Microsoft to Release New Contact Center Forecasting, Omnichannel, and Routing Capabilities

The solutions come as part of the next release wave for the Dynamics 365 Customer Service platform

Microsoft to Release New Contact Center Forecasting, Omnichannel, and Routing Capabilities
Contact CentreLatest News

Published: March 21, 2024

Charlie Mitchell

Microsoft will announce the general availability of a new contact center forecasting tool next month as part of its latest release for the Dynamics 365 Customer Service platform.

The tool – which covers voice and digital channels – allows workforce management (WFM) teams to forecast daily demand up to six months in advance.

Yet, it also offers forecasting at 15-minute intervals across a shorter six-week timespan.

In addition, users may apply service level, shrinkage, and concurrency to their forecasts while the solution automatically detects trend and seasonality from historical traffic.

Finally, the tool forecasts data by queue – not only channel – for increased granularity, and planners may export all that data into a spreadsheet.

Of course, some customers may demand more advanced features, like a longer forecast view, “what if” scenario modeling, and automated forecast recalculations.

Moreover, they may wish for a broader WFM solution and note how Microsoft doesn’t yet offer native shift planning, intraday management, or WFM reporting dashboards within the Dynamics 365 Customer Service platform.

Nevertheless, those businesses that wish to leverage a more comprehensive WFM solution – like Calabrio, NICE, or Verint – can connect their current third-party offering to the Dynamics 365 Customer Service platform.

That capability is also relatively new, with Microsoft launching a Workforce Management Adapter with TTEC in January.

Yet, Gopal Yuvaraj, Product Manager at Microsoft, promised much more WFM innovation is to come. In a blog post, he teased:

Stay tuned as Dynamics 365 Customer Service continues to evolve and deliver cutting-edge capabilities in WFM that anticipate and meet the ever-changing demands of the modern business landscape.

That evolution is essential, given the platform’s lack of broader workforce engagement management (WEM) tools.

Late last year, the Ventana Research Contact Center Suites Buyers Guide highlighted this as a notable gap within Microsoft’s offering.

However, while fellow high-profile CCaaS market entrants – including Google, Sprinklr, and Zoom – recently released more comprehensive WFM offerings, this is a positive step forward.

Indeed, Microsoft is adding critical brick-in-the-wall features to its contact center platform, which is a theme that runs through the rest of Microsoft’s latest release wave.

Other New Features Coming to the Dynamics 365 Customer Service Platform

Altogether, Microsoft plans to release 18 new features and enhancements to the Dynamics 365 Customer Service platform between April and September.

Unsurprisingly, a Copilot upgrade is on the agenda, as Microsoft will launch a “filtering” capability in a public preview next month. That capability will bolster its ability to scour knowledge articles and suggest relevant customer responses to agents.

Another feature that will reach public preview in April offers contact centers the ability to pass a customer conversation through to any Microsoft Teams user – regardless of whether they have an assigned phone number.

The capability – which leverages Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) – allows contact center agents to more easily pull the subject matter expertise of external employees.

Elsewhere, a slew of solutions will become generally available in the coming weeks.

A tool that allows agents to test call, microphone, and speaker quality before and during calls is particularly innovative.

However, most are examples of brick-in-the-wall tools that aid Microsoft’s bid to build a more complete contact center platform.

The new omnichannel additions exemplify this, with Microsoft unveiling various email enhancements and a feature for users to search customer contacts and accounts from the outbound dialer.

While most are somewhat boilerplate, one email feature presents the ability to make sure every email sent to multiple mailboxes results in separate customer cases. That improves customer journey tracking.

Then, there are new routing solutions that help prioritize existing conversations in asynchronous channels and use overflows for long wait times.

“Overflows” automatically move customers between queues to lower wait times when traffic surges.

To get a sneak peek at many of these upcoming features in action, check out the video below.

Finally, Microsoft suggests it will receive FedRAMP certification for Dynamics 365 Customer Service next month – as Genesys, NICE, and Talkdesk also recently announced.

Confused by Microsoft’s contact center offerings and vision? Piece the puzzle together by reading our article: Lift Off for Microsoft In the Contact Center? 2024 Could Be the Year



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