Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Service Components

Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Service is a large, fully-functional module that has been present since the beginning of the Microsoft Dynamics platform, and which has evolved considerably over the years. The heart and soul of the current Service “app” remains the Case entity, but a large number of additional entities and features have been added. Figure 1 below provides a good way to understand the various functions provided by the Service app.  

Microsoft Dynamics 365 Service Features

Figure 1 – Microsoft Dynamics 365 Service Module Features Included

! Pitfall Some users have been confused by certain aspects of the evolving nature of the Service application. For instance, as of October 2018, there are two types of Knowledge components – the “Knowledge Article” and the “Article”, and two categorization capabilities – the “Subject Tree” and the “Category.”  The “Knowledge Article” and “Category” are used in the “Customer Service Hub”, which might be characterized as a more modern interface reminiscent of Microsoft Teams, whereas the “Article” and “Subject Tree” are used in the traditional interface of the Microsoft Dynamics 365 Service application.  This part of the application continues to evolve.

 

Figure 1 above provides a useful list of features that are present in the Service app, and their descriptions.  Before you get started with the Service module in Microsoft Dynamics 365, you should understand some key components in the list above.  Table 1 below is designed to help you understand whether or not your organization may wish to make use of the various features of this very robust module.

Feature

Use this Feature if your Organization Wishes To …

Queues

Track work items (like Cases) in a list that can be “picked” to work on by staff, where anyone can see who is working on what.  This is also necessary if you wish to “route” cases to a queue using routing rules.  Also, use queues to create aliases that don’t consume a Microsoft Dynamics 365 license, but which can send and receive emails.

Parent and Child Case Settings

Track cases that may spawn “child” cases and inherit the attributes of a “Parent” case. We see call centers using this frequently when an outage may be related to many tickets that are opened, and staff wish to group them under a “Master” case.

Routing Rule Sets

Automatically assign cases to a Queue, or to a User/Team based on values in the Case itself, or values in a record related to a Case, such as a Customer, Entitlement, Contract Line, or other related entities.

Automatic Record Creation and Update Rules

Automatically create a record from certain types of activities (for instance, create a Case from an Email under certain conditions). This feature can also be used to specific additional actions after the creation, such as sending an email. This is frequently used by support teams to create specific cases based on incoming emails to a support alias, along with notification. All of this can be accomplished using the Workflow engine (Processes) as well – but this feature provides a slightly easier interface

Subjects

Assist support staff with information relevant to a given Case. This is a hierarchical tree of subjects, which is an important field on the Case entity. Subjects are also related to Articles, which facilitates a subject-based knowledge base that shows appropriate articles for the case in question to help support staff.

Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Establish and enforce (or at least inform status of) a set of standards for support tickets (cases). An example is that a response for a ticket must be recorded by the system (and what constitutes a “response” can be defined in the SLA) within, say, 4 hours. Warnings actions can be set, and then failure actions, such as email notifications and re-assignments can be configured.  (By the way, SLA’s can also be applied to Sales entities, such as Leads, Opportunities and Quotes.)

Entitlements

Define a number of support cases or minutes allocated for a customer, the balance of which is automatically calculated as support teams resolve cases. Use this when you would like multiple channels of support, with different allocations.  This feature also contains less moving parts than Contracts and Contract Lines.

Holiday Schedule

Apply holiday hours to SLA’s where the SLA might be different for holiday schedules.  This should also be configured if it applies and if you also plan to set a Customer Service Calendar (see below)

Customer Support Calendar

Set a schedule for when support is available and when a SLA should be enforced. This is an optional field on the SLA. If a Holiday Schedule is set, you can set the Customer Service schedule to honor the Holiday Schedule during holidays.

Service Configuration Settings

Control and manage certain SLA and Entitlement features. For instance, you can completely disable SLA’s with one click, or set manual overrides. You can also configure SLA Pauses based on the status of the case. You can also control the automatic calculation of customer entitlement balances.

Embedded Knowledge Search

Turn on Knowledge Base capability for entities.  In addition to this ability, the “Knowledge Source” setting allows either the use of Dynamics 365 or “Parature” for the source and management of knowledge articles.  However, it should be understood that Parature as source of these articles is now deprecated[i], so about the only utility left in this feature is the ability to turn on Knowledge Management for specific entities, which is something that can also be done in the Customization area of the application.  Incidentally, “turning on” this capability consists of creating a many-to-many relationship between the entity and the Article entity, which allows a sub-grid to be created to add articles to the entity in question.

Categories

Categorize Knowledge Articles found in the Customer Service Hub.

Entitlement Templates

Set up templates that form the basis for new Entitlements. The template simply allows for a set of parameters that can be individually changed on each new Entitlement, but it’s a time-saver to have the SLA, a name, terms, channels and potentially products all defined before the Entitlement is created.  Then each Entitlement can be tailored, if applicable, to a specific deal or customer. This is similar to a Contract Template.

Email Templates

Create templated communication that can be used on the fly when sending communication out regarding service requests, or knowledge components.

Article Templates

Create formatted templates for new Articles. For of these are provided by default, but new templates can be created as well. Sections, text and header sizes, languages and simple formatting can be pre-determined, and the user then chooses a template when creating a new Article.

Contract Templates

Create pre-determined templates for new service Contracts. Important choices here are Allotment Type (cases or minutes), billing frequency, contract service level, and the calendar of support hours. When a user creates a Contract record, they choose a template.  Contract Lines are then configured with allotments, and the closure of Cases under the Contract Line subtracts the allotment, depending on the Contract Template chosen for the Contract.

Business Closure

Set a single, upcoming calendar period where Service Activities cannot be scheduled. Creating this record will prohibit the scheduling of these types of activities unless resources with the “Do Not Observe” option checked are part of the activity. An example would be a day or days where all service vehicles are to undergo an emergency maintenance event.

Facilities/Equipment

Create specific resources that can be scheduled using Service Activities, and that would appear in the Service Calendar.

Sites

Create specific locations where resources can be located in specific time zones for scheduling purposes, and also to manage Resource Groups.

Services

Define categorical types of services which require specific sets or resources and durations when scheduled Service Activities.

Resource Groups

Define the specific components of groups of facilities, equipment, people, and even other resource groups that are required to carry out a particular Service. Using Resource Groups allows the enforcement of “Selection Rules” so that the minimum resources required for a Service Activity are available when attempting to schedule.

[i] Microsoft (2018), “Use embedded knowledge search to set up knowledge management”, https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics365/customer-engagement/customer-service/set-up-knowledge-management-embedded-knowledge-search