Dynamics CRM 2011
May 15, 2013
Microsoft Dynamics CRM offers users a variety of methods for users to analyze data. Out of the box we have views, filters, advanced find,record counts on views, report builder, charts, dashboards, Excel exports, pivot tables, and other options.
With all of these tools, it is important to have correct expectations and use the right tool for the job.
Remember the law of the instrument. Just because a tool works well for one problem doesn’t mean that it will be the solution to all problems. Also, just because a tool doesn’t work for a given job doesn’t make it a worthless tool.
Take Advanced Find—the beauty of Advanced Find is that it is approachable by users who are not familiar with writing SQL queries. It allows just about any user to build personal views joining multiple entities together. It is both powerful and approachable.
But that doesn’t mean that Advanced Find is the answer to every query question. For very simple filters, Advanced Find may be too powerful, and something like the filter capabilities may be more appropriate.
For very large data sets and very complex filter logic, Advanced Find may also not be the complete answer. For example, Advanced Find returns a list of records, but does not aggregate them. If you want to get a total of how much money your customers spent on a specific product over the past ten years, Advanced Find will get you the list of orders, but will not total the amount spent.
Advanced find may be part of the answer, but in this scenario, it is not the entire answer. You can run the Advanced Find and then aggregate the totals using tools like charts or export to Excel and aggregate the totals, or save the Advanced Find and use it as the starting point of a report in the report wizard (which can give totals).
Some tips for determining the right tool for the job:
- Be aware of the limitations in various tools. For example charts are limited to 50,000 records and the view row counter only counts up to 5,000 records. These limitations are designed with performance in mind. If you increase the fetch limit to 500,000, your charts can aggregate
larger datasets, but dashboard and application performance will be less than desirable.
- Discover what questions users will want to ask in CRM—this will help determine which tool is optimal for a given question. If users want a list of customers in their territory who have
purchased a product in the past year, Advanced Find is a great fit. If they want to know who has purchased product A but has not purchased product B, Advanced Find is not the best fit.
- Once users query the data, what will they want to do with it? I can run an Advanced Find that returns one million records, but what do I want to do with those records? Typically someone isn’t going to want a granular export of 1,000,000 records, they want to aggregate or total the
results into an actionable number.
- Don’t ignore the Pivot Table. My favorite reporting tool in CRM is the dynamic pivot table—I can take a list of records and group and pivot the table to quickly answer many different types of questions. Teach a user how to use pivot tables and you will vastly expand the possibilities of what he can do with the data in CRM and empower the user.
- For larger data sets and more complex analysis, other Microsoft tools can be useful. This is where SSRS Reports, Analysis Services, and PowerPivot come in. Don’t be afraid of these tools.
- Don’t overcomplicate things—use the tools mentioned in number 5 for more complex analysis and larger data sets, however, don’t use a report when a view will work. Use the right tool for the job.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM includes very powerful out of the box business analysis capabilities and also works with other business intelligence tools in the Microsoft stack. By knowing what questions your users want to ask, you can choose your tools appropriately for the job at hand.
May 13, 2013
The first tip I wanted to share, is the “cd()” command. This allows you to change your scope of the console. I wish I would have found this years ago! It may seem trivial, but when coding with IFRAMES it’s always frustrating to prepend your code with “frames.” all of the time.
Why? Oh, because you forgot you’re in the wrong scope. You could always hit [up], [home], and then prepend the line with “frames” – which is what I have always done in the past.
This is fine for a couple one liners but when you’re using Developer Tools to test/write various functions, it’s rather tedious. Instead, you can change the scope of the console by using the “cd(frames)” command.
Logging to the Console
I’ve seen a lot of developers riddle their code with alert boxes to track down issues. While this is a fine approach, I find writing to the console to be more effective. There are times when the alert command makes more sense, but let’s delve into the console for a moment.
With writing to the console, you have four different message types: “log”, “info”, “warn”, and “error”. Here’s how they appear on the console:
I like to sprinkle these into my code during development. They offer sanity checks and are great when you are debugging. Most of the time, these statements aren’t pushed to production; however, if they accidentally do make it into UAT or PROD – these commands are much safer than alert messages nagging users unnecessarily.
When do alert messages make sense?
Alert messages are useful for making sure the user is told something. I try to use alert messages sparingly since when given too many users generally ignore all of the alert messages.
Profiling – Making your Code Faster
First, have you ever wanted to quantify the execution of your code within CRM? Well the profiler allows you to do this. Let’s say hypothetically you want to disable all of the fields on the form. There are several ways of doing this:
But which function would be the fastest? When comparing functions that provide the same results, it’s best to call the function more than once. So let’s call each function 100 times to quantify the speed of each call.
Additionally, let’s use this function to re-establish the form as fully enabled to make sure everything is consistent.
Here’s an example of testing the various functions 100 times each:
After executing our code, switch to the Profiler tab. Choose the speed test example and change your view to the “Call tree”. Now we can see the cumulative time of each function.
A one second difference between our fastest and slowest function at 100 times equates to an average savings of about 10 milliseconds when only ran once. Not really drastic, but hopefully this shows you how granular you can get.
Generally you won’t need to call each function 100 times. In this scenario, we were trying to save as many milliseconds as possible and comparing extremely similar functions. Typically you’d use the profiler for speeding up a slow form. By adding the profiling you can identify which functions are the culprit of any inefficiencies. Additionally, you can see if functions are inexplicably called more often than they are supposed to.
May 08, 2013
Health Plan providers are working hard, not only to change the products they offer but the way they go to market. Because of Healthcare Reform, they will now have increased exposure to an entirely new market of consumers that previously didn’t exist. What is going to motivate and retain customers? Products? Price? Wellness Benefits? Coverage of Pre-Existing Conditions? Disease Management Programs?
May 06, 2013
When creating custom fields in Microsoft Dynamics CRM (CRM), the following data types are available to you as a customizer.
Single Line of Text – This is the simplest field type and is a string attribute. The length can be defined between 1 and 4000 characters. This field has special formatting if desired for storing Email, Text Area, Ticker Symbol, and Url. Using email will create a mailto link for that field. Ticker Symbol will provide a quote for the ticker entered into the field when the value is clicked. Url will display a link to the value entered in the field. Text Area can be displayed as more than one line on the form.
Option Set – This is commonly referred to as a pick list or drop down field. A user is only allowed to select from the choices provided. A “blank” value is acceptable. A default value can also be defined. NOTE: If you have an option set that will be used on other entities in your deployment, you will want to create a global option set for system consistency.
Two Options – This is similar to an option set but only contains two values, Zero (0) and One (1). The display of those values can be changed to represent whatever you like. No (0) and Yes (1) are common display values for this field. Another interesting note about this field is that it can be displayed on the form as a pick list, radio buttons, or check box. The value is set in the form designer after the field is placed on the form.
Multiple Lines of Text – This field is similar to Single Line of Text, however, it can store much more data than Single Line of Text. This field will be displayed as more than one line on the form.
Date and Time – This field stores date and time data. You can choose to have both the Date and Time displayed or only the Date portion.
Lookup – This field represents a link to another entity. It will create a 1:N relationship in the database with this field representing the “1” side of the relationship.
The fields below are different ways to store numerical values in CRM. In all cases, you can set minimum and maximum values. This is valuable if you want to constrain data entry to non-negative
values or from 0 to 100 for example. The minimum and maximum values are different for each data type and are set at the minimum and maximum range when the field is created.
Whole Number – This field allows you to store round (or whole) numbers, meaning no decimal points. The whole number field has different types which can be selected for Duration (activity), Time Zone, and Language (multilingual support).
Floating Point Number – This field allows for numeric values with up to five (5) decimal points. The precision of this field is arbitrary, which means it can be used to represent both very large numbers as well as very small numbers.
Decimal Number – This field stores numeric values with up to ten (10) decimal points. The precision of this field is absolute.
Currency – This field is used to store monetary values. Based on your currency settings, the correct currency symbol is also displayed such as the dollar sign or euro symbol. It can also hold up to four (4) decimal points.
April 17, 2013
Time and time again, firms voice the desire to deploy CRM to attain a more unified and 360-degree view of their clients and prospects, to collaborate and deliver more consistent service levels, and ultimately improve financial and business performance. Without real-time access to centralized, holistic, and accurate customer data in a leading CRM platform, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, industry laggards have little chance of ascending the ranks and transforming themselves into an upper echelon firm. The true value of CRM does extend beyond comprehensive data capture and accessibility, though. While not as often cited, CRM’s ability to track and report on employee performance is a huge benefit and strategic driver for leveraging CRM data.
April 15, 2013
Along with a Starbucks, it is pretty much guaranteed that there are multiple bank branches on every corner in the metropolitan areas across the country. Depending on what part of the U.S. you’re in, the bank brands will differ, but it’s nearly impossible to not run into them in central business districts. A Wall Street Journal article from earlier this month focuses on this topic and points out that the number of bank branches in the U.S. has actually doubled over the past thirty years. Expanding beyond downtowns and affluent areas, banks have done a good job of strategically targeting the next high growth area in their community footprints. The WSJ notes that banks also expanded into poor areas as they received encouragement to do so from the government due to the passed legislation of the Community Reinvestment Act in the 1970s. Such significant growth of the bank branch network has resulted in the banking sector experiencing a decline in new branches merely three times over the past 77 years according to the FDIC. Today’s environment is a different story, however, as the industry is in the midst of a monumental transition to less branches being built and operated.
April 09, 2013
My prior blog referenced the “CRM in Customer Service: Insights into Action” report from the Aberdeen Group and touched on how leveraging CRM can lead to significant productivity and performance gains for organizations. I wanted to expand upon that blog because that particular Aberdeen report is action-packed with statistical findings that illuminate the advantages of having a CRM system in place, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM. As Aberdeen notes:
“CRM alone will not resolve all organizational ills. However, the organizations that implement CRM have shown improved results in key metrics impacting both customer and organizational profitability.”
April 04, 2013
Mobile CRM is one of the hottest topics in the CRM world today. The convergence of increased mobile computing power, cloud storage and BYOD policies have made mobility a “must-have” requirement of most CRM projects. The amount of mobile CRM solutions and tools in the marketplace has confused and muddied this topic for CRM administrators and project sponsors.
Our advice to those looking at Mobile CRM: don’t confuse tools with solutions. We have seen too often where people fall for a shiny new mobility tool, only to realize afterwards that it didn’t aid in adoption, or increase productivity or meet any other strategic objective. So before you embark on a Mobile CRM Program, start with asking, “Why are we doing this? How will this initiative fit into the strategic objective of our CRM program?” Below are some of the ways we have seen mobile strategy combine successfully with implementation principles and technology. These are the ‘why’ of your mobile program.
Increase overall CRM adoption. User Adoption is one of the most important metrics we use to understand the initial success level of CRM projects. Removing adoption obstacles to remote workers can have a huge effect on user adoption. By giving uses only the data they need when they are mobile will encourage use without having to resort to carrot and stick tactics. For example, giving a sales executive real time account data right before she walks into a meeting. Or being able to respond to an unexpected customer inquiry during the meetings. Or having a pre-filled call report queued up after the meeting. These are the kind of value added features that can make mobile users want to use CRM.
Increase data quality in the field. Data quality is one of the biggest struggles we see when we begin any CRM program. Some data quality issues can be addressed through DQM services like Trillium, and some can be tackled with CRM technology tools and best practices. Data input, however, contains a daily human processes that can be harder to understand.
One of our early use cases for mobile CRM was a project focused on retail auditing. We needed to be able to audit merchandising efforts in real time in retail location across the country. The auditors had previously recorded their onsite visits with clipboards and carbon paper forms. One of the copies was supposed to make it back to the auditors home at night where they would login to their system and manually transfer their notes and scribbles into the system. Clearly, not the best way to ensure data input quality. With our mobile CRM framework, we were able to design and deploy a new process that allowed auditors to enter data on their tablets of choice and have the data instantly available in CRM. The auditors did not have (or need or want) full mobile CRM. They were given easy access to just their audits.
Increase productivity. A recently published Nucleus Research report found that adding mobile device access to CRM made sales people 14.6% more productive. The study found that social elements, such as activity feeds which automatically push notifications, can increase productivity by 26.4%. Tools that make collaboration easy and real time will increase throughput of projects and sales cycles.
Users demand it. The same Nucleus report found that 67% of mobile CRM users access their CRM system with an iPhone. This is not endorsement of how great the iPhone is for enterprise; this is a result of enterprise users demanding to use their own devices in their business life. There is a reasonable expectation that the same devices we use for our personal lives will work with our work lives.
It’s not just your internal users that are demanding mobile solutions. A recent appcentral study found that 40% of respondents said that not employees are being provided access to in house apps.
Another one of our early mobile CRM solution successes was to build a Customer Portal App that allowed our client’s customers to access CRM and market data from their iPads. The solution was aimed at an external group that was going to use CRM and external data to engage easily with our client. We employed the location features of the mobile device. All of this satisfied the overall business strategy of better customer engagement.
Please feel free to check out our recent webinar recording: CRM Mobility Uncovered
April 03, 2013
A recent Analyst Insight December 2012 report from the Aberdeen Group entitled “CRM in Customer Service: Insights into Action” highlights the role of CRM in empowering global companies to achieve their customer service goals. Aberdeen notes that firms need to be more focused than ever before on anticipating and addressing the needs of their premier clients. As noted below, Aberdeen’s research finds that the highest priorities for firms in the area of customer service have to do with enhancing the state of the customer experience, improving business and financial performance, increasing worker productivity, and lowering operating expenses.
To accomplish these customer care goals, better understand customer purchasing preferences and decisions, and ultimately execute and grow client retention programs, firms need to not only strive to collect more data on customers and prospects, but to also share and utilize it more frequently across the enterprise. Over the years, firms have continued to invest in the latest and greatest systems in an effort to give more timely and relevant client information to customer service and sales reps. This has backfired in many cases, though, because firms’ technology systems often do not communicate well. The problem is that the service rep does not always know where to go to get the answer to a question since it can be found in multiple systems. If a customer service agent has to spend so much time perusing various internal and external systems to properly resolve just one phone call, he certainly is not going to be well positioned or motivated to collaborate with his colleagues after the fact, particularly with the ones in a completely different department or location. Unfortunately, the poor and slow customer service exhibited on the call is compounded by the fact that cross-sell opportunities are missed and even will continue to stay unknown.
As Aberdeen observes, lack of integration between systems is the primary driver for firms realizing they need to deploy CRM or consider an upgrade. Other pressures forcing firms to place a greater emphasis on customer care and attaining an instant, unified view of constantly evolving client data is the fact that their market is becoming increasingly competitive as seen in the following chart.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help alleviate all of these pressures. The open architecture of Microsoft Dynamics CRM facilitates tight integration with numerous data feeds to bring in quality, real-time client info. With CRM available right from their Outlook, customer service agents and other key business stakeholders will find it much easier to access the right data on the right customer at the right time. As a result, service levels will increase and customers will be thrilled.
Customer Effective has been working on Microsoft Dynamics CRM implementations since the product’s inception. Over the past decade, we have completed thousands of CRM implementations and custom xRM projects that have helped firms thwart off budding competitors and exceed their customer care goals of improving metrics on first-contact resolution, client retention, staff utilization, average call handle time, and average revenue per customer.
To learn more about how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can convert your client insights into profitable action and accelerate your ROI, please contact us.
March 29, 2013
Gartner recently revealed that CRM has emerged as the number one priority for application software spending in 2013 and 2014. Besides CRM, ERP and office productivity tools rounded out the top three. The fact that CRM has vaulted past ERP and is projected to drive IT enterprise investments in upcoming years makes sense for many reasons:
March 27, 2013
I’m often asked about Outer joins and there seems to be a little bit of confusion about them. As you can see from prior posts, I’m a big fan of using FetchXML to access data from Microsoft CRM. So today, I wanted to go over the outer join feature and show you an example of where I recently used one.
Our First Example
To get started, let me show you where I recently used an outer join and why:
This is a widget on a dashboard I recently put together that shows the user’s associated contacts. The images can come from three different sources: LinkedIn, Facebook, or CRM. In my case, the CRM image is an attachment on the contact. (I know most of you are thinking that Edward Anderson is one good looking dude, but let’s focus on the Fetch)
Let’s take a look at the Outer Join:
Notice, at the end of line 20 you’ll see the “link-type” attribute. This specifies our outer join. If this was an inner join, then only contacts with a “Thumbnail” attachment would be returned. We want contacts with AND without a “Thumbnail” attachment which an outer join provides.
With CRM 2011, Outer Joins also provide aggregate counts. For example, let’s say you want a list of accounts with the number of opportunities associated to each account. This is quite easily done with an outer join.
In this example, we’re returning the number of opportunities associated to each account.
When I first was programming with CRM, I mainly used Query Expression. Once I started using Fetch, I’ve never looked back. If you aren’t familiar with Fetch, I strongly recommend learning it as it’s my preferred method for accessing data from CRM. Outer joins and aggregates are just the tip of the iceberg.
In our case, we had two pretty basic examples; however, I hope these conjured up some ideas for some of the problems you are trying to solve in your environment. I hope you enjoy!
March 25, 2013
Microsoft Dynamics CRM can send e-mail notifications to users based on virtually any record condition. For example, when a scheduled task is over-due, a workflow can be configured to send an e-mail to the owner of the task notifying him that the task is over-due. These notifications are sent out immediately.
So what to do if you want to delay the sending of notification e-mails?
For example, John is a sales manager, his sales team is based in different timezones and geographic locations. He would like to receive all notifications at 10 am so he can review them all at a specific time, and not miss any notifications that might come in when he is away from his e-mail.
There is no task scheduler built in to CRM, but it is possible.
1. Stop the email router service and have a windows scheduled task that starts it at 9:58 every day. This would force all e-mails to go out at 10:00. This is a good option if router is only used for notification e-mails. You could also install a unique router instance for notification purposes and just associate it with the user account which sends notifications.
2. Have a custom “notification” entity that is parented by the entity for which notifications are being sent. Have a scheduled integration job that runs at the appropriate time and queries CRM looking for records for which a notification is to be sent, then creates a child “notification” record. Have your notification workflow be triggered by the creation of the notification record. Requires an integration tool, such as Scribe or SSIS.
3. Use a third party mail provider, such as Core Motives. Core Motives includes the ability to send e-mails via workflow, and also schedule them.
4. Don't use e-mail notifications. E-mail notifications are great if you need urgent notification for immediate action. However,the problem with e-mail notifications is that they can fill your already over-filled inbox, and the more users receive them the more they ignore them. if you are wanting to delay notifications so you can review them at a specific time, there are better options.
Activity Feeds are the notification center of CRM--like the notification center on your smartphone, Activity Feeds display notifications on system events, and you can configure your own auto posts triggered on the same criteria as you would use for an e-mail notification. These posts add additional value as they are linked to all of the people and records mentioned in the notification, providing a history of notifications in CRM. You can then review all of your notifications at 10 am (or any other time of the day) in CRM on your computer or on your smartphone.
March 08, 2013
Visually Understand Where Microsoft is Now and Will Be Soon
It would seem that Microsoft has started providing a lot more interesting videos to share. From their corporate YouTube channel (youtube.com/Microsoft) to videos specific to our favorite application, Microsoft Dynamics CRM (youtube.com/msdyncomm).
So many if fact that you may have missed a few really good ones. Unfortunately, this list does not include any Harlem Shakes or long basketball trick shots. This list is just a handful of recent videos from Microsoft that I thought were of interest and worth viewing.
1. Microsoft Dynamics CRM Mobile – Since this list has an emphasis toward Microsoft Dynamics CRM, this first video is on mobility and CRM. The video walks through the power of getting business done across devices. It highlights examples of working in the field, remotely, wherever you happen to be, and having access to the same information you are used to while “in the office”.
2. Microsoft’s Future Vision: Live, Work, Play – This video is interesting to me – and simply fun to watch. It is on Microsoft’s vision of the near future. It highlights how technology can enhance the way we live, work, play.
3. CSX Transportation and Microsoft Dynamics CRM - Question: How does a company founded in 1827 survive in today’s economy? Answer: Innovate (and Microsoft CRM helps play a vital role). And it is nice to see a Customer Effective client featured in a Microsoft produced video testimonial.
4. Reignite Your Passion – Unlock Your Potential with Microsoft Dynamics - This video provides an example of the new ways to think about how we view “work”. It highlights the use of Microsoft Dynamics and the Surface tablet – and no formal desk and no formal tie
There certainly were more videos I could have included. As a matter of fact, there are many good videos just on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. To learn more about how Microsoft Dynamics CRM can help your organization, please contact us.
February 19, 2013
After another strong start to the year, Customer Effective’s financial services practice is experiencing exponential growth. Throughout the nation, leading national, regional, and community financial institutions are leveraging Customer Effective: Banking, the premier bank-focused Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution available in the marketplace today, to transform their banking cultures into more of a client-centric operating model and improve productivity and performance. Overall, Customer Effective: Banking empowers Executive Management, Market Presidents, Branch Managers, Bankers, and support staff by providing the following functionality:
- Comprehensive views of consumer and business client and prospect relationships due to available integration with a multitude of Bank data systems.
- Real-time performance results at the Bank, Territory, Market, Branch, and individual Account Officer level.
- Loan and deposit opportunity pipeline management.
- Targeted marketing campaign creation and profitability success charting.
- External lead source ratings and employee generated referral outcome tracking.
February 18, 2013
Four feet 8.5 inches. Not exactly a number that rolls off the tongue but a significant one none the less. It represents the distance between two railroad tracks on modern railways across the USA. The story goes that its width was handed down from the original makers of trams that were pulled by horses around England. It’s only real significance was that when a buggy was pulled down the tracks, the rails needed to be far enough apart that the team of two horses that was charged with this task could do so without catching a hoof on one of the tracks. To determine the optimal distance, the inventor of the tram lined up the two largest horses, measure the distance between there outer hooves and voila… four feet eight and half inches! Today, The US railroad industry includes about 560 railroads with combined annual revenue of about $60 billion and over a quarter million miles of track and, dare I say, all because of the largest horse’s rear end the inventor could find!
Now you might be asking what this has to do with your implementation of Dynamics CRM. There is an important lesson to be learned about what we can do when looking to change how effective or efficient our organization can become if we are able to change what we do by looking at why we do what we do currently without the constraints of “this is the way we have always done it”. In the world of railroads, changing the width of track could have huge benefits. Perhaps we could employ smaller locomotives as modern technology has been able to create machines that are far more powerful than their predecessors at a reduced size, smaller gauge would mean less metal required and iron is certainly not cheap. Tunnels and bridges could be built with less material as could the ties used to bind the tracks together. Of course doing so would be very expensive so changing the size is not feasible but fortunately, the “tracks” that many businesses run on are far less extensive and expensive to replace.
I have been in a number of requirements gathering meetings where the list of systems and processes for how a business is currently run is listed and discussed and it is ubiquitous how few people know the real “why” behind the “what” that they do. Often they have processes to create records in a database solely to generate a report that is no longer read or data is captured that is no longer relevant.
Our job as consultants is to take a long look at how a business currently runs and to not only replicate that process in a new technology, but to refine it to let that new technology drive the business in ways that have yet to been discovered. We come in to see things “outside of the box” and add perspective as well as to help implement a software product. I like to think that a consultant is striving to leave a company with a better knowledge of the clients business than many of the people that work there!
This endeavor is most successful when client works hand in hand in this effort to really look at not only how to replicate what they have now but also to enhance it in ways that were not possible in the past. Keep the following in mind as you decide who
to partner with be it implementing CRM or any other enterprise wide software. Are you being asked the “why” behind the “what”? Is the process getting the same amount of emphasis as the product? Are you being challenged to defend the status
Let any implementation, and especially your CRM implementation be your opportunity to check the gauge of your tracks. Make sure that the decisions made in the past are still valid in today. Allow every assumption to be questioned and take a deep look to make sure you are not investing in a software system that merely duplicates what you do today without examining how it can be improved.
February 15, 2013
Many people know the story behind the Post-It Note. In short, a chemist at 3M inadvertently invented a low tack adhesive in his quest to create a super strong adhesive. After five years of trying to promote his adhesive within 3M, a colleague thought it might be perfect for holding his bookmark in his hymnal. Fast forward to today and we see that this little idea, temporarily sticking a piece of paper to another object, has turned into one of the most prevalent office supplies in business today. This use of a product beyond its initial intention drives so many of the products we see today and can also be found in an implementation of Dynamics CRM.
By far, the greatest initial pull to implement CRM revolves around the efficient tracking of both the sales cycle and the marketing of products to customers. In that space, it can bring both of those facets of a business into focus and can truly drive both increased sales and market penetration. But wait, what if we took a lesson from the Post-It note and applied it to our CRM system?
I was talking to a client one day about the arduous task they had of onboarding new employees. Many hours were spent with all of the required paperwork, office assignment and the numerous other tasks it took to just get someone in a position to actually do work.
Onboarding employees involves many different departments and people.
- IT/IS will be involved in procuring the appropriate technology and services
- Facilities has to find a place for them to sit
- HR has responsibility for seeing that corporate expectations are set (where to park, what to wear, etc.) and shat benefit elections are defined
- Training will want to make sure they are proficient in the technologies or products of the company
- Finance needs to have all of the required tax and deposit information
- Legal may need NDAs or non-compete documents
And likely others have to have some input before the new employee can “get down to business”.
Not only are there a lot of tasks that need to be performed but many are order-dependent. After all,it doesn’t do much good to have a computer and monitor waiting for a new employee if he has yet to be assigned a place to sit!
Dynamics CRM excels at streamlining just his kind of process. With its extensive list of activities, the ability to customize them or create your own, and a workflow engine that can manage the appropriate distribution and timing of the required events, onboarding should be able to be managed like a well- oiled machine. The tasks could be started prior to the new hires first day with an email sent to IT to get their computer ordered and ready. Facilities would be contacted to procure the work space.
HR and legal would be alerted to have the required documents prepared and ready to go and so on. After each step is completed, the system would be updated and the HR person could log into CRM and see exactly where the person was in the onboarding process. After the new hire started, training would be assigned they could update their status as they progress through the program. This would not only show where they are, but also better prepare the next department for their part. You could even have CRM create appointments on the calendar of the supervisor for their quarterly or bi-annual reviews.
The process would provide consistency and metrics to determine what could be changed to increase efficiency and to measure the effectiveness of the efforts put into this all too important function inherent in all organizations. The options are limitless when you really start to look at it!
There are other “unintended uses” of the investment you have made in Dynamics CRM and this is but a taste of what’s out there when you put aside the “CRM is for sales and marketing” mentality and really grasp the power that you have to transform how your business operates.
They sky really is the limit.
February 12, 2013
With the ever-increasing wave of regulation facing Investment Banks, many are looking to restructure their practices to become more lean, agile, and capital-conscious. As compliance and regulatory costs rise, the banks are under intense pressure to reduce their operating costs and become more efficient. Often, the lines of business at investment banks are siloed, and as a result, they fall victim to lack of cross-practice communication and duplicated, incorrect, or stale data. Having an accurate and centralized data hub, such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, can really enhance employee productivity and serve as a collaborative intelligence tool for deal teams, admin and operations support personnel, and executive leadership. Focused on providing next generation and scalable CRM solutions for Capital Markets firms, Customer Effective offers an Investment Banking-tailored accelerator version of Microsoft Dynamics CRM that is available in Outlook, over the web, and via mobile devices. Able to integrate with third party data sources including CapIQ and InsideView, among others, this leading-edge CRM platform provides the following features and benefits for Investment Banks:
February 07, 2013
Identify Untapped Opportunities, Hidden Risks, and Shady Characters with Customer Effective: Banking
As the leading innovator in CRM solutions for financial institutions, Customer Effective offers the Customer Effective: Banking CRM platform, which is built on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and caters to the distinct industry needs of Retail, Commercial, and Community Banks. While many banks focused mainly on account transactions in the past, industry leaders are now adopting more of a client-centric strategy with the help of CRM. Specifically, the Customer Effective: Banking CRM solution provides enterprise-wide access to client interaction history, unique preferences, family members, net worth, demographic data, and real-time performance dashboards, such as the Pipeline Opportunity sample below.
January 30, 2013
Due to increasing accountholder disgust with fee increases, wavering client loyalty, eroding customer or member confidence, increased regulation, and tightened margins, banks and credit unions really have no choice but to enhance their overall banking experience. This premise is shared by the findings from the 2012 U.S. Retail Banking Satisfaction Study from J.D. Power and Associates. In the study, over 50,000 retail banking customers were surveyed regarding their experiences with their retail bank in early 2012.
The study found, not surprisingly, that customers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with new or growing bank fees. The issue of fees, and all the prevalent media attention that it has received, is certainly a motivator for customers to consider switching banks, and could definitely lead to rising attrition, fewer brand evangelists, and even reduced wallet share. However, as previously noted on the Customer Effective blog, fees ultimately are not the primary reason why customers decide to switch to another bank. While fees can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, many customers considering or actually going through with a bank switch are already dissatisfied with their current bank due to subpar levels of service that they have received over the years.
January 22, 2013
We had an challenge at a client that I wanted to share so that this challenge, which could have been difficult to resolve, does not happen during a future rollout. The client spent a substantial amount of time creating scripts that would automatically install and configure the Outlook client on user’s machines. Since most users in their domain do not have sufficient rights to do the installation, this was found to be the most secure and consistent way to roll out the software. After significant testing, the processed was ironed out and the rollout was begun.
For the most part, things went as planned but on a couple dozen new computers, the installation would appear to go fine but when the user tried to Go Offline with the Outlook client, an error would appear as it tried to set up the offline database.
The short answer to how this was resolved is that we had to uninstall the Add-In, uninstall SQL Server Express and reinstall both products. The issue arose because when the SQL Server Express Addition was originally installed, the computer had one name (i.e. ComputerA) and then after the installation, was renamed (i.e. WorkstationA). It would be enough to say that it is critical that after the installation of the Add-In with offline mode enabled, the computer name cannot be changed without causing connectivity issues but I thought it important to give you the “Why” behind the “What”.
A little bit about SQL Server
SQL server, regardless of which edition, is always installed into 1 or more instances. If you choose the default installation, a Default Instance (unnamed) will be created that can be found by simply using the computer name in the connection string. You can also choose to install multiple named instances so that from one SQL server computer you can have multiple instances of SQL server, each with its own security and operating parameters. This is roughly synonymous to having multiple organization in an installation of Dynamics CRM.
When an instance of SQL server is installed, there is an entry in the sys.servers table. This is one of a number of tables that are used for the internal workings of MS SQL Server and in this case contains metadata about the instances that are a part of this server. If we create a SQL server computer called SQL1 and then two named instances called instance1 and instance2, the sys.servers table will contain records relating to SQL1\Instance1 and SQL1\Instance2.
These values are used when a client tries to connect to the named instances as a lookup for the internal connection parameters needed to access data in the given instance. If I change the name of the computer from SQL1 to SQL2, then when a client subsequently access this table to get to Instance1, the path of the server will still be SQL1\Instance1 in this metadata and the client will not be able to connect to the database.
Back to the Dynamics CRM Add-In
The offline mode of the CRM Add-In creates an instance called CRM in SQL Server Express that is installed when the Add-In is originally installed. This instance is entered in the sys.servers table as [machine-name-at-the-time-of-install]\CRM. As pointed out above, this data would no longer be accurate if we were to change the name of the computer.
Microsoft has published a work around for fixing this metadata for a full SQL server install and it could be implemented in the Express edition though changing this offline database is not supported. I have included the link here but think the best course of action is the following.
- Make it clear that after installing the Add-In, any changes to the naming of the computer will have adverse effects.
- If a computer is renamed, the Add-In and SQL Express Edition should be removed and reinstalled under the new computer name.
If you must, you can connect up to the MSCRM_MSDE.mdf file (Location in windows 7: Drive: \users\<Username>\local\Microsoft\MSCRM\data\) using a data connection in Visual Studio and enter the queries discussed in the link but I would only do this if there was data in the offline files that had to be synced back to CRM (i.e. the client went into offline mode, changed the computer name, and is now unable to sync those changes back to CRM) and I would make sure I had a current back-up of CRM.
December 12, 2012
Clients reveal key information during every interaction with your company. Thus, it is crucial that firms accurately, consistently, and efficiently collect, store, and internally share this data. Ultimately, the objective is to develop a single and integrated 360-degree view of all client activity in such a way that this rich data is centrally located and available to all levels of the organization, regardless of the channel. Implementing Microsoft Dynamics CRM and improving your business processes to be more streamlined, transparent, and easier to execute for all employees is the best way to achieve the holy grail of the comprehensive 360-degree view. Having one updated and universal client, prospect, or partner profile helps firms better relate to their customers and stakeholders on a deeper, personal level. The keen insights derived from the 360-degree view allow marketing, sales, and service teams to have a more solid understanding of their clients’ desires and preferences. Therefore, employees across various departments find it much easier to provide a differentiated, first-class level of service and improve client satisfaction. Plus, this newfound collaborative knowledge empowers staff to identify more cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Since they can more effectively target and offer more appropriate and value-added products and services with enterprise CRM, firms can significantly reduce marketing costs and not only identify more profitable clients, but also acquire them in shorter time. In the end, the 360-degree client view in CRM gives users quality data they can confidently act on to connect or reconnect with customers and better serve them to maximize lifetime client value.
December 11, 2012
As companies look to grow market share or enter new markets, they often hire new staff. Many times, though, the addition of more personnel does not always lead to more work getting done overall, less workload for others, enhanced client service, or better territory coverage. The reason for these unanticipated, unintended, and unfortunate consequences is that firms’ technology infrastructure or lack thereof is impeding employee productivity and progress as the organization grows. In particular, companies without a leading-edge CRM system in place experience significant challenges when onboarding new employees. After all, learning a new role and a new organizational hierarchy and culture can be hard enough in itself. Complicating matters, a new hire without CRM is going to struggle to get up to speed quickly, regardless if she was brought on due to a new role or division being created, a firm experiencing enormous growth, or a department undergoing high turnover.
December 10, 2012
Banks are always looking to expand and improve their client base. Personal Bankers, Financial Consultants, Business Bankers, and Loan Officers are always in search of high net worth individuals and business owners while Private Bankers covet ultra-high net worth families. Without a clear picture of a client’s total assets and liabilities, Banks will find it difficult to adequately serve and grow relationships with their customers.
Though Banks may employ Relationship Managers to quarterback the relationship with their clients, there may be a time when a client interacts with the Bank on their own. For instance, imagine the case of a client with a multi-million dollar net worth who happens to own numerous businesses and have multiple deposit and loan accounts opened with a Bank. One Saturday, he decides to respond to an offer he received on a travel rewards credit card because he knows he will be traveling a lot in the near future. So the client calls in to apply for the card. Much to his chagrin, however, the client is rejected for the card due to having too low of a credit score. Oops! As a result, the client becomes livid, yells at the call rep, leaves a wicked voicemail for his Banker, and closes half of his deposit accounts and pays off all of his loans on the following Monday. Ouch! It turns out his credit score had indeed declined years ago as he used some leverage to grow a few of his companies. Recently, though, his credit has improved and he does after all have multi-million dollar deposit and loan holdings with the Bank. The probably here, nevertheless, is that the credit card call center rep did not know the extent of his other existing relationships with the Bank. If the rep had access to such information, which can be easily be brought in from multiple core banking systems into Microsoft Dynamics CRM and viewed by all Bank employees as seen in the example below, this crisis could have been averted.
December 07, 2012
With the recent re-election of President Obama, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is now on much firmer footing. As its regulatory reform continues to be drafted and disseminated and new agencies are created and staffed, the scope of Dodd-Frank continues to evolve. Its overall impact to financial firms of all sizes will not be known for many years. In particular, processes in the areas of data collection, data storage, data management, and reporting will come under intense scrutiny. Organizations that plan on adopting a “wait and see” approach will be at a severe disadvantage and caught off guard. On the other hand, the more flexible and agile financial institutions with a centralized CRM system that integrates with portfolio management, performance reporting, trade order management, data warehouses, and other business intelligence applications will be better positioned and able to react more quickly to Dodd-Frank’s changing rules and regulations. For instance, earlier this Fall, one of our financial clients at the annual Customer Effective CRM Customer Conference shared how his compliance department feels that Microsoft Dynamics CRM is essential for his firm to survive audits because it improves their recordkeeping accuracy and data flow.
December 05, 2012
Without a doubt, the investment banking sector is faced with higher fixed costs, lowered ROE expectations, scarce funding, and declining demand. A tighter and more invasive regulatory environment and tougher capital requirements are definitely casting a shadow on the industry. Complicating matters is that rogue or random spreadsheets and data silos still abound and firms too often find themselves to be data rich and information poor. As a result, many middle-market and bulge bracket investment banks still run the risk of having their M&A advisory, capital markets, and restructuring practices falling behind to the competition. On the other hand, the investment banks that are able to successfully press ahead in such a challenging landscape are the ones that are committed to improving their operational efficiencies and their level of client service. These two imperatives really go hand in hand. At the heart of the matter is optimizing cross-departmental communication and collaboration on critical deal valuations, company financials, due diligence follow-up, capital raising efforts, and client onboarding tasks, regardless of the geographic location of deal team members. Thus, it is essential that investment bankers can see their peers’ completed and scheduled appointments and calls with clients, potential investors, deal influencers, and strategic partners to avoid possible duplication.
December 03, 2012
Today, we live in an era where trust in Banks is extremely low. The majority of Banks were not the main offenders during the financial meltdown of 2008. As a result of a few bad apples, though, the whole Banking industry has suffered. More stringent regulations have arrived and the end of new rules is nowhere in sight. Heading into 2013, leading Retail, Commercial, and Community Banks with fortress balance sheets, innovative and broad product lines, and welcoming, client-centric staff are still adapting and trying to restore their brand image. Due to so many prestigious financial institutions getting their reputations tarnished, droves of consumers and businesses are re-evaluating their relationships with their Banks. Along those lines, when one thinks of the primary reasons that customers decide to leave their Bank, the following probably immediately come to mind:
- excessive fees on deposit accounts
- too high interest rates on loans
- poor quality of advice
- limited product offerings lacking sophistication and depth
- inconvenient branch or ATM locations
- bad reputation in the public eye
According to Capgemini, though, it turns out that the number one reason consumers switch Banks is due to the low quality of service they receive as seen below.
Source: 2011 Retail Banking Voice of the Customer Survey, Capgemini
Evidently, client service in the Banking arena trumps all. High-quality service combined with recurring positive Banking experiences across the plethora of channels available leads to higher client retention. Moreover, exceeding heightened client expectations and consistently delivering great service better positions Banks to rebuild or solidify the trust of their clientele and expand relationships with top-tier clients.
As Banks continue to navigate challenging economic and regulatory conditions and demanding clients, Customer Effective, the three-time defending Microsoft Dynamics CRM East Region Partner of the Year, is here to help. Our Customer Effective: Banking Microsoft Dynamics CRM solution, which is customized to the unique needs of Banks and Credit Unions, will be showcased prior to the Christmas holidays. We will be hosting a webinar at 2pm Eastern Time on December 20th entitled “How Customer Effective: Banking helps Banks Identify, Retain, and Delight Today's Changing Customer.”
Click here to register and join us to learn more!
Automated workflows in CRM are the core of an investment advisor’s service model. Throughout the years, workflows embedded in the Customer Effective: FinServ solution built on the Microsoft Dynamics CRM platform have helped many wealth management firms develop enduring and scalable practices. Whether it is streamlining and automating processes, such as onboarding new clients, opening new accounts, rebalancing allocations, executing ACAT transfers, scheduling and conducting portfolio review meetings, or raising cash for distribution requests, CRM workflows are certainly an enabler of productivity and growth for financial advisors. Overall, the Customer Effective: FinServ CRM system serves as the hub of the advisory practice, and its pre-built wealth management industry-focused custom workflows enhance operational efficiency and effectiveness. Advisory sales and service teams experience the following benefits without having to hire additional staff:
November 30, 2012
Earlier this year, the CEB TowerGroup shared research findings on some of the key technological issues impacting wealth management firms:
- Over the next three years, greater than 70% of wealth management executives intend to sustain or grow their level of CRM technology spending.
- Over half of financial advisory practices assert that the biggest challenges in exceeding firm revenue goals are limited success in the areas of acquisition of new clients and expansion of current client relationships.
- Greater than two-thirds of wealth managers consider leveraging technology as extremely important to increasing advisor efficiencies and client focus.
- High net worth clientele reveal that the main reason for switching financial advisors is dissatisfaction with the level of service.
November 28, 2012
Competitive intelligence is usually cited as a primary concern for CEOs, but many companies still struggle with the concept. Often, competitor tracking is difficult because the current method of doing so is decentralized and inefficient. The actual reasons a client relationship is won or lost is not always known. It is usually easier to know why a deal is won as opposed to why it is lost. Even if these won/lost reasons are known by the main point of contact, they typically are not shared with others or referenced for future use. Sales and service personnel may assert that they just don’t have a certain system dedicated to capturing this type of competitor and won/lost analysis. Some may contend that the information is already noted in a separate system and they just do not feel like sharing it again. Others may claim that it just takes too long to notate these reasons.
November 27, 2012
In today’s competitive and often crowded marketplace, it is essential to make your clients feel valued and appreciated so that they constantly return for repeat business. Understanding a prospect’s unique needs and effectively fulfilling those needs in a personalized fashion can lead to a lifelong customer. Trying to provide such a “Wow” level of service can be extremely difficult for employees, especially if they do not have a CRM system to guide and empower them to make informed business decisions. In particular, firms with departments completely walled off from one another will find it nearly impossible to deliver differentiated and superior client service. With no or limited insight on a client’s last interaction with the firm, employees just cannot go the extra mile when working with a customer. Overall, firms that do not implement CRM strategy and CRM technology investments into their overall growth and client retention strategies exhibit the following characteristics: