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Honest answers to all your CRM questions


Q. What is Microsoft Customer Relationship Management?

Microsoft Customer Service Relationship is a comprehensive CRM solution that helps midmarket businesses increase sales success, provide superior customer service, accurately forecast sales, and analyze business performance.


Accessible from both Microsoft Outlook® and the Web, Microsoft CRM offers a flexible, scaleable architecture that integrates easily with Microsoft Office, Microsoft Business Solutions, third-party applications, and your business’s customer-facing Web site. 

Q. What sort of sales management functionality does Microsoft CRM offer?

The Sales Module supports your sales team at every stage of the sales cycle, from leads and opportunities management to fulfillment and invoicing:

§         Complete customer view and activity management: View and manage account activity, customer history, calendar, and communications including phone, fax, and e-mail.

§         Outlook synchronization: Access full sales functionality either online and offline from Outlook.

§         Reports:  Use or customize a wide range of reports to forecast sales, measure business activity, and identify trends

§         Opportunity management: Qualify leads and track opportunities separately from customers through the sales cycle.

§         Workflow rules: Use or customize automated business processes for leads routing, opportunity tracking, and pipeline management.

§         Information sharing: Centralized data storage and integration capabilities make it easy to access, update, and share consistent, current information across teams and departments.

§         Order management: Automatically update orders with product catalogues, quotes, and invoices.

§         Quotas: Measure sales against individual employee goals.

§         Direct e-mail: Customize templates and use Mail Merge from Microsoft Word to send e-mail to targeted groups.

§         Sales library: Create and maintain a searchable library of sales and marketing literature.


Q.     What sort of customer service functionality does Microsoft CRM offer?

The Customer Service Module helps customer service representatives deliver stronger, more consistent and efficient support, with the following features:

§         Case management: Create and assign cases for customer service requests and manage those cases from creation to resolution.

§         Activity management: View and update calendar, workload, and records.

§         Routing and queuing: Use workflow rules to automatically route service requests and cases to appropriate resources for resolution or reassignment.

§         Searchable knowledgebase: Easily create and update a library of articles and FAQs.

§         Contracts: Create, update, and manage contracts.

§         E-Mail auto-response: Use customizable templates and send automated responses to customer requests.

 
Q. How does Microsoft CRM integrate with Microsoft Office?

The Sales and Customer Service Modules are integrated with Microsoft Office 2000 and Office XP applications, supporting full sales functionality both online and offline from Microsoft Outlook, e-mail templates and Mail Merge with Microsoft Word, and data export to Microsoft Excel.

 
Q. Does Microsoft CRM integrate with Microsoft Business Solutions?

 Microsoft CRM integrates with Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains 7.0 and Microsoft Business Solutions Solomon IV® 5.0. Integration of key data includes: Contacts, accounts, contracts, products, price lists, orders, contracts, and more. Data mapping can be customized using Microsoft BizTalk Server tools and services that ship with Microsoft CRM.

 
Q. Does Microsoft CRM integrate with non-Microsoft applications?

Yes. We can help you customize your Microsoft CRM solution for integration with third-party applications, using open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Microsoft BizTalk Server tools and services.

 
Q. How is Microsoft CRM implemented and supported?

Microsoft CRM is designed for rapid implementation, with centralized server-side installation that ensures faster deployment, easier maintenance, and more straightforward upgrades.

Because Microsoft CRM is delivered, implemented and supported through highly trained Microsoft Business Solutions partners, you’ll have hands-on assistance with the setup and maintenance process.


Q. We need a solution that salespeople can use with Microsoft Outlook and that they can also access from the Web.

Microsoft CRM offers both a rich client (accessible through Microsoft Outlook) and a thin client (accessible from anywhere through a Web browser).  Users can work either online or offline to access sales functionality from Outlook.  This means that they can pull up accounts, contacts, products, sales literature, activities, and opportunities, as well as synchronize Microsoft CRM contacts, appointments, tasks, and e-mails with Outlook.


Q. My salespeople hate being controlled by complex, time-consuming data entry requirements of our current contact management software. Is Microsoft CRM easier for them to use?

Using Microsoft CRM virtually eliminates redundant data entry. Centralized information storage and viewing let users easily share, manage and update information across the Sales and Customer Service modules and across other business applications and systems.


Q. Can Microsoft CRM help me with turnover among my customer service representatives?

Microsoft CRM makes it easy for your business to provide consistent, effective service and increase volume capacity without adding headcount. Service employees can easily view, share, and update customer and product information, ensuring efficient, up-to-date sales and service. Automated routing and queuing of support requests ensures that customer service representatives can assist customers efficiently from initial contact through resolution.


Q. We need a solution that not only helps us acquire customers, but also keep them.  Can Microsoft CRM help?

Microsoft CRM helps your business improve customer acquisition and retention. With a complete view of customer information, your sales team can track customers and new leads through the sales cycle and easily update records, while service representatives will find it easy to track and manage support incidents from initial contact to resolution. Microsoft CRM also ensures more efficient and consistent sales and service processes, with customizable workflow rules that let you create and automate processes for sales, support, routing, and notifications—so responses are always timely, and customer requests never “fall through the cracks”.


Q. We need to accurately forecast business activity.  What reporting capabilities does Microsoft CRM offer?

Microsoft CRM includes a comprehensive set of reporting tools for measuring business activity and forecasting sales. You can run and view reports for sales activity and quotas, closed and pending orders, support incident management and resolution, closed and pending orders, financial summaries, and more.

The robust reporting capability of Microsoft CRM will help you identify the opportunities, trends, and problems that guide your business decision making processes. You also can easily export Microsoft CRM report data to other applications, such as Microsoft Excel. 


Q. Where will Microsoft CRM be available?

Microsoft CRM will be available through authorized Microsoft Business Solutions channel partners.  You can connect with our partners through our Quality Microsoft CRM Expert Solution Providers.


Q. What are the system requirements?

Microsoft CRM requires Microsoft Windows® 2000 or Windows® XP Operating Systems running Microsoft Office 2000 or Office XP, Microsoft SQL 2000 server, and Microsoft Exchange 2000 server.  For Web access, users need Internet Explorer 6.0 on their desktop computer.

 
Q. Is Microsoft CRM hosted or on-premises? 

Microsoft CRM will be available on-premises or through hosted offerings provided by our channel partners.

 
Q. How is Microsoft CRM different from Microsoft bCentral Customer Manager?

Microsoft CRM is designed for midmarket businesses, offers full sales and customer service functionality both offline, through Outlook, and online, and integrates richly with other financial and business systems. Microsoft bCentral Customer Manager is designed for small businesses with fewer than 25 employees and offers leads management available only through the Web.


Q. What if we’re not in a position to invest time and money training our sales team to use a new solution?

Microsoft CRM offers the same logical user interface and intuitive work tools that your sales and support staff is already familiar with for Microsoft Office and Microsoft Outlook.  Implementation includes online tutorials and 24-hour Web-based support from Microsoft, so training costs associated with upgrading to Microsoft CRM are minimal. 


Q.
Can we customize Microsoft CRM to suit our specific needs?

Microsoft CRM can be tailored to meet your business needs, processes, and environment.  You’ll be able to import existing data from multiple sources, integrate with new or existing solutions, and scale the installation as your business changes and grows.


Q. When will Microsoft CRM be available and will you be releasing any international versions?

Microsoft CRM is available now, and scheduled to be released during the third quarter of 2003 in additional languages, including International English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Danish.


Q. What are the implications of Microsoft CRM being a .NET business application?

The first business application built from the ground up on Microsoft. Net technologies, Microsoft CRM delivers tremendous business value through easy integration with Microsoft Office, Microsoft Business Solutions applications, third party applications, and Web services. In addition, the flexible .NET architecture gives users the choice of working online or offline in Microsoft Outlook or directly through a Web browser.