Top 12 Service Team Updates in the Dynamics CRM Spring’14 Wave

The Dynamics CRM Spring '14 Wave has arrived with raft of new features and improvements to benefit service teams.

It's important to note that these changes are not automatically enabled once the Spring update is applied but Microsoft will enable them by default in the next major CRM release (scheduled for Q4 2014) so we recommend that existing CRM users familiarise themselves with the new processes now available.

Here are 12 CRM Spring Wave improvements that improve service delivery and client management:

1. Entitlements

Based on what customers purchase, the new entitlements entity will define what type of support they are entitled to receive, and how much.

Entitlement rules are applied to individual customer records that set the amount of support they can receive based on the total number of support hours, or the number of cases. These resources are automatically decreased when a new case is created or resolved. Start and end dates are also associated with each entitlement

Important: These new forms will replace the legacy contracts entity that Microsoft has announced will be deprecated. Contracts remain available with the Spring'14 release but Entitlements will be enabled by default in the next upgrade.

Templates can set to for conditional entitlements that are based on:

Specific products – e.g. entitlement only granted for named products / services
Channels – define which channels customers are entitled to log cases e.g. only accept email support requests
Contacts – enabling only authorised individuals to log service cases

Download the Microsoft eBook to learn more about Entitlements or watch a demonstration.

2. Service Level Agreements

A new Service Level Agreement entity enables service levels and terms to be defined. Download the Microsoft eBook to learn more about SLAs in CRM.

Key Performance Indicators can be applied that measure performance based on case resolution time, first response time and other service criteria.

For example, an SLA for premium level support customers may be set to a 3 hour case resolution compared to 24 hour case resolution for standard level agreements.

SLA rules can be precisely controlled to track working patterns across different time zones and include holiday schedules to allow for public holidays.

3. Timer Control

A countdown timer can be added to any case form or custom form so service users can easily see how long they have remaining to meet their key performance indicator.

4. Active Queues List

Easily see if queues are overloaded or understaffed. The active queues list is updated in the Spring’14 update to report the number of items per queue and the number of queue members

5. Private Queues

When manually assigning records to a CRM queue users were previously confronted with a long list of every CRM system queue.

The Spring ’14 Wave introduces private queues that enable users to be associated with individual queues. As a result, queue look-ups will default to only show a filtered list of queues that each user is a member of.

6. Automatic Case Creation

New case creation rules reduce the complexity of configuring these automated processes using advanced workflows or plug-ins.

Cases are automatically created from incoming emails (or social channels) by enabling a queue and using case creation rules, before delivering cases to the right queue or users (see 7. Routing Rules).

Case priority levels and other properties can be defined using standard CRM queries. These can include rules based on customer status, location, product and other criteria. Using the other Spring Wave additions these rules can also check Entitlements and SLA statuses.

CRM will evaluate and apply each case creation rule in their prioritised order so these need to be carefully considered and ranked.

Auto-response customer emails can also be triggered in this process by selecting an existing CRM email template.

In this release one case creation rule, per queue, per source is supported. Read more

7. Case Routing Rules

Closely following automated case creation are new automated rules that route cases to queues, or assign them to users or teams.

Rules can include routing based on customer status, case priority, SLA and any other CRM criteria specific to an individual case or parent record.

This will sound familiar to any user who has already defined case routing using CRM workflows but the new routing forms reduce the complexity involved to make these processes easier to set-up and manage.

If cases have been created manually, simply select one or more case records and click a new menu option to apply routing rules.

Greater benefits will be gained by connecting the new routing rules with other CRM automation improvement included in the Spring Wave.

Thanks to server-side sync between Dynamics CRM Online / On-Premise and Exchange Online (another update in the Spring Wave) and the introduction of new case creation + routing rules it's now significantly easier to configure processes that will automatically handle email support requests.

As an example of how these connected processes can work:

  • An incoming service email is received at support@yourbusiness.com
  • Server side sync (or legacy email router) imports the email as an activity attachment after duplicate checking using a CRM Queue that checks this mailbox
  • Automatic Case Creation rules triggered by this Queue create a new case record after checking Entitlements and other CRM criteria to set priority levels and complete other case fields in line with the case creation rules
  • If enabled, an auto-response message will be sent to the customer
  • CRM Routing Rules will automatically direct the case to the relevant queue, team or user based on SLA, priority and other defined properties that are applicable to the case, entitlement or parent customer record

As noted above, this isn't technically new as the same could (and still can) be achieved using CRM workflows but the new processes for routing and automated case creation have been introduced to reduce the complexity involved and to help more customers benefit from these processes.

Read more about CRM Case Routing Rules

8. Parent & Child Cases

Another case management update enables a parent / child case hierarchy.

This relationship can reflect one customer (parent) and their multiple service (child) cases across various issues. Or, one widely reported customer issue (parent) and the associated (child) issues reported by each customer.

Newly created child cases can inherit selected attributes from the parent including case title.

When cases are closed cascade preferences will determine individual case actions. For example, close all child cases when the parent case is closed, or prevent parent case closure until all child issues are resolved.

9. Merge Cases

The CRM Spring’14 update adds a new case merge options enabling multiple cases to be merged when duplicates are identified, for example if the several contacts for one customer have reported the same issue.

Similar to merging contacts or leads this merges all attachments and notes but it will also detail a list of the deactivated source cases on the merged record. Up to as many as 10 cases can be merged.

10. Case Status Reason Transitions

New controls enable administrators to control which case statuses users are able to set based on the current status reasons.

Whether a case is active, resolved or cancelled status reasons can be set to limit the status options that are available to users by dynamically changing these list options based on the present selection to ensure that changes follow a logical progression.

Read more about CRM Status Reason Transitions

11. Social Profiles

Associate social profiles, channels and posts tracked in Microsoft Social Listening to records in CRM via the API to assess social interaction in CRM. Look into the SDK for more information.

12. Service Management Screen

All the service features are grouped together in a new tile under the Settings module including queues, email templates, case creation rules, routing rules and SLA’s.

These Spring Wave servicing features will be enabled by default in the next major CRM upgrade (Q4 2014) and ahead of this release we recommend that service teams and database administrators take an opportunity to assess these changes now and evaluate how they best they can be applied to your own database.

Preact are here to assist in your readiness preparation for these new service capabilities and we'll be delighted to support your CRM plans. Contact us to learn more.