As Dynamics 365 Consultants, it is our duty to understand and truly know our respective product areas – this comes with education and experience. Then, we must use this knowledge to guide our Customers and users in how Dynamics can be leveraged for them to overcome their challenges and reach optimal business results. However, this doesn’t always come easily.
As a Dynamics Consultant specialising in Customer Engagement (i.e. CRM), I regularly come up against user misconceptions and presumptions of what D365 is or what it does. I often want to lie on the floor and commence a kicking and screaming tantrum along the line of “it’s not just a CRM!”. But first, restraint: I must soothe the inner child and suppress the pending outburst. The real issue here is to address what can we, as Consultants, do to take our Customers on a journey to realizing the amazing powers of D365, beyond the ‘Just a CRM’ visage? These are my top tips to help you prove that D365 is most certainly NOT “Just a CRM”
Imagination is unlimited but constrained by experience
Anxiety is the fear of not knowing. In today’s highly competitive workplace, with the power of Google at everyone’s fingertips, the fear of unknown information or knowledge is as common as finding a grain of sand on the beach. An individual’s experience of CRM, ERP or even any software or computer driven activity in the workplace directly influences their ability to generate creative ideas and solutions for their perceived problems. Bad or difficult experiences have a stronger hold in the memory bank than the good to average ones. When our customers cannot imagine the solution, anxiety kicks in. They feel uncomfortable because they don’t know the answers, defences go up and any hopes of creativity leaves the building. This is not a productive environment for project success. As an expert and representative of D365, it is our duty to understand the problem in order to be able to inspire and arm Customers with the knowledge of how Dynamics can be leveraged. They can then connect this with their experiences, which unlocks their imaginations to envision solutions that really work.
A problem shared is a problem halved
Focus on what the Customer ‘wants’ without understanding what the problem actually ‘is’, is a classic project mistake I see time and time again. If it was so simple that the Customer knew exactly what they wanted, then it probably wouldn’t be a project in the first place. Encouraging project environments that support constructive complaining are key to prevent this from happening. Complaining is a cathartic and therapeutic experience which gives your Customer a sense of power and a feeling of hope for change. You are also likely to find more individuals in the workplace with the same or similar issues which sets you on the path to discover what the problems really are. Now you have the power to leverage the flexibility and extensibility of Dynamics, you can create solutions that really work for your Customer. Realistically, not all complaints can be resolved with Dynamics alone, but you can at the very least acknowledge the difficulties with empathy and provide some social support in dealing with their struggles.
Dynamics is incredibly powerful, but it cannot and should not do everything. Even though we have to admit it, it will not solve every single problem. As representatives of Dynamics it is our duty to design to its strengths by championing what the system can do for the Customer out of the box or with simple configuration. We must also be realistic in addressing what the system cannot do by acknowledging the limitations and admitting the fact it’s not perfect. Recommending appropriate alternative solutions with confidence in order to address such inevitable restrictions makes the difference between a great solution and an averagely poor one.
Lead by example, not theory
Make and take the time to understand your Customer and the world they do business in. Then combine this understanding with your knowledge of Dynamics to identify unique, real-life examples which are a contextual fit to your Customers profession. Guiding your Customer with relevant examples of how Dynamics can serve them and the tremendously desirable impacts it can have on their business, allows you to tap into the human cognitive need to make sense of the world. Here you find the sweet spot between what you know and what the Customer is interested in – it’s a wonderful place to be. Your recommendations actually make sense, so they can give constructive feedback which turns a good solution into the best possible Customer journey.
You are the Matchmaker
Think of yourself as a matchmaker between your Customer and Dynamics, your role is to build and establish a strong lifelong relationship between the two. You need to promote the great ‘personality traits’ of Dynamics (what it can do) and advise on the ‘bad habits’ (what it cannot do). By showcasing Dynamics in its best possible light, its amazing power and capability will shine through. This positive relationship between your customer and the Dynamics solution ensures project success beyond delivery, which carries the Customer from strength to strength in achieving their business outcomes for years to come. At the end of the project your match making magic is complete, leaving the Customer and Dynamics to skip off into the sunset to their happily ever after.
Users, Customers and specialists of D365 all have different levels of experience, knowledge and interaction with the capabilities and limitations of the almighty Power Platform. It would be illogical and unrealistic for any one of us to know every detail across the Dynamics business applications suite. Applying these learnings in my role as a D365 consultant has helped me to take Customers on a journey to unlocking the amazing impact that ‘Just a CRM’ can have. I hope sharing this will be just as delightfully impressive for other IT Consultants across the software platforms of today, tomorrow and the future as it has been for me.