Customer Relationship Management software – what is a CRM system?

Customer Relationship Management software – what is a CRM system?

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You may have heard of Customer Relationship Management software, also referred to as a CRM system, but in this article we’re going to cover what a CRM solution is and how it can boost your business.

As you will know, customer relationships are integral to the success of any business, and in the age of Artificial Intelligence, that human connection has never been more important.

Customers’ buying processes and habits are constantly evolving, and keeping track of what’s going on with each customer can be quite a daunting process when there are so many channels to reach them on. A surefire way to differentiate your business from the competition is to build great relationships with your customers, show them they are truly valued and become their trusted adviser. This is where Customer Relationship Management software comes in.

What is a CRM System?

Firstly, if you’ve skipped right to this section, you might be thinking ‘what does CRM stand for?’ It means Customer Relationship Management and refers to a system designed to help your business manage customer relationships. That system might be a collection of processes you have already been building within your business, but Customer Relationship Management software can take all those systems and use the latest technology to improve them and make everything run smoothly! This results in improved customer service, leading to more retained business and increased sales.

Who uses a CRM system?

You don’t have to be an enterprise-level business or a fancy tech company to use CRM software. If you have multiple members of staff who all perform different roles and interact with customers, then they can use Customer Relationship Management software to ensure they have a single source of truth to draw information from, rather than duplicated data and files all over the place!

What is a CRM system used for?

Typical Customer Relationship Management software can be used to store customer and prospect contact data, support case information, files relating to specific customers, service issue information and more. It can also be used to track your sales pipeline, from the initial enquiry right through the order stage, inform you of when contracts are coming up for renewal and if Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are in danger of not being met. Basically, the whole aim of a good CRM system is to track all that information in one central, secure location.

For example, say one of your sales team has been speaking to a customer about upgrading their service. The sales rep goes on annual leave and the customer calls to continue the discussion. They’ve been approached by a competitor, and they’d like to ask the sales rep some questions about your product based on their prior conversations. With CRM software, all that data will have been recorded, so another member of the sales team can pick it up, without the customer becoming frustrated at having to repeat everything, or the potential sales opportunity being missed because a competitor swooped in.

Implement a CRM in just five days.

Strategy 365 specialises in helping small-to-medium-sized businesses get the most from their CRM software, without having to pay enterprise-level prices. Plenty of companies will try to sell you all-singing, all-dancing, state-of-the-art Customer Relationship Management software that has everything any business could ever need. While this may sound tempting, this could lead to spiralling costs and take months to get set up. Download our free guide to identify what you need to get a good CRM platform up and running in five days or less!

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How do you know when it’s time to switch to Customer Relationship Management software?

Every organisation will have some sort of CRM solution, from pieces of paper to Excel spreadsheets, but at some point, these manual and outdated processes will no longer support a growing business. It becomes near impossible to stay on top of managing all interactions with existing and prospective customers, leading to disjointed processes, a lack of collaboration, and severely hampering productivity. You may have already begun to spot these telltale signs, but here are some more red flags indicating your business is ready for professional CRM software.

You’re using lengthy manual data entry

Using traditional methods like Excel or paper notes to record customer data can be time-consuming and increases the chance of human error. Duplicate records, typos, and simple mistakes waste your resources, time, and money. Furthermore, manual data entry can limit other employees from being able to access that valuable information.

However, with Customer Relationship Management software, data entry can be fast and efficient. Forms can be customised to ensure that all the essential data you need to help service your customers is captured; data which can then be easily accessed by other members of your organisation.

Your customer service is falling short

It’s much harder to find new customers than to keep existing customers, so losing them due to poor service is the last thing you want. If your customer service team is constantly spending more time resolving customer complaints rather than proactively anticipating their needs, that is a sign indicating your business needs CRM software.

A CRM system would help you offer a proactive service to your customers. Customer service cases can be assigned to the right agent, while a shared knowledge base can be created to help agents answer common questions. All communications can be recorded within the system, so staff have a full view of the interactions between agents and customers, so there are no missing details or a lack of understanding around a situation. An intelligent solution, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service, allows your organisation to effectively manage cases via multiple channels, track entitlements or SLAs (Service Level Agreements) and collect valuable customer feedback to analyse and improve your service.

Your business is being hindered by poor insights and reporting

Analysing data is as important as collecting it. Being able to create insights, management information, and reports from your data helps inform important business decisions which could change the growth and development of your company. However, if members of your team are manually producing reports, this is an inefficient use of time. The right Customer Relationship Management software can automatically create insights and real-time dashboards, which can easily be accessed in one place. An intelligent CRM system can even “clean” customer data, such as removing duplicates or automatically fill in missing information.

Your team are struggling to manage leads

Do you have more leads coming in than you can manage? Everyone wants a lot of inbound enquiries, but if there is an inconsistent process in managing them, it can have an adverse effect on your business. Comprehensive cloud-based CRM solutions like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales can efficiently prioritise and organise your leads. It can present leads in order of importance, delegate each one to the right salesperson, and store templates or messages to ensure a consistent sales process is being followed.

Everyone is spending too much time on numerous manual, repetitive processes

Every organisation wants to reduce costs, but many do not realise that a CRM platform can reduce your costs over a longer time. Through automation, an organisation will save time on many laborious tasks, which means reduced costs on admin and management.

You’ve noticed a lack of internal communication and collaboration

Working in an organisation where communication is lacking is never a healthy working environment. An effective CRM system, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365, can help improve communication by tracking all interactions related to the customer experience and streamlining it in one centralised location. As a result, team members will know exactly where each customer is in their journey, which immediately improves collaboration between departments.

You’re not measuring marketing efforts

If you are generating a lot of leads, it’s also important to recognise which marketing efforts are contributing to those leads, as well as tracking their quality. Without the ability to evaluate your marketing activities, you will not be able to make smart and effective decisions on future campaigns. Marketing software such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights, ClickDimensions or Touchdown can collate key marketing metrics from your social, web, and email channels that are crucial to help you identify new opportunities.

You are constantly growing

As your business grows, issues will arise with current processes. Ultimately, there is a ceiling on your organisation’s growth if you continue to use spreadsheets or pieces of paper as the main methods of customer relationship management. The lack of a coherent system, which helps you maintain great customer relationships, keep a consistent sales process, track marketing activity, collate data, and create useful insights, will eventually hurt your overall growth.

Your business is using multiple disparate systems

Having your sales, customer service, and marketing systems in several different areas can lead to disorganisation and confusion. Furthermore, it’s an inefficient use of time to train staff on several different systems when one great CRM platform can centralise all these functions. As a result, a CRM system will increase user efficiency as all key data can be stored in one easy-to-access central location which helps to create a single source of the truth.

Your team has been missing key deadlines with prospects and customers

The busier your organisation gets with inbound enquiries, the harder it is to manage each one. Missing a key initial phone call with a lead because you are consumed with other important tasks in the business, can mean losing a potential customer. The right Customer Relationship Management software can help prevent this through timely automated reminders and calendar integration which ensures any important appointments or meetings are attended.

How can a CRM system improve your sales?

The fundamental goals many businesses focus on include increasing sales and profits. While there are many software options to choose from, it’s important to find software which has been built with sales teams in mind. With Microsoft’s proven sales and marketing products and the right implementation, you can achieve swift results and avoid spiralling costs.

One of the most effective ways to increase company profits is to maximise the productivity of sales teams, a goal which cannot be reached if they are stuck spending countless hours doing mundane tasks, when they could be doing what they were hired to do. They need the right tools to ensure their time is spent efficiently and they are making informed decisions based on accurate data, which can be managed from anywhere.

With Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales CRM software, your sales team can guide their leads through their pipeline, ensuring scripts and processes are being followed and internal qualification criteria are being met. They can manage their opportunities and more accurately forecast revenue and predict bottlenecks using AI-driven insights. If your team spend hours putting together quotes, Dynamics 365 Sales will also help them to do that effortlessly with a predefined product catalogue, ensuring consistent pricing. Quotes can then be converted into orders when a sale is made. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales can boost your productivity and profits.

How can Customer Relationship Management software help you retain customers?

A sale is just the beginning of a relationship – how customers are handled post-sale is just as important, and Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service can help you manage this experience.

Give your customer service team the right tools to support customers in a timely fashion, without wasting time passing queries from person to person, leading to frustration for everyone involved. If your support staff find themselves repeatedly responding to the same common issues, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service can help you reduce the time it takes to deal with these, so the team can focus on customers with more pressing issues.

For example, you might consider a self-service portal, where customers can access guidance via a knowledge base and engage with other customers via a discussion forum.

Robust Customer Relationship Management software like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service gives you the power to ensure your clients always receive the right support from the right people at the right time.

Customer loyalty is usually located at the end of the sales and marketing process and can often be forgotten about. Don’t neglect this vital step in your business processes. Capture and analyse feedback from your customers with integrated surveys and forms so you can continue to improve and show customers they are valued.

How can Artificial Intelligence improve Customer Relationship Management software?

It’s a real challenge to use any software in any industry these days and not be faced with some form of Artificial Intelligence (AI) functionality. For example, Microsoft has its own evolving AI solution called Copilot, part of which provides an AI assistant natively built for CRM and ERP solutions.

You can expect to find a chat interface for quick summaries of sales opportunities and leads, updates, meeting preparations, account-related news, and much more. If you’d like to experience a taste of Copilot, you can open Microsoft’s Edge browser and use Microsoft Copilot to ask questions.

The full capabilities of Microsoft’s AI solution are still evolving at a rapid pace, but you can get a great overview on our dedicated Copilot page.


We hope this article has provided you with a great overview of customer relationship management software, what a CRM system is, what it can do, and how you know when it’s time to invest in CRM software.

If you can see any of the signs discussed in this article within your organisation, it is time to take your business to the next level. As a Microsoft Partner, Strategy 365 can help transform your current processes with Microsoft Dynamics 365. If you are interested in an intelligent, secure, cloud-based CRM system, please feel free to get in touch.

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