Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016: Welcome to the Realization of Great Customer Experiences!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016: Welcome to the Realization of Great Customer Experiences!

Written By: Josh Behl

from October 27, 2015

Around 15 years ago, I started my journey working with Microsoft Dynamics CRM (of course back then, it had a different branding and naming convention). For those of you who might recall the application from the deep recesses of your brain, you will remember it was not what one might call overly memorable. As versions have come and gone, there have certainly been versions whose updates to features and functionality have fallen flat or were severely lacking in any sort of shock-and-awe sort of user experience. However, there have certainly been those versions that have not just moved the bar forward, but have essentially broken the bar, burned it to ashes, and created the most amazing bar you have seen!

Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 – from a feature, functionality, and scalability perspective – finds itself (in this writer’s opinion) on the end of the spectrum where partners and customers are jumping for joy. As the versions have gone through their paces, the world in which we sell, engage, and make sense of our customers and their needs has morphed into a reality that stands in stark contrast to the one Microsoft Dynamics CRM 1.0 found itself within. Today, the customer experience and the journeys our customers find themselves on relative to their personal business and their relationship with us are of utmost importance. This newest version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM empowers organizations to deliver amazing customer experiences through informed, and intelligence, customer insights by empowering organizations and their team members to not only be more proactive, but also to make the customer experience more predictive for both the organization and their customers and clients. In the paragraphs below, I will highlight some of the investments and key features and functions of Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 in an effort to align what the product brings to market relative to the new realities of customer engagement in our respective business life cycles.

Application for Outlook

One of the key features of the product for some time now has been the integration with Microsoft Outlook. One significant challenge, however, has been that the great integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Outlook has been relegated to the desktop version of Outlook. If you managed your emails from Office 365 via a browser or your phone, you were out of luck as it related to tracking emails. Now you can track emails and look at contextualized information about your customers and prospects from a browser, device, or the desktop installation of Outlook. For those of you who have an inclination for using Outlook via a Mac, you are also in luck. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 has extended its features and functionalities to Mac users as well.

Document Management

In previous versions, if you wanted to do “document management” within Microsoft Dynamics CRM, you found yourself having to integrate it with SharePoint. While this worked and continues to be part of the document management landscape, more and more business users are using OneDrive for Business to share and manage documents. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016, not only can users store and share contextualized documents using SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, but they can also leverage some newer features of document management and categorizations found through the use of a tool called Groups for Office 365.

Customer Care

One area of Microsoft Dynamics CRM that is becoming of deeper relevance to organizations in the increasingly digital and connected world is the features and investments made by Microsoft relative to what has previously been dubbed as “customer service”. It is my belief that customers are largely not looking for someone to provide the service of helping them. They are looking for someone to care about them and/or make them feel that way. The feeling of being cared about has a greater inclusive impact on overall customer satisfaction than other metrics commonly tracked when organizations evaluate customer care effectiveness. While this seems perhaps like a lofty aspiration for an organization, the path to establishing the emotive notion of feeling cared about or cared for is often very simple. Being able to communicate and engage with your customers in a way that is convenient and simple for them gets you a long way down that path. Additionally, organizations that empower those representatives to provide that care do so partially by solid strategies and hiring the right people. However, equally important is having the right tools. Here are a few new tools and features that (along with the current functionality) make this reality even more possible.

Survey Designer

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016, organizations can now design and launch surveys from within Microsoft Dynamics CRM and enable customers to take these surveys from multiple devices. Moreover, as customers complete these surveys, automations can be triggered that notify others, create follow-ups, or perform other actions automatically. Finally, because their responses are stored within the database, this information is reportable and easily viewed directly from the customer record.

Interactive Service Hub

A key piece to understanding trends, being proactive, and managing customer issues, questions, or requests is to provide intuitive interfaces that make visualizing that data simple and understandable as well as capable of immediate action. Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 provides a multi-stream dashboard that allows users to view and act upon their work items across multiple streams of information. Additionally, enhanced capabilities in the chart functionality allow managers, users, and administrators to visualize that information in a larger variety of ways.

Service Intelligence

In the 2015 version, users of Power BI online dashboards were provided a convenient sales dashboard that provided keen sales insights for users and empowered them to leverage the functionality of PowerBI. Microsoft has continued to invest in this analytic platform and how it works with Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016, organizations and customer care team members can leverage pre-configured service intelligence dashboards that pull from their Microsoft Dynamics CRM data.

Mobility

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we have seen a vast improvement in the mobility story. In earlier versions, there was technically a mobile story and experience for users, but it was drastically anemic in functionality and was frankly not something I personally tried to push to customers because it was a bit like that embarrassing relative who you need to invite to family events, but you really don’t want to. Now, on the other hand, we have had a very acceptable, functional, and useful mobile experience.

In Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016, this experience is getting better. With improved offline support, document management (leveraging SharePoint or OneDrive for Business), better record navigation,better controls to use on mobile devices such as slider and calendar controls, and a richer task-based experience versus record-based experience, users can be far more productive when they are on the go.

Beyond Microsoft Dynamics CRM, deeper investments in Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and Microsoft Social Engagement (not to mention their quality and depth of integration with Microsoft Dynamics CRM)have further empowered organizations to not only provide world-class customer care, but to better understand customers’ needs, react to trends, predict trends, and reach customers and prospects where they are at in their customer life cycle instead of their customers having to fumble around to figure out how to engage. While each release brings new and heightened levels of excitement across Microsoft, customers and prospects, and certainly across the partner channel, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 truly provides a deep suite of tools that can help organizations realize their customer relationship management strategies in the new and complex worlds of customer engagement and expectations.