Read here How Microsoft Dynamics 365 helps in Sales, Read 6 strategies to boost sales productivity.
Read here How Microsoft Dynamics 365 helps in Sales, Read 6 strategies to boost sales productivity.
Digital transformation is no longer a choice. That’s the key message from the experts who spoke at “How to build a successful restaurant experience in Covid times,” an online event organized by LS Retail and Microsoft. The panel included industry experts from Microsoft and LS Retail as well as Leon DeWet, a CIO with decades of experiences in the F&B industry. The group discussed how restaurants can build competences and resilience to maintain customer loyalty and thrive, now and through the next crisis. This blog is mainly for Restaurant management software & tips for Successful restaurant experience
Here are 8 tips from the experts to help you approach this digital transformation, so that you can ride the next wave of change instead of being crushed by it.
Yesterday, you had to deliver convenience and hospitality; today, you must also guarantee customer and employee safety.
Many restaurants have added quick fixes, such as covering payment devices in plastic, so they can easily be sanitized. “How often does the reader on the contactless device not work, now that it’s covered in plastic?,” Minicola asked attendees, adding “And how often do restaurants ask me to touch the screen anyway to provide a tip?”
The boom of contactless payments, home delivery, drive-thru and curbside is not temporary. Restaurants must step back, rethink the whole journey, and implement solutions that are effective and designed to last long-term.
Two examples that were mentioned of additions that will bring a benefit now and tomorrow:
Mobility should be a priority in any digitization project. Running your Point of Sale on mobile devices helps you manage the flow of guests and staff inside the restaurant premises. Your server can take an order from a group sitting on the terrace, and then go to another table, take their card payment and see them out. Service is faster and more convenient for your guests, who can stay seated throughout. At the same time, you reduce the risk of contagion by reducing needless walking around and queuing at the till, and by letting servers using a personal device instead of sharing a standard till.
And if your POS offers a two-way connection to the display systems in the kitchen, you get a whole set of extra benefits. “With our restaurant software, when you punch in an order at the POS, the order is sent automatically to a digital display at the correct kitchen station. Your front-of-house staff is spared all the needless back and forth from the table to the kitchen and to the register. The result is less risk of contact, and less time wasted,” said Eric Miller, Regional Director at LS Retail. But this is just scratching the surface. Mobile POS, especially when part of an interconnected technology platform, also enables more precise communication between front of house and kitchen, reduces the risk of production mistakes, and helps speed up table turns. Michael Mento, Surface specialist at Microsoft, described how eagerly restaurants have adopted the Surface tablet devices, which also come with accessories specifically designed for use on the restaurant floor.
Customers demand consistent experiences, and these can only be achieved through a unified approach to technology.
Unified software solutions are increasingly replacing traditional fragmented IT setups. The benefits are well known:
And if you run your unified software in the cloud, you can grab opportunities as they arise. As the pandemic hit, companies that run their software in the cloud, and who were not burdened by traditional on-prem infrastructure, investments and timelines, have been able to add innovative technology and transform their business models faster. “For many restaurants, the ability to add systems for pickup, delivery, and curbside made the difference between success and closing up doors,” Miller pointed out.
Leon DeWet, former CIO at F&B enterprises Cracker Barrel and O’Charley’s, reminded business to consider how well the selected software and hardware work together. “If one works, but the other one doesn’t deliver, the project fails,” he noted. “Look for a solution that is proven for software and hardware working together.” Mento, from the Microsoft Surface team, echoed DeWet’s words.
With people working from home and stuck in lockdowns, restaurants have seen tremendous changes. They have lost old customers, gained new ones, and seen regulars approach them at different times, with new needs. These are changes businesses must pay attention to. “You need to capture this data, or you have no way to build your strategy on driving loyalty now and into the future,” said Minicola. “You cannot establish and foster loyalty without data,” she added.
Access to data that is both reliable and timely is necessary for action. You need to clearly see what is happening to react, and prevent issues and waste. “During the pandemic, many restaurants have had problems sourcing specific ingredients,” said Miller. “With our software, you can do predictive cost analysis, and experiment varying prices, menus and recipes. The system helps you find the sweet spot with optimum benefits. You can then use this knowledge to build resilience into your supply chain in preparation for similar events down the road.” Having clear visibility of your available stock across your locations also enables you to optimize stock usage, for example moving the content of your freezers from a location in a mall that is seeing no foot traffic to one that is still doing good business.
The world has changed, and how you define success needs to change, too. DeWet believes that too many restaurants are stuck to old KPIs, and took table turns as an example. “How fast you can turn a table is only important if you have guests to fill that table. Don’t be blinded by what has historically been deemed key metrics within the organization. Understand what’s happening in your business now before you decide which metrics to focus on,” he advised.
Change your metrics, and be ready to tweak them again and again. “You can’t use current behavior as an indicator of how customers will deal with you in the future,” Minicola pointed out.
DeWet, who describes himself as a true fan of intelligent analytics, believes that too many restaurant businesses don’t use their analytical capabilities to their full potential.
“Most organizations are still too focused on just using analytics reactively. They look at the historical data to try and understand what has happened. But it’s with predictive analytics that you get the true value of your intelligence,” said DeWet. Predictive analytics look at disparate large data and find those correlations that can help you foresee changes in trends, so you can understand where the business may be going. For example, if you see that average miles driven begins to drop, you can use AI-powered tools to investigate what typically happens when that situation occurs. This helps you predict when you can expect it, and prepare for it.
DeWet also described the benefits of using a business intelligence platform that can pull in big data. “Marrying your internal data with external data about your environment you can get a much clearer picture of how guest behavior might change. In some areas of your business, a small change in your behavior or in your processes can drive huge benefits,” he said.
Even though social distancing has changed the entire experience of dining in, guests still want to get a social, warm, personalized experience from their restaurant visit. Employee empowerment – allowing your staff to create the atmosphere of hospitality that drives people back – remains essential to breed loyalty.
“We all strive for loyalty – but it all starts with personal connections,” said Minicola. “If you want to connect with me, you have to talk to me. And that’s how you collect my data, get to know me better, and can then send me offers that drive me back through your doors.”
Carefully select your staff members, and take care of them. “When your staff are well cared for, your customers will be well cared for, too,” said Minicola.
An effective digital transformation is built on long-term thinking. “Who would have though, just a year ago, that curbside delivery would be a thing for restaurants like it is for Walmart?” Minicola asked. DeWet advised restaurant CIOs that “We need to change our mindset, and realize that an investment in technology is no different from an investment in the latest air conditioning, or fry system. In both cases, you are investing in a key infrastructure that will enable to do business on an ongoing basis. You can’t wait until the demand is there before you make that investment. You need to be ready ahead of time,” he concluded.
There will be no “going back to normal” after Covid-19. Consumer demand will keep on shifting in different directions, and restaurants must be ready to constantly transform. “There’s a value in being prepared for the future. Even if a technology may not drive clear returns today, if it puts you in a position to be able to respond to changes, then it’s worth it,” DeWet said.
Digital transformation is become an imperative, but restaurants don’t have to do it all on their own. “No one expects you to understand it all. That’s why you have partners,” Minicola said. If you need help in getting your digital transformation going, contact us.
As it approached its 10-year anniversary and its first billion in revenue, global logistics and freight company Crane Worldwide Logistics looked for a modern platform that brought all its sales tools into one place. With the Microsoft Relationship Sales solution, which brings together LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, its salespeople have the tools to drive more meaningful engagements with customers, convert opportunities faster, and create more revenue.
Just by getting the team using the platform, we’ve seen an uplift in activity in all areas. We’ve had record growth since implementing Microsoft Relationship Sales—the last quarter was excellent for us.
From a startup created in the risky business climate of the 2008 recession, Crane Worldwide Logistics has become a major player in the global transport and logistics industry, on track to hit USD1 billion in revenue in 2019. Created by former Eagle Global Logistics executives and headquartered in Houston, Texas, Crane Worldwide aims to provide customers with full transparency into its supply chains by coupling talented people with game-changing technology.
But with salespeople spread across the globe, Crane Worldwide found itself with a visibility problem.
“We weren’t all working on a common platform, so we were lacking in visibility,” says John Jergens, Vice President of Global Sales at Crane Worldwide. “We knew we had a vast sales pipeline out there, but there wasn’t much data available on it—so we couldn’t see how robust it was.”
A key part of the Crane Worldwide ethos is providing customers with meaningful interactions—and that relies on having a customer relationship management (CRM) solution that salespeople can use to build and maintain relationships and convert opportunities more effectively. But, with a seven-year-old siloed CRM system that it had simply outgrown, the company lacked the tools its salespeople needed. “The previous system never had very good adoption,” Jergens adds. “It just wasn’t very functional.” So, the team went looking for a platform that could replace it.
With implementation support from Microsoft Partner Network member PowerObjects, Crane Worldwide deployed the Microsoft Relationship Sales solution, a powerful combination of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to support personalized, meaningful customer engagements. The team was already using LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Microsoft Office 365, so Dynamics 365 for Sales was the ideal addition to the Crane Worldwide ecosystem.
“We saw how Microsoft Relationship Sales could help us focus on being easy to work with from a customer’s perspective,” explains Jergens. “So this whole deployment was part and parcel of becoming easier to do business with.” Now, just six months into deployment, Crane Worldwide has 300 Microsoft Relationship Sales users in its ranks, including 150 direct sellers along with employees from its marketing and account management teams.
Using the Microsoft Relationship Sales solution, Crane Worldwide salespeople have already changed the way they work. And they’re reaping the benefits of the visibility they’ve gained into the sales pipeline.
“Once we rolled out Microsoft Relationship Sales, the overwhelming response was that it’s really easy to use, and it doesn’t take much time,” says Jergens. “We created a very simple weekly routine where our sellers spend about 30 minutes adding new data into Dynamics 365 for Sales. That’s just six minutes a day to keep everything up to date.”
With faster processes freeing up more time for the sales team, sellers can focus their energy where it matters most—building the customer relationships that turn into revenue. And, at the end of each week, management can analyze activity through a global dashboard, which combines CRM and customer interaction data into detailed executive reports that show how salespeople are turning relationships into revenue.
“With Microsoft Relationship Sales, we can generate KPIs that tell us what a healthy pipeline should look like. We look at the number of prospects and targets, how long the sales cycle takes, and the time from when we close an account to the time it generates revenue,” explains Jergens. “And if the pipeline isn’t where it should be, we can support the sellers with the resources that they need—it’s more productive all around.”
Because Microsoft Relationship Sales brings together so many sales capabilities, Crane Worldwide sellers have everything they need to do their jobs in one place. Previously, they had to manage a relationship from scoping to sale across disconnected tools and platforms, far from an efficient process.
“It’s difficult to put a number on what it’s like to manage 30 or 40 customers with an email folder and a spreadsheet,” says Jergens. “Now, once the salesperson finds a prospect using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, they use Dynamics 365 for Sales to easily track those conversations. Instead of creating and referencing a lot of notes, they can quickly link activities and discussions through Microsoft Relationship Sales.”
With LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Dynamics 365 for Sales together, salespeople can start building the context they need to deliver a meaningful interaction before the first contact even occurs. Insight into potential prospects’ roles, connections, and priorities through LinkedIn Sales Navigator is fed straight into Dynamics 365 for Sales—increasing conversion chances from the very start. “It’s had a direct impact on the time it takes to develop customer relationships, because we have true visibility into those opportunities now,” explains Jergens.
A built-in assistant also sends prompts to help sellers accelerate the sales cycle, reminding them to contact a lead that might go cold or nudge an opportunity as it approaches its estimated close date.
In businesses the world over, sales and marketing teams struggle to communicate and collaborate effectively. As the sales team adapts to Microsoft Relationship Sales, Crane Worldwide is already adopting more of the solution’s capabilities to help sales and marketing stay on the same path.
“The marketing teams are able to work in tandem with the sales team to help them understand how marketing activities can help nurture their prospects,” says Jergens. “They’re really starting to get up and running, using Microsoft Relationship Sales to communicate with the customer base and help convert contacts into leads and then into opportunities.”
The Dynamics 365 release plan for the 2020 release wave 2 describes all new features releasing from October 2020 through March 2021. You can either browse the release plan online or download the document as a PDF file. The PDF file also includes information about Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Virtual Agents, Power Platform governance and administration, and Common Data Model and data integration.
The 2020 release wave 2 for Dynamics 365 brings new innovations that provide you with significant capabilities to transform your business. The release contains hundreds of new features across Dynamics 365 applications including Marketing, Sales, Customer Service, Field Service, Finance, Supply Chain Management, Human Resources, Commerce, Fraud Protection, and Business Central.
Starting in July 2020, Microsoft Forms Pro is renamed to Dynamics 365 Customer Voice.
Industry accelerators are foundational components within Microsoft Power Platform and Dynamics 365 that enable ISVs and other solution providers to quickly build industry vertical solutions. The accelerators extend Common Data Model to include new entities to support a data schema for concepts within specific industries. This release wave includes enhancements to the following industry accelerators: nonprofit, education, financial services, media and communications, healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive.
This release plan describes functionality that may not have been released yet. Delivery timelines and projected functionality may change or may not ship (see Microsoft policy).
Here are the key dates for the 2020 release wave 2.
|Release plans available||July 8, 2020||Learn about the new capabilities coming in the 2020 release wave 2 (October 2020 – March 2021) across Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform.|
|Release plans available in 11 additional languages||July 23, 2020||The Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform release plans published in Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Portuguese (Brazilian), Spanish, and Swedish.|
|Early access available||August 3, 2020||Test and validate new features and capabilities that will be a part of the 2020 release wave 2, coming in October, before they get enabled automatically for your end users. You can view the Dynamics 365 2020 release wave 2 early access features now.|
|General availability||October 1, 2020||Production deployment for the 2020 release wave 2 begins. Regional deployments will start on October 2, 2020.|
Just like the previous release waves, we continue to call out how each feature will be enabled in your environment:
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