The October release of Dynamics 365 contains the first preview versions of multiple exciting new components. Here we’ll look at one of these, the Omni-channel Engagement Hub, which is a cloud-based extension of Dynamics 365 Customer Service that allows customers to engage with customer service agents through many channels such as teleport, portal message, live chat and SMS text messages. In additional to real time communication, the hub will utilize the unified interface, allow actions such as creating cases and leads, and provide information for supervisors all in real time.
The below slide from the September 2018 Microsoft Ignite presentation provides a good look at the overall vision for the features of the hub.
The hub system is broken down into six feature areas, each with a planned upcoming release date and type. The first three functional areas, which make up the core of the system, will be available for preview in December 2018. One exception is the Channel Integration Framework which is available now and is a Framework for developers and not a user feature.
Agent and Supervisor Experiences Public Preview December 2018
Unified Routing and Work Distribution Public Preview December 2018
Live Chat Channel Public Preview December 2018
SMS Channel Public Preview February 2019
Channel Integration Framework General Availability November 2018
Enable Customers to Bring their Bots Public Preview January 2019
Agent and Supervisor Experiences
This feature contains the user interfaces for agents and supervisors. The Agent Experience at the time of the Ignite presentation appears similar to below and provides contextual 360-degree view of the customer, the current issue, recent interactions, screen pop-ups, notifications, and searching and sharing of knowledge base articles.
The agent experience works across all channels, which on top of the new live chat and SMS channels includes telephone integration portal requests, and emails.
For supervisors, the experience from the Ignite presentation appears like below. It provides views for supervisors, managers, and organization-wide KPIs, health tracking, agent efficiency and productivity, real-time agent conversation monitoring, and historical reports.
The Ignite presentation provided a good sample walkthrough of the experience which we’ll walkthrough. First we’ll start with a customer, Charles, engaging the live chat widget with a question.
The chat request is routed to Lisa, a customer service agent. A popup notification will inform Lisa of the incoming chat request.
Lisa responds with a canned response that quickly acknowledges the customer and allows Lisa to immediately access customer information and evaluate the issue.
Less common and/or more complex issues often involve higher customer support tiers with agents specializing in such issues. In this case Lisa consults with a tier 2 agent name David who then receives the consult request from Lisa for the customer Charles. The ability to do consultation requests is also very useful for new agents to obtain help as they “learn the ropes” in a manner that has minimal efficiency impact.
Tier 2 agent David then guides Lisa on how to respond this the inquiry from the customer.
During this Lisa receives an incoming call request from a customer name Malcolm.
Lisa answers the call and works multiple sessions simultaneously.
Lisa resolves Malcolm’s case and enters notes.
During this supervisor Mary monitors customer and agent interactions and outstanding cases.
Mary then assigned a portal case to Lisa.
Lisa then receives a popup notification that she has been assigned a new case.
When next possible, Lisa resolves the case assigned by Mary.
Unified Routing and Work Distribution
Most organizations won’t be supporting a single product or service. Multiple company segments and/or departments are involved with customer service agents trained to support a selected set of products and services. Unified routing and work distribution is designed to route channels of customer support to the appropriate customer support teams within the organization. It keeps agents focused on the most urgent tasks allows tracking of agent utilization, and handling of work items such as cases, leads, call backs, and tasks.
Live Chat and SMS Channels
The live chat feature contains the pieces for live chat between customers and agents. The widgets provided can be used on custom websites or Dynamics 365 Portal Websites with the ability to change the theme to match to that of your organization. It also provides support pre/post chat surveys as well as offline surveys.
The below diagram from the Microsoft Ignite presentation gives a good overview of the process.
The SMS channel provides for customer and agent interaction through SMS providers using two-way texting and automated notifications and responses. All of this appears to the agent using the using the same unified experience.
Channel Integration Framework
The channel integration framework is available now and is a developer framework that allows for software developers to creature custom channels and business workflows in hub. It also allows the use of existing communication widgets in other unified interface applications which communicate back to Dynamics 365 using the common API. These widgets can be deployed and managed easily through the cloud.
Enable Customers to Bring their Bots
To expedite support issues quickly and efficiently, customer organization have begun shifting to providing self-service channels to handle common cases internally. Recent and ongoing advances in machine leaning, natural language, and linguistics analysis have lets to the creation of chatbots (AKA virtual agents) to provide a front line always-on support mechanism.
The “bring you bots” feature allows customer bots build on the Microsoft Bot Framework to connect to your Omni-channel Engagement Hub system to allow bots to perform contextual escalation to as needed into your hub process.
Using intelligent conversational bots as a first line of support helps automatically resolve routine customer support queries while giving them a natural feeling experience. This in turn decreases human agent wait queues thus providing faster customer support increasing efficiency.
The Microsoft Bot Framework is available now and supports many channels including web chat, SMS, email, Skype as well as social media platforms such Facebook and Slack. To find out more information about the Microsoft Bot Framework visit their Bot Framework home page here: https://dev.botframework.com/.
The features presented, the user experience shown in the above images, and release dates may change. A video of the entire Microsoft Ignite presentation of the Omni-Channel Engagement Hub is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IUxu4CtOfo. Information on the October 2018 Microsoft business applications release is available here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/business-applications-release-notes/October18/index.
Does your need help with training? Or creating customizations for Dynamics 365? The option of creating custom applications specified tailored for your organization is always available. Going this route will give you more control and avoids having to try and shoehorn an existing application that “almost fits” your needs.
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