communicate with each other to seamlessly share data. Therefore, you can imaginehow salespeople using a sales tracking system might not know that a customer just opened an urgentcustomer service issue in your customer service system.
Remote workers Even if your company is lucky enough to use a single system to track all of yourcustomer interactions, remote and offsite workers might not have the ability to access data in thecustomer management system. Rapidly changing business processes You might recognize the saying, "The only thing constant in lifeis change," by French author François de la Rochefoucauld. This expression really hits home regardingthe business processes of our Internet-enabled world. No sooner does a company finalize a customermanagement 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 mostCRM 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 anycommunication channel that they prefer. With the proliferation of different technologies, these customercommunication channels might include Web sites, phone, fax, e-mail, mail, and instant messaging. If acompany wants to track all of a customer's interactions, its customer management system must work witheach of these technologies.
Difficult and rigid systems Adopting a CRM strategy usually requires a company to select a technologysystem as its customer management platform. Earlier CRM systems earned the reputation of beingdifficult to use and complex to install. Even worse, companies could customize their CRM systems to theirbusiness needs only if they invested large sums of money and time in consultants who would customizethe software for them.
CRM isn't a particularly new concept and it's earned something of a bad reputation among businesses. Theseare 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 typesof benefits might the company receive?
CRM could track customer interests and purchase history over time and then proactively generate newmarketing initiatives for customers based on their unique histories.CRM could log a history of a customer's service requests so that a service technician could easily view allof those requests when the customer called with a new issue. Reviewing a customer's service historymight 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 assales, marketing, and customer service. People typically refer to this cross-functional history as a 360-degree view of the customer.
Marketing managers could analyze and report on the effectiveness of their marketing lists and campaignsto determine how they should re-allocate future marketing investments.
An analyst could use business intelligence tools to segment customers and prospects to identify trendsand 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 canprovide many short-term and long-term benefits for any business.