What is CRM and why do you need it?


Written By | allonline365

If you don’t understand CRM and why you need it – this is for you

Whether your business is in the industry of food distribution, retail, construction, NPO, or you have multiple sales agents making their way through a long list of calls each day – Customer Relationship Management (CRM) should be one of your focus areas.

What is CRM?

Customer relationship management is a data-driven software solution that improves how you interact and do business with your customers. CRM systems help you manage and maintain customer relationships, track leads, marketing, pipeline, and deliver actionable data.

Why Implement a CRM Solution?

CRM solutions increase your profitability by streamlining administrative processes in your sales, marketing, and service divisions, and letting you focus on building and maintaining the customer relationships that matter. A strong CRM solution is a multifaceted platform where everything crucial to developing, improving, and retaining your customer relationships is stored. Without the support of an integrated CRM solution, you may miss growth opportunities and lose revenue because you’re not optimizing your operating processes or making the most of your customer relationships or sales leads.

Imagine misplacing customer contact information, only to learn that your delay resulted in losing a client to a competitor. Or, picture your top two salespeople pursuing the same prospect, resulting in an annoyed potential customer and some unfriendly, in-house competition. Without a centralized and automated CRM system, your people can lose track of customer interactions and miss business opportunities.

Why use Dynamics 365 for CRM?

With Dynamics 365 Sales you get a flexible solution that’s customizable to suit your business requirements. Choose a stand-alone application to meet the needs of a specific line of business, or use multiple CRM tools that work together as a powerful integrated solution. Here are some of the integrated tools you can expect to enjoy.

1.  Marketing: Improve your customers’ journey

Generate multichannel marketing campaigns, nurture sales-ready leads, and align your sales and marketing teams with planning and tracking tools that integrate with your existing apps and services.

Foster leads

  • Run multichannel campaigns featuring email marketing, web content, and events.
  • Target matched audiences based on LinkedIn interactions using Dynamics 365 Connector for LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms.
  • Personalize the buyer experience by customizing customer journeys on user engagement.

Make better decisions

  • Gain Insights into your brand reputation and market through real-time data analysis.
  • Prioritize leads using multiple scoring models.
  • Build custom dashboards to analyze the data that matters the most to your business.

Adapt quickly

  • Automate processes for better service engagement experiences.
  • Use artificial intelligence (AI) to guide your business decisions and drive innovation.
  • Rely on the Microsoft cloud platform to reduce operating costs and simplify deployment across your infrastructure.

2.  Sales: Empower sellers to drive personal engagement with customers

Go beyond sales force automation to better understand customer needs, engage more effectively, and win more deals. Sell smarter with embedded insights, foster relationships, boost productivity, accelerate sales performance, and innovate with a modern and adaptable platform. Use AI capabilities to track customer relationships and automate sales execution with contextual prompts that drive sales strategy.

Grow business

  • Improve win rate with a dynamic, event-driven sales process.
  • Build pipeline with high-quality leads and prospects from a variety of sources.
  • Measure the past and identify leading indicators for the future.

Stay focused

  • Find the right prospects and customers.
  • Always know the next best action to move relationships forward.
  • Build a high-performing sales team.

Win faster

  • Engage and collaborate around strategic deals.
  • Align with the buyer’s journey to deliver personalized engagement.
  • Work anytime, anywhere.

Customer Service: Effortless service through any channel

Deliver guided, intelligent service and support on any channel with a unique ability to work with your existing systems. Empower customers and agents with the tools they need to ensure quick and accurate resolution, every time.

Improve engagement

  • Let customers connect quickly and easily through multi-channel service options.
  • Use the AI of service bots to increase service availability and free your agents for more high-value interactions.
  • Resolve issues quickly using data analysis and predictive care.

Personalize your service 

  • Deliver value with every interaction with a complete customer view.
  • Guide agents’ actions toward optimal outcomes using intelligent automation.
  • Create upsell or cross-sell opportunities using contextual customer data.

Streamline your customer service

  • Improve service based on survey feedback, discussion forums, and social listening.
  • Onboard new agents quickly and with in-app learning options.
  • Optimize your service staff by allocating resources based on service trends that you can monitor in real-time.

Field Service: Empower your agents to create a better customer experience

Streamline scheduling, inventory management, and on-site efficiency. Offer quick and transparent communications and tracking functionalities to keep customers connected to your field agents.

Improve operational efficiency

  • Use the Internet of Things (IoT) to detect and solve problems faster.
  • Reduce costs using predictive maintenance.
  • Automate work orders, scheduling, and dispatching.

Empower field agents

  • Boost on-site efficiency by providing technicians with mobile access to home office data.
  • Understand customer preferences and history to deliver more personalized service.
  • Enable technicians to work hands-free by using innovative technology like mixed reality headsets.

Build trust

  • Provide customers with real-time technician location tracking and appointment reminders.
  • Share quotes, contracts, and scheduling information quickly and easily.
  • Let customers self-schedule appointments and monitor service with a customer portal.

Project Service Automation: Improve project profitability with integrated planning tools and analytics

Empower your employees to anticipate resource demand and work together with collaborative tools that are easy to tailor to your business.

Improve project management

  • Visualize costs and revenue using robust project planning capabilities and intuitive dashboards.
  • Anticipate resource demands and forecast project profitability.
  • Build customer trust using a customer-centric service delivery model.

Optimize resources

  • Make the most out of billable resources using real-time dashboards to measure utilization.
  • Improve skill-based assignments with a unified scheduling engine.
  • Empower service professionals to apply directly to relevant projects.

Increase productivity 

  • Foster collaboration across teams by integrating with Office 365 applications.
  • Simplify the contracts process and collaborate seamlessly with customers through a secure portal.
  • Submit, process, and approve time and expenses anytime, anywhere for faster customer billing.

CRM can cater to all industries and can be tailored to suit your business needs. Contact allonline365 today and let us guide you on the correct tools to use for your business. Customers are the heart of your business, make sure you are doing everything to make your business grow. Call  +27 (21) 205 3650 or email  info@allonline365.com.

Resources: Microsoft

Future of retail will be fueled by intelligence, technology and experience

future of retail

The Retail EXPO, formerly known as RBTE, brought to London all the best and most knowledgeable retailers, trend experts and retail technologists of Europe for a very intensive two-day event. So where is the future of retail at? Here are some core takeaways from the show:

Information is the currency and the content in the future of retail

Consumers have more power than ever – because they can access more information than ever before. Products, too, are becoming hubs of information. On the one hand, they can store data (think of how wearable devices, or IOT-connected kitchen appliances, can communicate how they are being used). On the other hand, a product’s value increasingly has to do with the information it delivers to retailers. When you know what is being sold where, when, and to whom, you can easily optimize your stock, minimize costs, and personalize your offering.

Social responsibility matters

In the UK, 80% of the public thinks companies have a responsibility to do social good, Alison Hutchinson, CEO at Pennies, reported. Pennies is a solution that digitizes the charity box, simplifying donations across the channels. The solution has been extremely successful: not a single retailer using Pennies has ever abandoned the system, Hutchinson proudly reported. To date over 400 charities, including many small and local realities, have benefitted from it. According to Nick Lowe, Operations Director at forecourt operator Rontec, the best part of Pennies is that it requires no hard selling from the staff: customers decide to click the “yes” or “no” button on the POS – no pressure. Running a socially responsible company, Lowe added, is not just good for public relations: it can also really help boost morale and pride among staff members – a great benefit in an industry that often struggles at keeping employees.

Finding the right technology is key in the future of retail

Consumers move quicker than ever before. How can you implement the right tech, when it is already out of date by the time it hits the stores? Retailers discussing the topic agreed on what is needed:

  • Suppliers who can give competent advice, have a long-term vision and can deliver quick deployments.
  • Highly scalable technology, to support rapid expansion.
  • A partner who understand the retailer’s niche, its roadblocks, and current and future requirements. Retailers are too busy with day-to-day work to figure out what innovation they actually need, what is feasible, and how to get there. On top of that, many businesses lack the internal knowledge. “You don’t even know what it is that you don’t know”, Andrew Jackson, Head of Retail Technology Europe at BP, put it. Businesses require partners who analyze their flow, find the gaps, and show a solution.

The POS will still be there – but in a slightly different role

With all the focus on experience over the transaction, how will the Point of Sale have to change to support a new way of doing retail? The POS system of tomorrow will have to:

  • Enable and support two-way conversations between staff and customers who need personalized attention.
  • Help consumers who like to DIY make the right choice, with little to no interaction from staff required.
  • Help share information across the whole chain, and deliver it where needed.
  • Support different types of payments – and be ready to support even more, as the environment is moving fast (for example, payment by bank account is expected to become commonplace).
  • Be open, so companies can easily adapt it to quickly changing demands and requirements. This was a very big topic during the show. British supermarket chain The Co-op described how they have been moving data to the cloud, Azure in specific, to reach this goal. The cloud will enable the retail chain to tie together in-store and online data, and ultimately speed up innovation. “Thanks to the cloud, even the tiniest decisions will become data-driven,” said Cliff Austen, Senior Technical Manager for Retail IT at The Co-op.

Customer experience is still the grail of modern retail

So how do you get there? Here are some pieces of advice from the conference:

  • Give exclusivity. Why would a customer visit the M&Ms World stores, when they can get the very same candy at any supermarket, for a lower price? Because only at the M&Ms World you can get the (very Instagram-worthy) experience of seeing hundreds of thousands of colored candy pieces all over the walls. And only there can you get a bag of M&Ms with your face printed on each candy piece. These are highly personalized items, and special moments, that the brand’s resellers just can’t reproduce.
  • Use the data. Dutch retailer HEMA was very surprised when data showed that their restaurant customers were their most loyal ones. This discovery led to a store redesign, changes in the assortment, and even the creation of an internal cooking school for interested staff members.
  • Create chances for interaction. At Le Gavroche, the London restaurant of two-star Michelin chef Michel Roux Jr., the menu is in French. This is not just to hold up to tradition, the chef explained. With the menu in a foreign language, guests end up talking to each other, and to the front-of-house staff, as they try to figure out what the dishes are about. This creates a shared experience, and special memories tied to every single meal.
  • Respect your customers. Do not create an experience with the sole goal of creating Instagram moments. This is not what engagement is all about. “Consumers are smart, and their time matters,” said Amy Brown, Head of Creative Strategy at Google.
  • Make it fun. In the Google Curiosity Room, a temporary store to promote the Pixel phone, all experiences had to fulfill two requirements: they would need to be tightly related to the product, and they would need to be enjoyable. If people have fun and are impressed by your product, you don’t need to do any more promotion – they will want to share the experience.

Take it to the next level

In the words of Sezin Tumer, Principal Retail Innovation Manager at Vodafone, “retail isn’t dying – but boring retail is.” A common thread during the conference is that it’s not about your products anymore. People can get stuff anywhere. You need to make your brand relevant to consumers. The selling part will come afterward.

Some ways you can do this:

  • Find your point of difference. “Being cheap and convenient is not a selling point anymore,” said Andrew Jones, Format Director at HEMA. Focus on what only you can provide –whether it is your history and provenance, your sustainability efforts, or the way you connect to and support local culture.
  • Adapt by changing your “how”, not your “why”. Stay true to your identity and your core audience, but do not be afraid to evolve. Michel Roux Jr. explained how at Le Gavroche, a restaurant his father opened in 1965, he adapted the service to modern expectations while maintaining the same standards. “Today’s guests want to feel welcome, and see a smile on the server’s face – they don’t care to see the staff stand to attention,” the restaurateur explained.
  • Don’t try to be everything for everyone. That’s Amazon – and you won’t compete with them by playing their same game. Instead, go niche, and use the data you have to deliver the most curated product selection and personalized service to a specialized group of customers.
  • Focus on nearby customers. “Near me” searches grew 900% last year alone – and 76% of local mobile “near me” searches resulted in a same-day visit to the store, said Miya Knights, author of a best-selling book on Amazon. Location can be a proxy for relevance – use it.

Find out more about one of our retail solutions, LS Retail. If you have any questions on how to digitally transform your business, let us know! Call  +27 (21) 205 3650 or email us on info@allonline365.com.


Resource Credit | LS Retail 



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