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Microsoft Announces Copilot-Driven Dynamics 365 Contact Center

Microsoft Announces Copilot-Driven Dynamics 365 Contact Center

The News: Microsoft announced Dynamics 365 Contact Center, its new Copilot-led contact center solution, which is designed to help customers leverage their existing CRM investments. This approach directly addresses key market concerns, which revolve around technology stack sprawl, maximizing ROI, and shortening time-to-value. The solution is projected to be generally available as of July 1, 2024.

You can read the blog post detailing the news at Microsoft’s web site.

Microsoft Announces Copilot-Driven Dynamics 365 Contact Center

Analyst Take: Microsoft announced Dynamics 365 Contact Center, which is the company’s Copilot-first contact center solution designed to leverage generative AI across all customer engagement channels. Available as a standalone contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) offering, the solution is designed to maximize customers’ investment in existing technology by connecting to any CRM or custom app, as well as tightly integrating with other Microsoft applications.

Modernizing Service Experiences with Generative AI

Dynamics 365 Contact Center is being released with several AI-powered capabilities that are designed to improve customer experiences, whether fully automated, agent-assisted, or via hybrid experiences. The goal, according to Microsoft, is to incorporate a variety of analytics, predictive AI, and generative AI technology to help automate repetitive processes, as well as incorporate process and customer data, to provide more personalized, relevant, and friction-free experiences.

Key Dynamics 365 Contact Center capabilities include:

  • Self-Service Offerings: Leveraging pre-integrated copilots for digital and voice channels that drive context-aware, personalized conversations, Dynamics 365 Contact Center combines key interactive voice response (IVR) capabilities from Nuance and Microsoft Copilot Studio’s no-code/low-code designer, helping customers deliver engaging and personalized experiences powered by generative AI.
  • Improved and Accelerated Human-assisted Service: Dynamics 365 Contact Center is designed to provide intelligent unified routing, which steers incoming requests from any channel that require a human touch to the agent best suited to help, enhancing service quality and efficiency. The goal is for Dynamics 365 Contact Center to provide agents with a 360-degree view of the customer with generative AI, incorporating real-time conversation tools such as sentiment analysis, translation, conversation summary, and call transcription, as well as tools that automate repetitive tasks, such as creating case summaries, drafting emails, suggesting responses, and answering agent questions via Copilot. All responses are grounded in the company’s own knowledge sources.
  • Operational Efficiency: Dynamics 365 Contact Center also leverages generative AI-powered real-time reporting, which is designed to help service teams detect issues early, improve critical KPIs, and adapt quickly to changing conditions.

Microsoft says it has used Dynamics 365 Contact Center technology with its own Customer Service and Support (CSS) team. According to the company, before the support team migrated to Microsoft’s own tools, CSS was previously using 16 different case management systems and over 500 individual tools—slowing down service, hindering collaboration, and producing inefficient workflows. With Copilot as part of the solution, Microsoft reported that the CSS team achieved a 9 percent improvement in the number of cases and chats agents can address, 12 percent decrease in average handle time for chat cases, and 13 percent decrease in agents requiring peer assistance to resolve a case. CSS has also seen a 31 percent increase in first call resolution and a 20 percent reduction in missed routes.

The key for Microsoft as it targets incumbent CCaaS vendors in the market is being able to not just handle internal support issues for which it has a massive amount of internal knowledge, but to be able to deliver KPI improvements for each of its clients. Microsoft’s experience deploying AI may provide the company with a leg up against some of the more entrenched CCaaS vendors that do not have Big Red’s muscle and expertise.

Microsoft Experience with AI Remains an Advantage

According to Futurum Intelligence’s AI survey of 1,009 decision makers conducted in 2023, experience and expertise with AI was the top decision criteria (40.2%) cited by respondents, followed by price and contractual agreement terms (31.3%). Microsoft has been a market leader with rolling out generative AI via its copilot assistants, which are continuing to be infused across a wide range of use cases and applications.

One of the key reasons we expect Microsoft to have success with Dynamics 365 Contact Center is the company’s experience and expertise rolling out Copilot technology across the company’s portfolio. The company’s commitment to reducing hallucinations by properly grounding prompts in company data along with the implementation of guardrails to protect against toxicity and bias in both training and inference tasks will likely help the company address the big concerns most organizations have with widely deploying generative AI in a commercial setting.

This experience with generative AI is particularly critical as organizations begin to deploy generative AI across more complex workflows. In a private briefing with Microsoft, a company executive noted that the solution is capable of handling more complex interactions, such as identifying inquiry intent, and intelligently routing interactions to the proper human agent when escalation is needed. Microsoft noted that results from beta customers and its own internal usage found significant improvement over baseline metrics for interactions that were conducted without generative AI.

The other interesting aspect of the announcement is Microsoft’s open approach to integrating with other CRMs beyond its own solutions. My sense is that the company realizes that getting organizations to switch CRMs from other vendors – particularly large, entrenched players such as Salesforce — is a heavy lift, and they are more than comfortable capturing whatever revenue they can initially, and then eventually expanding as organizations continue to realize value from their solutions.

Disclosure: The Futurum Group is a research and advisory firm that engages or has engaged in research, analysis, and advisory services with many technology companies, including those mentioned in this article. The author does not hold any equity positions with any company mentioned in this article.

Analysis and opinions expressed herein are specific to the analyst individually and data and other information that might have been provided for validation, not those of The Futurum Group as a whole.

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Image Credit: Microsoft

Author Information

Keith has over 25 years of experience in research, marketing, and consulting-based fields.

He has authored in-depth reports and market forecast studies covering artificial intelligence, biometrics, data analytics, robotics, high performance computing, and quantum computing, with a specific focus on the use of these technologies within large enterprise organizations and SMBs. He has also established strong working relationships with the international technology vendor community and is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events.

In his career as a financial and technology journalist he has written for national and trade publications, including BusinessWeek, CNBC.com, Investment Dealers’ Digest, The Red Herring, The Communications of the ACM, and Mobile Computing & Communications, among others.

He is a member of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP).

Keith holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in Magazine Journalism and Sociology from Syracuse University.

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