CRM has evolved.  Think about it.  Back in the day, CRM was commonly known as SFA projects (Sales Force Automation).  (Back then, the major player was Siebel and everything was “on-premise.”  Yes I am dating myself here, but I am proving a point). The major push was to gain better insight into the sales cycle to efficiently close the deal.  I said many years ago, and as recently as a year ago, “customer service is dead.”  Why was it dead?  How do organizations change that to better serve the customer-base?  Well, I don’t think it was me that changed anything, but customer service is certainly back and stronger than ever.

Over the years, cloud CRM providers have provided other areas of functionality to provide a more complete picture of the sales/service process; providing sales, customer service, and marketing functionality.  Even so, most of service was still surrounding reactive issues, or incidents:  customers calling up and having an issue with a product or service, asking general help questions and so on.  There was no organizational/customer insight; no service leads/selling.  Everything, even though in one system, was still somewhat in silos.

Organizations, with the help of Microsoft Dynamics 365 (MSDyn365) have flipped that paradigm.  Now organizations are using the entire toolkit to their advantage AND to better service their customers, including future customers. This means using not only the baseline of service tools, but marketing insights and sales processes to provide a memorable customer experience

To understand the how, we must first look at what MSDyn365 has to offer from a customer service perspective and what goes into a possible “service” implementation.  (If you listed to our last At Your Service podcast, some of this may sound familiar.)  The major areas within MSDyn365 Customer Service include:

  • Dashboards  Yes, I know this is not specific to only service, BUT it is a vital area, particularly for call center agents, managers and the like.
  • Activities allow agents to track tasks, send/receive email messages associated to cases, appointments, phone calls and much more.
  • Accounts Yes, I know.  How is this important.  It is!  These are the companies you do business with and can cross over from sales, marketing to service.  The entire organization can gain insight into the performance of your customers and service is a major area to determine if that customer will continue to be your customer or look to a competitor.
  • Contacts these could be your end customer (think of you and I….we are customers) or could be key people within your customer base (Accounts)
  • Cases help you create and track your customer requests and issues.
  • Social Profiles do your contacts have a social media presence? If so, now you can track their presence and pull in those items from Facebook, Twitter, etc. based on keywords, tags, etc. and proactively mine that data.
  • Queues  Does your service organization have various groups that work on different types of cases or cases based on priority, etc.  If so, queues help keep track of these cases by grouping them together and allowing users within those queues to work on them.
  • Products  Yes, products that your sales team sells are important within the service area and go hand-in-hand with dashboards and other data analysis within the service arena.
  • Enhanced SLAs  putting cases on hold, auto-pause and resume time calculations, escalations and SLA KPIs.  All of these things and more are typically important to service organizations when monitoring and measuring the performance of the organization as a whole, individuals and more.
  • Knowledge Articles the ability to capture your customer’s feedback, questions, issues, and resolutions put them into a template/document so other service reps can benefit from them.  Another critical area for all service organizations.

All of the areas above, represent what is in, what I would call, a basic customer service implementation.  MSDyn365 provides all of these in robust fashion, BUT it can provide way more than that.  With the power of Microsoft, customers and partners can implement various features that “enhance” a customer service implementation, which include:

  • Customer Insights
  • Azure functions and capabilities
  • Power BI
  • Omni-Channel communication utilizing add-ons such as CafeX
  • Self-Service Portals
  • Bot Framework
  • Voice of the Customer (this is one of my favorites. If you aren’t familiar with VoC, this is one you will want to become familiar with.)
  • Gamification
  • Unified Service Desk (USD) – goes nicely with CafeX
  • Field Service
  • Project Service

The best part is, most of these “enhanced” features all provided by Microsoft; a one-stop-shop for all your service needs.

A word of caution:  many customers I’ve worked with over the years want many of these basic and enhanced capabilities and they wanted it yesterday.  Planning any implementation is critical to its success.  In many situations, a phased approach is one that provides the greatly percentage of success. As someone that is implementing MSDyn365, it’s important to ask key questions before gathering requirements, understanding/setting scope etc.  Some of these key questions should be:

  • What type of company you are?
  • How do provide service to your customers?
    • How is it different than your competitors?
    • Is it better or worse than competitors?
  • How do you deliver customer service?
  • How do you measure your service, reps/agents, etc?
  • What are your organizational goals and objectives for customer service and outside of service?
  • Where are your CS resources?
    • This is a big one.  Customer Service teams can be subjected to many international laws and regulations.  These can and do vary from country to country and your organizations and resources need to be aware of these.
    • Technology may differ from region to region on how they engage with customers.  For example, in the US many organizations use Skype for Business or a CafeX solution, but most in China use WeChat.

Integrations.  I’ve very rarely seen any CRM implementation where there isn’t some level of integration to external systems.  A MSDyn365 Customer Service implementation is no exception.  Many times I’ll see integrations with Telephony systems for USD, ERPs and other backend systems.

There is no definitive list of integrations as each customer is unique and each will present a unique set of challenges and requirements.  The key points to remember with integrations are:  what is the business value of providing that integration? Does it serve a specific purpose or need and what is it?  If it’s not clear, keep probing until you obtain the definitive answer.


Scott (@fldservice_guru)