Create a Digital Contact Center in seconds with the Customer Service free trial

Create a Digital Contact Center in seconds with the Customer Service free trial

This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

We know how important it can be to see a product, test drive all its capabilities, and explore different features before you are ready to buy. With the Dynamics 365 Customer Service trials, you can quickly and easily experience the product for free. There is no credit card required or software to install! Here is what you get: 

  • A tenant with preloaded sample data that you can modify, plus the ability to create new data  
  • The ability to visualize the power of out-of-box analytics based on the sample data  
  • A voice and chat channel experience for both the customer and the agent that simulates real contact center processes with no configuration 

You’ll learn how these intelligent business applications go beyond traditional customer relationship management (CRM) systems to help you adapt, innovate, and delight every customer. You can even make customizations to the trial to see how the product would look within your organization. 

In the trial, you’ll discover how to: 

  • Engage customers and provide omnichannel support 
    • Empower agents with the right information at the right time for quick resolutions 
    • Monitor and improve operations with insights for increased productivity 

    Sign up, launch the product, and then follow along with curated tours that show the breadth and depth of Dynamics 365 Customer Service capabilities without any manual effort required.

    graphical user interface, application
    Dynamics 365 Customer Service trial landing page

    How to Sign up

    You can sign up for a trial with a work account (onmicrosoft) here or a personal (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo) account here. To learn more, watch this short demo.

    There are a few differences in the trial experience depending on whether you log in with a work account or a personal account. With a personal account, you will have access to the full trial except the ability to do the following: 

    • Extend the trial beyond 30 days 
    • Buy now and purchase a license directly from the trial environment
      • Customize the PVA bot (the default out-of-box bot will work)  
      • Enable some features like case swarming 

      But no matter which email you use to sign up, you will get the out-of-box Power Virtual Agents (PVA), omnichannel, unified routing, and other core D365 Customer Service capabilities as part of the trial. You can see the full list of licenses that come with the trial here.  

      Once you’re logged in and on the home page, you can watch a short video showcasing the all-encompassing value of engaging customers with Dynamics 365 Customer Service, and then start the tours. 

      Engage customers and provide omnichannel support

      Voice tour

      You can now simulate the end-to-end experience of a customer calling your company and how it will be routed to an agent. You can see real-time sentiment analysis, real-time transcription, knowledge articles, and agent scripts already populated. 

      graphical user interface, application
      Agent view of a customer call

      Chat tour

      Like the voice tour, you can explore how customers will interact with your company through your company’s chat widget. Just click the Chat demo and see how the PVA bot greets customers and how they are routed to agents. 

      graphical user interface, text, application, email
      Agent view of a customer chat

      Empower agents with the right information at the right time for quick resolutions 

      Explore cases by seeing what it’s like to take a case in the unified agent workspace. See incoming items for agents across a wide spectrum of channels. While issues can come from any supported channel, Customer Service workspace helps agents stay on top of their work with one unified agent desktop. 

      graphical user interface, text, application
      Agent view of active cases

      Monitor and improve operations

      Delve into the depth and breadth of our insight capabilities that help supervisors learn about their operations and provide meaningful, actionable data.

      graphical user interface, application
      Supervisor view of case insights

      With these features, you can test drive all that Dynamics 365 Customer Service has to offer in seconds. Embark on your journey to empower your agents and set up your organization for success. And if you like what you see, and you logged in with a work account ( email), you can buy a license today! 


      Get your free trial.

      Read the trial FAQ.

      The post Create a Digital Contact Center in seconds with the Customer Service free trial appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

      Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

      2023 release wave 1 plans for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform now available

      2023 release wave 1 plans for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform now available

      This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

      On January 25, 2023, we published the 2023 release wave 1 plans for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform, a compilation of new capabilities planned to be released between April 2023 and September 2023. This first release wave of the year offers hundreds of new features and enhancements, demonstrating our continued investment to power digital transformation for our customers and partners. 

      This release wave builds on our commitment to create applications and experiences that add value to every role by breaking down silos between data, insights, and people. New capabilities empower new ways to make informed decisions with AI-guided insights and suggested actions, easier ways to automate tasks and processes, and collaboration seamlessly integrated into the flow of work, plus, new low-code ways for anyone to build solutions.

      As part of our commitment to creating great customer experiences, we have introduced a new way to interact with release plans. The release planner for Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform enables users to view and manage release plans across all active waves in a unified and interactive interface while giving them the option to personalize, filter, sort, and share these plans.

      Highlights from Dynamics 365 

      Dynamics 365 Marketing delivers connected sales and marketing capabilities to enable marketers and sellers to act as a unified team and accelerate their pipelines. New features such as a new business-to-business (B2B) analytics dashboard, frequency capping, multiple email recipient activation, emails timeline, customizable preference centers, and Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) marketing tagging will be released in this wave to allow businesses to increase their output, organizational efficiency, and analyze the impact of their campaigns to reach higher levels of marketing maturity.

      Dynamics 365 Sales brings new features such as enhanced sequence capabilities supporting personalized and account-based engagement, actionable AI-powered suggestions within the seller workflow, an updated form layout, and new opportunity management workspace. Additionally, enhanced email templates, content suggestions and text message capabilities, as well as various new abilities to create, loop, and optimize sales sequences will be released during this wave.

      Dynamics 365 Customer Service empowers agents to work more efficiently with enhancements to voice features, unified routing, embedded Microsoft Teams collaboration, and elements of the agent workspace such as the case form, timeline, and conversation control. Throughout this wave, we will continue to invest in AI across the contact center with intelligent-suggested replies and robust real-time analytics with customization.

      Dynamics 365 Field Service is continuing to improve the new schedule board for dispatchers this wave. We are also supporting our frontline workers by allowing them to see their appointments in Outlook, find information faster through improved global search, and recognize improvements in performance and reliability on the mobile app.

      Dynamics 365 Finance is focused on enhancing organizations’ visibility into their data, continuing finance automation, and expanding out-of-the-box country coverage in Latin America. Other enhancements such as further automation of complex tax scenarios, full end-to-end automation of accounts payable and ledger settlements to expedite the close and enable talented finance users to spend more time focusing on value-added activities will also be released.

      Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management continues to deliver increased agility and resilience across the supply chain with enhancements to omnichannel sales strategies with improved ways of managing attribute-based pricing, integrated soft reservations, and optimized end-to-end process integration across Dynamics 365 Sales and Supply Chain Management. Investments to improve agility and increase efficiency for discrete manufacturers, maintenance workers, and warehouse workers will also be a focus for this wave.

      Dynamics 365 Project Operations is continuing to invest in capabilities to empower project managers and project teams with new features like expanding the project budgeting and time-phased forecasting to resource/non-stocked deployment modes and completely lighting up the core experiences for expense management on the web and mobile form factors. Across-the-board investments in performance and usability with an uptake of modern and fluent controls in sales, billing and pricing, and subcontracting experiences are also targeted for this release wave.

      Dynamics 365 Guides will continue investing in capabilities to improve collaboration experiences for users on HoloLens 2. Key updates include improvements in handling incoming calls, join settings, and more accurate mixed reality annotations will also be coming in this wave. We will also be adding new holographic workflows and features like the ability to manipulate a hologram as an operator and taking a photo while in a guide.

      Dynamics 365 Human Resources will continue to expand the human capital management (HCM) ecosystem and further investment in expanding our payroll partner network to provide broader coverage for global organizations. We will also be providing better experiences to resource managers in Project Operations by integrating employee skill, compensation, and leave information while helping employees grow their careers by bringing project and experience information back into employee profiles.  

      Dynamics 365 Commerce is enabling new and updated B2B experiences, including the modeling of distributers as sellers, introducing a distributer fulfillment dashboard, and improving the out-of-the-box B2B user sign-up flow. We are revising and improving our payment flows and enabling network health checks to diagnose network-related issues that can impact point of sale (POS) uptime for POS and Store Commerce users. We will also be investing in asynchronous payment capabilities to provide support for Klarna and other “buy now, pay later” methods and ACH real-time banking.

      Dynamics 365 Fraud Protection is introducing Assessments API in 2023 release wave 1 that will allow customers to define their own fraud event (in addition to the default events covered by Fraud Protection such as Purchase Protection and Account Protection). This functionality will allow customers to configure Fraud Protection to protect against fraud events specific to their businesses.

      Dynamics 365 Business Central will continue developing enhanced finance capabilities for intercompany transactions as well as several improvements to the warehouse management area to make customers’ processes more efficient. More default setup data will also be provided during this wave to expedite customers’ onboarding procedures. Furthermore, Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft 365, including Teams, capabilities will be improved enabling better reporting, automation, and collaboration opportunities.

      Dynamics 365 Customer Insights will bring enhancements such as improved data interoperability and governance features allowing the ability to control and restrict access to data, configurations, and actions; an increased maturity around application lifecycle management and enterprise lifecycle management; increased activation capabilities through tighter integration with Microsoft Dataverse; and will receive navigational guidance, AI-powered suggestions, and task assistance increasing the depth of insights obtained from the product with less time investment.    

      Dynamics 365 Connected Spaces delivers alerts and notifications via Teams or Outlook when business AI-skills detect actionable patterns within a space containing vehiclesstationary or mobile. Throughout this wave, improvements will be released enabling customers to use the Microsoft Azure Stack HCI devices for configuring Connected Spaces to run AI models at the edge in addition to the existing Microsoft Azure Stack Edge devices.

      Dynamics 365 Customer Voice is investing infunctionalities to unblock key scenarios for customers and is focusing on improving the overall usage experience along with the architecture evolution and stability fixes for survey owners and responders. We will focus on delivering features such as the transfer ownership of an orphan project in case a project owner has left the organization, as well as allowing survey responders to record partial survey responses.

      Microsoft Supply Chain Center delivers improvements to organizations’ management of their supply chain by enhancing their end-to-end visibility of their supply chain, improving AI-based recommendations, and enabling them to seamlessly collaborate with their teams and suppliers on the workflow, resulting in better orchestrated business processes.

      Implementation portal

      We are launching a new implementation portal to provide contextual guidance and recommended practices for Dynamics 365 implementations, in order to enable greater success once implementations go live. This portal is based on the Success by Design for Dynamics 365 framework put together by the FastTrack for Dynamics 365 team.

      Portrait of a woman smiling, looking at the camera.

      2023 release wave 1 for Dynamics 365

      Check out new capabilities for Dynamics 365 with the 2023 release wave 1 plan.

      Highlights from Microsoft Power Platform 

      Power BI continues to invest in empowering individuals, teams, and organizations to drive a data culture. For individuals, we’re enhancing the creation experience, bringing more parity on the web, and adding the Power Query diagram view into Power BI. For teams, we’re bringing enhancements to meetings and multitasking to help users seamlessly work with their data wherever they work.

      Power Apps is focusing on reducing risk for organizations with advanced governance capabilitiesensuring easy onboarding and using low-code capabilities in a manageable way for the organization to scale. Makers and developers of all skill levels will be more productive with modern experiences to build apps, manage data, and logic. Customers will benefit from modernization of web and mobile experiences ensuring modern and fast experiences across apps.

      Power Pages continues to invest in bringing more out-of-the-box capabilities to support both low-code and no-code development as well as professional developers. New features in this release will allow makers to have additional capabilities and solution templates in the design studio. Professional developers will be able to perform additional actions and work with code productively using the Microsoft Power Platform CLI tool and Microsoft Visual Studio Code, and administrators will be enabled to better manage and govern their Power Pages sites.

      Power Automate is releasing new capabilities to simplify creating new flows by describing them in natural language. This, with other experience improvements for creating and authoring flows, means it’ll be easier than ever for new users to get started. These improvements include introducing work queues where automatable tasks can be viewed and managed together as well as providing simpler connectivity to a machine for desktop flows, eliminating the need for additional installs and managing password management.

      Power Virtual Agents offers a new unified authoring canvas that is Microsoft’s single conversational AI studio for all bot-building needs. With the continuing integration with Microsoft Bot Framework capabilities and Microsoft Azure Cognitive Services, bot creatorsfrom subject matter experts to developersare empowered to begin building today with the public preview. The advanced authoring canvas will be generally available this wave.

      AI Builder will bring document processing improvements that will include more prebuilt model capabilities like contract processing, the ability to identify personal information, and the possibility to extract field types from documents. We’re also focusing on facilitating model governance and licensing by improving our admin interfaces to make it easier to govern how AI Builder credits are used across environments, apps, and flows.

      For a complete list of new capabilities, please check out the Dynamics 365 2023 release wave 1 plan and the Microsoft Power Platform 2023 release wave 1 plan

      2023 release wave 1 for Microsoft Power Platform

      The first release wave of the year offers many new features and enhancements for Microsoft Power Platform.

      Close-up side view of a woman wearing a headset.

      Early access period 

      Starting January 30, 2023, customers and partners will be able to validate the latest features in a non-production environment. These features include user experience enhancements that will be automatically enabled for users in production environments during April 2023. To take advantage of the early access period, try out the latest updates in a non-production environment and effectively plan for your customer rollout. To take advantage of the early access period, try out the latest updates in a non-production environment, and effectively plan for your customer rollout. Check out the 2023 release wave 1 early access features for Dynamics 365 and Power Platform or visit the early access FAQ page.

      View the latest product updates and release highlights, and share your feedback in the community forums via Dynamics 365 or Power Platform

      The post 2023 release wave 1 plans for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power Platform now available appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

      Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

      Optimize Dynamics 365 Sales product usage with new reports!

      Optimize Dynamics 365 Sales product usage with new reports!

      This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

      Data is one of the key resources to making informed, contextual decisions. Without data, without being able to measure telemetry and usage, it’s challenging to identify areas of improvement. But it’s not just the data itself that matters, it’s that this data is actionable, helping users understand not only the what, but also the how and why. With Dynamics 365 Sales product usage reports, we’re happy to offer administrators and sales managers the ability to get data at their fingertips.

      The new feature allows sales managers and sales administrators to track the usage of Contacts, Opportunities, Leads and Accounts (COLA entities) by their sellers. With this information, they will be able to make critical decisions about the work processes within their teams. For example, they will be able to see which teams use the COLA entities less than others, and double-down on expanding CRM usage best practices to those teams. In another example, managers, with the help of product usage reports, will be able to easily identify the top performing sellers in terms of using the application, for rewarding or benchmark purposes.

      Understand seller performance with product usage reports.

      The Dynamics 365 Sales product usage insights are Power BI embedded dashboards, that allow sales managers, sales administrators and other users to view the usage of COLA entities within the application. They can easily understand and assess the performance of sellers with respect to various transactional sales entities.

      Sales managers can easily access the dashboards with a simple enable switch. Sales administrators or managers can also provide permissions to access these dashboards further to other users, based on configuration.

      At this stage, we are releasing the following dashboards:

      • Opportunity usage
      • Lead usage
      • Account usage
      • Contact usage

      Each dashboard can be divided into three broad sections.

      • Filters Slice and dice the data to have different views. Filtering parameters include data range, business unit, roles, manager name etc.
      • KPI charts Summarize KPIs for the specified date and the percentage change during the period. This view includes a trend to show how the KPI is doing in the selected timeframe compared with the previous timeframe. A green upward triangle indicates an improvement in the score, and a red downward triangle indicates a decline in the score.
      • Metric charts A detailed view of the individual values of records. For example, created date, status, and who created and converted the record.

      graphical user interface
      Lead usage report

      Gain insights on how sellers work

      On top of the benefits of the Dynamics sales usage reports to sales managers mentioned above, there are also benefits for sales administrators.

      Sales administrators can analyze the Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD) operations that sellers perform on their COLA entities. To help this analysis, the usage report dashboards have the following charts:

      • CRUD operations over a period To help the admin user to understand the usage of COLA entities by the sellers.
      • Users contributing to the CRUD operations To allow the admin user to easily find the usage of leads and opportunities by sellers or groups of sellers.
      • Top users contributing to CRUD operations To help the admin user to identify the top performing sellers in terms of using the sales entities.
      • Leads & Opportunity overtime chart To help understand the qualification/win rate of the entities over a period of time.

      graphical user interface, chart
      Account usage report

      Next steps

      Learn more about the sales usage reports: View and understand sales usage reports | Microsoft Learn

      Enable reports by following the instructions: Enable sales usage reports for sales managers | Microsoft Learn

      The post Optimize Dynamics 365 Sales product usage with new reports! appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

      Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

      5 customer service trends to watch in 2023

      5 customer service trends to watch in 2023

      This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

      The past couple years have been challenging for many customer service organizations. Meeting customers’ rising expectations and adapting to their evolving needs within a volatile economic landscape has been a herculean effort. Businesses are investing more in measuring the impact of their customer service, and the investment is paying dividends. In fact, it’s becoming more about the total customer experience and transforming the business models to create effortless experiences for both customers as well as employees. By 2026, Gartner predicts that 60 percent of large enterprises will use total experience to transform their business models to achieve world-class customer and employee advocacy levels.1 This growing acknowledgment is a positive indicator that service is finally recognized as a core business value driver as support teams became pivotal in retaining customer loyalty and winning new customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

      But are service organizations ready to face challenges and equipped to provide this level of service at scale? Customer service leaders are turning to modernizing technology and digitization, such as Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service, to provide high-quality customer service experiences.  

      Five trends to modernize customer service

      1. Recognize and quickly connect with customers

      Modern customer service means showing up for your customers on the channel of their choice. Customers increasingly expect companies to offer a robust service experience right in their favorite channel. With each social channel representing diverse customer segments, engaging across these channels offers countless opportunities to deliver excellent service.

      • 63 percent of customers expect companies to offer customer service via their social media channels, and 90 percent of social media users have already used social media as a way to communicate with a brand or business.2

      The Omnichannel for Customer Service add-in for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service offers a wide variety of social engagement options for customers to engage on their preferred channel. Now with 2022 release wave 2, we’ve added Apple Messages for Business to our list of social messaging apps. This rich messaging can be used to generate interactive content and experiences that all take place within the messages application. And remember, when you enable agents to respond using the customer’s channel of choice, it drives brand engagement, creates a positive experience, and builds customer loyalty.

      When engaging on social, always remember that you are not interacting with just one customer issue, but a wider audience that may not have context around a customer’s challenge. With an increasing number of eyes on you, it’s crucial to respond with precision, empathy, and quality.

      2. Help customers help themselves with self-service

      Intelligent self-service empowers customers to conveniently secure answers when and how they want, and this online, anytime support option is growing in popularity with customers. Business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) customers are likely to search for an answer to an issue within a knowledge base, online community, or portal before reaching out to a customer support agent. These critical self-service capabilities free up your agents to focus on high-priority, complex issues, and drive customer satisfaction.

      • In a McKinsey survey of customer care leaders, nearly two-thirds of respondents who successfully decreased their call volumes identified improved self-service as a key driver.3

      AI-powered chatbots are leading the charge in intelligent self service. Bots serve as the first point of contact for customers, alleviate customer frustrations from long wait times, and provide around-the-clock, immediate online support.

      With the right service solution, bots can be deployed as conversational interactive voice responses (IVRs) equipped with natural language processing. A direct benefit of this intelligent, human-like conversation experience, paired with around-the-clock availability, is increased resolution speed. A quick response to a problem can be the difference in keeping a customer or having them pivot to a competitor.

      • By 2027, chatbots will become the primary customer service channel for roughly a quarter of organizations, according to Gartner.4

      AI and machine learning advancements continue to make bots even more powerful and more efficient in understanding and conversing with customers. The use of bots in customer service is likely to expand as the technology becomes more and more democratized.

      3. Personalize and drive brand loyalty

      Customers want businesses to quickly recognize them as individuals and tailor their customer support experiences. Personalization isn’t only about knowing your customers and their histories, it means being able to understand and accordingly respond to their sentiment in real time. The ideal solution creates interactions based on each customer’s profile, which uses their current and past interactions and user data to customize the experience. It can be as simple as greeting a customer by their name and pulling up their order automatically by an email address or phone number, or it can mean taking the first step and implementing proactive customer care.

      This trend in personalizing customer service demonstrates the value of the relationship to the customer, enhancing CSAT and strengthening loyalty, while significantly impacting the company’s bottom line.

      • 63 percent of consumers expect personalization as a standard of service and believe they are recognized as an individual when sent special offers.5
      • 80 percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase when businesses provide a customized experience.6
      Man sitting at a computer with a headset on.

      Improving Customer Satisfaction with AI

      Learn how AI is helping customer service leaders drive higher customer satisfaction scores.

      4. Improve agent productivity

      • In the past two years, customer service leaders have seen a dramatic shift in the number of employees working from homeup to 85% of their workforces in some cases.7

      With agents working from more places than ever, they need new ways to find experts who can help them solve customer challenges. The right data at the right time is key to empowering agents to meet customers’ needs quickly and accurately. However, as omnichannel customer profiles grow, agents need tools that proactively surface insights that matter in the moment.

      Advancements in AI technology, especially natural language understanding, enable real-time analysis of conversations and the ability to surface real-time insights and knowledge. Agents can be alerted to similar cases and successful resolution steps, along with knowledge suggestions customized for the current context. All of these capabilities help agents solve customer issues more quickly, improving resolution rates and customer satisfaction.

      5. Optimize with automation and run your business lean

      Many customer service leaders are making it a priority to transform their departments from cost centers to growth centers. At the same time, they face continuous pressure to keep costs down.

      Unifying tools onto a single, cloud-based platform reduces redundancy and enables cost flexibility to meet changing business conditions. If that platform has an open architecture and no-code/low-code development capabilities, the time and cost of development can be dramatically reducedputting innovation within reach across the organization.

      Building tomorrow

      These are just a few of the trends in customer service, but one thing is for sure: customer service is evolving rapidly. The real challenge is being able to serve customers wherever they are and making sure every customer interaction is captured and available in a single profile for the support agent to use in resolving customer issues.

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      Watch this demo on how Microsoft brings all 5 of these customer service trends together.

      Microsoft is listening. We’re continually adapting and innovating to provide service leaders with the tools you need to consistently deliver exceptional customer service. We continue to invest in features like self-service, bots, social engagement, and agent productivity tools that bring value to you, your customer service organization, and most of all, to your customers. Our goal is to build intuitive, sophisticated, easy-to-use tools that enhance your service delivery and empower your service representatives to exceed customer and organizational expectations.

      Our service product roadmap is filled with new features and innovations that will take your service experience to the next level, differentiate your brand, and ultimately help you rise as a leader in your industry.

      Learn more

      Learn more about Dynamics 365 Customer Service, and check out Apple Messages for Business.

      End notes

      1Gartner webinar, The Total Experience Strategy for Better Retail Digital Interactions. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

      2180+ Social Media Marketing Stats You Can’t Ignore (2023),

      3The state of customer care in 2022 and beyond, McKinsey, 2022.

      4 Gartner Press Release, Gartner Predicts Chatbots Will Become a Primary Customer Service Channel Within Five Years, July 27, 2022. GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.

      5Consumers expect personalization, reveals report, Retail Customer Experience.

      6New Epsilon research indicates 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences, Epsilon Research.

      7The state of customer care in 2022 and beyond, McKinsey, 2022.

      The post 5 customer service trends to watch in 2023 appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

      Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

      Optimize sales conversation follow ups in 2 easy steps!  

      Optimize sales conversation follow ups in 2 easy steps!  

      This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

      Taking time to speak with customers remains one of the best ways to build relationships and close deals faster. However, in a digital world it is often difficult to secure that moment of interaction. So when that moment happens, it is critical to focus on the conversation. Capturing valuable insights and next steps is a distraction at this precious time. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales conversation intelligence continues to harness AI technology to assist salespeople with just that it’s there as your chief note taker. Master conversation follow ups by uncovering value from each call and gaining a deeper understanding of your customer interactions.

      We’re excited to introduce two new features designed to save time and allow users to quickly access the most relevant and valuable insights from their calls: 

      • Call categorization automatically categorize and tag short calls, making it easier to sift through large numbers of recordings and find valuable information. 
      • Question detection track all questions asked during customer conversations. Thus allowing salespeople to understand their customers’ concerns, areas for follow up, and help managers identify trending questions and coaching opportunities. 

      Let’s dive into each one to learn more. 

      Call categorization

      Call categorization introduces a revolutionary way to manage call recordings and learn more about leads, as well as assist managers with identifying coaching opportunities within their teams. 

      It is common for sales teams and contact centers to conduct many calls which are not successfully connected. This can lead to an overload of irrelevant data in call recording tables and a lot of noise for a seller and manager to wade through when reviewing calls for follow-up or best practice sharing. To address this issue, Dynamics 365 Sales conversation intelligence is introducing the Call categorization feature that automatically categorizes and tags short calls with 4 categories: 

      • Voicemail when a call reaches the customer’s voicemail. 
      • Contact unavailable when the person the seller is trying to reach is not available at that time. 
      • Reschedule request when the lead asks for a quick raincheck. 
      • Unwanted call for those calls where the customers requested to not be contacted again. 

      Once the calls are tagged, it becomes easy for sellers, managers, and operations to identify and exclude irrelevant call data. Sales teams can save time by not having to hunt for calls. Instead, with call categorization, they can review relevant conversations to follow up on and share as best practice or learnings.

      graphical user interface, application
      Figure 1: call categorization

      Question detection

      When in the flow of a conversation multiple questions could be asked but the seller may not tackle them all within the call. Dynamics 365 Sales conversation intelligence now tracks all questions raised by customers and sellers during customer conversations. These are readyfor review and follow up almost immediately after the call has ended.

      The new feature includes a “Questions” section in each call/meeting summary. The section tracks all questions asked during the call and groups them by customer or seller. This allows sellers and sales managers to easily locate and quickly jump to listen to a specific question within the conversation. By doing so, they gain a more in-depth understanding of the interaction. 

      With this insight documented, sellers can quickly drill into customers’ objections and concerns. In addition, they can review those open items for action. 

      graphical user interface, application
      Figure 2: question detection

      Next steps

      With these productivity enhancements sellers can focus on engaging customers knowing their systems are working hard to remove complexity and optimize their sales conversation follow ups.  

      To get started, enable the public preview of the Call categorization feature: First-run setup experience for conversation intelligence in sales app | Microsoft Learn 

      Learn more about the Question detection feature: View and understand call summary page in the Dynamics 365 Sales Hub app | Microsoft Learn 

      Learn more about conversation intelligence:Improve seller coaching and sales potential with conversation intelligence | Microsoft Learn 

      Enable conversation intelligence in your organization:First-run setup experience for conversation intelligence in sales app | Microsoft Learn 

      If you are not already a Dynamics 365 Sales customer and want to know more, take a tour andstart your free trial today

      The post Optimize sales conversation follow ups in 2 easy steps!   appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

      Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.

      The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform enables resiliency for retailers

      The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform enables resiliency for retailers

      This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.

      Resiliency for retailers might best be understood by thinking about the delight consumers feel when they order that specific, thoughtful gift online for the holidays or when they come across the perfect gift while shopping at a store. To be successful with consumers in these moments, retailers must have the right products in stock at the right time and deliver them quickly and cost-effectively. This is what resiliency for retailers looks like, but how do you build resiliency into your supply chain?

      Overhead view of three employees in a warehouse.

      Microsoft Supply Chain Center

      Reduce supply and demand mismatches by running simulations using AI and real-time, advanced analytics.

      McKinsey & Company found that 75 percent of consumer packaged goods (CPG) supply chain leaders prioritize supply chain digitalization, suggesting that resiliency through digitalization is one strategy that retailers are exploring.1 At Microsoft, we believe the path to retail resiliency lies in three interconnected capabilities: connectivity, agility, and sustainability, which we showcase solutions around at this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) exposition in New York City.


      True end-to-end visibility requires a platform capable of connecting and harmonizing data from new and existing sources. According to research commissioned by Microsoft from Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 97 percent of executives agree that having a resilient supply chain positively impacts a company’s bottom line.2 The same study found that most organizations’ digital infrastructure is composed of a mix of modern and legacy apps, with only 11 percent using a single integrated platform of modern, best-in-class applications.3 This makes any solutions’ connectivity a critical factor in building resilience and agility.

      One merchant that is enjoying the benefits of connectivity and visibility is iFIT. iFIT is a leading health and fitness platform that markets several home exercise equipment brands. Recently, iFIT adopted the Microsoft Supply Chain Platform to bring together its systems and data. With this integrated, centralized view, iFIT can reduce the manual effort and guesswork involved in strategically placing inventory in its more than 40 forward-stocking locations. Utilizing built-in AI capabilities, iFIT increased efficiency from 30 to 75 percent on their forward stock inventory resulting in faster delivery timesreduced from a two-week window to two daysand increased customer delight.

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      iFIT uses Microsoft Supply Chain Center to optimize inventory and delight customers with rapid delivery times.

      Extensible systems increase connectivity, too, such as the ability to leverage highly functional micro-services like the Inventory Visibility Add-in for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management. Users can enable the Inventory Visibility service free of charge to gain a real-time, global view of on-hand inventory and tracking across all data sources and channels. Additionally, the Inventory Visibility service allows users to avoid overselling by making real-time soft reservations and using the allocation feature to ring-fence valuable on-hand stock for essential customers or channels.

      Learn more with the Inventory Visibility Add-in overview.

      Another dimension of connectivity is collaboration. Dynamics 365 and Supply Chain Center include Microsoft Teams built-in, unleashing the power of collaborative applications for users, making all your business processes and applications multiplayer. With collaborative applications, team members can connect in real time, surface and act on insights from unified data, and swarm around supply chain issues to mitigate disruptions before they impact customers.

      Connected systems and data create the visibility supply chains need to sense risks and illuminate opportunitiesthe necessary precursors to agility, which we look at next.


      To enable agility, supply chain software needs to increase visibility across data sources, predict and mitigate disruptions, streamline collaboration, and fulfill orderssustainably and securely. In short, companies need to understand the entire supply chain network. By connecting disparate systems and harmonizing data across the supply chain, companies gain a more comprehensive understanding of supply and demand. With Supply Chain Center, retailers can connect and harmonize data and generate supply and demand insights using AI to uncover patterns and projections based on historical and real-time inventory and order volumes.

      One company using Supply Chain Center to build a more agile supply chain is Northern Tool + Equipment, a manufacturing and omnichannel retailer with 130 stores across the United States. Northern Tool + Equipment’s fragmented supply chain technology infrastructure had pushed lead times for the 100,000 items in its product catalog to four to seven days. In addition, many of the company’s products are very large, like generators and air compressors. The sheer size of these items brings further complexity to the challenge of optimizing shipping routes for cost and sustainability. Similarly, Northern Tool + Equipment struggled to provide firm delivery dates for online and in-store product orders. For a business that serves people who do tough jobs and rely on their tools for their livelihood, being competitive means offering delivery in one to three days and providing accurate delivery times.

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      Northern Tool + Equipment partnered with Microsoft to overcome these challenges with an end-to-end supply chain solution. The selection of Supply Chain Center meant that Northern Tool + Equipment could immediately begin to rationalize and connect every node of its supply chain with a solution designed to create a more resilient and sustainable supply chain through an open, flexible, collaborative, and secured platform. The result? Northern Tool + Equipment can provide customers with a committed delivery date and shipping costs while also ensuring one-day to two-day delivery within a specific proximity of its stores.

      A significant factor in Northern Tool + Equipment’s lead time improvement is its use of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Intelligent Order Management capabilities, which allows organizations to connect and orchestrate order fulfillment across different platforms and apps. But Supply Chain Center has an assortment of capabilities to serve other retailers on the agility journey.

      One such capability is the Supply Chain Center news module, which gathers information about world events and presents articles relevant to your business and supply chain. How can this feature be a functional building block of agility?

      Let’s consider an example of a retailer selling portable air conditioners. Using the news module, the retailer could receive a news alert that a specific geography is forecasted to have the hottest summer on record. This would likely increase the expected seasonal demand for the product in the affected region. The retailer could capitalize on this intelligence by increasing their forecast during the planning process so that they can be prepared to quickly shift inventory to ensure coverage. 

      In addition, Supply Chain Center connects with Microsoft Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management, which gives retailers access to advanced warehouse management functionality, such as warehouse automation by integrating with partners like inVia Robotics. It also gives retailers the ability to set up pop-up warehouses in a matter of days in six easy steps. Continuing the example above, our portable air conditioner retailer might utilize the supply chain planning functionality and learn that they have insufficient warehouse capacity to meet the seasonal demand increases. In this case, they could use Dynamics 365 Supply Chain Management to open a new warehouse in a matter of days by utilizing wizards and templates and quickly deploying the mobile app. Similarly, the retailer could then improve warehouse productivity with InVia Robotics by leveraging robots to do the heavy lifting and traveling across the warehouse, freeing up workers to do the more complex task of sorting and packing. The value of these systems is getting the attention of organizations and analyst firms.

      Sustainability, circular economies

      In a recent survey, 46 percent of individuals who purchased products online said the most important thing they want brands to do is be socially responsible.4 This fact helps explain why 53 percent of organizations plan to increase their focus on sustainable sourcing in 2023.5 While there are several dimensions of social responsibility, sustainability is the most relevant to retail supply chain leadership. For retail supply chains, this can be challenging.

      For retailers to lead not just the industry but to exceed consumers’ expectations for social responsibility, another challenge beckonsthe utilization of circular economies. Even leaders in the EU, who successfully decreased material use by 9 percent and increased products derived from recycled waste by 50 percent,6 understand that while their progress is impressive, growth of circular economies is still limited compared to their actual material footprint. Still, the incentive for retailers, beyond the value of doing the right thing, is significant. One survey by Statista expects worldwide revenue of circular economy transactions to more than double from 2022 to 2026, growing from $338 billion to $712 billion.7


      One way that Microsoft is helping brands meet the challenge is with built-in sustainability features for suppliers. One example is the FedEx integration with Intelligent Order Managementwhich is included in Supply Chain Center. The FedEx integration allows users to offer boxless returns to their customers by leveraging environmentally friendly QR codes to return items at more than 60,000 retail FedEx locations. Plus, retailers can utilize the self-service return functionality of the FedEx integration to easily manage all returns with complete visibility of every step in an item’s return to the warehouse.

      Learn how FedEx and Dynamics 365 reimagine commerce experiences.

      What’s next?

      As we have seen here, the path to retail resilience in today’s competitive environment revolves around connectivity, agility, and sustainability. Brands should address disruptions and challenges with solutions that can exceed customer expectations, drive profitability, and improve sustainability.

      Ready to see how Supply Chain Center can help your business on the path to retail resiliency? Sign up for a free 180-day trial of Microsoft Supply Chain Center (preview).

      For a look back at NRF 2022, check out our previous blog: Dynamics 365 helps build the retail supply chain of the future. And take a look at the following posts to learn more about NRF 2023:


      1McKinsey & Company, 2022. How consumer-packaged-goods companies can drive resilient growth.

      2Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 2022. A Supply Chain Built for Competitive Advantage.

      3Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, 2022. A Supply Chain Built for Competitive Advantage.

      4GWI, 2022. GWI USA.

      5KPMG, 2022. The supply chain trends shaking up 2023.

      6The World Bank, 2022. World Bank Releases Its First Report on the Circular Economy in the EU, Says Decoupling Growth From Resource Use in Europe Achievable Within Decade.

      7Statista, 2022. Estimated revenue generated from circular economy transactions in 2022 and 2026 worldwide.

      The post The Microsoft Supply Chain Platform enables resiliency for retailers appeared first on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Blog.

      Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.