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Microsoft CRM Outlook Client is a game changer June 17, 2013

Posted by Ivor's Window to the IT and CRM World in Management, Microsoft CRM, Microsoft Office, Polaris, Sales Management, Uncategorized.
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Microsoft CRM Outlook Client is a game changer

It was in 2006 that I attended a Microsoft sponsored business breakfast where I first saw a demo of the then CRM 3.0 with the Outlook Client. At the time I was so very much impressed with what I saw, that the very next day I took decisive action to join a Microsoft partner just to be part of this amazing journey that I perceived was coming. it is now 7 years later and I was not wrong.

As with the demo I saw that day, today I still think that when used properly the CRM Outlook Client is fantastic and makes using CRM just so easy and very very powerful.

There are however a few things that really stand out, and recently I met with an enthusiastic user who, even though he had been using this client for two years, was unaware of some of the features, So I am going to outline my top 5 features, the first three of which this user did not even know existed.

Many of the Outlook Client features are in fact pure Outlook or even Office functions and if used correctly can enhance CRM usability.

You may need to use Outlook or CRM help if you are not sure, or look up a You Tube video, as I am not giving a click by click step through on how to use these functions. I am just outlining the basics so you can go and explore.

1.  Reading Pane Advanced Actions

Just as you can use the reading pane on your e-mail, you can use this when looking at CRM views in Outlook. Once you open a reading pane, you can scroll down the view and the data will change contextually within the reading pane. The Customize Reading Pane button is where the real power is, it will allow you to add and remove sections from the record in the reading pane, as well as being able to sort and move the order of the data around. What this actually means is that you are able to build a view of a CRM form that is totally different to the view you would see when you open the record.

2. Quick Access Toolbar

This is a standard Office function that few people use, and if used with CRM it in effect allows you to have access to CRM items with one click from anywhere in Outlook. Right mouse click in free space on the ribbon and select the Customise Quick Access Toolbar. Once it is switched on, either above or below your ribbon you can then go to other areas of CRM and select menu items with a right mouse click and add them to the toolbar. I have accounts, contacts and leads on mine and no matter where I am in Outlook I can with one click create a new record. Obviously you can use this for standard Outlook and Office functionality as well.

If you add the CRM record icon to this view, you get the dropdown for all CRM Records. If you have everything that you use regularly, you can close the ribbon and get some more screen real estate.

3. Recent Visited Records

When you go to the left navigation pane of Outlook and look at CRM entities, if you right click once on any of these items, you will see a Recently Visited option, this then shows the recent records that you have viewed. This is a really fast way to navigate to those recent records.

This also works on custom entities and is very useful.

4. Conditional Formatting and Categories

This is one of my all-time favourite options. This is standard Outlook functionality, which if used correctly will allow you change the formatting of different views, and when working in tandem with Categories (you can make the colour of different rows within the view different based on the category or categories that you have added to the view). This really has a powerful application in CRM, in that it is easy to highlight information.

You need to go to a view, select the View Options and then Conditional Formatting. It is not quite as extensive as the condition formatting in Excel, but comes a good close second.

5. Filter

For those of you familiar with the Excel Filter, this is a similar tool and allows you the capability of looking at views of CRM Data that are filtered. Just click on the Filter button and you are away. As with Conditional Formatting it also works on custom entities.

It is not a ribbon button but is found at the top of the view, hence a few people miss it, however once you use it you can have your filtered records on screen with a customised reading pane and conditional formatting giving you a fantastic view of your data all with real context.

Give it a try I Dare you.

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