Best CRM with Office 365 Integration

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How to choose the best CRM with Office 365 integration

If you’re looking for a CRM with Office 365 integration then you might be tempted to head straight for Microsoft’s own solution, DynamicsCRM. Actually, this wouldn’t be a bad move as DynamicsCRM is a very decent CRM solution and, understandably, has great integration with Office 365. At the same time, there are plenty of other options and since you want to spend your money wisely, it pays to investigate them to be sure you are choosing the right one. With that in mind, here is a guide as to how to choose the best CRM with Office 365 integration.

Define the main goal of your CRM

A CRM can serve many purposes, but, by definition, only one of them can be your main goal. Common goals for a CRM include: to manage sales leads, to improve your customer support and/or to improve productivity through speeding up workflows and making it easier for internal departments to collaborate. Taking an early decision as to which one matters the most to you (and prioritizing the others) can greatly speed up the selection process as can allow you to focus on CRM products which were designed to focus mainly on that goal.

Choose between a locally-hosted solution and a cloud solution

Best CRM with Office 365 Integration

In principle, you can host your CRM locally and still use Office 365. If you have the resources to do so, then you should at least consider this option to see if it is right for you. In practice, even if you do have the resources to do so locally, the fact that you’re using Office 365 suggests that you’ve determined that the cloud is the best option for your organization and hence you’ll be looking for a cloud-based CRM.

Make a list of the features you want to see in your CRM

Although all CRMs will typically offer broadly similar functionality, the details will make a huge difference. Because of this, you want to have a think about each of the key areas of customer relationship management in your organization and consider what the perfect CRM solution would look like for you. Here are some pointers.

Security

If you host your CRM solution locally, then security will lie entirely with you. If, however, you use a cloud-based CRM solution then responsibility for data security will be shared between you and your cloud vendor. Basically your cloud vendor will take ownership of providing a safe environment for your data and you will take ownership of ensuring that the integrity of your data is not compromised by threats from within your organization (e.g. malicious employees). This means that you need to choose your cloud vendor with great care.

User-friendly interface

As a minimum, you want a logical, intuitive, uncluttered interface which is super-easy to navigate. Ideally, you want any action to be able to be done with a maximum of three clicks and the more frequent actions should be able to be done with fewer clicks, preferably just one. If possible, you want the ability to customize the interface yourself. In particular, you want to be able to add on extra functionality if you need it and also to disable unused functionality not just to make life simpler, but to reduce the likelihood of people using it in error.

Effective tracking of interactions

Again, whatever your main goal is, this is likely to be of high importance. Not only do you need to track the interactions with the customer, you also need to track your employees’ interactions with the customer data. This isn’t just about weeding out potential bad actors (although this is very important), it’s about recognizing that people are people and that mistakes are bound to happen.

For example, a common mistake can be for more than one account (or contact) to be created for any given customer. This can be due to unclear communication from the customer as well as a lack of understanding on the part of the employee.

For example, people can change email addresses (or misspell them when they initially enter them) with the result that at first glance it looks like you have two customers who just happen to have the same name rather than one customer with two emails. This is why it is generally recommended to use a CRM with robust duplicate-checking functionality.

You also want the ability to track changes within documents to trace back the history of events if there are any concerns about the accuracy of the data.

Other useful features include the ability to store documents, the ability to show pipeline and/or workflow views, integration with social media and the ability to be used on mobile devices.

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