The Edit Blog

Customer Insights & the wider Microsoft tech stack

ARTICLE BY Sam Wolf
READ TIME: 3 mins
29th March 2021

Customer Data Platforms (CDP) are growing faster than almost any other marketing technology.

In simple terms, a CDP is a master database of your customers and all related information – detailing everything from their contact details to their interactions with your company.

Its secret power? The ability to aggregate customer data from disparate systems into one central point – allowing marketers to see every touchpoint a customer has with your brand.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights (CI) is poised to become a category leader in the CDP space – not least because of its ability to integrate and share data across a range of popular Microsoft business applications: including Azure (cloud), Dynamics 365 (CRM), and the Power Platform (applications).

Let’s take a closer look at CI’s growing capabilities.

Custom Apps with embedded insights

PowerApps is Microsoft’s development platform for business mobile and web apps. As the name suggests, it allows developers to create powerful applications – using a straightforward “no-code” drag-and-drop user interface; one which offers the same functionality as high-end development tools.

However, by integrating data sources from Customer Insights into PowerApps, there are endless possibilities for putting detailed customer intelligence directly into the hands of any employee in an organisation.

Consider the example showcased in this video: in which a Power App allows a luxury goods retail manager to get real-time insights into one of her most valuable customers as soon as they book an in-store visit.

Via a mobile app, she can instantly access all the customers recent interactions, past purchases, returns, website visits, and reviews.

By combining CI data into a mobile app, the store owner has the power to provide a personalised experience for customers – from the moment they step in.

Custom reports & dashboards

Power BI – Microsoft’s leading data visualisation tool – allows users to present data in many ways: for both analysis and reporting.

Customer Insights, on the other hand, is focused specifically on understanding your customer – how they interact with your website and other marketing channels, what they purchase from you, their interests, and much more.

By combining the two you get the best of both worlds: the analytic and predictive power of Customer Insights, fused with the data visualisation and exploration capabilities of Power BI.

In this way you could, for example, determine customer related KPIs, customer growth, order value over time, etc pull the relevant data from Customer Insights, and then combine this with other data sources to prepare a business progress dashboard using Power BI, – one that’s suitable for a C-Level presentation.

Automate workflows & processes

Power Automate (previously known as Microsoft Flow) drives organisational efficiency by automating repetitive, low effort, time-consuming tasks – such as notification sorting, data collection, sending alerts, and sending emails.

Combined with Customer Insights, users have a powerful and highly customisable opportunity to get more out of different customer actions and buyer signals.

For example, imagine a car showroom manager receives an SMS alert each time a previous high value customer books a new test drive, even if it’s at a different test centre.

If the information is available, it can be made visible and immediately accessible.

Take advantage of your existing storage infrastructure

If your organisation already stores large, complex data sets in Microsoft’s cloud-based Azure Data Lake, then it’s possible for you to easily export and migrate this data to Customer Insights.

This not only simplifies and speeds up the time it takes to create actionable insights, but it also does away with data silos – and means that any piece of data from across the business can be made accessible to marketing and customer service departments.

Extend Customer Insights with Azure Machine Learning

One of the most impressive features of Customer Insights is that using Microsoft Azure’s machine learning algorithms and AI – and drawing on historic insights – it’s possible to make customer-focused recommendations and predictions.

Essentially, the AI does the hard work of aggregating and sorting the data, but with access to such granular insights, it becomes possible to tailor customer experiences using the data gathered.

Merge data with customer feedback

Another feature that’s quite new to CI is Dynamics 365’s Customer Voice. This integration essentially gives marketers complete oversight of each customer profile when following up on customer feedback issues.

It allows you to send customer surveys and gauge Net Promoter Scores (among other KPIs) and set alerts when, for example, scores come back as low or in need of improvement. From there you can deep dive into the customer’s profile and decide on follow up actions.

Access to the whole stack

Given so many possible applications, it’s fair to say that, like the wider Microsoft stack, Customer Insights is sector-agnostic – in that it can make an impact on any business in any industry. And while it’s still a relatively new technology compared to competitor CDPs, CI’s genius lies in synthesis – its ability to draw on any other piece of Microsoft software.

For those already committed to using Azure, Power Platform, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365, in that respect, adding CI to the stack is a no-brainer.

Interested in learning more about Microsoft Customer Insights? Contact the Edit team today.