Beyond customer management – how manufacturers can realise the potential of CRM

Posted on 5 Jun 2018 by The Manufacturer

According to Gartner, global Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software revenue reached $39.5 billion at the end of 2017. Its market dominance is set to continue in 2018, predicted to reign as the largest and fastest-growing software market at a growth rate of 16%.

Coincidentally, for manufacturers, the role of CRM has never been more important. Industry 4.0 and the move to servitization are having an impact across the industry and have undoubtedly increased focus on the customer.

Let’s take a look at how manufacturers can realise the full potential of CRM to align more closely with customer requirements, improve responsiveness levels and standardise the flow of information across the manufacturing business.

A Broader Reach Beyond Sales and Marketing

Traditionally, CRM use has been focussed on exactly what its name implies – relationship management between a business and its customers. Used primarily within sales and marketing, CRM systems were often siloed applications with little or no integration to other systems or software.

Many enterprises are now starting to see the broader potential of CRM, and realise that it is possible to extend its life by utilising it across different areas of the business. Much more than simply a tool for customer relationship management, CRM can be integrated as a versatile system applicable to myriad of projects; to fulfil a variety of business needs.

“In order to maximise its capability, you must look at CRM in a new light – as an extended web-based framework – giving you greater control, more flexibility, and better connectivity. It should be used to reach out beyond sales, picking up on the wider relationships that an organisation may have; within the context of what their main activity is.”  Paul Muggleton – CRM Service Director, HSO

Bridging the gap between complex relationships

CRM should be considered as a set of tools, able to help your organisation with the specifics around its relationships.

Global manufacturers Kohler Co. exemplify thinking outside the box with CRM, using their system to improve the EMEA accounts payable processes for suppliers. By combining Microsoft Office 365 with Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, Kohler Co. automates invoices via email to reduce the number of supplier queries – which they can now track. Their CRM solution frees up around a quarter of the accounts team capacity, previously tied up with an overly complex, time-consuming and error-prone process. The result: stronger supplier relationships and better leverage for negotiations.

Utilising add-ons to maximise efficiency

In addition to the core framework, functionality can also be extended through the tactical use of third party applications. These range from tools which improve the efficiency of the framework through to complete applications which supplement the core solution. For Microsoft Dynamics CRM, these are available from a variety of Microsoft Partners and through Microsoft AppSource and can run either as hosted applications, on Microsoft Azure or within Dynamics CRM.

Upgrading was traditionally a big decision to make, due to the high cost and risk implications associated with it. Modern cloud based solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM eliminate these concerns, as the incremental upgrades in functionality are significantly easier to administer. This applies to both the application and the framework. The combination of new framework tools, coupled with the variety of add-on products, has in recent years, widened the ability to extend the functionality of the core CRM solution.

“We’re now working on a number of different internet connected products. There’s a really nice integration between Azure’s IoT hub and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, so you can automatically place orders based on the change in status of one of your products out in the field. It also has asset management and field service capability, which is really nice to be able to offer.” – Marcus Judge, Director of Kohler Co. IT Services EMEA

Read more about how HSO helped Kohler embark on their digital journey here

Realising the full potential of CRM

When it comes to the available suite of tools, they offer the ability to build much more complex relationships; extending the core functionality of CRM even further. By adding-on the tools and solutions you require, you can realise the full potential of your enterprise CRM and cater to the exact needs of your business and its users.