Email Integration and Automation in Customer Relationship Management

by Jonathan Chan, in Ask an ASE, posted 4/18/12
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A sales manager, let’s call him Mr. Green, works for a financial firm where he is responsible for monitoring and responding to new and current customer inquiries sent to the general sales mailbox (sales@finfirm.com).  A couple of years ago, the sales department started using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to better process and manage these sales contact records. Dynamics CRM delivered an enterprise level of contact record keeping and activity logging that produced excellent sales productivity results. Seeing the benefits of CRM-based automation, Mr. Green wanted to automate the process of inbound email inquiries. He turned to his IT department with a set of requirements:

  • Monitor for all inbound email inquiry to sales@finfirm.com
  • Check sender email address against Dynamics CRM database
  • If match:
    • Append activity to existing record
    • Forward email to the sales representative of record for further follow up
  • If no match:
    •  Create new record
    • Assign sales representative of record
    • Auto-generate introductory email reply with attachment and website links
    • Inform sales rep of new lead

The IT department said this functionality did not exist in the current release of CRM. They also said they could build out new functionality by writing code and having it delivered sometime in the distant future if the IT Steering Committee agreed on it as a priority. Still, Mr. Green knew the power and benefits of the procedure, so he assigned a sales assistant to manually monitor the process and create the emails.

The situation then compounded after his firm merged with another financial company, and inbound emails increased fivefold. Not only was Mr. Green and his assistant overwhelmed with the daily manual procedures, but it also delayed the response time for answering clients’ questions. Without some kind of automated solution, this repetitive process would envelop a significant portion of our manager and the assistant’s day, which could be better spent interacting with customers.  Mr. Green needed yet another set of eyes to monitor the sale’s inbox for him, which is how Network Automation’s AutoMate product came into play.

The Solution

Mr. Green went back to the IT department and pled his case once again. This time a young IT administrator, Ms. Sky, went looking for an automation solution that would fit the need and not require coding. The company was already heavily invested in the Microsoft family of products. It uses Outlook/Exchange for email and Dynamics CRM for Customer Relational Management. So when they found Network Automation, they knew they had found their product.  AutoMate already has powerful integration with Exchange, Dynamics CRM and other Microsoft products right out of the box. That, coupled with the plethora of other actions, data verification capabilities and ease of use made AutoMate-ing the sales processes a done deal.

The Design

Ms. Sky, who has strong IT administrative skills, but no real coding experience, downloaded AutoMate to see if she could get a working prototype up and running.  She knew that Mr. Green wanted sales@finfirm.com monitored every 5 minutes, which would ensure that his clients receive quick responses and feel taken care of.

This was easily done using AutoMate’s Schedule Trigger and defining the polling interval of the mailbox. Using the Exchange and Get Email functionality, we were able to get a table of all the emails currently in the mailbox. Then we kicked it up a notch. We took the contents of each individual email and verified it against entries in our Dynamics CRM Database. Using our flow control actions, we defined two paths. If the client was in the CRM Database, we updated their record and sent an email with that information to our internal sales representative. If the client was not in the CRM Database, we created a new entry for them and notified our external sales representative.  With this system in place, AutoMate handled the repetitive work that would have otherwise bogged down our manager and the entire sales department.

And in less than 2 days, Ms. Sky had the entire process up and running. Stay tuned for next month’s blog as I show you how Ms. Sky set up this task, step-by-step. 

If you already created your own CRM task, share it with the rest of the AutoMate community in our URC.