Chapter #7

CRM Integration: What is It & Why It’s So Important

In this chapter, we will explain what CRM integration means, why it is important, give you examples of the key CRM integrations you should consider, and a lot more.

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CRM integration capabilities should be considered from day one you have decided you want to implement CRM software for your company.

With CRM integration you can greatly increase your business productivity, reduce any human errors, get a full picture of your business and customers and so much more.

In fact, CRM integration is one of the main capabilities you should look for to ensure long-lasting success and growth using a CRM system.

What is CRM Integration?

CRM Integration means connecting one or more applications with your CRM system in order to create seamless data flow from, to, and between them. The goal of CRM integration is to reduce any human input to collect data from multiple sources so you can have accurate data in almost real-time. This enables companies to make better and smarter decisions, reduce human errors, create faster and more accurate reports, and increase productivity.

CRM integration with second and third-party applications allows you to automate actions, and create workflows and automation that expand your CRM capabilities and give you a better view of your customers, thus, a better understanding of your prospects and customers.

Why is CRM Integration Important?

Generally, integration between systems is essential for businesses and plays a huge part in your employee productivity, your decision-making ability, and how you are doing business, and CRM integration is no less important for businesses.

In fact, one of the top requested CRM software features is the ability to integrate with other applications.

crm integration amog top crm system features request

(Source)

And companies that implement CRM software with great integration capabilities hugely benefit in many different ways. Here we are going to show you the 4 biggest benefits of CRM integration:

Improved Collaboration

CRM Integration improves collaboration within your team and across your entire organization. Thanks to seamless natural data flow from numerous sources into one centralized CRM database, your employees can quickly draw important information whether it is from third-party apps they don’t have access to or even from different departments.

And because data are centralized and standardized in one database, your employee can quickly and easily share the information across the organization in a way that everybody can understand it.

This makes it super easy for your employees to collaborate with each other without spending too much time exporting and organizing data so colleagues from other departments can understand the data and use it as needed.

Reduce Human Errors

Manual duplication from one system to another can cause human errors resulting in inaccurate reporting and making bad business decisions.

Human errors are one of the main problems when data needs to be manually duplicated from one of the systems to another.

However, with CRM integration this problem is almost or entirely eliminated as the data flow automatically without any human intervention. Therefore, it helps you to make sure your data are always accurate without any duplicates or missing data that could result in inaccurate reporting.

Increase Productivity

Not only manually inserting data from one system to another can cause human errors, but it also requires a significant amount of time from your employees to clean and copy the data in the right format to your CRM software.

However, with CRM integration this is another challenge that is removed. Your employees no longer need to spend time on data cleaning and copy-pasting from one application to your CRM system as it’s done automatically which results in a huge productivity boost as they can focus on more creative and important tasks.

Not only that, but it’s also a huge morale boost as nothing is more annoying than manually inserting data into your CRM software.

Faster and More Accurate Reporting

And the last CRM integration benefit is faster and more accurate reporting.

With CRM integration, your data are centralized in one system, not only that but the data are also standardized so the system and your employees can understand this and all this happens in real-time.

And nowadays, most CRM applications provide also business intelligence, dashboard, and analytics so all these data are transformed into actionable insights in real-time as well.

Therefore, it’s easier for your employees and leaders to create important reports anytime, so they can make quick and smart decisions.

With CRM integration your reporting becomes faster, more accurate, and accessible to anybody who needs it.

How CRM Integration Works

To get the most out of your CRM system, you will need to connect your other applications with your CRM system to get a 360-degree view of your customers and CRM integration helps you to achieve that.

CRM Integration is an essential step in connecting your CRM software with second and third-party applications in order to have data flow from one system to another system without any human impact, create workflows and automation, and most importantly not have siloed and scattered data across different systems.

The third-party systems can include a vast number of different applications from marketing automation, salesforce automation, accounting, inventory, warehouse, purchasing, and other applications.

With that, most of the CRM applications provide built-in integration that allows everyone to connect the most common applications, then they also provide connectors and APIs for developers to create integration with other systems as well.

Therefore, the CRM integration process can be as simple as a few clicks to connect the apps to more complex and custom integration and it will largely depend on what CRM system you are using, what’s their built-in integrations, and the APIs and connectors available within.

For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM applications come with a large number of built-in integrations, connectors as well as APIs to connect all your systems with Dynamics 365 CRM apps.

Thus, it’s important to discuss with your current or future CRM provider what’s their integration capabilities, what applications you will want to integrate with your CRM system, and other apps you can integrate.

CRM Integration Tools

Nowadays, most CRM platforms come with pre-built integrations and connectors that allow you to connect third-party tools to your CRM system. Often these preset integration requires very little technical and coding skills and can be quickly installed in order to automate the data flow and other processes.

Often these include the most common solutions such as accounting software, inventory management solution, warehouse management solution, and others. However, this depends on the CRM vendor you have selected.

For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 comes with hundreds of different preset connectors which makes it very easy to do integration with Dynamics 365.

Microsoft also offers a host of APIs that make this integration easy and simple. These are called Dynamics 365 REST APIs and include REST-based, SOAP-based, and web-based APIs. The uses of Dynamics 365 REST APIs include managing all business operations and customer-facing features.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 REST APIs make it easier for developers to get and manipulate information from Dynamics CRM software. Companies can also connect to other software and business applications such as BI resources, ERP software, customer apps, and portal systems to provide better user experiences.

However, you can also be leveraging integration platforms such as Azure Integration Services, Oracle Integration Cloud Service, Zapier, Boomi, and others that allow you to intelligently and easily connect your applications with third-party apps that are not supported by your CRM system.

13 Key CRM Integrations with Other Business Processes

CRM integration capabilities largely depend on the CRM vendor you select and their CRM software. However, here is a list of key CRM integrations you should consider for your business in order to improve your business processes and increase productivity.

So, review these thirteen key CRM integrations which one you think you will need and discuss with your CRM vendor which can be done for your CRM software:

1. Mobile Integrations

Nowadays, mobile applications are essential for employees working in sales, marketing, customer service, and field service to enhance the productivity, collaboration, and flexibility of a business, and many CRM systems already provide mobile CRM capabilities.

However, many companies, are also using other mobile applications to complete their day-to-day tasks. Therefore, having these mobile applications integrated with CRM systems can further boost their performance, save time, and reduce any human errors when data is manually duplicated from one system to another.

2. ERP & Accounting Integrations

CRM integrations with ERP allow companies to gain a full picture of their business, streamline business processes by creating powerful workflows and automation across departments and store essential data in one place that can be analyzed to create important insights to make important decisions faster. It also improves forecasting, business performance, and collaboration and reduces manual labor which can cause errors.

ERP integration with CRM is becoming an essential part of every business, therefore many CRM systems provide built-in integrations with the most used ERP and accounting software.

3. Email Integrations

Perhaps most or at least a big part of your communication with customers is done via email which creates important informational sources about your customers that should be stored within your CRM to improve your customer experience, and omnichannel capabilities and deliver a more personalized approach.

Therefore, email integration with CRM software is another key integration that you should have. For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM apps provide seamless integration with Microsoft Outlook to easily collect all important information whether it is from customers, prospects, or new leads.

4. Social Media Integration

The next key integration with a CRM system is social media integration.

Social media are vastly used by sales, marketers, and even customers to connect with one another. This channel is currently one of the popular choices and it can generate a lot of important information about your customers, prospects, and leads, and integrating your social media with your CRM system can help you to further expand your omnichannel capabilities.

For example, LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, therefore they made a seamless connection with Dynamics 365 Sales application. LinkedIn Sales Navigator helps you find the right prospects faster with customized, sales-specific insights like lead recommendations, company updates, and more.

By connecting Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales with LinkedIn Sales Navigator via CRM Sync, you can access key CRM-powered integrations, including:

  • Auto-Save: Import and save CRM Leads, Contacts, and Accounts in the user’s Sales Navigator Lists.
  • Activity Writeback: Automatically log key Sales Navigator activities (i.e., InMails, Messages, Notes,) to CRM.
  • ROI Reporting: Demonstrate the value of Sales Navigator by requesting a report from your LinkedIn representative.
  • CRM Badges & Search Filters: See what Sales Navigator Leads & Accounts are matched to CRM entities and include or exclude matched Leads in Sales Navigator searches.
  • CRM Opportunities in Account Lists: View CRM Opportunity information in Sales Navigator.
  • Champions List: See Past Customers at New Companies in user’s system-generated Lists.
  • Lead and Contact Creation: Create new CRM leads and contacts from Sales Navigator.
  • Data Validation: Identify when CRM Contacts are out-of-date and no longer with their company using LinkedIn Data

To learn more about it, visit Sales Navigator Customer Hub.

5. eCommerce Integrations

Customers demand retailers to always deliver a personalized experience based on their interests. According to research, 66% of consumers expect the companies they shop from to understand their needs and preferences.

And to fully understand your customers you need to make sure you collect all the important information about them, especially their past interactions and purchase from your eCommerce store, and bring it to your CRM system for further analysis.

Based on such information you will be able to personalize your email offers and recommendations to your current customers and even analyze trends to intrigue your new customers

For example, during COVID-19, retailers with eCommerce stores saw a massive increase in hobby-made purchases, whether it was cooking, recording, painting, or anything else.

CRM integration with eCommerce also allows you to further expand your cross-channel communication and create better customer experiences.

6. Prospecting Software Integrations

Sales prospecting tools are one of the great ways to improve sales productivity and outcomes and they are highly popular among salespeople. Therefore, integrating your prospecting tool with your CRM system is another key integration you should have.

Prospecting software integration with your CRM system allows you to track any open rates, and further assess and improve lead scoring allowing salespeople to focus only on prospects interested in your offers which increase sales and sales productivity.

7. Collaboration Integrations

Collaboration among your teams is an essential aspect of every high-performing company and having the ability easily share, edit, and update data within collaboration tools is a huge advantage and boost to company productivity.

Therefore, integrating your collaboration and productivity management tools such as Microsoft 365 with your CRM system is another key integration you should have.

For example Dynamics 365 Business Central seamlessly integrates with Microsoft Teams giving your team the ability to easily share, edit, and update records using only one application.

8. Live Chat and Chatbots

Live chat and chatbots are becoming popular choices for business owners as they are easy and quick ways to connect with prospects and customers. Therefore, integrating live chat and chatbots with your CRM system will allow you easily record important conversations with your customers, keep data synchronize, automatically create leads records, and streamline your processes.

Therefore, if you are using live chats and/or chatbots on your website, you should definitely consider integrating them with your CRM software.

9. Phone Call Integrations

Phone Call integrations with a CRM system allow you to automatically track your phone call activity and create an intelligent insight. For example, Customer service agents often need to take notes while helping customers during a phone call.

Call transcription converts a phone conversation into written words, which can help reduce the number of notes an agent needs to take and helps with accessibility.

Furthermore, sentiment analysis examines the conversation and identifies the general sentiment or mood of the customer, such as whether they’re slightly angry or very disappointed, for example. Call transcription and sentiment analysis are used by the system to proactively analyze cases and provide agents with suggestions for how to resolve issues.

This can also be used during sales calls to analyze the ratio of salesperson vs prospect talking time, their mood, and sentiment to better understand the salesperson’s performance and prospect seriousness.

10. Calendar Integrations

Calendar integrations with the CRM system are one of the most useful integrations on this list as it allows you to quickly synch important meeting with your customers and prospects, whether it is from the website, email, or social media.

This will rapidly increase the number of important meetings, reduce the time to schedule meetings, and most importantly reduce the coming back and forth with your customers.

Just schedule your calendar and let your prospects choose the best time to meet with you and let the integration do the work for you.

11. Web Form Integrations

If you are collecting leads via forms on your website, then another key CRM integration would be to integrate your web forms with CRM to streamline your lead management processes and create workflows such as automatically notifying sales about a new lead or including the lead within a lead nurturing campaign.

12. Event/Webinar Integrations

The next key CRM integration is with event and webinar platforms.

Event/Webinar integrations with your CRM system allow you to streamline your registration into your CRM software without manually inserting them, trigger automatically event/webinar email workflows, and manage your entire event workflow in one place.

13. Survey Integrations

Your research should be empowering your marketing and sales campaigns in order to improve your business outcomes. By combining the data and automated capabilities of CRM with the marketing research capabilities of surveys, you can build marketing and sales strategies that are more focused without losing your ability to scale.

Can CRM Be Integrated with ERP?

Yes, CRM can be integrated with ERP, it helps to connect your front-end with back-end business processes, enables data flow across your entire organization, and create workflows and automation to improve business processes. This gives you a 360-degree view of your entire business which can result in better and faster decision making.

CRM and ERP integration is essential for businesses to have the full picture of what is happening within the organization as it helps to discover any bottlenecks and inefficient and costly processes. It also brings many benefits to your company. Here we are going to give you the biggest benefits of ERP and CRM integration:

Benefits of ERP and CRM Integration

  • 360-degree view of customers: You can view all customer information from accounting, finance, sales, marketing, and customer support in one unified view.
  • Improved visibility and forecasting: With data being commonly shared across systems, one of the systems can work as a primary database (usually ERP) which gives you better visibility into your business, thus improving your forecasting and reporting immediately.
  • Terminate manual data entry and storage duplicates: Manual data entry is commonly known as one of the biggest wastes of time of your employees. Thanks to ERP and CRM integration this will be terminated.
  • Improve collaboration and data sharing: Once your data from CRM and ERP are stored in one database it will be standardized so everybody in the organization can understand it and it can be effortlessly shared with only a few clicks with anybody who needs it. However, the data can be also accessed by anybody with permission to do so.
  • Improve customer relationships: With a complete view of your customers, you can better understand your customers. It also will help you provide better, more personalized, and faster customer support.
  • Improve efficiency and productivity: With reduce manual workload by manual data entry, data cleaning, and having the options of creating workflows and automation across the two systems, your employees can become more efficient and productive which can ultimately increase the ROI from the investment and increase business profitability.

How to Integrate CRM and ERP?

As discussed Integrating ERP with CRM can bring many more benefits and advanced CRM systems like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales provide natural integration with Dynamics 365 Business Central which allows you to centralize your entire operation.

With that, if you are using a CRM system from vendors who also provide ERP applications, then often they also provide seamless integration between their apps.

Also, in many instances small to large CRM systems also provide built-in connectors and integration and provide APIs to connect with third-party apps including ERP software.

With that being said, it’s important to discuss with your current and/or future CRM vendor what integration they support. It’s also worth assessing your company’s future needs and creating a digital transformation strategy plan that will allow you to future-proof your investment strategy for this kind of software.

Will you be using CRM and ERP from one vendor like Microsoft or are you planning to use systems from different vendors, all these and more should be planned.

Dynamics 365 Business Central CRM Integration

Dynamics 365 Business Central is the all-in-one Business Management ERP application developed for small businesses offering finance and accounting management, supply chain management, manufacturing, inventory and warehouse, project management, procurement and sourcing, and basic CRM capabilities.

This comprehensive ERP solution is one of the popular choices for SMBs offered by Microsoft thanks to the affordable price, the highest level of security, a big number of features, and the unequaled level of integration with other Microsoft applications like Excel, Outlook, Word, Teams and even large number of third-party applications allowing businesses to truly centralize their entire operation.

However, Microsoft also offers a number of CRM integration to expand the CRM capabilities. One of the popular CRM integrations is within the family with Dynamics 365 Sales application enabling Business Central users to greatly extend their CRM capabilities.

Then Microsoft also enables integration with third-party CRM systems as well. For more information contact your local Microsoft Dynamics 365 Partner regarding whether your CRM system can be integrated. In Malaysia and Cambodia, contact us for more information.

CRM Integration with Website

Your website is one of the most important assets for your company. Your website is a salesperson, a marketing tool, and a customer service hub, thus, it’s essential you integrate your website with CRM to streamline sales, marketing, and customer service activities.

For marketing, this would automatically synch leads into the database and see the performance of campaigns. For sales this would be scheduling and managing any sales inquiries and for customer service to quickly respond to your customer, whether it’s via chat, knowledge base, email, or using forms.

Conclusion

CRM integration can hugely benefit your company. Therefore, it’s really important to discuss with potential CRM vendors about their CRM integration options and how far you can take it as it will allow you to further scale your business, automate and simplify your operations.

That’s why I cannot stress more how CRM integration is important in times when businesses are using numerous applications to perform day-to-day activities.

Learn more about Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM Applications

Microsoft Dynamics 365 CRM Applications are standalone business apps developed to help companies manage customer data, attract new customers, retain current customers, and improve business efficiencies. Microsoft CRM applications cover business processes including Marketing, Customer Service, Sales, and Field Service. Together with AI, you will get a 360-degree view in real-time of your customers and prospects.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales - sales management solution

Is Sales Management & Sales Force Automation CRM system that enables salespeople to build strong relationships with their customers, take actions based on insights, and close sales faster with actionable insights and a personalized approach.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing

Is a marketing-automation application that helps manage multi-channel campaigns and turn prospects into business relationships. The app is easy to use, works seamlessly with Dynamics 365 Sales, and has built-in business intelligence.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service

Is Customer Automation and Customer Management system. Differentiate your brand by taking advantage of built-in intelligence to deliver faster, more personalized service and add value to every customer interaction.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Field Service

Provides complete field Service Management including service agreements, predictive maintenance, preventative maintenance, work order management, resource management, product inventory, scheduling and dispatch, mobility, collaboration, customer billing, and analytics.

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