Dynamics CRM, Microsoft’s customer relationship management software, is now known as Dynamics 365. It’s still the full suite of intelligent business applications containing CRM capabilities, but now with a new name.

But that’s not all that’s new about Dynamics. There are also updated licensing plans for small- and medium-sized businesses as well as a slew of other developments that could potentially change the CRM software game.

Relationship Insights

Since Microsoft hired 5,000 computer specialists to study how the business can use machine learning, Dynamics 365 has received plenty of intelligent customer analytics features. Relationship Insights is a new module that tracks and aggregates customer-interaction data from the CRM database, social media, Microsoft Exchange, and Outlook. Then, through the wizardry of machine learning, it analyzes your data to help you better understand your client relationships and how to strengthen them.

The Relationship Insights suite currently has three sub-features:

  • Relationship Assistant – This keeps an eye on your schedule, messages, and customer records, and then uses machine learning to generate and display ‘action cards’ on your dashboard. Action cards remind you of upcoming activities and phone calls, suggest the right time to reach out to an inactive customer, identify email messages that require replies, and alert you of potential business opportunities.
  • Email Engagement – This records when a recipient opens an email you’ve sent, downloads an attachment, clicks a link, or sends a reply. Based on this information, you can schedule emails at the best time when they’re most likely to be read by customers, and can even analyze the performance of previous emails to suggest content templates that improve open and reply rates — perfect for email marketing campaigns.
  • Auto Capture – This inspects your email inboxes and distributes potentially relevant email messages to marketing and customer service staff right inside Dynamics 365. If the email chain is indeed useful, it can be tracked without switching between Dynamics and Outlook windows.

Workflow Designer

Aside from the email analytics performed by Relationship Insights, Dynamics 365 includes a Visual Process Designer that brings drag-and-drop capabilities to workflow creation. To access this feature, go to Dynamics 365 Settings > Processes and click on New to open the workflow designer window. From there, you can begin adding Stage and Condition components to automate routine tasks.

For example, you could design a workflow that immediately collects customer details and contact information when someone subscribes to your newsletter. To build on that, you could add a Condition based on ‘if-then’ logic between steps such as: “If a lead is inactive for a month after reading a newsletter, then send out a templated follow-up email.”

Although this is a rather simple upgrade for the process designer tool, it actually makes a world of difference for non-technical users who have yet to truly experience the benefits of workflow automation.

Editable Grids

Another small yet much needed quality-of-life change comes from editable grids. In previous versions of Dynamics 365, users couldn’t enter customer data directly into grids. They had to open the original form, make the desired changes, and press ‘save’ before the grid could be updated. Now, you can modify records directly from gridview, helping you cut back on the number of clicks.

This feature is supported in both web and mobile clients, giving you more options to manage your CRM data. And if you’re worried about security, don’t be. Editable grids allow you to enable and disable certain fields based on access privileges.

Gamification

Games may seem out of place in the office, but they can provide enormous benefits when used properly. In fact, a study shows that gamified processes increase productivity levels for 90 percent of workers. What’s more, corporations like Starbucks, Facebook, and Google are utilizing games to make daily processes more fun and engaging.

One way for you to take advantage of this feature is by making boring data entry interactive, which will motivate users to be more consistent when inputting customer information.

Gamification features also allow you to set up individual and team-based competitions. For instance, you can set up contests that monitor individual sales rep performance based on how many sales they’ve closed, leads they’ve gathered, and sales meetings they’ve scheduled. Then, increase staff participation with leaderboards, badges, and awards, which is a great way to recognize the achievements of individuals in your company and improve morale.

Custom tips and alerts

Learning Paths allow you to display in-application suggestions depending on where a user is in the system and what they are doing. This helps them follow long, step-by-step workflows, such as the one a sales rep might use to record lead information. If they happen to lose their way, Dynamics 365 will keep them on course by displaying customizable tips at the right time.

Learning Paths can be customized for different users and different devices, too. This lets you tailor Learning Paths for your marketing and customer service departments and guide certain staff through role-specific processes.

Given the number of features we’ve discussed, Dynamics 365 blows other CRM software out of the water — yes, even Salesforce. And it’s only going to get better from here. Though we’ve highlighted some of the most notable features for Dynamics 365, expect to see dozens more by the end of 2017.

If you find the abundance of CRM features intimidating, we’re here to help. We have had years of experience working with Dynamics CRM, and we know what it takes to optimize your Dynamics 365, too. For more information on Dynamics 365 and its features, contact us today.