Building Customer Portals for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

    In an era of global competition, a modern and cohesive web presence is crucial to companies who want to extend their branding throughout their digital properties - and your customer self-service portal is no exception.

    Many business executives today recognize Dynamics CRM as a powerful tool that helps them meet their unique customer service needs for two reasons: its robust customization and deep application integration.
     

    Building Customer Portals for Microsoft Dynamic CRM

    A History of Complexity and Cost

    Over the past several years, companies running Dynamics CRM have had few options for customer portals. Many resorted to:

    • Building frameworks that required extensive application development and highly experienced software development skills, yet offer rigid templates which were difficult to customize and slowed down CRM performance.

    • Developing portals based on content management systems that required additional software license purchases, renewals and support

    Companies around the world are now shifting to cloud-based applications after realizing strategic advantages with Dynamics CRM Online, such as:

    • Elimination of software upgrades

    • No need to separately license the SQL database or the IIS server

    • Mitigation of application security risks

    • Hardware maintenance is not required

    • Your information is available across multiple devices, wherever, whenever.

    With so many valuable benefits, you will want to consider building a cloud-based customer portal that integrates easily with your CRM. Here are some things to think about when you create customer portals integrated with Dynamics CRM:
     

    The Need to Deploy Portals Faster, and Reduce Technology Overhead

    Your business managers and portal users have the best perspective on partner and customer relationships. This means that your portal should be built according to their business needs in order to maintain those connections.

    With many current portal platforms, a non-technical person first designs the wireframe of the portal, which a developer then takes and codes the forms, grids and dashboards. Every time a change is required, the specifications need to be sent to a developer once again.

    This process is resource-intensive and inefficient; it’s only after many iterations of reviewing, revisions and approvals that changes can be made. When your portal is managed by business staff, this cycle can be completed much faster.

    On top of slow development, CMS-based solutions are not very customization-friendly. When software upgrades take place, your customizations may not survive an upgrade. Even if you are using a Development framework within the CRM, these upgrades can wreak havoc on your portal-to-CRM workflow. This too can drag down the performance of your CRM application.

    With cloud-based solutions, your customer portal can be up and running within a few months, or even days with some providers. In terms of customization, cloud portals can offer editable interfaces that even non-technical users can master, as well as an environment where your IT team can build and test within your instance. Vendors also manage upgrades and system maintenance from within the cloud, so you can rest assured that all your portal customizations are safe.

    Without the time and costs needed to provision and troubleshoot servers and other infrastructure that on-premise or self-built portals require, cloud-based portals enable you to fully focus your resources on improving customer experience.
     

    Technology-Based Cost Model Headaches

    With development-intensive solutions, you are required to purchase licensing for production and set up non-production hosting environments. Not only will you need to pay for fee-based developer support cases when you need help, but coding and building the portal is not exactly inexpensive either.

    In the case of solutions built on proprietary web content management systems, the costs don’t get much lower. If you are using a SaaS solution, you face software licenses costs and limitations based on the number of users, functionality and integration. As for specific functions like e-commerce or integration with third-party applications, you may have to buy additional modules or pay for API integration.

    So what does this mean for your bottom line? Your portal costs are locked into technologic complexity that doesn’t add value to your business and has no clear ROI.

    Although technology-centric pricing was tolerable in the decades preceding the cloud, business application cloud leaders are embracing value-based and/or consumption-based cost models.

    In fact, the industry is moving towards portal cost models measured against:

    • The quality of your CRM data, which your customers supply directly to your portal

    • Quantities of lead/prospect portal members, who can access role-based content

    • The volume of your customers who can open, track, and update their support cases

    • The number of your partners who can register leads with your business, and track/update/close opportunities on your secure portal

    • The elimination of manual data entry by your service/partner management teams
       

    Is Complexity and Cost Overrun Slowing Your Portal Initiative to a Grinding Halt?

    When your business sets out to build a customer portal with Dynamics CRM, you will most likely have established objectives, such as:

    • Higher lead capture

    • Visibility for Customer Service/Support Case creation, status, and updates

    • Simpler partner opportunity management and lead registration

    • Creation of new accounts and/or contacts

    • Security for content access based on user roles

    Now that you’ve seen what a customer portal integrated with Dynamics CRM is capable of, you can start your search for a solution that meets your business requirements.

    Magentrix Customer Portals are the complete solution for Dynamics CRM to provide your customers with a self-service experience so they can access information, view support documents and help each other. If you want to learn more about how Magentrix Customer Portals can integrate with your Dynamics CRM, request for a demo today!
     

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