How a CRM for Microsoft Office can transform your small business into a productivity powerhouse

The number one reason small businesses fail is lack of experience. “Lack of experience” both in the industry the entrepreneur is entering and in management. The fact is, small business owners almost pull their hair out trying to co-exist as CEO, Director of Marketing & Sales, Customer Service, and Office Administration. After all, wearing multiple hats is a challenge, especially when there are only 24 hours in the day.

Today’s technology supports an entrepreneur’s ability to become an accomplished manager by computerizing internal business processes and simplifying communications within the office with office automation software (OAS). With a market share of 90%, Microsoft Office enables opportunists worldwide to conduct effective personal information management with Outlook, prepare professional documents with Word, present competent PowerPoint presentations, manage data effectively with Excel and much more. The question is, “How can entrepreneurs fully leverage Microsoft Office to positively interact with their organization’s external environment?” The solution combines a dynamic Customer Relationship Manager (CRM) with the ubiquitous Microsoft Office suite.

With minimal resources and staff, business owners can use CRM for Microsoft Office to efficiently communicate with their employees, customers, and suppliers. A centralized contact manager not only streamlines common business processes, but also saves time and increases productivity. Whether you’re a “one man show” or have a network of just a few employees, a contact manager combined with the power of Microsoft Office can help build lasting relationships with business stakeholders and make it easier to engage clearly focus on success .

For the administration:

A centralized database of customer, employee, and supplier contact information provided by a systematic customer relationship manager simplifies day-to-day administrative tasks, including scheduling and messaging. Business owners and administrative assistants can easily pull up a contact record and schedule an appointment with a CRM Office add-on. The integration with Outlook allows the user to create appointments or tasks from a central location and they will automatically appear in their personal Outlook or in the company’s public calendar (in an Exchange environment). The same goes for messages. Find the contact record from any desk in the office and send a message via email using Outlook.

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For marketing:

The everyday infrastructure of most companies is already facilitated by Microsoft Office. Take writing 15 thank you letters for example. It is almost common to use Microsoft Word to create such a professional document. However, once the letter is ready, Word doesn’t offer a way to automatically format each letter with the customer’s name and address. In addition, what medium will be used to deliver the professional documents to the respective destinations, all 15 to be exact! Can Outlook do this? Sure, if email is the delivery method of choice. First, copy the content of the letter 15 times into 15 emails, and then enter the email addresses for each letter. The process is not only time-consuming, but also often tedious. Not to mention that that only applies to 15 letters. What about 50, 100, 500 or even 1000?

With the added help of an account manager, repetitive tasks like writing letters become routine processes. Create the letter template in Word and save it in the customer advisor’s central database. Next, pull up the 15 contact records for this week’s new customers. Select all 15 records and merge their contact information into the 15 letter template. Aside from the 10 minutes it takes to write the letter, the CRM creates 15 personalized copies in about 30 seconds. Therefore, mass communication is systematized and cost effective. The days when you spend a week sending out a mailing to the entire company’s customer base can be done in minutes with broadcasts and even fax or email.

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For sale:

Many companies that implement CRM technology with MS Office immediately notice benefits. Once the customer data is centralized and easily accessible for the sales team, the CRM becomes a great monitoring tool. The sales team is now able to make follow-up calls while viewing personalized, detailed notes unique to each customer record or lead. Then a happy chain reaction is triggered. Ultimately, personalizing the follow-up strategy makes the customer feel better cared for and valued. Also, a regular follow-up strategy helps the sales professional build a relationship with the customer, which then increases customer retention. In summary, CRM technology makes the lead control game a win-win for the company and its customers. A CRM solution also refines sales methods to better meet all the needs of a new prospect.

Now add the functionality of the CRM to Microsoft Office. From the contact record, sales professionals can add a note to their personal Outlook, write an entry in their personal Outlook journal, create an Excel spreadsheet to track monthly earnings or calls, email the contact through Outlook, send them a fax, and a Make an appointment for the next follow-up call. Now the sales process is fully automated from one central location. Think about how much time is saved.

CRM solutions help build stronger relationships

It is no secret; the large number of customer relationship managers currently on the market. The question is which one is right for you?

Important factors to consider when evaluating a CRM solution:

o Is the contact information you entered correct and true?

o Is the database constantly updated and maintained?

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o Can you easily retrieve and share contact information?

o Is it easy to create documents such as fax cover sheets, letters, labels and lists with the program?

o Can it communicate with Microsoft Office without complicated export procedures?

o Allows users to easily communicate with each other and the outside world?

o Does it send messages instantly to cell phones, PDAs, smartphones, pagers, email, and two-way radios?

o Can employees effectively track communications with customers and suppliers?

o Does it include lead and campaign management features for prospecting?

The benefits of a CRM are not just limited to the needs of the customer – it creates value for the company as a whole. Employees are happier and less stressed because processes and procedures are simplified, take less time and effort to execute, and the details are “taken care of.” Employees become more organized and effective in achieving team goals. Management also benefits from higher employee productivity, lower business expenses, reduced overtime, and easier goal attainment. The business as a whole can run leaner as a good contact manager enables business owners and their employees to easily multitask in a Microsoft Office environment.