Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 2
Customer Relationship Management Database (unit 5)
Uses for CRM software
There are a variety of uses that CRM can be used for but some of the main ones that could be used by the golfcarttires site include:
- Mailing list information for promotions and special offers: After marketing, as it is called, can be a big source of revenue. You already know you have people that are interested in your products as they have purchased from you in the past and so you have a greater chance of a sale that with a cold call. By using a database of customers in a way that highlights the products they bought, when they bought and how often they bought, you can specifically target groups of customers for mailing lists.
- Seasonal sales information: Information can be extracted from a database that be used to show a breakdown of sales figures by year, quarter, month, week, day etc. This information can be used to determine trends in sales figures over specific periods of time which in turn can be used to determine when products should be in stock, which should be promoted heavier to take advantage of seasonal sales and so on.
- Product sale information: Is one product outselling another? Is one product selling poorly? This information can be useful in determining how a product is promoted, priced etc.
CRM Software search
Originally, a keyword search in Google, Bing and AltaVista for the phrase “best CRM reviews” produced several results that seemed to suggest the SalesForce CRM package was a highly rated package. (“CRM”, n.d.; “CRM Software Review”, 2011)
However, a subsequent search in Google for CRM SalesForce SLA brought up results that suggests that SalesForce had issues with their system and SLA, and were in fact no longer offering an SLA agreement with their software. There were however several articles that spoke of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM software as being a viable alternative and that was the software I decided to concentrate on.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM – (http://crm.dynamics.com/en-us/home)
One immediate advantage you get with the Dynamics software is the Microsoft name. Microsoft often enable its various software packages to integrate with each together and Dynamics is no exception, allowing you as it does to actually review and control Dynamics from within Microsoft Outlook if you wish. They offer both an online or a “on-premises” deployment option, this review concentrates on the online version.
The software site itself is splint into 3 sections, each highlighting a particular area of the CRM software: Sales solutions, Customer Service Solutions and Marketing Solutions. The sales sections deals with account information, sales planning lead building etc. The customer service section deals specifically with the one-on-one interaction with customers such as contract information, account problems, etc. The marketing solution section deals with the planning of marketing campaigns, responding to leads, market analysis and so on. After reviewing the small business CRM software solution article I chose the following 5 areas to concrete my review on:
Like most Microsoft products today Dynamics CRM is available for demo testing before purchasing. This 30 days demo version is a full working version of the online software that can be made live at anytime via either an online credit card transaction or calling in an paying over the phone. There is no commitment in order to use this demo; no software is downloaded and no credit card information is taken in order to be able to use this demo (“Buy Microsoft Dynamics CRM—and Unlock Its Potential”, n.d.)
Cost of package
Once the decision is made to sign up and use Dynamics the price is set as low $44 per user of the system/ per month. With a large number of users this system could get expensive very quickly but with proper planning the cost could be kept to a minimum. They also offer volume pricing agreements for those companies that have signed a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. (“Buy Microsoft Dynamics CRM—and Unlock Its Potential”, n.d.)
Service Level Agreement
Microsoft has learnt from the problems that plagued SalesForce with their SLA and offer a 99.9% uptime SLA with service credits if the uptime is not met. This uptime is calculated per month, using the simple formula of total possible minutes per month – total downtime for the month / total possible minutes per month.
The following responses would be offered if applicable:
- Less than 99.9% grants a 25% service credit
- Less than 99% grants an 50% service credit
- Less than 95% grants a full 100% service credit.
(Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Service Level Agreement (“SLA”), n.d.)
This is comparable to the SLAs that most other CRM offer, and to other SLAs that Microsoft currently offer for their online software products.
The installation guide that is available for Dynamics suggests allowing between 30 and 60 days for a complete system install and configuration. Because we are concentrating on the Online version of the CRM this installation and configuration will take a much shorter time as all the base configuration will have already been completed. The 30 day free trial also suggests that to get a basic system up and running would also fit within that time frame to allow ample time for testing.
Apart from the standard manuals that come with the software, Microsoft also have an E-learning system of videos and online reference manuals to assist the learning process. This online training program is split into the various areas of the CRM software:
- CRM Marketing
- CRM Sales
- CRM Service Scheduling
- CRM Service Management
- CRM Customization
They also have community forums and online support functions as well to provide extra training and support if required. (“Help on Hot Topics for New Users”, n.d.)
Overall this appears to be a very capable package that certainly matches the criteria suggested as being the basics required in a CRM solution. The fact that it has the Microsoft name carries extra weight with it as the support infrastructure behind Microsoft’s products is quite extensive, and as such I would feel confident going ahead with using this package.
Information about the search terms used, with resulting screenshots can be find in this blog post: Screenshots
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- Golf Cart Tires Project – References
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Keywords and Search Engine Screenshots (unit 5)
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 5 – Project Time Line
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 4
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 3
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 2
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Part 1
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Online Tracking/Privacy Concerns
- Golf Cart Tires Project – Site Mashups