Microsoft has just made a big announcement about a range of new tools and apps, released to help organisations grow their business.
The business apps are Microsoft Connections which manages marketing outreach, Microsoft Listings which handles online presence, Microsoft Invoicing which deals with billing, and the Office 365 Business Centre, which brings together data from a number of these services. These all sit within Microsoft 365 Business and Office 365 Business Premium packages and are currently available for use in the UK and North America.
Each of these new tools is part of Microsoft’s attempts to help business owners and managers conduct and improve customer relationships. They sit alongside new and existing customer management software in Microsoft Bookings, Outlook Customer Manager, and MileIQ.
Managing customer data and information
The aim of these tools is to simplify processes by keeping related resources in a single location - that could be anything from invoices, to appointment management, or tracking mileage. Let’s look first at Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Connections, and Outlook Customer Manager.
The first of these apps, Microsoft Listings, helps a business to become listed on social media sites, such as Facebook, and in search engines or listings pages such as Google’s and Yelp’s. By using this new product from Microsoft, business managers can check their business information (such as name, address, phone number, website, hours, and logo) is the same across all the most important locations. It’s also useful to be able to keep up to date on all reviews.
Microsoft Connections, enables organisations to send slick and professional emails to marketing lists, communicating best deals and offerings in an accessible and attractive way. This not only offers opportunities to convert contacts to contracts, but also to support promotional deals, such as those involving discount vouchers or refer-a-friend deals.
The final offering on the customer management front is Outlook Customer Manager. This simple and straightforward point for business information gives fast access to customer information (such as emails, meetings, calls, notes, reminders, and deadlines) with updates sent straight to the user’s inbox. The idea is to cut down on the number of screens needed to navigate through and to save time for the more important requirements for managing a business.
Managing your business administration
The following three apps also enable businesses to present a more professional approach to work, but deal with essential business admin. Microsoft Invoicing offers an easy way to generate professional-looking estimates and invoices and also facilitates online payments throughout the payment cycle. The systems allows businesses to store and retrieve details as drafts before a job is complete, and easily turn estimates into invoices.
For businesses that run on customer appointments, Microsoft Bookings enables their customers to select their own time slots, while the system can also be integrated into a Facebook presence. Bookings adds the appointments to the diaries of individual staff and automatically amends appointments to reflect changes.
Mileage is the next area of business which Microsoft has focused in on. MileIQ uses smart systems, such as drive detection and mileage tracking to help a business understand the distance an employee – or the business’s entire fleet – is travelling. It enables an organisation to differentiate between business and personal trips, and will automatically recognise personal trips taken regularly.
Using technology for business
Business Centre creates a central point, bringing together the data and insight available through Microsoft Connections, Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Invoicing, and Bookings. This means a business can track key business metrics, such as total invoicing (and current status), who features on mailing lists, the reach services are getting online and the current number of bookings in the diary. This information can be accessed via a variety of smart devices.
If a business already has an Office 365 Business or Business Premium subscription, then it’s easy for them to get started with the new suite of apps. They don’t even need to set up new accounts - the apps will be able to pull data such as email and calendar data when existing sign-in details are used.
As the services update, the tiles for these business apps will appear on Office.com home page as soon as they’re available for use. To see them sooner, customers can join First Release which gives early access to new features.
Customers without a subscription can be enrolled as a new customer, or begin a trial of Microsoft 365 Business or Office 365 Business Premium services, to get immediate access.