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Microsoft Wave October 2021

Microsoft releases two big Microsoft Dynamics 365 updates referred to as ‘Waves’ each year, in April and October respectively. These Waves introduce new applications, functionalities, and improvements. The next Wave is scheduled for October 2021 and Microsoft will provide this update to all Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CE) environments by mid-October. In this blog, Broad Horizon explain what you can expect of the newest version of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement.

What can you expect from it?

Many new features and enhancements are on the agenda for Customer Engagement in the October 2021 Wave. In fact, there are so many that it is almost impossible to highlight them all. That’s why we have selected the most eye-catching changes in Microsoft Dynamics Customer Engagement concerning the topics Sales, Customer Service, Marketing, Power Apps, and Portals.

Innovations in Sales

In reviewing the Release Notes for Dynamics 365 Sales, the biggest innovations are in the integration with Microsoft Teams and an improved integration with LinkedIn.

Because Dynamics 365 Sales is becoming more seamlessly integrated with Teams, working is becoming more intuitive. For example, after the update, employees can schedule Team meetings directly in Dynamics Customer Engagement. In doing so, the information from CE is also visible to everyone during the meeting. Instead of switching between applications each time, Dynamics 365 becomes the starting point for consultation via Teams, which is more efficient.

Another notable innovation is the ‘Deal Manager’. This workspace shows the size of opportunities per segment. As each opportunity is displayed as a circle based on revenue value and potential, it is easy to determine which opportunity or segment the Sales Team should focus on. Clear sales activities can then easily be linked to this. By clicking on the circle of the opportunity in question, the employee will immediately be able to access all the details about the opportunity. These opportunities can then be the starting point for a discussion of actions through Teams.

Furthermore, Sales Insights – the reporting layer that essentially sits above the Deal Manager – has also been significantly improved. The progression made in this reporting tool makes it easier to predict sales opportunities.

Another interesting change is the updated mobile interface, which makes it easier for field staff to work.

Highlights for Customer Service

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is at the heart of the most notable new features and enhancements for Dynamics 365 Customer Service. For example, relevant search has been significantly improved: the AI will more quickly and efficiently suggest keywords and provide short descriptions for knowledge articles. In addition, it is also easier to distinguish between internal knowledge articles and relevant knowledge articles from external sources, such as blogs.

The screens for the Customer Service employees, also known as ‘agents’, have been renewed. Employees can customize these themselves. This makes it more enjoyable to work with Dynamics 365 Customer Service while also creating more efficiency. But in addition to a new look and feel, Dynamics 365 Customer Service now also supports omnichannel communication. This means that users can communicate with customers through any channel. Whether by phone, email, social media, or WhatsApp. Every interaction with the customer is recorded in a timeline, to maintain an overview of what has been discussed with the customer.

Another interesting development is Omnichannel Voice. This new functionality enables making and receiving calls from within Dynamics and offers the ability to record, pause, resume, transcribe, or write out calls. This allows the employee to focus on the customer’s challenge during conversations with the customer, as the need to be concerned with technology is removed.

In addition, a sentiment analysis of the conversation takes place in real time, making it easier for the customer service agent to make adjustments during the conversation.

Interesting new features are also available for the supervisor. This is because the supervisor can read transcripts of conversations, listen in anonymously during conversations, and even actively participate in the conversation when necessary.

The integration with Teams that we already mentioned for Dynamics 365 Sales also applies for Customer Service. Customer service employees can consult with their colleagues in other departments through the use of Customer Service via Microsoft Teams and provide them with important information without leaving the case.

The latest development we want to highlight for Customer Service is Multichannel. Currently an employee can work on a maximum of one case or session at a time, after the update in October employees will be able to have multiple cases and sessions open at the same time. It will no longer be necessary to close one case to open another. This means that employees will work more efficiently and maintain a better grasp of cases where action items are yet to be addressed.

Making marketing more personal

The focus of the new functionalities in the October 2021 Wave for Marketing is on the ability to even better orchestrate personalized customer journeys. This applies to all contact points. This allows you, as an organization, to design and set up personalized journeys for each channel. Thanks to the intuitive interface you no longer need technical experts for this, as the marketing department can do this itself. This allows you to tailor individual customer journeys to segments, but also to key dates or life stages. The built-in AI can offer inspiration in the process, making it easier to come up with new personalizations in a short amount of time.

You can also use Customer Insights to perform cross-segment analyses and visualize the customer journey in an activity timeline, where the results can again be used to further personalize the customer journey.

Collaborating in Power Platform

In the October 2021 Wave, ‘collaborate’ is clearly the key word. This also applies to the new features in the Power Platform. From October, thanks to an improved interface, you can work together on Power Automate or workflow. Through live previews, notifications, and comments employees can see – for example – who else is working on the same process, making it unlikely that anybody overwrites someone else’s changes. Again, the ability to communicate with each other directly in Power App Studio via Microsoft Teams has been added. This makes it easier for employees to communicate with each other.

In addition to the templates suggested by Microsoft, you can create your own, organization-specific workflows or templates for Microsoft Teams and a Rollback feature is being introduced. This makes it easy to undo the most recent change. When necessary, one can go back in time until the original workflow is restored.

The latest interesting development within Power Platform is the toolkit for document automation. Thanks to this toolkit, you will be able to automatically process and save documents from other applications, such as Outlook.

Strengthen your customer relationship with Portals

Portals, like Customer Engagement, will be enhanced with relevant search based on AI. And in addition to a number of new tools for the design, customization, and configuration of web pages, strengthening customer relationships is also one of the focal points here. A great example of this is the new option which allows customers to schedule service appointments themselves through their own service environment or to ‘follow’ the technician in question on the day of the scheduled appointment.

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