• May 1, 2014
  • By Leonard Klie, Editor, CRM magazine and SmartCustomerService.com

Microsoft Dynamics Convergence: Microsoft Homes in on Customer Centricity

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"To be a customer-centric company, you truly need to make sure that the customer-centric culture penetrates deeply in your organization," he said. "It's the humans who connect with the customers. It's the people who talk to people. It's not business-to-business, business-to-technology, B2B, B2C. It is P2P; it is people-to-people. And humanizing the enterprise and making sure that every single person in your organization thinks...customer excellence and customer experience is the most important step in becoming a customer-centric organization."

And while companies are being forced to alter their culture, the world of the customer is also transforming in a very powerful way, Tatarinov said. "In this new era of the customer, more than ever before, it is highly important for us to engage customers on their terms, at the time when they need, using the medium that they need. It is very important to nurture this relationship and to truly understand the customer end-to-end," he stated.

Tatarinov also used his keynote to highlight five very powerful forces—the cloud, mobility, big data, ubiquitous connectivity, and social media—which he said are converging today to reshape the world of business.

To tap into that, customer communications, regardless of whether they involve sales, marketing, or customer service, need to be multimodal, according to Tatarinov.

In marketing, customer centricity means reaching more people at the right time, truly engaging them "by matching their needs with the information you're able to provide so you don't annoy them," he said.

In selling, Tatarinov said, customer centricity requires a redesign of how salespeople interact with customers. "Very often our customers know more than our salespeople when they engage them. Very often people have actually made [up] their minds completely before they enter and engage in the selling cycle," he stated. "And that certainly drives the need to transform the way we sell."

Caring for and supporting existing customers is "yet another very powerful, hugely important element of engaging customers and delivering those amazing experiences to them," Tatarinov said.

"It's quite human for people to try to solve problems on their own before they call anybody. So the ability to deliver self-service through whatever medium people use becomes a very high priority in the area of customer care," he added, noting that this is an area where Microsoft has really concentrated a lot of its attention.

"This is really the place where we have crossed an amazing chasm by bringing very innovative technology into Microsoft," Tatarinov said, pointing primarily to Microsoft's recent acquisition of Parature, which closed in January.

"Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Parature, working together, deliver that amazing experience through either self-service or through knowledgeable customer care agents in a very productive, connected environment," he said.

Other notable acquisitions shaping Microsoft's Dynamics CRM portfolio included Marketing Pilot, whose products have been relaunched as Dynamics Marketing, and Netbreeze, which enabled Microsoft to launch its Social Listening application.

The spring 2014 release of Microsoft Dynamics CRM contains Microsoft Dynamics Marketing and Microsoft Social Listening as well as the Unified Service Desk (USD), a central platform to help businesses engage with and care for customers more personally on any device, at any place and time.

The USD will allow agents to handle multiple interactions and run multiple apps at the same time, making it easier to connect to back-end systems to access information.

"Of course, all of that stands and must stand on a solid platform of technology and business. Lots of amazing scenarios we're talking about are only possible through deep data analytics. Most of those technologies are only available through deep cloud investments. All of them are available only through deep business knowledge and models, and the ability to connect different sets of data in a very powerful way," Tatarinov concluded.

According to Rebecca Wettemann, a vice president at Nucleus Research, Microsoft was "late to the ball with its customer experience messaging." But she points out that its customers "showed compelling reasons why the Microsoft approach to business applications and the combination of technologies deliver additional value for users."

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