Connecting Customer Experiences with AI: Exploring Microsoft’s April 2019 Release

The April 2019 update to Microsoft Dynamics introduces the next six months of innovation and features for Dynamics 365 and the Power Platform. It is a significant time, as it marks the first major release where all Dynamics 365 customers will be on the latest version, with a consistent update schedule.

This ‘one version’ approach was originally announced mid-2018, as part of an effort to decrease upgrade costs, provide a better support experience and ensure all Dynamics 365 Online customers can take advantage of new features and performance improvements.

In the April release, Microsoft announced around 350 updates and enhancements that will become available to their customers over the next six months. Microsoft’s new and enhanced AI applications took centre stage at their Virtual Launch event, solidifying the organisation’s significant investment in leveraging AI for deeper insights across their technology stack.

Here we discuss three of these apps, designed to be used alongside Dynamics 365: AI for Sales, Dynamics 365 Market Insights, and Dynamics 365 Customer Insights. We also cover the announcement of Microsoft’s new no-code approach to building virtual agents for Dynamics 365.

AI for Sales

AI for Sales takes sales teams to the next level by delivering actionable insights derived from their engagement with customers and prospects. The app surfaces all contact interactions on a dashboard by type (email, phone call, chat etc.); displays response rates and times for each channel, and gives insight into the salesperson’s relationship health with each individual.

Salespeople and their managers can view their latest and scheduled interactions with each contact, providing an instant view of what they need to do next to support their deal.

During the launch for the April release, Microsoft demonstrated their new call intelligence feature, which introduces a smart assistant to listen to customer interactions via their telephony system, collect a transcript, then provide metrics on sentiment, talking speed and call duration. The feature also provides insight into the content of the conversation, highlighting the most frequently mentioned products, topics and competitors.

How will AI for Sales benefit you?

Salespeople can use this enhanced insight to help prioritise where best to spend their time based on which deals are most likely to close. The app also facilitates warm introductions by identifying those already connected with certain contacts and increases salespeople’s ability to cross and upsell.

AI for Sales also boosts productivity and enhances data quality. On scheduling a meeting, for example, the app suggests appropriate new records to create such as an activity or new contact.

Call intelligence provides organisations with a deeper understanding of their customer engagements than ever before, helping them to identify how they should alter their message to connect better with contacts. The rich data also provides managers with the metrics needed to deliver specific, targeted training by agent, increasing their overall effectiveness.

Dynamics 365 Market Insights

Dynamics 365 Market Insights enables in-depth analysis of an organisation’s place in the market by listening out for mentions and conversations across multiple social channels and online feeds. The interface will be familiar for those with experience of using Dynamics 365 Social Engagement in the past.

Users can drill down into how their brand is perceived by location and demographic using intelligent sentiment analysis, helping them make more informed decisions about how to communicate with target audiences.

How will Dynamics 365 Market Insights benefit you?

Companies can quickly identify when they are mentioned online, helping them to create ambassadors for their brand and manage any complaints effectively. Organisations can also gain a competitive advantage by monitoring trends and staying on top of emerging news with customisable notifications.

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights

Dynamics 365 Customer Insights uses prebuilt connectors to bring transactional, observational and behavioural data together within the Common Data Service, creating a more enhanced understanding of your customers from every touchpoint. Intelligent mapping enables administrators to make sense of data from all systems, to ensure they are creating an accurate picture of each individual.

Business analysts can use this data to create segments, for example, for those customers who are at high risk of churn. All of this data and the relative segments can be used in other applications, such as PowerApps or Power BI, or used to surface an enhanced snapshot of the contact in Dynamics 365.

How will Dynamics 365 Customer Insights benefit you?

Dashboards provide users with a holistic view of their customers across all touchpoints. The application can predict churn and suggest the next best action to maintain strong relationships with each contact, ultimately resulting in a higher level of customer satisfaction and retention.

By bringing together data from multiple systems, organisations can see what a particular customer is interested in, their purchase history, and their engagement with marketing communications. Leveraging this data, organisations can increase their personalisation in every engagement and build strong customer loyalty.

Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service- Public Preview

We’re excited to see the introduction of the Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service entering Public Preview in April 2019, as this will dramatically improve the experience of creating customer service bots for our customers. The cost of hiring developers to create bots has traditionally been a barrier for some organisations, so we’re pleased to see Microsoft bringing the no-code approach we’ve seen them leverage across the Power Platform to this increasingly important service.

Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service builds upon Microsoft’s AI for Customer Service offering which entered Public Preview in October 2018. AI for Customer Service provides the capability to automatically group cases by support topics using natural language understanding technology, helping customer service teams to identify emerging issues and spot areas for improvement.

In the April Public Preview, the following features are included with the Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent for Customer Service:

  • Easy creation of Virtual Agents. The process of creating virtual agents has been simplified with a no-code graphical interface. Conversations can be created either from scratch or using rich, industry-specific templates.
  • Discovery of key support topics. Using the integrated Dynamics 365 Customer Service dashboards, teams can see where their agents are spending the majority of their time, as well as the issues that are the most frequent or costly. AI-powered suggestions will help users decide where automation can improve processes.
  • Seamless interaction with human agents. If a virtual agent is unable to handle a problem, it will pull in a human agent for help, providing all context on the conversation so far.
  • Analysis of customer service. Business analysts can see how their virtual agent is performing, including which topics require assistance from a human, helping them to continually improve customer satisfaction and increase the success of the virtual agent.

This post covers just a handful of the updates and announcements made in the April Launch. You can watch the April 2019 Virtual Launch Event online to see some of these features in action, or read the release notes for additional information about some of the 350 updates customers will be able to take advantage of in the coming six months.

For more information about licencing options and to find out how you can start to take advantage of these new AI offerings, speak to your Pythagoras Account Manager or get in touch with us at info@pythagoras.co.uk.

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