Overview of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service

My study of MB-900 is continuing with an overview of Dynamics 365 for Customer Service. Where Dynamics 365 for Sales was focused on helping the sales associates build stronger and lasting relationships with customers, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service is focused on providing flexibility and a consistent level of service for customers. Support agents will be able to use Dynamics 365 for Customer Service to better optimize their time and deliver the right answers to the customer quicker.

As with Dynamics 365 for Sales, Dynamics 365 for Customer Service contains customizable interactive dashboards. These dashboards will keep track of support queues, knowledge articles, and current cases. Support agents can use these dashboards to quickly and dynamically determine which are the highest priority cases to follow up on. Once the case is identified and opened, a customized case resolution process will help them find the tools and information that the support agent will need in order to properly assist the customer.

Customer Service diagram from Microsoft Learn
Customer Service diagram from Microsoft Learn

In Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, a customer has an entitlement, also known as a support contract. This entitlement defines the level of support the customer can receive over a one-year period of time. The entitlement can include the number of support cases that can be opened as well as how long it takes for a support agent to respond to the case.

An omnichannel support solution is provided by Dynamics 365 for Customer Service. This gives the customer multiple different methods of interacting with the service center each with a consistent experience, regardless of the method they choose. These methods include online customer support portals that can be accessed from a computer or mobile device; integrated chat that has a service bot answering basic questions and recording them for the support agent to take over; email support queues; and phone calls direct to the service center.

When customers interact with the portal, online chat, or email the service center, a case is automatically created in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service. This case is compared to the customer’s entitlement to determine which queue the case is assigned. From that point, a support agent that has access to the queue can pick up the case and start working it. That support agent is then responsible for working the case until it is resolved. Other support agents will be able to see that the case is being handled, and can pick up the next case in the queue.

The support agent is given several tools to assist them in resolving the case. A case resolution process is automatically assigned to the case, based on the type of case. This process is customized by the business and contains several stages, each with multiple steps to be completed in order to resolve the case. Integrated knowledge base articles are offered to the support agent and can be emailed to the customer with possible resolutions.

Once the customer confirms that their problem has been resolved, the support agent is able to close the case as resolved. With the case resolved, the entitlement is updated. If the entitlement includes a specified number of support cases available to the customer, that number is decremented by one to reflect the number of cases they have remaining.

Demo of the customer support process in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service.

Demo of the customer support portal in Dynamics 365 for Customer Service.

Overview of Microsoft Relationship Sales

This blog post continues with the study related material for MB-900 and focuses on Microsoft Relationship Sales. Microsoft Relationship Sales is an additional module in Dynamics 365 which links LinkedIn Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 for Sales by leveraging LinkedIn relationships and company information. This integration between LinkedIn and Dynamics 365 will allow sales associates access to powerful relationship information from within Dynamics 365 for Sales.

Unifying the Seller Experience from Microsoft Learn
Unifying the Seller Experience from Microsoft Learn

LinkedIn Sales Navigator integration allows users to see headlines, activities, news and other related information about their contact directly inside Dynamics 365. Users can see shared contacts in order to facilitate icebreakers and encourage introductions to new prospects. LinkedIn InMail and PointDrive can be shown as activities and the LinkedIn user images can be displayed directly inside Dynamics 365. All this information can then be used in Dynamics 365 sales playbooks and with the AI for sales to strengthen the relationships between the sales associate and their contacts.

Embedded Intelligence is included as part of Dynamics 365 for Sales and adds powerful features for helping to manage relationships with contacts, especially in conjunction with Microsoft Relationship Sales. This is a suite of features that works in conjunction with data stored in Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Exchange. These features include relationship assistant, email engagement and auto capture. Relationship assistant analyzes data to generate cards detailing recommended actions to take based on the current context of the user. Email engagement will help users to keep track of emails that are sent, viewed, responded to, as well as attachments and links viewed as activities. Auto capture analyzes relevant email addresses in Microsoft Exchange and tracks them from within Dynamics 365.

Embedded Intelligence Diagram from Microsoft Learn
Embedded Intelligence Diagram from Microsoft Learn

All the data collected from LinkedIn, Exchange, and Dynamics 365 can be uniquely analyzed with Dynamics 365 AI for Sales. The sales specific AI can analyze relationship information, predict lead and opportunity scores, analyze notes, and even offer talking points to customers and prospects.

Relationship Sales Video from Microsoft Learn

Overview of Dynamics 365 for Sales

Continuing with the study for MB-900 is an overview of Dynamics 365 for Sales. Dynamics 365 for Sales is built on top of Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement (CE) but is also available as an individual module at a lower cost per user. As the name implies, it is a sales focused application designed to help sales associates drive business and sales managers to dive deeper into the sales data generated.

Example Sales Process
Example Sales Process from Microsoft Learn

The image above, provided by Microsoft, shows an example of the typical sales process. The sales associate will start by qualifying leads. They contact the lead, gather information, and determine if the lead is a good fit, both for the potential customer and the organization as a whole. All actions, such as emails and phone calls, can be tracked against the lead. This information then becomes available to other sales associates and sales managers along the way. This process can be further enhanced by AI for Sales to create custom scoring models and analyze existing organization relationships to improve the likelihood of qualifying leads.

Once a lead is qualified, the lead can be converted to an opportunity. The lead can be linked to an existing contact and/or account. If one does not exist, it will be created and linked automatically during the qualification process. This begins the development cycle, where the opportunity is worked by determining what products and/or services are of interest to the customer. The data collected during this process can be tailored to meet the organizations unique business process flow. That data is then available to other team members on the opportunity record, increasing the chances of closing the opportunity. Like the lead, AI for Sales can be utilized to help increase the chances of closing the deal.

Once all the data is required and the products/services selected, a quote can be generated directly from the opportunity. This quote is sent as a proposal to the customer. The customer can then work with the sales associate to make any changes. Quotes are able to be revised and sent to the customer with the updated information. This feedback loop can happen several times through the life of the quote until the customer accepts the quote.

An accepted quote can automatically generate the sales order and the associated opportunity is closed as won. Integrations into other ERP systems can keep track of current inventory levels required to fulfill the sales order. Once the order is fulfilled, an invoice is generated in order to bill the customer. The invoice generation can come from Dynamics 365 for Sales, but it is not uncommon for it to come from the backend ERP system, such as Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations.

Video overview of Dynamics 365 for Sales from Microsoft Learn

While this process is similar among many organizations, it is by no means a unique process. Every organization has its own data points that are needed and their own strategies designed to qualify leads and close sales. Dynamics 365 for Sales allows for the creation of new fields and even new entities for gathering information. These new data points can be used in reports, shown on dashboards, and included anywhere in the sales process. With this data, whether from existing entities or custom entities, the industry and business requirements can be filled and the ability of the organization to drive business can be improved.

Introduction to Dynamics 365

As MB-900 is a test related to the fundamentals of Dynamics 365, it is essential to start with a basic introduction. Dynamics 365 is a collection of first-party business applications that are designed to help businesses simplify the complexity of CRM and ERP systems. They are modular business applications which work together on a single platform. Customer Engagement, Unified Operations, and Power Platform are the main areas of business applications for Dynamics 365. The individual business solutions are listed below:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Business Central
  • Customer Service
  • Field Service
  • Finance and Operations
  • Marketing
  • Mixed Reality
  • Project Service Automation
  • Retail
  • Sales
  • Talent

By leveraging one or more of these applications, organizations are able to engage customers more effectively, optimize business operations, empower employees to work better and more efficiently, as well as transform products and services by using data to find new opportunities and analyze customer data.

Understanding Cloud Concepts

One of the skills measured in “Exam MB-900: Microsoft Certified: Dynamics 365 Fundamentals” is understanding cloud concepts. It is important to understand cloud architecture as well as comparing cloud services and cloud offerings. Microsoft’s cloud offering is Azure, so it is essential to know how Azure fits. This blog post will share an overview of cloud computing and attempt to cover the topics that may relate to the exam.

Cloud Computing Overview

Microsoft provides the most straightforward overview of cloud computing.

Simply put, cloud computing is the delivery of computing services—servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, intelligence and more—over the Internet (“the cloud”) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale. You typically pay only for cloud services you use, helping lower your operating costs, run your infrastructure more efficiently, and scale as your business needs change.
What is cloud computing? A beginner’s guide.

There are many different activities related to cloud computing. An individual or company could be hosting a web page, using email, creating documents online, running applications over the internet, or even connecting to a virtual machine online. Cloud computing makes what we do on the internet every day possible. For businesses, it can also be a way to have maximum performance and scalability at a fraction of the cost of managing the infrastructure in-house.

Cloud Service Provider

Cloud service providers are those companies that offer various cloud services. They maintain the hardware infrastructure and the technical resources to support it. Payment for services is typically calculated based on usage. That allows the flexibility to expand or shrink usage of the cloud services to optimize expenses and maintain the reliability of services during peak times. Examples of cloud service providers are Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

Virtual Machines

A virtual machine (VM) is an emulation of a computer running on another server. It has an operating system and virtualized hardware capable of managing multiple tasks. It is the most flexible of cloud offerings, as it gives complete control of the environment and applications running in that environment. The cloud service provider still maintains the hardware, networking, and security of the underlying infrastructure, while the user or company IT department manages the VM. The benefit of a virtual machine over a physical server is that a VM can be created quickly at a fraction of the cost required to set up a new computer.


A container is an isolated execution environment for applications. Unlike a virtual machine, there is no operating system in a container. Instead, a container holds the application and all its dependencies in an isolated process. Containers are smaller than VMs and can be started up much quicker, as there is no operating system to initialize. As a container has everything it needs for the application to execute, it can be passed between environments seamlessly.

Serverless Computing

Serverless computing differs from a VM or container in that application code is executed without the need to create or maintain a server. In this case, an action triggers a related application function. Automated tasks, such as sending of automatic email responses, is an ideal use of serverless computing. This functionality is often less costly than a VM or container, as the only charge relates to processing time. As each function is an isolated process, this is also the quickest way to deploy to the cloud.

Public Cloud

With the public cloud, there is no local hardware. Everything in the public cloud is managed and paid for by the cloud service provider. This type of service often charged on a pay-for-usage basis. It is the most common type of cloud service. Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure are examples of public clouds. The advantages of this type of service are pricing and service flexibility, without the need to maintain infrastructure. This type of cloud has disadvantages as well, such as compliance and security requirements that may not be met by a cloud service offering. Legacy applications may not necessarily be able to function in the public cloud space either.

Private Cloud

A private cloud replicates the functionality of a public cloud, except that infrastructure is typically not managed by a cloud service provider. Companies implementing a private cloud must purchase the hardware and hire the technical professionals to maintain that infrastructure. As this is an isolated cloud instance, it has the advantages of security and compliance that may not be possible in a public cloud. The most significant disadvantage to the private cloud is in terms of cost and flexibility. All the hardware is purchased up front, and if there are insufficient computing resources for the demand, additional hardware will need to be purchased.

Hybrid Cloud

The hybrid cloud is a combination of both the public and private cloud. A hybrid cloud is used in scenarios where the private cloud is necessary for security, compliance, legal, or legacy applications, yet other, less secure, applications can be executed with the scalability and flexibility of the public cloud. Many times this is also used as companies migrate from legacy on-premise infrastructure to the public cloud. This scenario, while sounding like the best of both worlds, could potentially be more complicated and more expensive to operate and maintain.

Government Cloud

Government agencies have specific security and compliance needs. Many government regulations and requirements are associated with the handling of sensitive data. These security and compliance needs are not able to be met in typical public cloud solutions. Separate isolated data centers and network infrastructures are required to meet the needs of government agencies in the government cloud. This infrastructure is designed to meet the stringent security and compliance policies that are needed.

On-Premise vs. Cloud

On-premise infrastructure is different from the private and public cloud. With on-premise, all the hardware is physically located where the company does business. On-premise infrastructure may or may not be accessible to the internet, depending on the security needs and requirements. All hardware must be purchased upfront, as well as hiring the technical resources to maintain the infrastructure. Private cloud takes the on-premise solution and moves it to the internet. The hardware is no longer located locally but instead stored in one or more data centers. Like an on-premise infrastructure, the hardware and technical resources to manage the hardware, are the responsibility of the company. For a private cloud, the underlying network is managed by the data center. Hybrid clouds take that to the next step, pushing more of the infrastructure into being managed by a cloud service provider in the public cloud. Hybrid clouds can communicate with both the public and private clouds for the company. Finally, the public cloud moves all infrastructure management to the cloud service provider, leaving the company to focus on their specific business requirements, and only pay for what is required and used.

Infrastructure as a Service

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is the lowest level of the cloud computing stack. It provides complete control over the virtualized hardware and operating systems. Instead of buying the necessary hardware upfront, VMs are rented and paid for based on usage and virtual hardware requirements. The cloud service provider manages the underlying infrastructure. IaaS gives instant computing power over the internet that can be powered on and turned off quickly and easily.

Platform as a Service

Platform as a Service (PaaS) is the middle level of the cloud computing stack. It provides an environment for building, testing and deploying software applications. This type of service offers the necessary tools and resources for development and testing, without the need to worry about the underlying hardware, operating system, and security considerations of the platform. The focus for the user can remain on the application.

Software as a Service

Software as a Service (SaaS) is the top level of the cloud computing stack. It offers subscription-based pricing to online applications. An example of this would be Gmail and Outlook for email services or Office 365 for productivity software. Dynamics 365 is another example of a SaaS offering.

Cost Option Comparison

When it comes to determining the best cost options for comparison, it is essential to look at the capital expenditure (CapEx) as compared to the operational expenditure (OpEx). CapEx entails the upfront costs of doing business. The expenses include purchasing the necessary hardware infrastructure required to do business. OpEx doesn’t have the upfront cost of CapEx and is usually paid for over time. OpEx includes employee salaries and subscription services.

On-premise, private cloud and hybrid cloud all have significant CapEx costs associated with them. These costs include the necessary server hardware, storage needs, networking components, as well as backup and archiving fees. Also, there are OpEx costs associated with the technical employees that are required to manage the infrastructure, as well as the recurring costs for the network bandwidth requirements, software updates, and so on.

The public cloud doesn’t have the CapEx costs seen in on-premise or private cloud environments. Instead, you have OpEx costs of renting the services or paying the subscription licensing fees. As the cloud provider handles the maintenance of the infrastructure, it reduces the need for the technical employees, thus reducing the overall cost to the company.

Microsoft Azure

Azure is the cloud computing offering from Microsoft. It offers over 100 different cloud services to help businesses build and deploy their services to the cloud. It ranges from application hosting through virtual machines to run a variety of custom services and offerings. It is a global service, with data centers in over 50 regions. Also, it provides many security and compliance offerings to ensure that data is protected.