What's New in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service & Portals - October 2018 Update

Microsoft has shared an updated roadmap for its Business Applications including Dynamics 365. This covers the next major cloud update that will roll out between October 2018 and March 2019. 

In line with its revised release cadence,  all Dynamics 365 Online users will now be on the same version so this update will need to be scheduled and cannot be skipped.

In our previous post, we covered the D365 for Sales app so we'll now take a look at what's next for the customer service app and integrated web portals.

As with any pre-release guide, these points are subject to change.  

Service Scheduling

The October'18 release will see the arrival of a new service scheduling solution built on Universal Resource Scheduling used in Dynamics apps for Field Service and Project Service.

This will bring URS functions to the Customer Service app including its scheduling board, resource search and activity views for managing services and service activities.

Unified Client Interface

The UCI was introduced in v9 to provide a uniform interface across any screen size, device, form or browser. 

New Dynamics deployments now default to UCI and with effect from the October release this will be the only option when creating a new app module.

However, due to gaps with legacy functions most Dynamics customers upgraded to v9 with a refreshed web UI rather than enabling the new experience. These gaps are closing thanks to Microsoft's continual background updates and further Unified Interface improvements in the October release. 

At organisation level, this will now enable admins to enable or disable experiences for functions within the UCI that include: bulk edits, advanced find, merge records, share records and run on-demand workflows - all of which cover major omissions in the v9 release.

The October update also introduces functions that will be exclusive to the Unified Interface not available in the classic web UI including:

  • Dependent option-sets - field option values that dynamically update based on data selected from a connected option set
  • Excel-like filtering on grid columns for both read-only or editable grids  

With the prospect of the Unified Interface reaching parity with the legacy web UI by the time of the October update, and potentially eclipsing it, administrators are urged to start learning about the new experience.  The classic web UI will remain available in the October release but Microsoft will look to shut this off at some future point...READ MORE

Customer Service Admin

Management of the service management module moves under the Customer Service Hub, enabling admins and customer service managers to access configurations within the app.

Built on the Unified Interface, the new Service Management module will be used for configuring tasks including: service level agreements, routing rules, queues, entitlements, automated record creation rules, service schedules, knowledge management and case settings.

Suggest Similar Cases 

Using Microsoft Text Analytics APIs and case information across different entity records, similar cases will be promoted to help service agents find answers and reduce average handling time.

Due to arrive in December 2018, a new Similar Cases grid will dynamically list completed cases which match characteristics and keywords from the current case record. Alongside embedded knowledge this will be designed to give users an additional resource to identify and share solutions.

Knowledge Recommendations & Relevance Search

Microsoft Text Analytics APIs are also being applied to improve the recommended knowledge feature for faster access to contextual articles (from December 2018).

Also, Relevance Search will now be available to improve the accuracy and context of knowledge post searches which include matches on notes and knowledge article attachments.

Dynamics 365 Web Portals

For the October'18 update, updates across the board are promised including:

  • Improvements in cache latency for faster page loading.
  • SharePoint Integration - enabling portal users to view SharePoint Online document libraries and upload files.
  • Embed Power BI within a portal using liquid code that will embed dashboards and reports within portal pages, including filter parameters for personalised views. Embedded Power BI content will be available to portal end users who don't have a Power BI account.
  • Restrict IP addresses for portal access, or IP ranges.
  • Simplified customisation featuring updated content editors, modern page authoring, easier to navigate sitemap configuration

Also, entitlement to deploy a self-service portal will now be subject to an increased minimum of 10 Enterprise or full licences (does not include Professional or Team licences), this was previously 5 licences. Existing customers will not be impacted by this change until renewal.

Finally, a new self-service diagnostic tool should help to save admin time by identifying potential portal configuration problems and suggesting solutions to resolve common issues.

Dynamics 365 AI for Customer Service 

A new suite of products has been announced that is designed to help provide better customer service experiences through the power of artificial intelligence. In the first instance, Microsoft has released Dynamics 365 AI for Customer service in public preview. 

This gives managers access to artificial intelligence powered insights on their customer service data and uses natural language understanding technology to automatically group cases by support topics - all without the need for any manual tagging of cases...READ MORE

Omni-Channel Engagement Hub

From December 2018, Microsoft is bringing a new Omni-Channel Engagement Hub that will extend Dynamics 365 for Customer Service enabling teams to connect with customers via live chat and SMS.

Through a unified interface, agents will be able to engage with contacts across multiple channels. Microsoft has signalled this will include functionality for contextual customer identification, integrated next step actions (e.g. schedule case) and live chat alerts.

For service supervisors this experience will provide real-time monitoring as well as support historic analysis of conversation handling, productivity, average handling times and other KPI tracking across service channels.

Currently, integrated omni channel capabilities for Dynamics 365 are promoted via Live Assist by CafeX but this announcement suggests a brand new product from Microsoft.

Featuring unified routing and work distribution capabilities, the OCEH introduces new channels for:

  • Live Chat to quickly provision multiple chat widgets, deliver authenticated / unauthenticated visitor support, configure pre / post chat + offline surveys and customise chat widget themes. 
  • SMS channel enabling 2-way texting between customers and agents including automated notifications for case creation, resolution and reminders as well as automated responses. 

Bring Your Own Bot

Intelligent conversational chat bots deployed to the frontline of online help will deflect the routine queries, while maintaining a natural experience for users. 

The new Omni Channel Engagement Hub will enable customers to connect their own chat bots, built on Microsoft Bot Framework. This promises a simplified setup experience to enable routing of conversations via bots and provide a consistent experience. 

Channel Integration Framework

This extendable framework allows experiences with third-party channel providers to be brought into Dynamics 365.

Communication widgets can be embedded within United Interface apps which communicate with D365 using a standard API set. 

Channel-agnostic, Microsoft say this framework will integrate communication widgets across many different channels. Automation for many communication scenarios can be run, including screen pop based on incoming phone number, and click to dial.

Unified Service Desk

Unified Service Desk for Dynamics 365 is a call centre solution enabling agents to get a unified view of customer data and co-ordinate communications. 

As part of the October ’18 release, USD will be extended to enable web applications to be opened within this experience using Microsoft Edge browsers. With this release, Unified Service Desk can be configured on the Unified Interface for a responsive and adaptive UI.

What next?

We'll post updates as further information is shared about this Customer Service release but next up we'll turn the spotlight on the Field Service app.

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