Out of all the industries, I’ve spent many years of my career in IT for the oil and gas industry. The complex industry has complex needs, especially when it comes to technology. Often, the IT department receives requests from the Sales team to find an easy-to-use tool to help manage customers and their needs. They needed a better way of reporting and tracking the lifecycle of a customer.
Many of the companies I worked with at the time were using Excel spreadsheets, which leave too much room for error and static information – and that just won’t cut it anymore. Gathering all the required information became time-consuming and for what? For a glimpse of the picture that would quickly become outdated.
The oil and gas industry is multi-faceted, from exploration and oilfield services, to transportation and refining. The industry covers a broad spectrum of services and products and its reach is far and wide. As a result, these organizations produce a lot of information. Where does one keep all that intel and data collected about their industry and customers? How can that information be used for a business transformation?
An ERP system, like Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations, can capture tremendous amounts of industry information. From products sold, to ship-to locations, billing terms, and other transactional data, but it doesn’t capture the nature of a relationship or the nuances of the customer. Dynamics 365 for Sales (CE) and other CRM systems help organize the Sales team around their customer, identify the players, the decision makers, and the influencers. Dynamics 365 can be used for account planning and selling strategies tailored to the customer. The system ties the entire picture together – from marketing efforts, sales engagement, relationship management, and to fulfillment & customer support.
So, what are the advantages of Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement (CRM)?
- Collaboration: Typically, teams of people (across an organization) are managing a customer and not just a single Sales person. Dynamics 365 gives those teams a place to collaborate and collect that all-so-important customer intel. Key contacts and their roles within the customer’s organization can be tracked. Identifying who is working with whom and the nature of their relationship can go a long way in managing the account overall. Dynamics 365 gives the users the ability to share information and understand the different facets of the customer.
- Activity and interaction tracking: Each touch point or interaction with the customer can be tracked and managed within Dynamics 365. It also integrates seamlessly with Outlook and gives users the ability to move information into Dynamics 365 with a few clicks.
- Extensibility: This isn’t yesterday’s CRM. With ever-expanding processes, Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement is not strictly limited to just managing Sales, Marketing and Customer Service. Newer modules like Field Service and Project Services extend the platform to be able to manage Oilfield Services and other types of Service organizations, giving users the ability to schedule and track services, projects and resources.
With many requests to implement traditional CRM modules, I’ve received just as many to utilize the platform to encompass other processes. The platform, often referred to as xRM, is flexible enough to be configured to manage requesting. My team built a tool for compliance tracking of Wells. With a little imagination, creativity and innovation there’s quite a bit that Dynamics 365 can be customized to do.
- Reporting: You’ve captured all your interactions, you’ve tracked your customer from a lead, converted them into an opportunity and have been working with your teams to establish a solid plan and strategy on furthering your relationship. You’ve created records and data points, now what? Organizations are great at creating data, but what do you do with it?
With out-of-the-box dashboards, charts and views in Dynamics 365, you’re able to slice and dice that information, find metrics, set goals and get a better understanding of your customer and your own organization. If you want the data in a spreadsheet, Dynamics 365 allows for the export of data into Excel and embeds Excel online into entity views for easy updates and additions. For more advanced reporting, Microsoft Power BI integrates seamlessly.
Let’s face it, there aren’t really any disadvantages to being better organized, having information at your fingertips, or seeing the bigger picture. The disadvantages are more-so centered around challenges that come with implementing a new piece of technology. These challenges could include things like change management and user adoption. System implementations are typically met with some resistance to change. Going from a somewhat manual process to automation can bring about some suspicion and fear. With the proper engagement of stakeholders demonstrating the value of automation and organization with Dynamics 365, the pressures of change and system adoption should be alleviated. Training and reinforcement of processes after implementation also go a long way in keeping users engaged.
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