Microsoft Dynamics CRM Implementations Teach Valuable Lessons

I recently took a prospective client team on a two-day tour of four companies to observe Dynamics CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software working in different environments. I wanted to give them a broader perspective on potential applications of the service module. Over the course of a nine month courtship, I expounded on the virtues of a CRM-centric view of their business, learned about their internal processes, gave executive presentations, uncovered opportunities, and worked with Line of Business managers and IT staff on integration options and architecture. Finally, the pilot project was clearly defined.

While we were getting acquainted, my prospect was undergoing an ownership change and some strategic revisioning and the initial CRM project morphed into a high-profile initiative requiring a deeper-than-usual dive into the product’s capabilities.

The companies we visited provided very different, but equally valuable lessons on the features and benefits of Dynamic CRM. The first stop was at a well-established, national consumer goods manufacturer. The Customer Experience Manager and three of her senior Customer Experience Executives shared what they did before deploying CRM, and the important role CRM played in creating a “high-touch” customer experience. They designed efficient workflows and automated processes to track and organize every single customer interaction. “Cases” are created from emails, phone calls, letters, and eCommerce web sites and routed directly to buyers and Quality Assurance managers to speed response times, improve resolution, and develop stronger customer relationships. Lesson One: Dynamic CRM enables the high-touch experience essential when working directly with consumers in a B2C environment.

The second stop was at a high-tech manufacturer where we needed badges to gain entry beyond the secured reception area. Structure, metrics, uniformity, process and workflows established systems that drove efficient operations. Options were all pre-selected, minimizing errors and increasing productivity. Everything rolled up to reports and dashboards that provided management with the information needed to make good decisions quickly. Lesson Two: Dynamic CRM’s robust service module capabilities complement high-tech businesses’ standard operating procedures.

Our third stop was at a company similar to my prospect’s -- B2B with custom industrial and retail lines in addition to service and parts. This implementation evolved over a long period of time and involved two different systems. The current CRM was provided by the ERP vendor and had some nice (but not unique) hooks into the accounting database for order history and placing orders. The most impressive aspect of this implementation is the people. The company understands how to build, motivate and equip a dedicated team -- the average tenure of their customer service reps was 15 years! Lesson Three: Loyal employees are a valuable asset when building a customer service platform.

The final stop on the tour took us to a company with multiple manufacturing facilities that each had its own specialty. They operated semi-autonomously and had made unsuccessful attempts to integrate previously. Since my prospect was creating a new customer service function inside of an older established company, I thought it would be beneficial for them to witness a successful adaptation in a similar setting. They rolled out the implementation by creating a fun campaign unifying the individual plant launches, complete with a newsletter, t-shirts, prizes, status reports and calendar updates all with an upbeat theme. They built demand for adoption internally by using the newsletter to highlight the new reporting and business intelligence features to educate and inspire managers. Lesson Four: CRM is a powerful tool and employees are more likely to adapt to the change when it is properly planned, well-coordinated and fun!

The whirlwind tour was a success and my prospect is now a client. Interestingly, despite the different industries and implementations, many of these lessons are finding their way into the design stages of what will hopefully be the first of many projects. I’m looking forward to including them on a future tour with another prospect team willing to view their business from a different perspective.

Written by Jim O’Neill, CRM Account Executive Ledgeview Partners, Wisconsin and heartland Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner

1 thought on “Microsoft Dynamics CRM Implementations Teach Valuable Lessons”

  1. I agree with your 4th Lesson, but would suggest adding to it with something that currently Microsoft Dynamics does not include: simplicity. CRM is uncannily easier to implement when it is simple, easy-to-use, and doesn't require a ton of training.

    Hopefully in the Windows 8 update of Dynamics the tool gets a major overhaul, but the chances that this will actually happen are close to none, considering the aversion that big CRM providers have to changing their interface to make it easier for users to use.

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