In this post I will continue my series on information connected with preparing for the MB2-714 exam. (Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2016 Customer Service)
This post will focus on the knowledge base.
A knowledge base is a collection of articles which is searchable and can be used to answer customer questions. The articles typically refer to products and services. In Microsoft Dynamics CRM you can search knowledge base articles and quickly associated them with cases, helping to resolve cases.
It is important to know that CRM2016 has introduced a new style of knowledge base, so two types of article exist. If you haven’t used both types of article I suggest you “play” with both to appreciate the differences.
All knowledge base articles are based on a template; the template defines the style of the article. Out of the box four templates exist:
- Question and answer
- Solution to a problem
- Standard knowledge base articles
These default templates can be modified or new templates added.
The benefit of templates is having a consistent presentation of information.
Features of articles templates include;
- Article templates have title sections indicating where to place text
- Each section has a description containing instructions on how to create articles
- When creating articles, you can only create them using templates with a status of active
- Templates can only be deleted if there are no articles currently based on the template
- When a template is marked as inactive it has no effect on existing articles
- When you create a new template you define a title, description and language
- It is possible to control the default style for each section. (Including selecting a specific font, making it bold and changing text colours.)
- Sections can be moved around in a template using the up / down arrows
Create / Format Knowledge Base Articles
The Knowledge base article template describes the formatting and sections used within the article. Once the knowledge base article has been created, from the template, the content of these sections and any keywords can be used for searching.
The process of creating a knowledge base article is aided by a business process flow that has stages including author, the review, update content, review after update and publish.
Note: The update content stages are conditional branches. The simplest flow is Author, Review and Publish.
When working with articles options include, versioning, title, keywords, description and content.
There is a “rich” content editor giving the ability to control fonts (etc) and add numbered or bulleted lists. It is also possible to import existing word documents.
It is IMPORTANT to understand that CRM2016 has introduced a new version of knowledge base articles. To access these users can go into the engagement hub to create / edit the new designs. The level of formatting possible in the engagement hub is far superior.
There is a lifecycle to a knowledge base article. The two types of articles differ slightly but conceptually their life cycles have a lot in common. Articles start in a draft status. (And when draft can be changed.) Once the author has completed the article they submit it for review, by clicking the submit button. At that point the article can no longer be changed and its status changes to unapproved.Someone now reviews the article and they either reject or accept the submission. If rejected it goes back to a draft status. (For further editting.) If they approve the article the status changes to published. Only published articles are searchable by default.
- Status = Draft to Unapproved to Published
If the article needs to be changed, once published, the user will click on the unpublish button the article then goes back to submitted (unapproved) status.
It is worth knowing that each article relates (mandatory) to the subject tree. You can assign to the default subject but ideally you’ll assign the article to a meaningful subject.
If SharePoint integration is enabled, you can add SharePoint documents to the article.
Search Knowledge Base Articles
The knowledge base provides the following benefits;
- All “knowledge” is stores in a central location. So it is easy to access
- Organisations can ensure the formatting is consistent
- Visible to entire organisation
- Searchable by full text and keywords
ONLY articles with a published status are included in the search. (Note: with newer style articles it is possible to search draft articles but the default is published.)
You can search knowledge base articles directly in the service module, under the articles option. (Note: This is a much quicker approach than using advanced find.) Another approach is directly from a case in the context of researching / resolving a case.
There are a number of ways to search of knowledge base articles;
- Full text search, which searches the complete text of a knowledge base article. (This could be slow if you have a large volume of articles.)
- Search by keyword, these will have been defined when the article was created.
- Title search, limiting the search to just the titles of the articles
- Search by article number. (Which is a system generated number assigned to the article when it is created.)
- Browse by subject (tree).
When you run the search you can look for “exact words” or opt for “Use Like Words”. Note: “Use Like Words” is not a fuzzy logic search.
Also note that the logic above for searching refers to the “old” style articles.
Benefits of Using Knowledge Base Articles to Resolve a Case
Articles are often used to help resolve cases, you have the ability to link knowledge base article(s) directly to the case. This has the benefit of providing the ability to see what information helped resolve the issue. Over time it becomes possible view a history on the article of all the cases that it helped resolve.
Another benefit is that you can create charts or use pre-existing charts to identify knowledge base articles that are being used most frequently.
Sending Email from Articles
It is easy to send articles externally to customers. Several options exist, depending on how the article is being viewed;
- Directly from knowledge base
- From a case record
- From a CRM activity
- From the Outlook client
In outlook, knowledge base articles can be added to new emails. First track the email into CRM. (And optionally set regarding a customer or incident.) Then you can use the insert article button to add an article into the body of the email.
Hopefully this post has given you a flavour of knowledge base articles and I hope I have covered most of the points significant to passing the MB2-714 exam.
In my next post I will continue this series by looking at queue management.