CRM Improvement Guide

This guide will give you information and actionable tips to make your CRM project a success, from implementing your CRM well from the outset to retaining and serving your customers better. We’ll share our quick and easy steps to enhance your day to day CRM experience and a wealth of knowledge to help you get your business to where you want it to be.

A Compact Guide to CRM Leadership

What does it take to make a CRM project successful?


A best of breed CRM system?

CRM technical expertise?

A detailed technical implementation plan?

All of these are important but alone they aren’t sufficient to guarantee rapid results, let alone long-term success.

These are crucial for managing the technology and your processes but this doesn't account for the importance of managing the people involved in this project.

We’ve encountered businesses that have invested in CRM systems that were, on the face of it, ideally suited to their organisation and processes yet still results fell a long way short of expectations.

All too often this is due to the belief among business leaders that users will immediately embrace a new system.

Surely, if the system is any good and resources have been allocated people should just use it, right? If you build it, they will come...

While that might be true for other applications the reality is different for CRM. Where problem arise they are almost always due to a disconnect with users.

At the initial stage a CRM project should begin with a leadership vision of where you want to be.

It is critical that all the key executives are involved in defining this vision, that you document the vision, and that it is understood by and communicated to everyone in the business.

From the outset CRM is a tool for leadership and if it is to be a success it must be focused on your people as much as it is about your processes and technology.

Getting people on board is essential for success.

Users need to be aware of your vision, the very reason why CRM is being implemented, why this matters, what CRM success looks like, and crucially, what is expected of them.

Poor user acceptance and a lack of internal leadership is a sure-fire way to undermine a CRM initiative resulting in wasted project costs and demotivated team members.

To fulfill their potential, any new system must be designed to meet the needs of their users, its benefits repeatedly communicated and teams understand how to use it.

Here are 11 leadership recommendations and considerations to underpin a successful CRM project:

1. Show People the Direct Benefit

You can’t assume that your people will have the same passion for making your business processes more cost effective as you.

Using the example of a sales team, they care about their sales commission. Sales users must be made aware of the benefits, not just to the company, but to them personally (improved productivity, increased win rate, shortened sales cycle, improved lead quality, less administration). Demonstrate to them that a new system will make their working life easier.

2. Begin with Priority Teams

Where will a new system have the most significant impact in your business?

A phased implementation begins with one or two teams where the greatest gains can be quickly achieved avoiding the expense of a long drawn out project.

Success breeds success driving widespread user empowerment to create a clear mandate to deploy the system to more business teams.

3. Build a Strong Project Team

Your project team should include:

An Executive Sponsor who lends their influence to the project by becoming its champion at a board or senior management level. Their support and participation from CRM planning to go-live and beyond is absolutely critical.

An Internal Project Manager who understands your business’s process to lead your project from an “in-house” perspective.

At least one person will be designated as a CRM Administrator to manage the system. This individual(s) will ideally be technical and well organized being responsible for adding users, managing security roles, importing data and providing level 1 user support.

To make sure that the CRM system meets the needs of your end users, Key Business Users should be included in the project team and involved throughout the planning process. These will be the team leaders and influential individuals within your organisation who people respect. Getting these people on board early is crucial.

4. Create a Training Plan

If individuals don’t learn how to use the system, it sits, untouched.

Sales and other teams will quickly fall back into their old ways of finding information in disparate systems and using manual processes.

Employees can’t be given a one-off Dynamics 365 training session and instantly be expected to become highly proficient users. A leading package like Microsoft Dynamics 365 may be intuitive to use but it contains advanced functions that require in-depth training which is customised to the individual’s role in the organisation.

Demonstrate its importance by allocating time for training sessions and developing training plans for individual roles that will support continued learning and create advocates. Provide plenty of notice for training and deliver training in an environment that is free of interruptions.

5. Communicate CRM isn’t optional

Your company has invested a chunk of time and hard earned money in CRM. Usage is not optional and nor is failure.

This implementation will likely prove disruptive to settled practices and result in change but if these processes were fully efficient there wouldn't be any need to implement a new solution!

Communicate that this initiative is not business as usual and CRM will not be pushed aside.

6. Leaders Must Use CRM

Few things undermine a CRM project as much as an executive who bangs the drum for CRM in the early days but doesn’t bother to use it themselves.

CRM project are initiated by leaders and if the system is to be ingrained into the culture of the business its leaders must be committed and conspicuous users.

7. Use CRM Data in Meetings

CRM helps people prepare for meetings and be more informed whether they are a leader or participant.

Quote CRM data and use these metrics as the basis for reporting, discussion and celebrating goals being achieved.

For example, a service team leader can share CRM data to report how many cases were logged last month, commend the individuals who resolved most issues and pinpoint which types of service issues are consuming the most time.

8. Embrace CRM Change

Your company and industry doesn’t remain unchanged and neither should your CRM system.

A healthy sign is when users request changes and demand improvements in response to changing client requirements and competitor activity.

If your team isn’t pushing for CRM change then they are unlikely to be getting value from it.

CRM is not “fit & forget” system. It needs to be considered in pretty much every decision a company makes.

Effective CRM strategies will continually evolve. After deployment, develop a recurring process to invite user suggestions and evaluate requests with the objective of making further improvements to the effectiveness of CRM.

Not every request can be actioned immediately, and some ideas may be impractical, but this is another example of where leaders must lead to manage expectations and communicate why certain requests cannot be progressed.

Your business partner or administrator may be able to apply changes quickly which will ensure an agile approach to maintain CRM momentum.

Aside from user driven requests, CRM change can also result from acquisition / mergers, adding new services / products, expansion into new territories and other milestone events.

Change will also come from technology updates. Monitor new feature releases to understand and communicate how these latest improvements can be profitably used.

In larger companies a “steering group” will often be assembled to run CRM who have representation at board level and meet regularly to discuss, plan and implement CRM change in a controlled manner.

For smaller businesses this might often be just one or two individuals that assume ownership and co-ordination of CRM with business goals.

9. Strive for CRM Integration

Doing the same thing in different systems is a productivity killer.

A successful strategy aligns processes so they can managed through a single interface.

Leaders should continually look to identify and eliminate duplication of effort by integrating processes with CRM. In some instances CRM can replace legacy spread-sheets and applications while in other cases it will integrate with specialist systems and services including ERP and marketing automation platforms.

A fully integrated solution gives teams more time to do their job, improves efficiency and avoids users from seeing CRM as yet another disconnected system that needs to be updated.

10. Consider Gamification

Unleash your team’s competitive spirit to secure user adoption through CRM gamification. One example of this is Gamification for Dynamics 365 where each team member is awarded points for positive CRM actions making it a creative and fun way to measure performance indicators, embed a new system within the culture of a team and recognise user adoption.

11. CRM Means Collaboration

Finally, never lose sight of the fact that CRM should foster collaboration to improve your processes and provide a better service to your customers.

Next Steps...

Whether you are implementing CRM for the first time, or you are replacing an existing system, Preact will help you develop a plan and support your businesses to leverage maximum value from CRM. Contact us to get started.

Contact Preact

Contact us to discuss and define your CRM requirements and goalscon

Let's Talk

20 Ideas to Improve Customer Retention with Dynamics 365

With the total cost of acquiring new customers many times higher than servicing existing clients it’s no surprise that retaining business is at the heart of many organisations CRM strategy.

CRM applications have numerous service functions but how can they be used to help you keep your best customers and protect future revenues?

Here are 20 tips for using Microsoft Dynamics 365 to keep clients loyal and coming back for more.

Proactively Stay in Touch

1. Schedule reminder activities that prompt you, and other users, to proactively follow up with customers.

2. Make sure clients aren't neglected by applying an automated processes that alert account owners if no recent activity is detected on an account.

3. Connect Dynamics 365 with email marketing such as ClickDimensions or dotMailer to send personalised messages that communicate news, offers, events and other relevant content. Use email reports to assess individual responses through email opens and click analysis to assess interest and send increasingly targeted communications.

4. Track expiry dates, membership information and other time sensitive detail in your CRM database to have activities and email scheduled automatically around these dates that will boost renewal rates.

5. Invite customers to events and use Dynamics to plan and manage each task including automated processes for invitation reminders, post-event follow-ups and handling the resulting leads. The Dynamics 365 for Marketing app included a dedicated event management module while ClickDimensions offers native integration with GoToWebinar and EventBrite.

6. Use dynamic content for advanced personalisation of messages which can reflects a customer’s order history, their preferences and other detail that will help increase engagement. For example, this could include publishing details of your nearest outlet to a client’s location or promoting holiday deals based on previous bookings to predict their current interest.

Understand Clients & Increase Account Value

7. Customise D365 to track complete detail about each relationship in a single interface so that your team have all the information they need to quickly respond to customer requests however, people contact you.

8. Profile customer records enabling CRM users to clearly see the value of each account. For example, create a drop down list that grades the account profitability, or use a tick box if a client is a reference site.

9. Connect Dynamics with your accounting or ERP system. As well as improving order processing and eliminating double-entry, customer facing staff can easily check the order history on an account to anticipate future requirements and make recommendations for cross selling opportunities that will increase account revenue.

10. Identify dormant customers in your database and target them with compelling offers to re-engage will be one of the quickest ways that you can increase revenue. Remind them of your services, understand why they haven't recently transacted with you and communicating that you still value them will often result in some immediate opportunities and improved client relations.

Deliver Amazing Service

11. Empower customer facing teams to access the relationship and process detail that matters to them wherever they work via mobile, tablet or desktop that will empower everyone to deliver a personalised service that other providers can't match.

12. Use case management tools, including workflow automation, to track customer issues for clear visibility of outstanding customer service items. Utilise knowledge management, case routing and queue function to transform service delivery.

13. Keep customers updated with progress on service cases with automated email notifications when cases are opened, updated and closed.

14. Publish self-service web portals enabling clients to log new service requests outside regular office hours, search a knowledge database to find answers, check the status on existing cases and directly update registered detail in Dynamics.

15. Enforce service level agreements that prioritise customer issues and trigger alerts if terms are at risk of being breached to protect SLA's and make sure that the most valuable customers receive a premium service.

16. Adapt Dynamics 365 guided processes that direct users towards a successful outcome in line with your rules and methodology. For example, create scripts that help service agents qualify support requests by prompting them to ask questions and progress a resolution in line with your processing logic to streamline processes, increase data quality and ensure service consistency.

17. Track social conversations through Microsoft Market Insights to measure sentiment towards your organisation and brand, and use Dynamics 365 integration to create actions when service issues are detected, or where selling opportunities are identified.

Assess Service Performance

18. Capture timely customer feedback scores in Dynamics. For example, include a link to a short survey form in an automated email when a support ticket is closed, or when an order is dispatched. Use feedback reports, email alerts and reports to assess performance and take corrective action if problems are identified.

19. Use Dynamics 365 dashboards or Power BI to review service delivery performance and identify areas for improvement. Use metrics to identify recurring support or service problems, or assess what % of issues are being resolved in a single call.

20. Use this insight to develop staff incentive schemes that reward users for outstanding performance in key metrics, for example, cases closed per week / month or highest scoring customer feedback per month.

Learn more

To find out more about any of these points and how CRM applications can be used to help you strengthen customer loyalty in your business please contact us.

12 Quick Steps To Improve Your Dynamics 365 User Experience

How well each Microsoft Dynamics 365 user adopts the system will largely depend on how much effort is needed on their part. While everyone will interact with Dynamics in varying ways here are some practical steps that can be quickly implemented to enhance the experience for everyone:

1. Clean-Up System Views

Declutter the system but getting rid of any default system views for entities that aren’t needed, or control their visibility based on job roles.

For example, on the contacts entity do all users need to see every system defined view?


2. Remove Unused Fields

Declutter forms by removing unused fields.

For example, if you don’t use the campaigns entity you won’t need the ‘Last Campaign Date’ field on the contact form so this could be removed. These fields can always be restored if your requirements change in the future.

3. Bespoke Icons for Custom Entities

Help users distinguish one process from another by applying unique icons that reflect each CRM custom entity.

4. Cleanse Dashboards

Similar to the clean-up of system views, review system dashboards for each entity to hide any displays that aren’t used. Again, these can be displayed / hidden on a role basis.

As well as removing unused default dashboards this will elevate user’s own dashboards in the list view.

Individual users should also remove any personalised dashboards they no longer use to avoid having a long dashboard list to navigate.


5. Optimize the Mobile Experience

Enable mobile access for users that need to do business on the go and configure forms that utilise mobile optimized controls including sliders, radio buttons and switches to create a more interactive experience.

6. Make Some Fields Non-Searchable

Not every Dynamics 365 field will need to be used in a search.

Simplify the process when running an advanced find by reducing the number of searchable fields per entity.

Building a marketing list, especially if lists involve multiple field criteria, can prove time consuming so making some fields unsearchable is time well spent.

For example, do you really need to search on every type of contact address field?


7. Configure Automated Features

Utilise native functions like roll-up fields, calculated fields and business rules to simplify workflows for everyone.

8. Created On / Last Modified

Set views for each entity that are sorted by created / modified dates, and show this detail on each record form with the associated user name who made these actions.

9. Create Multiple Record Forms

Users from different teams will be interested in varying details when they look at accounts, contacts and other records.

Personalise these displays by creating roles based forms for each entities that promotes the data that matters to each team and user group.

10. Customise Record Headers

Customize record form headers by promoting the most important detail that is relevant for different roles.

11. Personalise Your CRM Theme

Upload your logo and change colours to create a more personalized interface that reflects your branding.

12. User Driven Change

Effective CRM projects are led by user change.

Encourage user requests and involve a broad base of people to debate proposed customisations and prioritise change requests that will foster greater user engagement and participation.

These are just a small selection of steps that can be taken to enhance the experience for Dynamics 365 users. Get in touch with Preact to find out more and discover how we'll help you optimise your system.

Contact Preact

Contact us to discuss and define your CRM requirements and goals

Let's Talk