​New Integrated Web Portals for Microsoft Dynamics


Following its acquisition of Adxstudio web portals, Microsoft has now integrated the management of this module directly into CRM.

With the arrival of Dynamics 365, Plan 1 licences include one web portal in this subscription.

As a result, this supercharges the already extensive capabilities of Dynamics into a web-based, interactive sales, services and support platform!

An integrated web portal is nothing new, but being purpose built for Dynamics this solution removes any need for a separate database and it works directly with CRM accounts, contacts and other standard entities, as well as custom entities and workflows, without needing any extra development or integration.

On a basic level, CRM case and lead records can be created from portal sites.

    

CRM data can also be applied to control access permissions. This includes sending portal invitations and enforcing entitlement rules that make sure each portal user receives the correct access and permissions.

But the most impressive way that the new Portals solutions works within CRM is its inbuilt content management system that enables dynamic content.

We've previously posted about how the Voice of Customer survey solution dynamically pipes CRM data into survey forms. Well, the new portal takes personalisation several steps further.

Sure, you can dynamically insert CRM field data into a portal page template, header or footer but that's basic stuff, right?

How about using check criteria to dynamically adapt the visual appearance of entire web pages, content snippets and portal templates based on the detail stored in CRM that reflects a user's status, role and any other data.

Or, render selective content from specific CRM record types.

For example, suppose CRM is tracking your products database. Depending on the business activity these might be training courses, venues, equipment, contracts and any other product or service.

You may store a whole bunch of detail about these items in Dynamics and with CRM Portal liquid templates, HTML rendering logic can be used to control which of these record elements are shown within the portal, and how they will be rendered. This could include associated images, description detail stored in CRM, and perhaps even publishing a linked Sharepoint library for each record enabling portal users to download PDF guides and other resources specific to these entries.

When it comes to creating a personalised online experience, the options are pretty much limitless with CRM Portals!

  • New users can be invited to use the portal by distributing invitations from CRM that can be redeemed online. Alternatively, user registrations can be submitted through the portal interface.
  • Portal pages are responsive so each template works consistently across different browser sizes, mobile and tablet devices.
  • The design elements of each portal can be customised to fit each organisation's branding or theme.

With this release, 4 portal templates are initially available.

Customer Self-Service

Customers often prefer to transact online rather than navigating call handling systems.

Optimised for the CRM Interactive Service Hub, support portals integrate with CRM knowledge enabling customers to easily find self-help and get answers to frequently asked questions online thereby deflecting the need to raise new support tickets.

In instances where new issues need to be logged because the portal is natively integrated with Dynamics new support cases are routed and queued in line with organisational rules in the same way had the case had been logged by an agent.

This also means that new support cases submitted online are subjected to the CRM entitlements rules for each account.

In the same way that CRM process flows guide service agents to ask questions and gather detail about each issue these prompts can be displayed in the portal interface to request more detail before the request is submitted.

Aside from support incident logging customers can access discussion forums, contribute to these online discussions and submit feedback through polls and forms which can then be used to collect greater insight about each individual and use this data to better personalise future communications.

Customers gain access to improved online resources that will help them understand your products and services, gain greater freedom of choice and find quicker answers to their questions.

For organisations, CRM Portal provide greater scale to service more customers compared to traditional channels, making staff more productive by avoiding the need to supply the same solution to the same repetitive issues by phone, and using improved service delivery to increase engagement and ultimately make customers more sticky.

Community Portals

The forums in the customer portal template can be used to develop communities whereby customers can share opinions, ideas and answers with each other.

Dedicated community portals are a more strategic solution for organisations that want to develop deeper role within a community and harness the power of that community. In these scenarios its users are influencers and ambassadors and CRM Portals facilitate these conversations through forms, blog posts and polls and surveys to crowd source ideas and feedback.

Microsoft's new Social Engagement portal is one example of a community portal.

Partner Portal

These portal templates are designed to empower partners by providing tools and information they need to generate leads and convert opportunities.

Aside from the case logging and forum capabilities that are available with all templates, the dedicated partner portal has inbuilt functions to distribute leads, track deal and provide online account management.

Employee Portal

Similar to the client portal, as implied, this is designed for internal users and by default it uses the Office 365 Active Directory authentication for sign-in rather than local CRM authentication giving Office 365 users access to the help desk, knowledge articles and forum without needing direct CRM access.

With access to a simple portal that works on any web device the employee portal helps reduce the overhead of training new starters by making this a self-service process.

CRM licences are still required to access the employee portal but individuals not currently using CRM can be assigned the new ESS access licence specifically for this purpose.

Getting Started

Up to 38 languages are supported but currently this is limited to one language per portal.

This release is limited to a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and the hosting of portal code is by Azure App Services and as a result the portal source code is not available for modification through Visual Studio. All customisation must be done within Dynamics and using the CRM portals configuration options.


For organisations are already using Microsoft Dynamics, or those planning to implement, that want to deploy a customer portal CRM Portal offers an inexpensive and highly flexible solution which can be very quickly implemented and is simple to maintain.


RELATED: Demonstrating CRM Integrated Web Portals