Microsoft Dynamics Release Adds Social Listening, Bolsters Marketing and Customer Care

Microsoft Dynamics customers will see a diverse set of features in marketing, customer case management, and social listening added to their CRM capabilities in an upcoming second-quarter release. The release builds on and integrates features from three recent acquisitions: MarketingPilot, which Microsoft acquired in October 2012, Netbreeze, bought in March 2013, and customer service tool Parature, which officially closed last month.

"At Microsoft, we are very excited about the momentum that's started to build with our CRM 2013 launch in October, our partnership with InsideView, and the Parature acquisition," says Bill Patterson, Microsoft's senior director of planning and strategy.

More Intuitive, ROI-Driven Marketing

Microsoft Dynamics Marketing, which was formerly MarketingPilot, has some of the "application fundamentals [from MarketingPilot], but this service is a complete rebuild," Patterson explains. The new release will add a visual campaign designer that will make setting up campaigns more intuitive and visible to marketers. "We have overhauled lead management and lead scoring capabilities," adds Patterson. Besides transactional and demographic profiling, marketers can also use behavioral modeling to gauge the strength of leads. Marketers will also have access to a business intelligence solution that will enable them to analyze their campaign budget against campaign results. "We want to help marketers emphasize their return on marketing investment," Patterson stressed.

Customer Care Adds Unified Service Desk, Integrates with Parature

For customer care, Microsoft Dynamics will add a new Unified Service Desk (USD). With the application, agents can handle multiple interactions at the same time, with increased automation and the ability to display scripts to guide agents' interactions with customers. With the USD, an agent can run multiple apps, making it easier to connect to back-end systems to look up returns or a back order quickly.

In the wake of the Parature acquisition, "it was a pleasant surprise for us how many run the joint solution, and how seamlessly we can integrate the two," Patterson notes. Parature's capabilities can be seamlessly composed in one session, according to Patterson. Using the USD integration model and Parature APIs, Parature can be integrated into the USD, making for a simple end-user experience.

Democratized Social Listening

All users can now monitor social media for sentiment analysis with Microsoft Social Listening, which will be available for no additional charge. "We want to democratize access to this channel. Price alone has made it an antisocial tool," Patterson says, referencing social listening tools that can cost thousands of dollars per user per year. Tweets or blog posts won't have to be translated to English before being processed, which makes for more accurate sentiment analysis for globally oriented companies. Patterson estimates Microsoft Social Listening is "forty percent Netbreeze, sixty percent since [the acquisition]," adding that Netbreeze's engineers now work on the product as part of Microsoft's development team.

The Microsoft Dynamics product release comes in the wake of Satya Nadella's appointment as Microsoft's new CEO. "I've worked for him, and he's always been not only a staunch advocate of Microsoft Dynamics, [but] he truly believes that we have our best work yet to come as we continue to innovate," Patterson says.

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