In recent years, social media platforms have been conceived as tools that can facilitate fluid communication between companies and customers.
With the arrival of the pandemic, companies that had not yet digitized their processes urgently needed to find a way to stay connected to their customers and began to implement different means of communication that were not previously their main short-term goal.
Our new reality demands interactions with remote customers all around the world, through multiple different channels. Companies must now attend to social networks, instant messaging channels, websites with eCommerce capabilities, and emails, in addition to traditional telephone channels.
Assembling an entire infrastructure that supports these different means of communication, cannot be done overnight. This is why tools that accelerate the process, such as the Omnichannel for Customer Service, are essential for integrating customers from different channels across the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform.
In this section, we will briefly explore the different communication channels and tools available in the Microsoft platform.
PowerApps Portals solve everything related to the implementation of a web channel. You can start with a blank portal, or with some of the preconfigured options available: Customer Self Service Portal, Partner Portal, Employee Self-Servicey Community Portal. These portals come with a wide variety of preconfigured features such as case creation, content management, multilanguage support, forums, ideas section, knowledge base, information search engine, blogs, security and much more. The Chat channel can be added to any of these portals to integrate it within the Omnichannel platform and achieve a unified experience.
The portal has a responsive and multi-device design for customer access, as well as different authentication and user authorization methods.
Facebook: here the integration is done using the chat channel of the Facebook pages, which allows us to have conversations with clients in real time. In addition to being a social network, Facebook has become a necessary platform for the authorization and authentication of users by validating entities. Additionally, Facebook now provides this service to WhatsApp and Instagram Chat. The latter, however, is not yet available on the Microsoft platform.
Twitter: the integration is carried out directly with the platform in order to have interactions with the Twitter Chat Channel.
LINE/We Chat: similar to Facebook and Twitter, LINE/We Chat profiles are configured in the application to receive incoming chats and contact clients.
Custom Channels: there are two types supported. The first is called "Direct Line," and allows us to build an API to integrate our own channel. The second is used for the integration of Telegram as another Customer Service Channel.
Instant Messaging Channels
WhatsApp: the integration is carried out through Twilio, a provider that interacts with the Facebook platform, since direct contracting with WhatsApp for messaging services is limited to certain companies, including some telephone companies. It allows the configuration of multiple phone numbers for customer service.
SMS: here the integration is done via Twilio or Telesign as SMS service providers.
Microsoft Teams: integrating a Teams channel within an organization is an excellent tool to support internal customers and perform centralized management. It is a world class tool that has been adopted by multiple companies and even universities for teaching.
Web Chat: chat from a website is an additional component that is usually integrated so that customers can easily get in contact with company support services. This channel supports audio and video. It can be added from different websites independently and it can include a BOT called Power Virtual Agent, which guides the customer and helps them to complete their request. When the client needs it, The Power Virtual Agent can transfer the conversation to a Service Agent to follow the interaction with them in a personalized way.
Upon receiving an email, the platform enters it into a management queue. The management queue is usually integrated natively with the case management module, allowing you to take advantage of the fact that the system can generate a record with the email information and follow up on it after receiving an email from a client.
Voice is set up with Azure Communication Services, which connects to cloud telephony centers compatible with the platform or the one provided by Microsoft. Among its most outstanding capabilities is the inclusion of artificial intelligence, which provides agents with sentiment analysis, call recording, suggestions, translations, and multilanguage transcripts in real time, as well as access to live information for trend analysis. Here the Power Virtual Agent works as IVR.
Common characteristics between Social Media, Instant Messaging, Chat, and Voice Channels
All the features present in the channels are provided by the box module or OOB. The agent works in an environment that has multiple configurable tabs where the interactions in progress are displayed on the right side. There they can see the attention queues and handle cases that are on hold. When the system sees an agent available, it assigns them the call. There are routing rules that allow control of call derivations according to different criteria that we will review later in more depth.
All channels have control of the presence of the agent, whether they are available, disconnected, absent, busy, or offline.
Once the communication is established, the operator can use predefined quick answers and access to the knowledge base, as well as view open customer cases. If the case belongs to an existing client, all the information related to previous interactions will remain in their profile, such as the channels they've entered through, and all related activity.
The agent can choose whether to refer the communication to the supervisor or even to send messages outside that specific exchange to access additional information. Additionally, they can follow the script configured in the tool.
Service channels have settings that allow you to determine the channel's default language, service hours, and automated multilanguage messages that are triggered by events related to the presence of an agent and customers in the channel.
In addition, you can:
- Set up automatic templates for channels like WhatsApp, Twitter, and SMS.
- Allow file sharing between clients and agents.
- Get automatic transcripts of conversations saved to your customer's profile as soon as your conversation is over.
- If necessary, obtain real-time translations of conversations.
- Set up surveys using Customer Voice.
- Separate teams by skills to redirect messages to specialists. This skill routing is optionally supported by AI, which helps to better determine who is the ideal agent for the client request.
- Manage independent work queues assigning priorities and capacity to the agents to optimize the use of resources. A clear example is the voice service channel, which requires immediate interaction with the customer v.s. a chat channel, which provides waiting times that allow the agent to attend multiple cases at once.
- The system allows the configuration of routing rules so that certain information is captured within the same channel and specific referrals are made to the different management teams.
- Finally, is the issue of security. There is certain private information provided by the client at the time of the exchange that can be sensitive to manipulation. In these cases, this information can be masked by rules that detect this type of exchange between the agent and the client.
Monitoring and Reporting
In addition to these services, Customer Voice can be included to survey our customers, perform NPS measurements, CSAT, and topic analysis.
But how do we monitor all these service channels? Well, the platform has management panels for call center agents and supervisors with metrics for each channel detailing service times, waiting times, sentiment analysis, status of service queues, agents, and the BOT in case you are using it.
It also has the integration of two extremely powerful tools to analyze current and historical customer data: Power BI + Customer Service Insights. These tools enable better suggestions, allow us to build clusters of cases and frequent conversation topics, and help usunderstand where our clients' concerns come from.
A little about Power Virtual Agents + Customer Service Insights
Microsoft's Virtual Agent does not require re-training, it has an extremely simple configuration interface that can be integrated with Power Automate to carry out complex actions and with AI services such as document recognition, integration with Portals, Microsoft Teams, and Facebook among others.
As a fundamental aspect, Power Virtual Agent has an integration with Customer Service Insights, which allows us to have a 360 view of our customers and identify patterns based on previous interactions.
Power Virtual Agent facilitates the process of training and improving our BOT and provides metrics and reports that allow us to generate a variety of easily identifiable topics, which are of frequent interest for our customers.
Omnichannel for Customer Service Dynamics 365 is an extremely powerful platform that facilitates comprehensive and personalized attention to our customers. The ability to centralize all client records from anytime across different channels gives us a global vision of each case and enables us to find the best ways to respond. Omnichannel for Customer Service facilitates the systematization of the work of agents and operators, increasing efficiency across the board.
That said, it is essential to understand that Omnichannel is a customer service tool, not a marketing tool. Currently, there are other tools within the Microsoft package dedicated to Marketing. It is important to know how to distinguish these tools from each other and understand their functions. Only then can we get the most out of each platform.