Microsoft Rolls Out Outlook Customer Manager: A Free Small Business CRM

Customer relationship management (CRM) software can help larger businesses, but it is nice to see more small businesses embracing CRMs as more software companies follow suit with new solutions designed for them. Microsoft now has a free small business CRM, called Outlook Customer Manager, and you can get it as a free extension with a subscription to Office 365 Business Premium.

Benefits of Outlook Customer Manager:

  • Compatible with Office 365 and Outlook
  • Small business-friendly
  • Manage your client and prospect relationships
  • View customer information next to your email correspondence with customers
  • Stay organized with your marketing and outreach efforts

Use your CRM to stay focused on your customers so you can nurture your business relationships. Even if you are a small business or soloprenuership, you still need to manage your customer connection and find new business. Having a CRM can help you stay organized even when you feel like everything is a bit of a mess.

In this article, we will introduce Microsoft’s Outlook Customer Manager software and help you find out if it is best for your business. We will discuss various aspects of the software and how it works. By the end, you should have a decent grasp of how to use it and whether or not you can benefit from it.

Article Contents:

  1. What Is a CRM and How Does it Work?
  2. Microsoft Outlook Customer Manager Features
  3. Benefits of Microsoft Outlook Customer Manager
  4. Is Outlook Customer Manager Right for My Business?
  5. CRM Tips and Tricks

1. What Is a CRM and How Does it Work?

CRM software is designed to help you keep track of your customer and prospect relationships. In many cases, business owners and marketers record customer information in many different places and run the risk of losing track of this important data and narrative.

For instance, say you have a new client you first spoke with via phone two months ago. When you were finished with the conversation, you wrote down notes on a pad of paper or typed them in a Word Doc and saved these notes for later. Now, you are looking for the notes from your conversation and quickly re-reading old emails to catch-up before your next chat with the client. Instead of jostling between different software platforms, looking for email and paper notes and making a mess of your computer and your desk, you can use a CRM to help you record important notes and information for future conversations with customers.

At-a-glance access to important sales information can help small businesses, even if they have relatively few customers to keep track of when compared with larger organizations. If you own a small to medium-sized business (SMB), then you realize how vital great customer relationships really are. You need to have immediate access to key data about prior experiences with your customers and prospects so you are never lost while you are taking a meeting or phone call.

Inside the CRM, you create a profile for each customer and prospect. Many CRMs have integrations with other software platforms or will import data and contacts directly into your CRM. With Outlook Customer Manager, you can import Outlook contacts, for example, making it easier to create profiles for your customers that include email addresses and other contact information. From there, you can refer to that information anytime you need it.

2. Microsoft Outlook Customer Manager Features

Outlook Manager is very user-friendly and customizable, particularly if you rely on Outlook for your business email. Import your contacts directly into Outlook Customer Manager. In fact, your information in the CRM is visible from the very same screen, which is super convenient for Outlook email users.

With Outlook Customer Manager, you actually have access to four different dashboards. Each one has unique benefits.

Microsoft Outlook Customer Manager Dashboards:

  • Today Page—On here, your daily events, conversations, and activities are listed at-a-glance. You can see your schedule and how it interacts with data in your CRM. Birthdays, summaries of recent contacts and other information you will need for Today are also listed.
  • Deals Page—Your deals page highlights upcoming opportunities. It has leads, contacts, and other details sorted for quick review.
  • Contacts Page—You can pull up specific contacts from this dashboard, for more information about specific profiles and for at-a-glance access to your list of contact profiles.
  • Companies Page—From here, access your information about company prospects and current customers.

Like many CRMs, you can sort and search for data easily. These different screens help you get to your information quickly, which is a huge plus for any CRM.

You can also use this CRM’s features on your smartphone with the iOS app. In the future, this app will be available on other platforms, too, so if you do not have an iPhone, stay tuned for future access.

3. Benefits of Microsoft Outlook Customer Manager

This CRM comes with a significant list of benefits for the small business owner. A huge benefit is the system’s compatibility with other Microsoft products. If you regularly use Microsoft software, it makes sense to use something that can seamlessly connect with your other platforms. Microsoft Outlook Customer Manager is great for users of other Microsoft products for this reason. If you have Office 365, then this CRM is a free extension, and you will have a CRM platform that goes great with Microsoft’s other software products.

The companion app is great, too. If you need to check contact data on your smartphone or create new contacts, you can use the app to update your CRM and view your information on the road. It does not necessarily have all the same functionality as the full desktop version, but you can accomplish a lot of work with it nevertheless.

4. Is Outlook Customer Manager Right for My Business?

If you are looking for a CRM and you already use Office 365, then this free CRM is absolutely a no-brainer. You already have it and it has decent functionality, so you should try it out.

Users that do not have Office 365 and are not sure yet or do not use Microsoft products should consider trying this CRM if they are shopping around for a relationship management solution. It has some unique features, such as the four dashboards, that make it an attractive option for CRM software.

5. CRM Tips and Tricks

If you are using a new CRM or shopping for one, keep these tips in mind:

  • Update your CRM frequently. Choose a system that imports data and integrates well with apps you use everyday. This may help you maintain your data without a lot of upkeep.
  • Take advantage of CRM automation tools. Many CRMs allow you to automate typical tasks inside the software, so you can save yourself time and effort.
  • Many CRMs charge per user per month, so keep in mind that pricing and available features can vary depending on how many people you will have using the system. Even small businesses could have ten to twenty users, so that is important to remember when you shop.
  • Ask your employers, coworkers or colleagues for suggestions as you shop for a CRM, particularly if they will be using it frequently.

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