Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

By Renato Bellu

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service is designed along the lines of the Customer Service module of a traditional CRM system, with most of the typical components one would expect, but with some additional unique capabilities. Understanding the key components of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service — Microsoft refers to such components as entities, by the way — is essential to becoming adept with the software.

These are the key components (entities) of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service:

  • Users: People in your organization
  • Accounts: Your customers
  • Contacts: People who work for your customer
  • Cases: Customer incidents or issues to resolve
  • Activities: Things to do to get the case resolved, such as Phone calls, emails, and appointments related to the case
  • Posts and notes: Comments and attachments on the case
  • Tasks: A type of activity that requires action and completion
  • Queues: Lists of activities and cases used to manage the workload among users and teams of users
  • Views: Lists of accounts, contacts, cases, or other things that can be sorted, filtered, and adjusted to show useful columns of information and then saved as personal views, similar to an ad hoc query

Users

Users are, of course, the application users. Your network administrator will have already created you as a user of the overall Microsoft network, and will then have assigned appropriate permissions for you in your organization’s instance of Dynamics 365.

One key benefit of using Dynamics 365 is that it’s tightly integrated with other Microsoft applications, especially Microsoft Active Directory (the network) and Microsoft Outlook (the email). For example, Dynamics 365 recognizes your Windows Active Directory (AD) network login and Outlook email account. Because of that, your system administrator doesn’t have to set up a separate user ID for you in Dynamics 365, and you won’t need a separate password.

Users can become members of teams and members of queues. Teams and queues are important for sharing workload. For example, if you go on vacation, because your work has been assigned to a team rather than to just you, your team members will handle the work while you’re away. Likewise, if you’re overloaded with work, other members of the work queue can pick up the slack. Having teams and queues in place means you can avoid having to reassign all your work to someone else before you go away. The same benefit occurs if somebody quits or retires from your company — team members and queue members are already assigned to the work.

Accounts

Accounts are your customers. The same account record is shared among all the CRM-related capabilities of Dynamics 365: Sales, Service, Marketing, Field Service, Project Service, and Resource Scheduling.

Contacts

Contacts are the people at an account. Each account (in other words, customer) can have an unlimited number of contacts. In this way, you can have the phone numbers, addresses, and email addresses of the people who serve different roles for your customer, such as buyer and accounts payable clerk, and track your communications with them separately.

Cases

A case is an incident that needs to be resolved, and it is the heart of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service. If a case is no longer needed, it can be deleted or canceled rather than resolved.

Each case is assigned to an owner of the case. The case is owned by a user or a team of users. The owner of the case has the primary responsibility to resolve the case.

A case can be added to a queue. Users or teams of users who are members of the queue will see the case appear in their queues and then have the responsibility to work the case.

A case can be routed. Routing rules can be configured by your administrator that will apply business logic (the rules and policies your organization has established for workflow) to direct the case to the appropriate queue, depending on information that has been filled out on the case and other factors specified into the routing logic.

The following list shows some of the many ways a case can come into being. A case can be

  • Imported from an external system such as a warehouse management or order fulfillment system
  • Created at the click of a button by a user from an email (email converted to case)
  • Generated automatically by the system from an incoming email
  • Created manually, while on a phone call with a customer, by a user who is a customer service representative

Posts and notes

Posts and notes are “sticky notes” that you can attach to a case to provide or log information related to the case that you’re in the course of trying to resolve. A post is more like a simple quick note, whereas a note allows you to attach documents such as PDF files to the case and to write a lengthier comment.

Activities

Activities include phone calls, tasks, emails, appointments, approvals, and booking alerts. Phone calls that you have made or received related to the case can be logged against the case. Doing so provides an audit trail of the communication that has occurred in your attempt to resolve the case.

Emails and appointments are tightly integrated into your Outlook email. For example, you can create a quick email within Dynamics 365 for Customer Service and click the Send button from within Dynamics 365 without having to toggle out to Outlook. Your email will be associated and visible on the case, without your having to download or copy the email and then upload and attach it as a note in your case. In other words, when you set up emails and appointments on the case, they get incorporated into Outlook automatically.

Tasks

A task is one of several types of activities that you perform in the course of resolving a case; it has a due date and a priority. In this sense, a task can act as a tickler file — a to-do list, in other words. You can even create a task to take some action in the future on behalf of a customer to help resolve a case.

Because a task can be assigned a different owner than the owner of the case, you can assign a task to another user or team of users. In this way, a task acts as a sort of mini-case within the case. You can convert a task to a case, at the click of a button, if it turns out that the task becomes more complicated than you originally had envisioned. In a similar vein, tasks can be converted to sales opportunities (part of Dynamics 365 Sales).

When you finish the task, you mark it as Complete. You cannot resolve the case until all open tasks are marked as either Complete or Canceled. Deleting a task requires several steps, because the software is designed to maintain an audit trail of activities surrounding the case. So, in that sense, it’s better to cancel a task and keep a record of it than to delete it entirely. However, sometimes you may add a task by mistake and need to get rid of it.

To delete a task, follow these steps:

  1. Open the activity window by clicking the rightward-pointing arrow — referred to as a pop-out button — in the far-right corner of the activity listed on the Activities tab, normally found in the center of the Case window.
  2. Click the Close Task button.

    The Close Task window appears.

  3. Change the state from Completed to Canceled.
  4. Click the Close button.

    The Delete button now appears on the command bar.

  5. Click the Delete buttons.

    The Confirm Deletion window appears.

  6. Click the window’s Delete button.

    The task is deleted from the system.

Queues

The purpose of a queue is to organize your work in a centralized manner. A queue provides a command center of pending activities and open cases. When tasks are assigned, prioritized, routed, redirected, and sorted, customers can be serviced efficiently, as their cases are resolved by a team of customer service agents working collaboratively with other members of your organization. Queues provide maximum visibility into what needs to get done — and who is responsible for getting it done.

Queues contain cases or activities in a communal fashion. If you’re a member of a queue, you can see all items in the Queue list. A case is either routed automatically or added manually to a queue. Later, the case or activity is taken out of the queue (accepted, in other words) by a user who assumes responsibility for working it. As a user, you can choose the case or activity in a self-service fashion, or, alternatively, a user who has manager permissions (in other words, a customer service manager) may divvy up the workload among users and teams of users by directly assigning items or routing items using routing rules.

Using a shared Office 365 Outlook mailbox will make the queue even more communal, increase visibility, and enhance collaboration. The customer can email the shared mailbox associated with the queue, and then all those emails will be visible to users who are members of the queue. Talk to your administrator about configuring CRM queues to work with an Office 365 shared mailbox.

Views

A view is a list of items that can be filtered and sorted so that you can find them quickly. You can also add columns to views so that the list of items shows more fields, giving you more columns to sort and filter on and more information at your fingertips.

After you have filtered the view and included all the columns you want, you can save that configuration (called a view definition) as a personal view by giving it a name. Doing so saves you from having to set up all that filtering and choosing the column layout each time. In addition, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service comes with dozens of built-in (system) views, such as My Active Cases and Cases Opened in the Last 7 Days. All these system views have a descriptive name that makes it easy to understand what you’re looking at. You can see the views in the View list.

To create a personal view of cases based on an existing view, follow these steps:

  1. Click the down arrow immediately to the right of the View name.

    A pull-down menu of views, which starts with System Views, appears; is followed by My Views (personal views); and, lastly, has a few command buttons at the end.

  2. Click the Create Personal View button at the bottom of the pull-down menu.

    Doing so launches the Advanced Find window. (Note that the Advanced Find window has a Save As button.)

    The Look For field is already defaulted to Cases, so you won’t need to change that.

  3. Click the downward-pointing arrow to open the drop-down list to the right of Used Saved View.
  4. Select the name of the view to base your personal view on.

    The query and criteria used to retrieve the cases are populated automatically. You won’t need to change that unless you want to tweak it by adding, deleting, or modifying criteria.

  5. Click the Edit Columns button.

    The Edit Columns window appears.

  6. Select a column by clicking in the Column Heading area.

    A green border appears around the column to indicate that the column is selected.

  7. In the Common Tasks controls located to the right of the column headings, click the left or right arrow to move the column to the left or right.

    You can add columns, remove columns, or change the properties of columns using the appropriate button in the Common Tasks controls.

  8. After you have the column layout set up the way you like it, simply click OK in the Edit Columns window.

    The Edit Columns window closes, taking you back to the Advanced Find window.

  9. Click the Save As Button.

    The Save as New View window appears.

  10. Give your personal view a name by entering a name in the Name field.

    The name field is required. (Note the red asterisk.)

    Optionally, you may enter a description of the personal view.

  11. Click Save.

    Your personal view appears in the View list, under the My Views heading, which is bolded. Personal views are shown lower in the list, after the System views.

Dynamics 365 for Customer Service has lots of views to find all kinds of items, such as accounts (customers), contacts, activities, and, yes, the all-important cases. You can navigate to a case by finding it in a view. Because views can be filtered and sorted, it’s easy to find the case you’re looking for using a view. Because they’re so easy to find, views themselves can be used as a sort of queue. In other words, you can monitor a view, in the same way you can monitor a queue.