Benefits of Dynamics 365 Portals
Microsoft D365 Portals and what they can do to help you, your customers and vendors
Authors: Alex Walters | Software Consultant | Simon Bridgwater | Software Consultant | Formus Professional Software | June 2020
Does your organisation already utilise Dynamics 365 and is now looking to extend that to their non-CRM users? Maybe you are in the market for a new CRM/Business Management System and one of your requirements is a web-facing front end? Perhaps you have already launched your first Dynamics 365 portal and are looking for some inspiration or justification? Well whether you fall into one of these categories or somewhere in-between we wanted to share our experiences of the Dynamics 365 Portal and the benefits of this powerful tool.
We have implemented Dynamics 365 Portals with several of our clients, and of course, we use this powerful tool for our own organisation as well. In fact, if you are one of our clients and you have logged a support request with us or searched our knowledge base, you may well have used a Portal and not even realized it!
Let’s Get Started - a brief introduction to Dynamics 365 Portals
A Dynamics 365 Portal is a web-based front end that interacts with certain parts of your Dynamics 365 system and can be utilised by both users and non-users of your CRM system. What does it let non-Dynamics 365 users see? Well, you are in control of which areas can be accessed and by which portal users, so don't worry, it's not an open window into your system.
Your Portal can be branded to match your business and website, and allows you control of what a user can see whether they are logged in or not, and with differing access levels. This can sit alongside your existing website and acts as an extension of this.
So what can I use a Dynamics 365 Portal for?
We use our Portal as a knowledge base for you, and to enable our clients to log Support Requests with our team - but that's not all it can do. I am going to break this down into several categories and yes, some of these overlap, so please bear with me:
- Customer Engagement - engaging with your customers, sponsors and the community. A niche product knowledge base or forum that allows your customers to engage with you as well as each other. This means more traffic to your website, a greater awareness of your business, and if people like what you do and share it, this can lead to new customers.
- Self Service - Does your business sell products, services or memberships? Do you ever get repeat business from your customer base? This can start with a brand new lead, requesting something from your portal - they provide the lead information which is then waiting within Dynamics 365 for you to manage. Empower your customers to login and request what they want in their own time - no emails or phone calls involved - you can utilise the secure interaction with Dynamics 365 to tailor what they see to them. Maybe you want to provide a mechanism for supporting your customer base, logging and monitoring the status of support queries - this is one of the features we see the most benefit from.
- Event/Booking Management - Do you host or market events or offer training courses? Wouldn't it be great if your customers could sign up to your event via your website?
- Partner Relationship - As you may well know Microsoft use a huge worldwide network of partners to service their end customer base - Formus is one of them - and Formus in turn is partnered with several other software and service providers. Well, if your organisation also has a partner network, then a Portal can become a tool you supply your partners to cultivate their own business and opportunities - the bonus here is, they are also populating your sales channel which give you a richer data set to report from.
- Internal Engagement - Your organisation has a web-based intranet, internal knowledgebase and support system and Human Resources portal right?
In summary, what are the benefits for your organisation?
- Customisable and flexible to allow it to be branded to match your website and site seamlessly alongside it.
- Customer self-service provides the customer with a 24/7 available service whilst also reducing the overhead on customer service within your business. This will empower your customers to interact with you on their terms.
- A knowledge base (internal or external) that can provide the answers customers need without direct interaction with your organisation - add to this the suggested articles feature, which will respond to the keywords your customers provide.
- Easily scalable as your organisation expands in the future.
- When you step back and consider the wider scope of this, you can have workflows in Dynamics triggered by events in the portal, to prioritize the correct kind of interactions with the correct customer helping you to maintain SLAs.
- Just like Dynamics 365, you can have multiple environments for Development, UAT & Live to allow safe development practice.
- Dynamics 365 Portals are hosted by Microsoft, so you don't need to consider hardware purchase or provisioning. It sits within the Dynamics 365 framework held in Azure.
As you can probably tell, Formus are huge advocates of the Dynamics 365 Portal and the benefits that can be introduced to your organisation. The good news is that depending on your Dynamics 365 licensing, you may already be able to get a Portal up and running. If you are not sure, would like to find out more then please contact one of our consultants for anything not covered above about Dynamics 365 Portals, contact us.