Prior to CRM 2013, few companies chose Microsoft CRM as their customer care, call center or customer service solution. They could hardly be blamed - the feature set for customer service met only the most basic of needs. But that's a shame - research indicates that one of the top drivers of CRM success is integrating it across Sales, Marketing and Customer Care teams.

Since Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0, however, Microsoft has steadily added new functionality to boost the customer service portions of the application. And now, with the rollout of CRM 2016, it is time for organizations to reconsider using the same platform for Customer Care that they also use for Sales and Marketing.

Recently, the number of updates to the application grew so large that Microsoft introduced an entire new section in the settings area, exclusively for Service Management. Take a look at the nearby image to get a sense of the scope of the changes (and this is only a relatively small portion of all the new functionality).

If you're interested in more of an interactive walk-through of these features, then click here to sign up for one of our upcoming webinars on customer service in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016.

The Service Management menu iin CRM 2016

So much has changed, in fact, that it can't be covered in a single blog. So let's review some of the basics today, and continue in future articles until everything has been covered. Check back frequently, or you can fill out the contact us form and just ask to be emailed when future articles come out.

The Core of Customer Service in Dynamics CRM

For those of you who haven't considered customer service with Microsoft Dynamics CRM for a while, a quick overview of the core functions may be helpful. With all of the new features, the basics of managing the customer care experience in Microsoft CRM remain the same.

  • Cases: Tracking issues, questions and problems reported by customers.
  • Knowledge Base: Creating a database of articles based on experience resolving customer issues, and making these easy to search to help customers with similar problems.
  • Service Scheduling: When the question can't be solved on the first call, service can be scheduled to provide a callback or a visit from the right expert (and with the right equipment) to get the problem solved.
  • Agreements: Commitments that are made to provide a response within a specified amount of time, and a certain amount of support during a specified time frame.
  • Orders: Customer Service teams often have to not only resolve customer issues, but to also place new orders, or to place orders for items required to resolve an issue.

General Customer Care Updates in CRM 4.0, CRM 2011, CRM 2013, CRM 2015 and CRM 2016

Let's focus on the business features in these posts - rather than dive deep into the technical back-end updates. I'm also going to assume that your organization is already using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, so you're already familiar with updates that can be found in all areas. So we won't need to do a deep dive on those. But let's do a quick review to connect some of these features to the benefits that might be unique for your Customer Service, Call Center or even Inside Sales, teams:

  • User Interface Overhaul: CRM 2016 looks completely different that CRM 4.0 or CRM 2011. Navigation, forms, quick creating new records - all have been upgraded and made faster. As a result, it is more intuitive to use, faster to get around in and much easier to key data into than previous versions.  In CRM 2016 another option for the Service Management UI has been added called the Interactive Service Hub.  We’ll cover that in an upcoming article.
  • Quick Find: With one search bar, Call Center personnel can now find records anywhere in CRM. Integration with phone systems is also vastly improved. Both of these features mean less asking customers to wait and getting them the information that they need faster … and less stress and more satisfaction for your call center team.
  • Security Updates: The updates to CRM security made in just about every version since 4.0 means that you can meet just about any security requirement scenario you can imagine.
  • Dialogs and Business Process Flows: Dialogs (an interactive set of forms that can prompt a user through a process - such as triaging a service issue) were introduced in CRM 2011. Business process flows (a list of stages and related activities that can be applied to a case) were introduced in CRM 2013 and upgraded in CRM 2015. Dialogs have, unfortunately, not seen much in the way of updates and are only useful in very specific scenarios; but business process flows are incredibly powerful. Rather than spend an entire article on business process flows, here is a link to a summary: Business Process Flows – The User Experience Upgrades in CRM 2015
  • Calculated and Rollup Fields: These can make it easy to summarize information from sub-records, such as activities, directly on a customer service issue (case) form.
  • Mobility: Microsoft Dynamics CRM now has a robust mobile offering – virtually all parts of the application are available on any mobile device, and custom modules (xRM) can easily be added.

Business process flow screenshot CRM 2016

Next Time: 3 Awesome CRM 2016 Service Management Upgrades

That's a lot of information - and we've only just scratched the surface! Next time I'll walk through 3 very significant changes to customer service functionality in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Many of you may still be using Microsoft Dynamics CRM On Premise and, therefore, may be on CRM 4.0, CRM 2011 or CRM 2013 – now is the time to consider upgrading CRM and getting your Customer Service team on board.  Contact C5 Insight if you’d like to discuss the options for a Microsoft CRM upgrade. Or click here to view our upcoming webinars, focused on helping businesses improve employee engagement and the customer experience.