By moving from Excel to Microsoft CRM, known now as Dynamics 365, Open Energi improved internal communications and gained better visibility of business-wide operations.

In summary, Microsoft CRM has enabled Open Energi to:

  • Effectively manage customer relationships and life cycle
  • Benefit from a single centre where client data can be organised efficiently
  • Experience familiarity, functionality and flexibility in the day to day management of communications
  • Improve customer retention and attraction by facilitating excellent customer service
  • Increase revenue which is then ploughed back into the business to deliver better, broader services to its client base

Death by Excel

Open Energi operates out of two offices with a total of 30 employees, 10 of which use the new Microsoft CRM solution. Alex Barnard is their Projects and Operations Administrator, and he explains why the company decided to make the move to Dynamics.

“Previously we’d relied on Microsoft Excel,” Alex explains. “However we were finding it very cumbersome when it came to storing information. I wanted a solution that would react on its own accord rather than requiring myself or one of the operations team to remember information or the need to chase something up.”

Like many companies, Open Energi was finding that they’d outgrown the original Excel solution. “To be honest, before Microsoft Dynamics, I’d delay filling in a form and tying up the loose ends. Things just took much longer to do and we realised that if we wanted to deliver the best possible service to our clients – people like Sainsburys and Defra – we would need to embrace a more dynamic solution that would take us into the future. After looking into what was available and identifying the right provider, Microsoft Dynamics CRM seemed to tick all the boxes.”

Ticking all the boxes

Alex explains that whatever solution they chose needed to offer a more efficient way of working, which was not only scalable but which could be configured to meet their very unique brief. “Also, we needed something that wouldn’t cost the earth and which would work seamlessly alongside other programmes like Outlook,” he continues.

“Bizarre as it may sound we weren’t originally looking at anything like Microsoft Dynamics 365; we were after a strictly operational tool. However, after talking in depth with Xperience Group, we came to the conclusion that Microsoft Dynamics CRM offered us the operations aspect we needed whilst providing the scope for greater development down the line. It gave us so much more for our money, so to speak!”

Alex explains that they approached a number of providers “some of which were better than others!” Most were in the same price bracket and appeared to be able to complete the kind of development Alex and his team needed within a reasonable time.

“However none of the others had quite the same personal approach as Xperience. It was through them that I quickly came to realise that Microsoft Dynamics CRM offered the optimum solution for our brief.”

Enhanced communications and collaboration

As Alex explains, Microsoft CRM was installed in September 2013. “It’s still early days, but already I have a better sense of where we are with our engineers. I can keep closer tabs on them whilst also being more confident in letting them get on with their work. Also, since we implemented Dynamics, we have begun to think about including financial records within it, something we hadn’t considered to begin with. I believe this is entirely down to the usability of Microsoft Dynamics CRM.”

Alex expects to see significant time savings. “Just one month on there has already been a shift within the business to be more effective in communication across different departments, and this will almost certainly will be reflected in our bottom line.”

He explains that Xperience “have been great. I never felt rushed. Xperience’s David Curtis was always willing to answer any queries I had and was consistently prompt in returning calls or emails. Carl Francis, the developer from Xperience who helped us configure the product, mirrored this approach and since going live has looked after us very well. He has also been very patient when we’ve been slow to grasp ideas or asked the same question over and over again!”

As for the CRM solution? “Microsoft Dynamics is extremely user friendly, it’s very easy to train people to use it and – to be honest – it is meeting our needs perfectly. And we anticipate that it will continue to do so in the future, which is exactly what we wanted, so we’re very happy indeed.”

About Open Energi

Based in London, Open Energi supply an energy management solution that reacts to second-by-second changes in the balance between supply and demand on the grid.