The Microsoft October release brings together a huge selection of amazing new updates across the entire Microsoft Dynamics platform. With 348 pages of information on the updates and so much being released incrementally from now until March 2020, it’s hard to pick out the real gems of this release. I’m going to look at what I feel are some of the big hitters for customer engagement, which can potentially provide real value to both business and users who engage with Dynamics.
The highlights this year for Dynamics Marketing come in the form of an improved email layout editor and the added ability to conduct A/B email testing.
The new layout editor provides marketers with the capability to design and edit multi-column layout email messages both quicker and easier than previously.
The new A/B testing functionality within this release enables marketers to create alternative email message designs along with a related business goal. The system will then establish a few test groups which it can then send the differing email versions. Once completed the system will then provide users with the statistical analysis outlining the winning design based on the configured business goal. A/B testing within Dynamics is sure to be an exciting new addition for marketers using Dynamics Marketing.
Once again, the latest Dynamics release includes a multitude of updates to the sales area, and specifically, this release welcomes some long-awaited customisation enhancements that have been requested by the Dynamics community.
Starting with those customisation enhancements, administrators will now be able to customise the opportunity closure dialog. This will finally allow businesses to tailor the information captured on opportunity closure, therefore, providing the option to analyse the wins and losses in alignment with current business strategies. Previously companies may have implemented custom workarounds to provide this functionality, so this enhancement is a long-awaited improvement which will now utilise out of the box functionality.
Microsoft has also been working on enhancing the user experience of adding products to entities such as Opportunities and Quotes. Most significantly users can now add products without having to supply a price list which is a step in the right direction! Hopefully, they will continue to provide improvements in this area in future releases.
A core piece of functionality within Dynamics has also seen some additional settings provided as administrators can now configure which entities are created out of the box when a Lead is qualified. Administrators can now specifically choose to decide if Accounts, Contacts and Opportunities are created or not, wahoo!
The majority of the updates for service functionality in this release is focused around the usage of knowledge base articles, templates and improvements to timeline usability.
However, the exciting additions come within the omnichannel engagement hub which continues to advance.
Firstly, businesses will now be able to integrate their virtual agents into the chat channel used within the engagement hub. This will mean that the system will be able to provide seamless transitions of customer engagement from a virtual agent to a human agent within the chat channel. Human agents will also be able to access the full transcript of the virtual bot interaction prior to the transition. I'm sure there will be lots of interest in this functionality as Microsoft starts to provide the tools within Dynamics to manage a multitude of different customer service channels in one modern and customisable suite.
Bots are definitely one of the hot topics at the moment and the functionality seems to be ever-growing, the release notes are also promising ‘Bot-assisted agent guidance’ which sounds awesome! Essentially Bots will be able to provide agents with useful guidance such as; quick replies, knowledge base article suggestions, best next actions and similar case conversations. Microsoft again adding another string to the customer service agents bow.
Social channels such as Facebook will become available to configure, allowing businesses to provide support to customers who use tools such as Facebook messenger, again adding another customer service channel available for both agents and customers.
The ability to provide agents with guided scripts will also become generally available in January 2020 but we will be looking forward to seeing this in public preview in October 2019. Customisable for different channels and query types this will be very interesting for a lot of organisations who look to bring down training costs and disjointed customer service experiences.
An interesting addition and one we can’t wait to see in action is the addition of Macros to Dynamics. These Macros will allow both users and administrators to create their own step by step Macros. For example, resolving a case after a certain field has been populated or sending contextual acknowledgement emails to customers. This functionality becomes available in January 2020 but will be in preview in October 2019. It will be interesting to see how easy these are to use and how they compare to a standard workflow.
Probably the main highlight of the customer engagement release notes and for field service is the announcement of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Guides on HoloLens. The release notes state: “Dynamics 365 Guides on HoloLens is a new mixed reality app that empowers employees to learn by doing”. These guides can provide a virtual reality step by step guide on how to complete processes or use specialised tools. The example Microsoft display in their release notes is a field service technician using HoloLens and Dynamics 365 Guides to learn how to assemble a generator through a step by step experience.
One other key aspect of the Dynamics 365 Guides is that it comes with a Guides PC app that allows businesses to easily create the content used. Attaching guides to tasks within field service allows technicians to easily access the knowledge when needed. Now in preview, it will be interesting to see this being used in a production environment.
So that was a rundown of the customer engagement highlights within the October release, plenty to look forward to and many tools we can’t wait to get our hands on!