Tag Archives: CRM

CRM Trends for 2018

It’s now been years since CRM solutions don’t restrain themselves to traditional customer relationship management processes. This broadening of their functional scope has even led editors to rename their solutions. CRM solutions have become cloud-based powerful, scalable and extensible platforms that can welcome a great deal of new business objects and processes. While these processes are still customer-oriented (or partner, employee, citizen, patient, student… depending on what is tracked within them) they go well beyond basic follow-up of a sales or service process.

New customer expectations have encouraged CRM editors to deeply transform their solutions. Modern CRM solutions must  meet two crucial needs: to be customer-centric, and to offer an optimal and smart User Experience (UX).

Customer-centric so that customer experience and engagement are the beating heart of the application. Consumers expect more and more from organizations: they expect proactiveness, intelligence, and no more barriers between departments who must speak with a single voice. And this is the very least! Today, each detail and attention that is added at touch points between the customer and the organization contribute to making a unique customer experience. These details and attentions have become major competitive advantages. Emotion is now the currency of experience, but it is crucial to respect intimacy and not be intrusive when providing these emotions.

User Experience because to remain competitive, organizations must do more with less. Applications must effectively guide users by being more intelligent, intuitive and simple. Expectations in terms of productivity and operational efficiency are higher than ever. Users expect great tools to achieve their business goals, and the tasks they perform must be of high value.

So what are the trends for 2018?


Social Selling and LinkedIn integration

Social Selling

Salespeople already use LinkedIn to forge ties with existing relations and to find new potential customers. CRM solutions are now also connected with LinkedIn. On top of helping to target the right people and companies, they make intelligent leads suggestions depending on organisations’ needs.

To start the conversion and engage with new leads, LinkedIn also suggests icebreakers (relations in common, shared interests, societies…). To continue the work as a team, leads can be imported into CRM and go further within the sales funnel.

Targeted ad campaigns on LinkedIn can also push interested leads directly into CRM. They can be automatically qualified based on the rules that have been defined, and teams can pick up from there and collaborate on the opportunity.

IoT and connected field service

Dynamics 365 Field Service

The Internet of Things and connected objects are a huge opportunity for consumers and companies. Maintenance activities can be optimized, failures can be anticipated, and reactivity to incidents can be strongly increased. Management platforms for connected objects are now mature and are integrated with CRM solutions for customer service and field service.

When a failure is detected on a connected object, a case can be created in CRM. Next, the customer can receive a notification, and an available technician can automatically be assigned a work order on his or her mobile phone, in order to take action. All of this is done in a smart way: depending on the task required skills, the customer’s preferences, availability and distance.

With connected field service, companies can broaden their offering with new services. They also improve customer experience and satisfaction while optimizing resource use at the same time. And all of this within a single platform.

Big Data, Data Science and Machine Learning at the service of customer insights and a complete and smart 360° view

The volume and diversity of data related to customer is constantly increasing. Beyond a basic transaction history, organizations now track marketing interactions, clicks, web or mobile navigation, online but also offline behaviors, on their own platforms or on social networks… They also receive large amounts of data coming from connected objects. Traditional databases cannot handle such volume of information and variety of formats, but Big Data solutions are here to take over.

Of course, the idea is not to store all these information within the CRM database, but instead to have the possibility to cross-reference them, detect patterns and identify models. Setting up analysis models help organizations define relevant indicators for the business: consumption trends, anomalies (are you losing your customer?), potential additional business, forecasts, and in the end, smarter Next Best Actions to suggest to their teams. These KPIs and Next Best Actions can reside (or be displayed) in CRM, as they are useful to users.

Modern Big Data and analytics solutions have become more simple and they can be put in the hands of business users. These tools can enable them to define advanced marketing segmentation, cross multiple data source, and perform smart predictive matching between a social network username, a website visitor, and a customer record sitting in the CRM database. This profile matching is a big challenge today for organizations, even though they are crucial to define and follow an end-to-end customer journey and offer a complete 360° view.

IA, Chatbots and Intelligent Automation 

Customers can engage with organizations thanks to chatbots deployed on their websites, mobile applications, Facebook pages, or via SMS. Chatbots can leverage multiple data sources (including CRM of course), and the idea is to handle part of the customers’ requests with Artificial Intelligence: fixing an appointment, following up with a request, suggesting a solution to a problem from the Knowledge Base, opening and qualifying new cases…

Smart services can automate similar recurring tasks. For example, a robot can make a first analysis of the picture of a damage before creating a case. Text-recognition technologies (OCR) can also be used to scan sales orders and create associated guarantee contracts in CRM.

In addition, CRM users can be pushed smart action cards that help them go through their work day, directly from their dashboards or from their mobile application. Action cards can be pushed for diverse topics: an email in their inbox that has been identified as urgent based on keywords, an opportunity closing soon, or a customer with no activity for too long…

Portals to open CRM data to a broader audience and customers

Customer Portal

A large part of customer requests can be handled without any interaction with your teams. How? By providing customers with an access to their data (contact details, deliveries, orders, requests, invoices…)

When creating a new request, customers can be automatically suggested relevant Knowledge Base articles and avoid low added value interactions with customer service.


On May 25th 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be unilaterally enforced. Companies of 28 European Union countries will have to be compliant, as this will deeply change how personal data will have to handled. Will your CRM be ready?

Advanced integration of CRM with Digital Marketing solutions

It’s all about bridging the gap between marketing and sales teams. Digital Marketing and CRM solutions are often distinct, especially the ones that can handle large entreprise scenarios, but they are increasingly better connected and integrated. Marketing teams can identify and define lead scoring models within a marketing automation tool, and those leads can be sent to CRM to be qualified by a salesperson as soon as they reach a certain score.

Marketing automation workflows can be defined to leverage data coming from marketing campaigns, social networks, websites as well as CRM. Cross-referencing these data allow to refine customer segmentations and as a result to better personalize customer experience on websites, applications or even in stores.

Data driven organizations and empowered users
Empowered Users

Even after putting the best reports at the service of users, their needs will continue to change, and always have to be treated urgently.

With modern BI tools, users can create their own reports and dashboards with simple self-service data visualization tools. These tools not only let users access CRM data, but they can also connect to many other sources that can be mixed in order to create more relevant cross-applications KPIs.

Users can then share their reports and dashboards with other users and teams within the organization. Whether they are embedded within CRM solutions or whether they sit in dedicated applications, reporting and analytics options are now at the hand of users who can easily create their own dashboards, reports, document templates, and formatted spreadsheets.

An increasing variety of business processes handled in CRM tools

CRM solutions keep getting enhanced with new modules. These modules go beyond traditional sales and services, or industry verticals. In fact, the new business applications that get integrated in CRM cover processes that were often managed in separate software. The similarity between them and traditional CRM processes is that they revolve around the customer. The goal is to achieve better experience as well as a complete 360° view within a single platform.

With Field Service, organizations can increase customer satisfaction and optimize resources with intelligent scheduling, mobile support, and remote asset monitoring. Project service automation is dedicated to projects and resources management, in order to increase productivity and by bringing people, processes, and automation technology together through a unified experience.

Transforming and realizing results by empowering teams

By broadening their functional scope and by being increasingly integrated, modern CRM solutions question the current distribution of business processes across the Information System applications. CRM solutions are more than ever a crucial cornerstone of any transformation strategy.

This article was first published on my LinkedIn profile (in French).

To know the future of Dynamics 365… keep an eye open on the Business Edition!

To know the future of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement, the best thing to do is to keep an eye open on the Business Edition.
It was created by Microsoft to offer a simpler version of the Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition features to Small and Medium-sized Businesses.

The Business Edition creates a safe space for Microsoft to rapidly deploy and try out new features that do not need to take into account any legacy or complex customization of the platform.

I expect new features, such as the “Unified Interface” or email marketing, to be firstly available to Business Edition customers before being rolled out and offered to Enterprise Edition customers.

What is the Business Edition?

Based on the Enterprise Edition “engine”, the Business Edition is targeted at SMBs that need:

    • Simple environment setup.
    • Easy-to-use CRM, Marketing and ERP features that don’t require complex configuration.
    • Out-of-the-box integration with Office 365.
    • Affordable and scalable business solutions.

Dynamics 365 for Sales, Business Edition features:

Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Business Edition features:

To be noted: Dynamics 365 for Marketing, Business Edition is due to be released in preview in the future and be available in 2018.

Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations, Business Edition features:

To be noted: the Dynamics 365 for Finance is not based on Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement. It is already available, and you can get more information here.

In short, Dynamics 365 Business Edition is a great turnkey solution for SMBs and startups looking to empower their teams with a first-in-class and extensible platform: Forrester recently recognized Microsoft Dynamics 365 as a leader in Sales Force Automation.

Why is the new Sales Business Edition a great opportunity for Microsoft too?

The Sales Business Edition will enable Microsoft to:

    • Compete against a crowded field of small business solution providers.
    • Develop and rapidly deploy new features before making them available to regular Enterprise Edition customers.

As a matter of fact, since the Business Edition comes with standard features (meant to be used “out of the box”) and little customization options, it is a safe environment for Microsoft to regularly push and update features.

Indeed, in the past, one of Microsoft’s challenges with Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CRM) was to limit regressions whenever it shipped a new version of its product.
While the quality of releases has improved year over year, it can still be a challenge to upgrade a complex implementation of Dynamics 365.

The platform being quite extensible, large enterprise deployments had (and still have) a tendency to be heavily customized and to rely on specific developments .
For these customers, it was more complex for Microsoft to introduce new or enhanced features while at the same time making sure that anything previously customized by the customer, partners or ISVs would still run smoothly.
Hence a release cycle that will probably be shorter for Business Edition customers.

What’s in it for partners?

Even if the Business Edition is meant to bring a lot of autonomy to customers to setup and run the Dynamics 365 platform, partners are expected to still have a role to play. Especially in helping customers analyse their business needs, configure the system, perform simple customization and train and adopt the product.

Implementation Best Practice (that are applicable from the Enterprise Edition to the Business Edition) and the knowledge of the Office 365 ecosystem are still key success factors for the project.

Now I expect Microsoft partners to bring new package offers to the market in order to help customers implement Dynamics 365 for Sales, Business Edition.