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article imageMicrosoft's new business apps make customer management easier

By James Walker     Jul 10, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has announced three new apps to help small businesses find and engage with customers. The products are part of its Office 365 cloud subscription service. They let you advertise your firm online, manage email campaigns and send invoices.
Microsoft Listings, Microsoft Connections and Microsoft Invoicing were unveiled during the company's Inspire partner event today. They followed the introduction of Microsoft 365, a new all-in-one subscription service that bundles Windows 10 Enterprise and Office 365 into a single monthly fee.
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While Microsoft 365 primarily targets larger companies, Listings, Connections and Invoicing are apps better suited to smaller firms. They're part of Office 365 Business Premium and you don't need the new Microsoft 365 to access them. Microsoft said the services are meant to help you "win customers and manage your business."
Listings
Listings helps you publish your business information to multiple sources online. You can simultaneously update your details on Facebook, Google, Bing and Yelp, saving you the time of individually altering each outlet.
Microsoft Listings
Microsoft Listings
Microsoft
Using the single Listings dashboard, you can monitor your page views, ratings and reviews across all the supported services. If you need to make a change, updating your information on the dashboard will push the modification out to all your linked accounts. Listings is meant to let you promote your brand to prospective customers without having to leave Microsoft's platform.
Connections
Office 365 Business Center
Office 365 Business Center
Microsoft
If Listings is about gaining customers, Connections is built to help you retain them. It integrates a fully-featured email marketing tool into Office 365. Microsoft provides a set of templates you can use to craft email newsletters and promotional campaigns. Connections comes with tools to let subscribers remove themselves from a list. It also offers detailed built-in analytics capabilities.
Invoicing
Invoicing simplifies the generation of invoices for your company. It can automatically create you an invoice based on one of several included templates. You can view all your invoices from the Office 365 dashboard, letting you check up on clients who have outstanding bills.
Microsoft Invoicing
Microsoft Invoicing
Microsoft
The app integrates with PayPal so customers can send you money using their card without you having to do any work yourself. You can also link Invoicing to QuickBooks if you need to transfer invoicing details to an accountant.
Office 365 Business Center
The three new apps are a clear attempt by Microsoft to reinforce the value of Office 365 to small and medium-sized businesses. They address some of the most common issues emerging businesses face on a regular basis, offering solutions to pain points at every step of the customer procurement process.
Office 365 Business Center
Office 365 Business Center
Microsoft
The apps are also a strong move against established independent providers. Connections aims to eliminate the role of dedicated email campaign apps while Invoicing seeks to win over customers of Freshbooks.
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Like the rest of Office 365, all the apps sell each other. You can access the entire platform with one subscription, making it more likely you'll cancel plans with other providers. Microsoft is adding yet more value to Office 365, making it more likely businesses will sign up and become trapped in its ecosystem.
Listings, Connections and Invoicing are rolling out now in preview form to Office 365 Business Premium Subscribers in the U.S., U.K. and Canada. They'll launch widely later this year. Microsoft is also debuting a new Office 365 Business Center, a centralised dashboard that surfaces the new apps and existing business tools.
More about Microsoft, Office 365, microsoft 365, Small businesses, B2b
 
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