Utter the phrase “moving CRM to the cloud” in any given boardroom and you could expect a variety of reactions. Most people know it’s what they should be doing, even if they’re not. The decision often comes down to caution and concern over costs, disruptions and even security and compliance in a post-GDPR world.

But the most difficult concern to address is how to truly quantify the economic impact of switching a CRM like Microsoft Dynamics 365 from on premise to the cloud? Following a recent Microsoft webinar featuring some impressive research conducted by Forrester, we’ll try to do just that.

First and foremost, let’s agree that the world we live in is now controlled and dictated by the consumer. If apps aren’t delivering our Friday night take away or getting us where we need to be, they might be helping us carry out the simplest of tasks like grocery shopping. As consumers we’ve come to expect the highest levels of service, availability and engagement from businesses. And if we don’t get it, we know we can very easily take our custom elsewhere.

On the flip side, if companies do get it right, they can not only look forward to continued loyalty and increased purchasing levels, but customers’ advocacy – surely the most trusted and lucrative of all marketing channels.

In fact, a recent Forrester study calculated the impact of good customer experiences as the equivalent of a 1% annual increase in revenue per customer. For a large retailer, this could mean a potential $244 million more per year; for a wireless service provider, $278 million; and a car and home insurance provider, $215 million. Definitely not numbers to sniff at.

So how can a cloud CRM help achieve that? And more to the point, what can it do that on premise can’t?

Let’s take the stages of purchasing as an example. While customers are discovering a need for a product and exploring their options, marketers need to be able to use modern marketing technologies to deliver the right information, on time, and in the format customers prefer.

From peer reviews through to content and whitepapers, marketers working in the cloud are better positioned to understand their customers’ behavior, characteristics and habits. From here, they can prioritize leads and build segments that allow them to place the right products, and the right information, in front of customers. Get this right and you’ll win your customers over. Get it wrong and they’ll quickly lose patience and head straight to your competitor.

Customers expect contextually relevant information, case studies and offers when they engage with businesses. They want meaningful conversations with salespeople who understand them. Satisfaction centers on businesses knowing what a customer purchased previously, what he or she is interested in now, and who can provide answers to their purchasing questions and suggest helpful bundles, packages and add-ons.

Cloud CRMs such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 empowers agents with access to all this information, in one place, to make their jobs easier and hit their KPIs. With cloud-based CRM, there was a 40% improvement in management of opportunities and sales pipelines and a 43% increase in sales team productivity, according to a Forrester study of the impact of cloud CRM on sales performance.

Once a customer has made a purchase and needs to speak with your customer service team, they will expect that you know when, where and what they’ve bought, and that you can provide the help they need to get up and running. They also need to perceive quick time-to-value and ultimately want to feel appreciated. Miss these tricks and you will fail to capitalize on hard-won loyalty, or even worse, turn your potential advocates into antagonists. In that same Forrester study, one organization that switched to cloud CRM reported a 5-15% increase in staff efficiency, translating into greater customer care valued at nearly $5.8 million.

Imagine your customers are having great experiences and they’re telling everyone who’ll listen that you guys are the bees’ knees. But what else can cloud CRM like Microsoft Dynamics 365 offer you?

Firstly, it allows businesses to be nimble. They can scale up or down quickly, switch location and offer their employees flexibility in terms of hours and location, with much less effort and expense than on premise solutions.

Secondly, there are fewer hassles in terms of deployment, maintenance and upgrades – on cloud you can expect automated software updates and no need to renew hardware every 3-5 years. And then there’s security – those who are operating in the cloud can benefit from a better night’s sleep knowing that their data, and the security of that data, are being handled to the highest possible compliance standards.

But perhaps the biggest and arguably most convincing reason to switch to cloud CRM such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 is innovation. On-cloud customers will always be the first, and in most cases only, customers to benefit from the latest advancements in AI and machine learning. Invaluable insights into patterns of customer behavior can help you win new customers more quickly and with less investment – what’s not to like?

At the end of the day, if happy customers, more efficient processes and increased revenue aren’t enough to convince you, ask yourself this – what happens if you don’t move to the cloud? You can bet good money that most of your competitors are heading in that direction. The industry has switched focus; the best talent, the most cutting-edge and latest innovations are happening in the cloud!

If you want to attract the very best in the industry and have them delivering better results for your company, chances are they’ll want to be working with the latest software and processes like those offered in Microsoft Dynamics 365. The same goes for your partners, collaborators and current providers – you want to work with the best, and show them that you are a forward-thinking, innovative organization. What better way to do so than by switching to the cloud?

When you start putting value on the many ways you, your customers and your organization can benefit from moving your CRM to the cloud, you’ll quickly see it’s an option you’ll struggle to ignore.

Microsoft are currently offering new customers access to a ‘Fast track program’ which can get your CRM up and running and rolled out within your business within 8 weeks. Get in touch with AlfaPeople to find out how we can help you in your digital transformation journey.