In the first part (see part 1), I explained how a SMS could be better to communicate with your customers and contacts, since it is instantly dispatched on the cell phone.
In this part, I’ll deal with customizing the CRM as to enable this kind of communication.
In a time where the information must be available quickly, there is an alternative to feeds, tweets, walls and emails….this alternative is called SMS, for Short Message Service.
Of course, one can always say that an SMS is the same thing as a tweet with roughly the same text length but who can say that its cell phone is always connected to the Internet? Not me, it is way too expensive here in Belgium!
On the same note, all cell phones can receive basic text SMS messages so this is an interesting alternative to emails and so on.
So in this series, I wanted to focus on a small plugin that would allow any of your customers to be alerted by SMS instead of by email, SMS that should be sent from Microsoft CRM of course
This first part will focus on customizing Microsoft CRM to prepare for the plug-in that I’ll develop on the second part.
Pre-requisites to this series
For this SMS integration to work, you should consider using a Clickatell account (www.clickatell.com) and their set of APIs to connect to their SMS gateway (APIs available through HTTP, SMTP, SOAP, XML, COM, …)
This company offers 10 free SMS to test your code, then you can buy credits for sending ‘real’ messages throughout the world (I don’t have any acquaintance with them but I find that their site is clear and easy to understand; on the other hand, there are no real C# code samples).
If you need help signing-up with them, please contact me and I’ll try to help you.
How is this series divided?
This series will be divided in 3 parts:
- Part 1 of 3: Expressing the requirements and creating the CRM solution
- Part 2 of 3: Customizing the CRM for the new SMS activity
- Part 3 of 3: Developing the CRM plugin for sending the SMS
Expressing the business needs
Ok, down on the needs now
Let’s assume you want to be able to send SMS to your customers just like you would send an email from Microsoft CRM, how would you that?
Well thankfully, Microsoft CRM 2011 allows you to create new activity types (see previous post New activity types for dummies) so I’ll use this new awesome feature.
Creating the CRM solution
Ok, in this first post I’ll show you how to properly prepare a solution for your SMS implementation but you are free to do as you wish.
- Make sure you have a backup of your original CRM customizations before you start customizing your system
- Within Microsoft CRM, create a new solution called SMSMessaging; this solution will host our customizations for the new SMS functionality
- Open your new solution and add the following entities for now:
OK you’re ready to go…..it’s very easy for now but stay tuned and watch for the second part of this series, where I’ll show you some cool stuff!