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The National Football League regular season kicked off last week, and that means millions of fans are breaking out team jerseys, updating their fantasy rosters, and—for the most devoted of fans—closely tracking every touchdown and tackle as the season progresses. These “data-driven” fans have a unique perspective on the season—with access to sophisticated apps and analysis tools to track player and team progress in near real time, and share insights with friends. It’s the kind of attention that a unified customer engagement platform should provide: a treasure trove of profile data, analysis, and “play-by-play” progress throughout the customer journey, accessible across the organization.

This analogy is also a great reminder that customer engagement isn’t just a business process to acquire and nurture paid customers. From non-profits to healthcare, many organizations focus on guiding people to an optimal solution—a job opportunity, a medical specialist, or a grant. These organizations need the same tools that a product or service-oriented company use to manage operations and move customers through the funnel, only flexible enough to fit their unique organizational structure, business mission, and the audiences they serve.

A great example is the NFL itself, specifically the NFL Players Association—the union for professional football players devoted to providing lifelong, personalized support for over 5,000 current and former players. With Dynamics 365 on the roster, players are geared up for a new level of support and opportunities off the field.

NFL Players Association and Dynamics 365: Converting skills into opportunities

As spotlighted in a new customer story, the NFL Players Association recently deployed Dynamics 365 for Sales and Dynamics 365 for Customer Service built on Azure. The goal: combine previously siloed player profile data into one unified resource to better match players’ interests and skills with opportunities off the field—finding the best licensing deals or speaking opportunities, building a charity, or pursuing education and skills training after retirement. NFLPA needed a unified, intelligent platform to assist players from the beginning of their career to well-beyond their final game.

Tracking football statistics in years past was a tedious task, requiring many siloed sources to make sense of the statistics. Similarly, before Dynamics 365, each branch of the NFLPA managed its own database of player information and shared data inconsistently, ensuring overlap and blind spots between organizations. As a result of this data siloing, the customer journey was not reliable or personal, NFLPA staff had missing pieces in building and maintaining customer relationships, and players missed out on opportunities.

Moving to a Dynamics 365 and Azure changed everything: a search that used to take weeks can now be accomplished in minutes with Dynamics 365 relevance search across multiple entities using Azure search technology. Now problems are resolved faster, data is consistent, and communications between the player and the organization are all visible, ensuring a great customer experience consistently across all branches of the NFLPA.

What we learned

While we don’t all work with NFL players, many of these challenges probably feel familiar. How can your organization learn from the big league and tackle problems like a pro? Here are our takeaways from the success of the NFLPA:

  • Data is only useful when it’s accessible– Data can’t help you if it’s locked away in a siloed container: if you aren’t getting the right data at the right time, you might as well not have it. Doing away with siloed data helped the NFLPA tailor their customer experience consistently across the entire organization.
  • The future is in the cloud– The easiest way to make that necessary data accessible to those who need it is in the Cloud. Once workers in every branch were able to access the same data-including communications, licensing agreements, and other contracts– immediately from anywhere, there were faster answers with less phone tag.
  • Proactive engagement leads to a better customer experience– Players are presented with the right specific health, education, and licensing opportunities at the right time because of the detailed information available on each player. It can also lead to better customer care: by having a more complete profile for each player, the NFLPA was able to provide better mentorship and, in some cases, even proactively reach out to players before major problems arose.

You don’t have to be the MVP of the winning team to make a difference to your customers- simply building a great personalized experience, without gaps in data accessibility or information siloing, is enough to win over customer loyalty.

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