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Posted by on Jun 4, 2024 in Everything Else

Microsoft Splits Apart its Contact Center Capabilities from its CRM, offers new standalone product

Microsoft Splits Apart its Contact Center Capabilities from its CRM, offers new standalone product

Big news in the world of Contact-Center-As-A-Service (CCaaS). Microsoft is taking the contact center and omnichannel experiences from Dynamics 365 Customer Service and offering them as a stand-alone product, meaning they can be used without needing Dynamics CRM.

Up until now, Microsoft have pitched their Digital Contact Center offering as being a collection of various Microsoft services with Dynamics CRM at the core. If you already have Dynamics as your CRM then this makes sense, but if you don’t, then moving from your existing contact center provider to Microsoft comes with an additional hurdle: now you also have to consider migrating your CRM. For many companies, this is just a step too far. Too much work, too much risk, too much inter-departmental strife between two different teams in an organisation (the team that owns CRM is very often not the team that owns contact center – more on this later).

That’s all changed now though. Soon, you’ll be able to purchase Microsoft Dynamics 365 Contact Center as a separate SKU. This contains all the goodness of the contact center features, but it can be used with CRMs that are not Dynamics, such as SalesForce, ServiceNow and others. (There’s going to be a custom connector so theoretically it could be used with any CRM).

When it launches, you can expect the following features to be available as part of this new product, based on what’s already available in Dynamics 365 Customer Service. I’m pleased to see that there’s a good amount of Copilot functionality in the product from Day One:

  • For Voice Channel
    • IVR capabilities
    • Automatic Contact Distribution
    • Voicemail
    • Callback
    • Recording & Transcription
    • Outbound Dialer & Calling
  • For Online / Digital Channels
    • Live & Persistent Chat
    • SMS, Facebook, Apple, Google, WhatsApp Chat Support
    • Automatic Contact Distribution
    • Real time translation of calls
    • Conversation Summarization
  • For Agents
    • Embeddable Widget (for embedding into a third party CRM)
    • Q&A via Copilot
    • Case Summarization
    • Email Assist
  • For Supervisors
    • Real-time Views
    • Historical Reporting
    • Performance Dashboards
    • Knowledge Management
  • For Developers
    • APIs
    • Third Party CRM Connectors

What’s interesting about this launch is that because all these features are already in-market (but with the CRM locked to Dynamics), Microsoft can show that the platform is already capable at scale.

My Thoughts

Lots of companies are seeing real productivity benefits from Copilot for Microsoft 365 in their knowledge workers. Being able to move to a contact center solution that uses that same AI magic-sauce to make agents more productive will be a very seductive proposition. Not requiring a change in CRM makes that proposition an achievable reality, and I think there will be strong interest in this.

However, success will rest on two factors: getting the word out there, and pricing.

I’m not a fan of the name: Dynamics 365 Contact Center. This still sounds like a CRM-based product. In enterprises, I think it will struggle to gain the attention of Modern Workplace VPs who need to hear about it. Whilst it’s still seen as “something to do with the CRM” I don’t think it will be able to break out into the true contact center arena where it can shine. Maybe that can be solved with clever marketing, but it will need buy in from the Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Azure marketing teams to make that happen.

For everyone other than the largest enterprises, the other factor is the pricing. We’re going to have to wait and see what that looks like. I’m fascinated to know whether they choose to align with the per user, per month model used by the established players in this space, or chose to go with consumption-based billing, more akin to Amazon Connect.

Ref: Announcing Dynamics 365 Contact Center – a Copilot-first cloud contact center to transform service experiences – The Official Microsoft Blog

Written by Tom Morgan

Tom is a Microsoft Teams Platform developer and Microsoft MVP who has been blogging for over a decade. Find out more.
Buy the book: Building and Developing Apps & Bots for Microsoft Teams. Now available to purchase online with free updates.

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