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.
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.
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.
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.
Training and User Adoption are always popular topics at conferences and events because they are often two of the most difficult parts of a software project to plan for. Training can be done by-the-book however there are a lot of things that depend on good training. This can range from the actual knowledge of the trainer and their approach to cater for different learning styles.
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.
Actions are a type of process within Dynamics CRM/365 that you may or may not have already heard of. They are not as well known as workflows and are viewed as an internal operation rather than something that can be configurable. This mindset could be because we are so used to creating workflows, dialogs, or even plugins that have a starting or ‘trigger’ point, and are so caught up making business logic for those that we forget we can create a component that is in fact, reusable across all of these types of customisation and only have to make it once.
Over the past month I did a video series which was intended to be a ‘Sales 101’ style experience, so for those who are being introduced to the amazing world of Microsoft Dynamics, they can use the videos as a learning companion to get to grips with the basics of the Sales functionality.
I definitely didn’t intend for them to be that long, but then the difficultly lies in the detail – I needed to go into more detail in some areas, so that reflects more in the Lead to Invoice videos for example, compared to the Sales Literature material.
I’ve linked all of the videos below (with #1 being linked above in the post also) I hope they are useful and if you have any questions, please put them in the comments below!
Sales 101 #1 – Accounts, Contacts and the Product Catalog in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #2 – Lead to Invoice in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #3 – Goals and Connections in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Sales 101 #4 – Sales Literature and Activities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM
There is a large chance that you will have seen the news surrounding the future of CRM Online and the way Microsoft is taking this, which is all surrounding a product called Dynamics 365. Dynamics 365 will include CRM, but also a few other applications as well, including what has been referred to as the ‘Common Data Model’ which is the foundation for the intergration and interoperability between those applications. More information can be found here about that, but i’d also recommend you check out the linked blogs by MVP’s Scott and Jukka first to get a good overview.