Virtual Agents are a feature that allows organisations to create a Bot for customers to engage with on websites by asking it questions and providing automation capabilities. It is currently in preview and you can read all about what they are, their features and how to get started in this post here. It’s awesome thinking it can just be used for outside of an organisation, but what about for internal use? Virtual Agents can be embedded into Dashboards, and basically anywhere you can put an IFrame – (anywhere you can add HTML, which is ANYWHERE!). This post takes a look at how to do this and what the benefits are to an organisation.
This blog post is an extension of the Getting Started with Virtual Agents, so if you’d like the background or know how to get started before you read this, check out that post first!
Custom Flows in the Virtual Agent Experience need to meet some specific requirements to display, because VA’s don’t just allow any old Flow to be used. I’ve listed them below.
Being able to talk to a live chat agent is a popular website feature, especially in the Retail industry where staff are on hand to be able to manage and solve customer queries so they can get back to buying products. This became a popular service-oriented capability and more industries are adopting this feature, but one step further. Being able to embed bot technology before a real person is even required has now become the go-to strategy for customer service.
Relationship Insights, as part of Dynamics 365, has been a great feature, often used (and sold) as part of the Sales Application to be able to remind users that there are important deadlines or meetings coming up. In recent releases, the feature has now been made available to customise as part of public preview, allowing us to create custom insight cards to display to users (and teams) across the platform. This results in tailored and streamlined recommendations for users, allowing them to receive insight and take action quicker.
This post covers how to get started setting up a simple custom card from a custom entity.
Scheduling a record was not something achieved without some thought using workflows in Dynamics 365 CE. Mostly the ‘Bulk Delete’ trick was used where scheduled Bulk Delete of records (normally to remove legacy data) would act as the trigger for your custom workflow, effectively creating a scheduling system. Still, this doesn’t feel exactly clean and this functionality was not something that can be achieved logically from the workflow designer. This has since changed with Microsoft Flow.
Having a business system that gives actionable insights is important, allowing staff to be able to take information and turn it into useful knowledge relevant to their goals and mission within the business. This mission often involves interacting with customers. In an era of self-service, it’s not all the time the interactions are outbound, and customer interactions can come through via portals, landing pages, surveys and completing feedback forms in any length of time that is not guaranteed. The interactions can result in a, broadly categorised, positive, negative or indifferent experience for the customer. Given not everything is always going so positively with customers, wouldn’t it be amazing to know the general sentiment a customer has from the currently related interactions? This way, users can be alerted if a customer’s average sentiment changes to negative, or before you contact a customer you know if a recent interaction has made them less than impressed, giving you the opportunity to change their impression for the better.
A challenge in Microsoft Flow is to obtain specific data from a collection of objects (Like Dynamics 365 records) and use some data from those records within a single HTTP request. Why not make multiple HTTP requests within the ‘Apply Each’ loop I hear you ask? Well my friend, because there could be 100 records or more, that’s 100 hits to an endpoint which is really unnecessary, time-consuming and prone to error. Best Practice is, if the scenario allows it, to send as few requests as possible.
One of the weaknesses of traditional workflows within Dynamics 365 is their inability to natively iterate over child records. Great news! Microsoft Flow allows you to be able to iterate over child records and pass in query string parameters allowing you to limit the returned collection. It achieves this using OData syntax. Trust me though, even if you have never used OData syntax before, with a bit of trial and error you’ll pick it up in no time. Check out this post for a very quick start to iterating over child entities using Microsoft Flow.
It is absolutely amazing how many things Microsoft Flow can do. One of the most useful actions I have come across is making HTTP requests that integrate with Dynamics 365. Using Flow to make HTTP requests to external services allows for you to create loosely coupled integrations very easily. Once the solution feature is released in October 2018, it will also be easy to maintain. This post will show you how to make a simple HTTP request to one of the Cognitive Service API’s in response to a trigger within Dynamics 365.
Microsoft Forms is a service that allows for the creation of a basic form quickly and easily. Forms are no longer in preview just for educational organisations and are now in preview for everybody with a valid Office 365 Licence, which means we can now look at how this service can fit into the Dynamics 365 stack of technologies as it offers an alternative to other services such as those that are designed to create Landing Pages within Dynamics 365, or produce Surveys, essentially any sort of fast data collection or submitting you want the user to do. (There’s always positives and negatives of course which need to be weighed up with what you want out of the service you choose)
Organisations often request what is called a ‘Customer 360’ view within their CRM systems. This is unfortunately a term which has become overused, misused and actually quite misleading. Feel free to listen to why in one of my YouTube videos (this one) but in short, human beings are not owls, and we cannot consume a large amount of information at any one time.
One of my favourite things about Microsoft Dynamics 365 is that it includes a fantastic xRM platform that enables users to leverage what it can already do but also extend the out of the box system and build alongside and on top of it. With every release since 2013 there has been a huge expansion to the out of the box functionality.
It is fairly regular that you will be navigating the internet to then come across a pop up on the side of your screen asking you if you require assistance. This live support functionality is designed to capture needs right as they happen or very shortly after so if your having a problem, such as not being able to find what your looking for, you can ask immediately without having to email a support ticket and then wait and manage the response.
The release of Dynamics 365 at the end of last year saw some new features available for public preview. One of the features in preview is the Cognitive Services integration, currently available in the US. The Cognitive Services APIs are a group of APIs that span across different categories such as vision or text analytics. A large number of them have a Machine Learning component where a model will be created and then adjusted over time based on the data that it feeds upon, however not all of them require this and instead perform computation without having the ‘learning’ ability.