Liam O’Brien
December 2, 2019

Microsoft’s secret agents: the best customer service solution you’ve never heard of

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Microsoft for some training and product demos on Dynamics Customer Services. Every time I visit Microsoft, I come away with really productive ideas and solutions for Dynamics, and this was no exception. My big takeaway is always, “why haven’t more people heard about the brilliant stuff Microsoft can do?!”

Luckily for you, I’m here to help bridge that gap – I want to share a bit of the exciting stuff I discovered at that training session, in particular around building virtual agents in Dynamics 365.

What is a virtual agent?

No, it’s not Mr Smith from the Matrix movies. Virtual agents are the automated chatbots you may have seen starting to pop up on all sorts of consumer websites, helping to answer simple questions and redirect users to the right resources, easing the workload from customer service teams. It’s a great solution for efficiency, helping customers to self-serve, and it’s also an always-on solution – a bot can answer questions 24/7.

Useful, right? It might seem like a big job to set up a virtual agent, considering the complexity of the tasks they’re doing – especially if you have no coding skills yourself, or you’re a smaller business without developers. But this is where Dynamics can help.

How’s that?

Say your client is in consumer banking – they want a virtual agent on their website to help address a specific request, like pointing people in the right direction for credit card applications. In Dynamics, you can use the simple, intuitive platform to set up something like this with relative ease. They even have templated virtual agents for hundreds of use cases, which you can customise as far as you need to. Once you’ve launched it, the virtual agent will react to a wide range of inputs defined by you and/or the template, with a straight-forward ‘if this then that’ flow diagram of responses.

So when someone visits the customer’s website and types “can I get a credit card pls?”, Bob the Banking Bot will automatically and politely (if that’s your style!) check their age, find out if they already have an account, and send them to the right pages to apply. Bob could auto-fill fields with suggestions based on their account information, and can even use machine learning to navigate spelling or grammar mistakes in the typed request. At the same time, Bob will record the interactions straight into Dynamics – brilliant news for marketing, sales and customer service teams.

Is it really that simple to set up?

Put it this way – I haven’t got a coding bone in my body. And after a quick demo with Microsoft, I’ve been able to start playing around with virtual agents back at Westcoast Cloud HQ, without seeing a single line of code. It’s great, and it gives smaller businesses a level playing field to deliver the same quality of customer service as the multinational leaders in their markets. If you want to see just how easy it is, I’d be happy to give a quick demo to any Westcoast Cloud partners who are interested – just drop me a note.

When would this be useful?

When wouldn’t it be useful? Any business with a customer service element or an online presence could benefit from this tech. Want to help people find the right page on your website? Virtual agent. Got a very long and unwieldy FAQ list but your customer service reps are still bombarded with question calls? Virtual agent. Need a way to handle objections for e-commerce website visitors and encourage them to buy? Virtual… wait for it… agent.

As I said earlier, there are loads of templated examples ready to go in Dynamics. Just have a look through and see what’s available for your customers’ industries.

  • GP appointment setting in healthcare, or MOT appointments in automotive
  • Sharing real-time booking information in travel and transport
  • Product information in retail and e-commerce
  • Loan and card applications for banking and financial services
  • Bill payments and inquiries in energy and utilities

Ultimately, each company is going to have its own individual needs of course. Microsoft are doing more and more, particularly with the templated virtual agents, to help your clients offer a customer service that is bespoke to their niche. It’s a big step up from a standard ticket management solution, which a lot of customers use in conjunction with Dynamics without realising there is a better option available.

That’s my take on virtual agents in Dynamics. If you want to chat to me about how it could work for your customers, feel free to get in contact.