How to use CRM technology to gain and retain more customers

By Thomas Hansen, Vice President of Worldwide SMB, Microsoft

When I ask business owners about what is keeping them up at night, customer acquisition and retention is always top of mind. With more and more companies competing for the same customer, businesses want to make sure that their sales teams can have meaningful engagements when and where it matters the most. The good news is that technology—like a customer relationship management (CRM) system—is a powerful asset.

A good CRM system, used to the fullest, helps small businesses strengthen their current customer relationships and drive new sales. It provides sales teams with insights on everything from customer account information and sales opportunities, to customer leads and account activity—all accessible via the cloud.  And it does all of this without breaking the bank.

Let’s look at Core Cost Management (CCM), a telecoms services and consulting company in the UK with five employees. As CCM began to encounter a number of challenges with its existing CRM solution, it decided it needed a better tool that helped improve leads and sales performance. For example, its sales people were growing frustrated at having to switch between Salesforce.com tools and other applications such as email.

A good CRM system, used to the fullest, helps small businesses strengthen their current customer relationships and drive new sales.

By choosing Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and Microsoft Office 365, CCM was able to communicate more effectively, saving time and reducing the amount of travel required. The team now has easy access to leads, customer records and the mail-merging feature—all in a single, centralized system and without having to leave their Outlook email. In addition, the management team can import customer leads more efficiently and assign customer records or cases to specific team members, enabling them to match expertise with customers to create the best customer experience possible.

For small businesses, where staff and resources are sometimes scarce, technology is a competitive differentiator. In order to make CRM tools accessible to companies of all sizes, today we announced that Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online will be available under Microsoft’s Open Licensing program which makes it easier for Microsoft technology and service partners to offer CRM solutions to their SMB customers. With today’s news, we’re taking a big step forward in providing SMBs with access to a cost-effective set of tools that can help them identify opportunities faster, close deals more quickly, and build more loyal customer relationships.

How does CRM accomplish this? By enhancing the “three P’s” of people, process, and productivity.

People: A CRM tool can show you what your customers want—and when they want it. For example, you can see how often a customer makes a purchase from your business so you can proactively reach out with offers to assist at the right time. You can also recommend additional products customers may like, based on their buying habits. By staying one step ahead of their needs, and creating personalized experiences for them, you can build more loyal and profitable relationships.

We’re taking a big step forward in providing SMBs with access to a cost-effective set of tools that can help them identify opportunities faster, close deals more quickly, and build more loyal customer relationships.

Process: By having consistent business processes, you can get the most out of your sales and service teams. Using a CRM tool you can easily implement custom processes to ensure consistency across all of your teams. For example, the ability to enter custom fields could enable a florist to keep track of the birthdays of a customer’s loved ones, and prompt staff to reach out in advance of each date with a reminder or special offer.

Productivity: When you integrate Dynamics CRM Online with Microsoft Office 365, your people can focus on their customers and prospects—instead of spending time and effort learning unfamiliar technology.

CRM can transform your organization by giving your staff a deeper knowledge of your customers than ever before. With it, they can zero in and focus on the information that matters most. If you haven’t researched CRM for your business—or if you’re using a non-cloud-based CRM solution that doesn’t integrate with the rest of your office tools—the advent of sophisticated, unified, cloud-based solutions means there’s no better time than now to make that investment.

Find out more about CRM Online, or talk about your needs with a Microsoft certified partner or service provider in your area.