Category Archives: News

5CSFBanner1

Critical Success Factor 5: The Right Technology

Technology in the hands

Why look for the right technology?

 The best technology in the world does NOT guarantee the BEST CRM project.”

 - Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

 

When choosing the technology that’s going to be the platform for your CRM implementation, I think there are broadly three categories to think about:

  • Off the shelf generic CRM platform
  • Off the shelf vertical industry type platform
  • Build-it from the ground up approach.

 

Off the shelf generic CRM

With a generic CRM platform, obviously you should look for one that is customisable. Look for the place where you can buy functionality that meet your particular functional needs and just bolt that in. Therefore you can blend the solution to meet the needs of your requirements.

 

Off the shelf vertical industry type platform

The vertical solutions can prove they’re very productive but we have seen instances where it’s been an over engineered solution.  Some people have had to unpick some of that functionality to get it to a level where it suits their particular business.

 

Build-it from the ground up approach

Let’s consider the build-it approach for a minute. The obvious pro is that it has the potential to give you exactly what you want with no license fees.  However, building something from the ground up is a serious investment. I do know companies that have done it and done it very successfully, but they tend to have quite a large team around supporting that.

We have also taken customers who have come away from that approach. This is mainly because the expertise and the support of the application has left the company and they find themselves at risk of not being able to carry out further development or support.  This is an option, and something to seriously consider, but it might not be an obvious solution as you might initially think.

 

When Looking for Your Technology… 

Look around the peripherals of the solution

    • What kind of community is there? From a user and a partner perspective?
    • What sort of support can you look for? Read the comments on the forums, take reference visits, speak to customers that are using the technology that you have short listed. Understand how it works for them, the benefits they have seen and what they went through to get the system implemented.
    • Really try and investigate down into the product and make sure that it’s fit for your business. 

Consider the three Cs of system modification

  • Configuration
    • This is where part of the system can be modified, controlled, managed by changing options through some form of Administration capability.
    • This might cover the management of Users, Security, Menus/functions etc.
  • Customisation
    • Again perhaps managed via an Administration capability, but allows the system to be extended in some way, adding fields, tables, forms.
    • This might include looking at 3rd party tools, utilities etc. to add “off the shelf” proven functionality.
  • Coding
    • This is where the developers get excited. You want it red with blue dots, let the developer at it!
    • Some times necessary, but should be less so these days.

Our recommendation if do as much as you can with Configuration, then Customisation and then, if really necessary, Code.

By keeping to the above approach, your ability to remained supported, be able to upgrade with less issues significantly improves.

 

So how to select the right solution for you? Consider the following as a starter:

How really specialised is your business processes?

  • Do you need a highly vertically focused solution?
  • Will a customised CRM solution provide what you need?

How do you need to access the CRM?

  • Internally only?
  • Externally via a web browser?
  • Externally on a mobile device?

Do you want a choice of hosted/cloud or local install?

Does the product have a good community?

  • Do you have a list of support partners?
  • Is there an active development community providing valuable add-ons?
  • Is there an active user community?
  • Are there product related community events? – If so, go and attend one!

 

 

I hope that you enjoyed this series, and that it provided you with some insight on your own CRM project. If you have a bit of time, the videos in this series can be found here (link opens in new window).

 

If you’ve come to the end of this series but missed the first four Critical Success Factors, the first in this series can be found here.

5CSFBanner1

Critical Success Factor 4: The Right Partner

iStock_000019702431Medium

Why look for the right help?

 To avoid the pitfalls and BENEFIT from others’ experiences to achieve a better SOLUTION.” - Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

 

Are you thinking of looking outside of your own organisation for help with your CRM?  If so, consider what sort of partner or company you would like to work with.

 

Likeability Factor

Look for a partner that you feel you will be able to get along with.  Obvious?  Not always.  Although you are hopefully focusing on your “Day One System,” your overall project and need for support will last over a long time, the life of the system itself.  Whilst you may not need the same level of support during that life time, it would be good to know that you can get on with that partner and call on them as and when required and that you are happy to do so.

 

Industry Focus

You may want to look for a partner with a focus on your particular industry. Somebody who has already put CRM into a similar organisation within your industry may have their own intellectual property – products or code or modules – that they can bring to your project and give you significant benefit from all of their experience.

 

Internal v. External

Implementing CRM is not something companies do many times, therefore it is unlikely they will have CRM implementation expertise in-house.  You may have CRM users and you may have great technical resources in house; however, you are unlikely to have CRM expertise that has been though the process of CRM implementation numerous times.  Some things to consider:

  • Multifunctional Skills - Do you have the right mix of technical, business analysis and project management skills to implement CRM in-house?
  • Time – Can your team allocate sufficient time to achieve an integrated CRM implementation without impacting on other day-to-day activities?
  • Customisation – Do you have skilled developers for more complex customisations?

 

User Adoption

User adoption is not a Critical Success Factor itself, but it should be seen as a measure of success.  If you review discussions about failed CRM implementations, lack of user adoption is often cited as the reason.  No, this is a symptom, not a cause of failure.  This system failed to deliver what the users needed to do their jobs, caused them more work than they had before.  In most cases the needs of the users were not understood, and aims of the company were not properly communicated.

This is the sort of situation a well experienced CRM practitioner will be able to help you avoid.

 

What Makes a Good Partner?

A good partner should bring value to the project.  Knowing how far it is reasonable to customise the solution, versus looking for a proven, well supported third party component or add on to provide the function required.  They may have their own Intellectual Property (IP) in the form of code or an off the shelf module that supports a particular feature or functional requirement.

When looking for a partner, be that a CRM practice or an individual, think about the sort of person you want to work with.  It should be a partnership, so working with people you can get on with is important.

Do they have related industry experience, what is their pedigree, what do their current or previous customers say about them?  Look at the communities and see what comments are being made, or how active they are in those communities.

Finding the right partner will make a real difference in your project.

 

And Finally…Be Honest…

As a last word on this, and coming very much from a partner perspective, be honest with the party you plan to work with.  Mutual respect and honesty will pay major dividends in the smoothness and overall success of the relationship and, therefore, the project.  Do right by a decent partner, and they will jump through hoops to get you where you need to go.

 

Now that you have read about four of the success factors providing a foundation for CRM technology, click here to read the final post in this series about the technology itself.

If you have a bit of time, why not check out this series in video form? If that’s of interest to you, click here (link will open in a new window).

5CSFBanner1

Critical Success Factor 3: The Data Factor

iStock_000026563616Medium

 

Why is data so important?

“Data is the LIFE BLOOD of a CRM System.

The QUALITY of the data directly relates to the overall HEALTH of the system.” -  Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

Data is unquestionably the lifeblood of a CRM system.  If your data is unhealthy, your CRM will definitely suffer.  Unfortunately, data can be expensive.  Certainly in the first phase of a CRM where if you’re going to do any data work it’s going to be the most expensive, time consuming part of that phase.

Where do you have data today?  Outlook?  Excel?  Maybe in Legacy Systems and around the organisation?

One of the common aims of CRM is to consolidate and centralise information.  Sounds simple, but in real terms this means extra processes that take time such as:

  • Pulling data out of all current systems,
  • Reformatting data
  • Importing data into new system
  • Data cleansing considerations: de-duplication, address verification etc.

 

The Costs

The costs of all of these processes can be considerable and are often underestimated. However, the cost of not considering this area seriously will be even greater.

 

User Adoption

Poor quality data is one of the most common causes of low user adoption.  Your system could be the best solution around with user friendly, intuitive functionality, but if the data is not current, correct and duplicate free then the users will see that very quickly.  As confidence in the system drops, users take less care in the data they enter, and the situation spirals out of control.  In the end users stop using it and implement their own systems, usually spreadsheets that they feel they can rely on.

 

Confidence

Inaccurate, duplicate, out of date data also leads to low confidence in the output from CRM particularly around marketing, forecasts, reporting, customer service etc.

You must consider data from the start of your project very, very important.

 

Initial Data Load

Where is your initial data coming from?  Could be a previous CRM system, or could be a number of data sources including Outlook contacts lists, ERP system, separate mailing lists, to name a few.

The layout, names of the data fields, format of the data, even how the data is represented will be different for each data source.  None of these will have much if any similarity to the layout, format, etc. to the CRM database you plan to put the data onto.

Let’s consider a quick example – address format

If you used a spreadsheet to look at the data, how many columns are used to hold the address?  Are the column names the same for each source?  Your target CRM system will most likely have a separate field (column) for each element of the address.  Consider also if your data sources have more than one address for a company and/or contact.

Is the format of the addresses consistent?  For example, is the town or city always in the same place?

It is not uncommon for us to see in a tender document the requirement for “a simple import process.”  Based on the above it is clear that this is a clear indication that the data factor is not fully understood.

So when considering the initial loading of data there is already quite a challenge.

 

Data Quality

You will see a lot of talk about Data Quality.  There are many companies offering to assist you with this topic.  You may do well to engage with one or more of them, but before you do, consider what you mean by Data Quality.  Listed below are some specific areas to consider:

  • Duplicate data
  • Valid data – addresses, emails, phone numbers
  • Currency of data – is the data up to date, is the data still relevant to your business
  • Profiling and enrichment – the process of adding additional data to a name and address to make it possible to segment your data for marketing and reporting processes
  • Integration – linking systems to pass data between them to improve process efficiency

 

Data Governance

Bring on the Data Custodian.

This is about setting out your Data Standards in terms of, data entry standards, security (who can see what), how it is maintained.

Referring back to the opening statement, data is the life blood of CRM, it needs to be kept healthy, it needs a health check and it will need looking after.

Setting out your standards and implementing monitoring and controls, helps to maintain the quality and health of the data.  Simple things like ensuring data entry is managed wherever possible via defined pick lists all aid Data Quality.  When we start talking about this in projects, a common request is to make lots of fields mandatory.  A reasonable request on the face of it, but what happens if at the point in time of adding the records the user simply does not know what to enter.  What do they do…?  Lie?  Well they might have to if they are to progress what they are doing.  Use mandatory fields sparingly, but have checks in place to highlight those key fields in your CRM that still require entry, this is normally simple to achieve using a lookup/query with the system and making this available to the Data Custodian or the users themselves.

There are a number of data providers that are able to offer point of entry validation for addresses and other data, Postcode Anywhere is one of our favourites.  Obviously managing the Data Quality at point is generally much more cost effective.  Prevention being better than a cure.

 

The next post in this series is about what to look for in a CRM partner. To read it, please click here.

If you’d like to take a look at our videos in this series, please click here.

5CSFBanner1

Critical Success Factor 2: Implementation Approach

iStock_000038920700Medium

Why is a good Implementation Approach required?

“To avoid the big bang approach and manage an evolution style phase implementation.” - Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

Isn’t that just project management? No, what we are talking about here is really having an approach that takes you from your initial ideas, helps you prioritise those ideas, qualifies a solution, all the way through to phasing the project, training and delivery, and on-going support.

And then coming back through that cycle to do the next phase – avoiding, wherever possible, the big bang approach which most companies do these days anyway.

 

So What Makes a Good CRM Implementation Methodology?

implementation

Scalable

The implementation approach needs to be scalable enough to cope with small phases and larger more complex ones

  • Take the very simple start point ideas
  • Formulate and prioritise these ideas
  • Involve the user so that they feel that they’re part of the project
  • Qualify the solution
  • Roll out of phases

 

Manage Expectations

What are everybody’s expectations? Are they in line with what you plan to deliver? If you have agreed the scope for each phase and share mutual goals and an ultimate view of the system, you should be able to answer these questions.

The next step is to then manage the expectation.

During the discussions, presentations and consultations that will be part of the process, many requirements, suggestions, needs and priorities will be covered.  It is imperative that these are not lost, but are recorded.  However, it is also vital that for each phase it is clear which of those areas and requirements discussed are to be delivered.  The users are aware of the deliverables and there are no surprise omissions or additions.

 

Clear Documentation and Terminology

To help manage expectations and communicate the goals and deliverables for each phase of the CRM project, it is essential to have appropriate levels of documentation that are regularly maintained and adhered to.  Don’t use technical jargon.  Use inclusive terminology commonly used and understood by the organisation to allow it to be clearly understood and accepted by all parties.

In a smaller phase or project, there is balance to be drawn between spending weeks creating documentation, against the days actually required to deliver the phase.  Make use of common templates, checklist formats, and bulleted lists rather than long drawn out text.  And a picture paints a thousand words!

 

The Day One System

A phrase we use in every new CRM project is “The Day One System”.  In other words, we are focusing the attention on what must be there on Day One of the system going live.  As discussed above, lots of ideas, requirements, etc. will come out through the discussions, but keeping a keen eye on what is really required in the first instance is critical to ensuring an on time and on budget first phase.

 

Resources

Allow for optimal (cost effective) use of all resources available to both the customer and partner.

User adoption is often quoted as a critical success factor in itself.  We actually see user adoption as a measure of success. By having the right approach within the methodology you can include the users in the project and therefore build up their adoption even before you’ve rolled the system out.
If you go about this correctly then you really will have a far greater level of user adoption as a result.

 

Sure Step

As an example, we use the Microsoft Sure Step mythology as the foundation of our implementation approach.  On first glance it can appear something of a sledge hammer.  However, if you look at its underlying approach it really provides a great way of breaking down a project into sub phases.  Once you understand this, you can then scale the tasks and the associated documentation appropriately to the project in hand.

 

Sure Step Phases Summary

surestep

 

To read the next post in this series about the importance of data in CRM success, click here.

To watch the videos in this series, please click here.

5CSFBanner1

Critical Success Factor 1: Executive Sponsorship

exec

Why is Executive Sponsorship a Critical Success Factor?

“CRM should be implemented in support of the business goals, aims and strategy. The Executive Team should be actively involved in driving CRM as a strategic tool to help achieve these objectives.” – Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

Over the years, we have come to realise and experience first-hand, the important role that the executive team (Directors, Owners, Senior Partners, etc.) play within a successful CRM project. Some of the key reasons why we think Executive Sponsorship is absolutely a requirement within a CRM project are:

 

blogtable

Vision

It is important to set out the vision and goals of the CRM project in line with the overall company plans and strategy.  Who better to do this than the same people responsible for those company plans and strategy?

Communication

Communication plays a key role when ensuring that everyone understands why the CRM project is being undertaken. Put yourself in the shoes of your employees and really answer their questions:

  • Why are we doing this?
  • What are the goals and vision of the CRM project?
  • How will it affect me directly?
  • What changes will need to be made?
  • How can I contribute to the project?

By answering these questions and opening up communication with the organisation you will find that the organisation itself will be much more likely to input to the project and less resistant or worried about the inherent changes that will come.

Assist with Change

CRM is often a catalyst for positive change and executives have a role in understanding and mitigating those changes and reducing the potential fear of change.

Critical Decisions

Executives have a responsibility to be ready and prepared to make critical decisions when needed and throughout the lifetime of a project.  There will be prioritisations to be made; there will be decisions about budget, resourcing etc.

However, if the project team have a clear remit, have a clear understanding of the goals, priorities, etc. that are fuelling the CRM requirements, they will be far more able to make more decisions themselves.  In addition, they will be better able to identify appropriate options around any key decision and convey those back to the Executive Sponsor in such a manner to allow the decision process to be quick and not hold up the project.

What Does Executive Sponsorship Really Mean?

The day to day implementation and on-going running of the CRM system will reside with the project team and system owner, however the Executive Sponsor/Owner does have key tasks and responsibilities such as:

  • Obtaining overall Executive agreement on goals for the system
  • Involvement in partner/system selection, business case and sign off
  • Agreeing the functional priorities for implementation
  • “Beating the drum” – ensuring goals, objectives, plans are well communicated – answering the question; Why are we doing this?
  • Ensuring progress successes are communicated to the executive team effectively
  • Arbitrating on significant or issues changes raised by the project
  • Recognising and celebrating milestone successes with everyone
  • Providing on-going support and incentives to the continued use and development of the system
  • Continual review of the CRM system against evolving business plans and situations

I have seen on a number of occasions the exec team walk away once a decision to go with CRM has been made.  It might be that they have great faith in the project team, which is a nice feeling for a while for the project team perhaps, but when something goes wrong the team flounders.  Not wishing to disturb the exec, or not disturbing until too late, and the situation gets out of hand.

The Executive Sponsors are an important part of the CRM project team, just with less day to day involvement.

And finally, celebrate!!

Celebrating success is an invaluable thing to do, as most business management gurus will tell you.  It can make a massive difference to the team who have worked hard, into the evenings, perhaps over weekends to have their labours recognised.  CRM is best implemented in phases.  What better way of ensuring the success of the next phase than by celebrating the success of the current phase.  And please, if you are the sponsoring exec don’t promise but not deliver; lip service doesn’t do anything other than demoralise a team.

 

If you would like to watch the videos related to this blog series, click here.

If you would like to read Critical Success Factor 2: Implementation Approach, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

5CSFBanner1

The Five Critical Success Factors of CRM

iStock_000017097256Medium

Why are there five Critical Success Factors?

Without having these other four factors in place to provide a foundation, the best technology in the world is not going to guarantee you a successful CRM implementation.”

Rowland Dexter, Managing Director, QGate

 

Over the last couple of decades, myself and the QGate team have worked with numerous companies and organisations across most sectors, helping them to implement CRM and, by doing so, realise the value of their data.  Across all those projects which included new implementations and a fair share of turnarounds (improving what was viewed by the customer as a failing CRM system), we have identified some critical factors that when addressed properly improve the success rate for a CRM project significantly.

To help you with your CRM project, we have created a series of videos which summarise what we at QGate believe are the Five Critical Success Factors (CSFs) for a successful CRM project.  There are five accompanying articles that expand further on the video content which will be featured on my blog in conjunction with this introduction.

In summary, the five CSFs are:

 

Executive Sponsorship

CRM is a serious investment, it should be made to support the company’s goals and objectives.  This starts to pose the question: why are you implementing CRM in the first place?  You must know WHY. This reasoning has to be communicated to everyone involved from the top down. The rest of the organisation must have a clear understanding of the WHY and know that the project has the full backing and support of the executive team.

 

Implementation Approach

Avoid the Big Bang approach by prioritising and planning phases. Be sure to consider the complete life cycle, from inception through to on-going support and evolution of the system and remember that user involvement throughout is important.  

 

The Data Factor

Data.  Everyone knows that CRM has to have it, but very often it is seriously under estimated in terms of the work required to get it right and realise its true value. If you consider data as if it were a machine, you would then consider its selection, installation, on-going maintenance, etc. more carefully.  It will then become a real asset to the organisation.  

 

The Right Partner

Find the person or partner that matches your ideals and personality – can you work with them? This should be someone that will bring value to you project – do they have industry or process knowledge related to your needs? This person or partner should be willing to share skills and tasks in order to help manage time and costs. 

 

The Right Technology

I purposely placed this last. – The “best” technology alone will not guarantee a successful CRM project.  The above foundational items need to be in place. When it comes time for you to invest in CRM technology, consider the three prime options first:

    1. General CRM platform and customise
    2. Industry specific CRM
    3. Build it yourself

Make sure that you also consider the 3 “Cs” when planning to modify a solution to your needs:

    1. Configuration – maximise the use of simple configuration options
    2. Customisation – use customisation when needing to perhaps add tables, fields, forms
    3. Coding – keep this to a minimum and prevent headaches when upgrading etc.

If I were to put a figure on the split I would suggest that Configuration and Customisation should cover 80% of the requirements with a max of 20% requiring coding. Each of the above topics is linked to a more detailed article.  I hope you find these useful, it is by working with these five CSFs that we can stand by our statement – We make CRM work.

 

If you would like to read about these factors in more detail, please click here.

If you would rather watch this series in a video format, please click here.

Featured image - intelli-CTi

Customer Success Story – Full Marks for Customer Service

Home Learning College, a distance learning provider with more than 65.000 students, learnt an important lesson when it gave its outsourced call centre notice and brought its student enquiry service in-house.

The college installed new technology to integrate its telephones and computer system – computer telephony integration (CTI). Now when prospective students ring to enquire about training, they’re talking to an operator who can find and deliver the information about the course they need more efficiently.

Home Learning College has given CTI full marks. “We’ve seen increased conversion rate since moving from the outsourced call centre”, says Robert Baber, the college’s system’s manager.

The college has demonstrated that with easy-to-use software, such as the Sage Saleslogix it installed, it’s not difficult to reap benefits such as cost savings, improved data accuracy and happier customers.

Until now relatively few businesses have used CTI. “But in the past 12 months we’ve seen a big increase in momentum”, says Rowland Dexter, managing director of QGate Software, a customer relationship management  (CRM) consultancy and business intelligence and CTI provider.

Dexter sees a range of business benefits for companies using CTI. For example, they can route calls to the right operator. Furthermore, because CTI software can do the look up work automatically, operators get the information they need on their screens quicker – instantly providing the information the caller wants.

“At every stage you’re saving here and a few seconds there, but over a lot of calls that can mount into quite a cost reduction”, says Dexter.

He makes the point that CTI is not just about call centres – it’s about delivering customer service which goes that extra mile. “Any business that aims to provide good customer service – and that uses CRM to achieve its aim and telephones as part of its communications channel – will benefit from linking CRM and telephony.”

Dexter maintains that the key to success in a CTI project such as this is “understanding why you’re doing it and communicate to your user base the reasons for it – why you’re providing this extra facility for them.

And with out-of-the-box software available for CTI , it need not take long to complete a project. At Home Learning College, the work took just four weeks from trial, testing, acceptance and installation to roll-out and going live.

“The technical barriers to CTI are coming down”, says Dexter. “It has become easier and more accessible technology. Any good vendor should allow you to try in your business at no cost so that you can evaluate it before you make an investment”.

Customer Success Story – Lush Cleans up on Data with QlikView

QGate and our customer Lush feature in Computer Weekly article…

Poole-based Lush has some 900 stores in 51 countries and is a manufacturer as well as a retailer. It has a range of datasets, including retail data within EPOS systems, supply chain and stock management, payroll and timesheet systems. In 2010 it needed a technology platform that could be used by employees at every level throughout the business to provide access to relevant sales, stock, store and staff information. A CRM consultancy and BI provider QGate, based close to Lush’s headquarters in Fareham, helped deploy the software, “and they are still our main point of contact with Qlik”, says Silverthorn.

The full article can be read here.

News – Watch our new Introduction to QGate Video

Click here to see the video.

Featured image - MSCRM

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Spring ’14 Release

Introduction

Microsoft have been working hard to improve the capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics CRM. The Spring ’14 release includes improvements for Marketing, Customer Service, and Social. This article takes a look at the new features Microsoft Dynamics CRM Spring ’14 release has to offer including some of Microsoft’s latest acquisitions; Marketing Pilot, Parature and NetBreeze.

“At Microsoft Dynamics, our vision is to help our customers deliver the kinds of amazing customer experiences that will help their business thrive. To do this, we feel there are three things organizations need to be able to do:

  • They need to be able to market smarter – planning and delivering engaging campaigns, then being able to prove the quantifiable results of their efforts.
  • They need to be able to sell effectively – enabling their salespeople to focus on what matters so that they can close more deals, faster.
  • And they need to provide customer service everywhere – they need to be responsive, delivering relevant information so that in every moment of truth, they can earn customers for life.”

Marketing

New Look and Feel

Built around Marketing Pilot, the new marketing area offers a new drag and drop visual campaign designer. The intuitive visual designer makes it easy for marketers to create multi-channel campaigns integrated with email marketing and social channels.

Homepage

New dashboards, KPI’s, reports and charts allow marketers to quickly identify leads generated, email effectiveness, landing page opens, and budget performance.

Email Marketing

You can now send highly personalized email messages to drive improved open rates. Personalize the content per sender, recipient, subject & content allowing you to send fewer emails with greater business results.

Sales and Marketing Connector

The Dynamics Marketing Connector is new and improved, with easy configuration and a UI for data mapping. Users can configure data mapping to bring in important information on the contact and lead to assist in better lead scoring. Sales gets better quality leads as a result. Rich information means that reporting on lead pipeline and lead conversion is easily accessible in reports.

Customer Service

Microsoft have put in a considerable amount of effort to make Customer Service the force it should be. Microsoft Dynamics CRM enables companies to earn customers for life by providing relevant, responsive and personalized service. Companies can connect their customers with the right answers to their service inquiries at the right time, via their channel of choice across web, social, chat, mobile and phone. Agents are empowered with a single, unified experience to deliver amazing customer experience with cross-channel context.

Parature

With the inclusion of Parature, a full suite of Customer Service tools are now available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Parature includes.

  • Parature Portal
  • Parature Mobile Self-Service
  • Parature Facebook Portal
  • Parature Real-time Chat
  • Parature Knowledgebase

Unified Service Desk

The new Unified Service Desk offers powerful desktop designed to improve key business metrics such as Average Handling Time, First Call Resolution and Customer Satisfaction by providing agents a unified experience to access all of the tasks and applications across their environment. Customers can easily create agent desktop applications through a configurable interface within Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Case Management

Case management has been improved with an updated case form. You can now view merged cases, view or add child cases, review entitlements, and even add a Timer to ensure you do not exceed/breach your SLA’s.

Social

Microsoft Social Listening

Microsoft Social Listening is a powerful new service powered by NetBreeze. It can be used to monitor social media channels like Twitter and Facebook. Use Microsoft Social Listening to track products, brands, competitors, and campaigns globally and in real time to gain a true understanding of your customers and your business across the social web.

Social Insights

Microsoft Social Listening visuals can be added your CRM dashboards and forms. These Social Insights charts and graphs help you identify buzz, trends and sentiment related to things like your customers, campaigns and competitors.

Platform

As well as all the new features around marketing, customer service and social, Microsoft Dynamics CRM has improved the platform and mobile capabilities.

Mobile Apps

The mobile app has been extended to include Customer Service capabilities optimized for people who are always on the move but want to keep an eye on high priority Cases, monitor Queues or route items across the queues to deliver amazing experiences no matter where they are.

Server-side sync and SharePoint integration

There have been improvements to Server-side synchronisation and SharePoint integration for CRM Online. Server-side sync now offers greater stability and SharePoint integration no longer required list components for CRM Online and SharePoint Online.

Sandbox Environments

There is now the concept of Sandbox Environments to allow users to develop and test customizations in an isolated, non-production online environment. Administrators can copy a CRM Online instance into a sandbox instance.

New CRM Online Admin Centre

This can be made possible with the new CRM Online Admin Centre. Administrators can easily manage their test and production Dynamics CRM Online environments.

Compatibility

Support has been added to the follow products

  • Windows 8.1
  • Internet Explorer 11
  • iOS7 Safari on iPad (web application)
  • iPad Air using Safari (web application)
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 (CRM server)
  • iPad Air using CRM for Tablets

Summary

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Spring ’14 release has lots to offer and covers a lot of ground for marketing, customer service and social. There are also improvements for administrators who look after CRM.

Pricing and Licensing

Some of the new features such as Microsoft Social Listening and Parature require additional licensing. Please contact your Partner or QGate for more information.

CRM Online and CRM On-Premise

This release is available for both CRM Online and CRM On-Premise although some features may differ between versions. CRM Online customers will have the ability to “Opt-In”. The On-premise update will be in the form of service pack 1.

Further Information

Further information is available from Microsoft by visiting their Get ready for the next release page.

If you need any specific information on any of the new features and changes to licensing contact your partner or visit the QGate Knowledgebase.