MB2-718 Certification: (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service) – Unified Service Desk (Part One)

As I revised for the MB2-718 exam (Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service) I’m creating blog posts detailing all aspects of my revision. I hope these posts will aid anyone who is also revising for this exam. In this post I will continue to explain the concepts around Unified Service Desk (USD).

My blog is full of information about Unified Service Desk! I therefore hope that you can explore my blog and find everything needed to learn about USD. One good starting point might be what I call “USD – The Book”. You can view it here.

Your goal here might not be to learn everything about USD but instead to focus on passing the exam. Unified Service Desk is a big subject, possibly reflected by the fact that 20% of the MB2-718 exam is devoted to it. With that in mind the skills measured statement is shown below;

In this and later posts I will specifically address the items mentioned in this skills measured statement. But for now lets start with an overview of USD. As you’ll need to understand what USD is and any associated terminology before diving deeper.

Overview of USD

Let’s start with the question, “what is USD?”.

In recent years the approach to how customer service is delivered has evolved with call centres morphing into contact centres. This shift is more than a name change! As organisations now routinely need to cope with a true multi-channel approach. Including phone calls, emails, web chat, web requests and even posts from social networks. Plus, agents need to interact with a multitude of back-end solutions whilst providing support in a seamless efficient manner. Often the variety of products and services offered also requires the use of sophisticated knowledge basis capabilities. Not to mention that whilst all this is happening customer expectations have massively increased and companies expect their agents to do more in less time.

Microsoft Dynamics 365 goes a long way to addressing these challenges on its own but in many situations creating a unified interface is an essential component in delivering great service.

Unified Service Desk provides a simple interface to aid agents in contact centres that can be quickly customized. It is designed to empower agents to gain a 360 view of customer data within a single unified interface. It helps deliver fast and efficient customer service in a consistent repeatable manner across all communication channels. It is seriously exiting stuff. (At least to a USD geek like me.)

Unified Service Desk uses a configuration based framework, meaning configuration (no code) changes can be made to tailor how the system operates. It is also possible for developers to further extend its capabilities with code as and when required. This approach creates not only a flexible interface but also one that is scalable to meet the needs of even the largest organisations.

Unified Service desk includes session management capabilities, allowing agents to simultaneously handle multiple customer queries. Each session can contain multiple tabs giving different views of the customer. These tabs retain contextual information about the customer, making integration with multiple aspects of Dynamics 365 and even other business applications seamless and quick. (It is important to note that Unified Service Desk does this whilst maintaining the role based security model offered by Microsoft Dynamics.)

To illustrate this I have given a screen shot of my USD application below.

At this point I will mention that USD is often mentioned in context of a contact centre but it can be leveraged in other situations. Any desk based user may benefit from the USD approach. This will include contact centre agents but any desk bound users who need to complete high volumes of work may benefit from USD.

In future posts I will turn my attention to the specific skills that will be measured in the exam, but first lets quickly review the components of USD. And any associated terminology.

Component Description
Hosted Control Hosted controls are the objects / components that make up a Unified Service Desk application. When pieced together they make up the entire system. Some hosted controls can be created with pure customization but also developers can create custom controls to support complex tasks.
Action calls You can think of action calls as “functions”. They are called from events attached to hosted controls or other events that occur within Unified Service Desk. Actions, for example, can be added to toolbar buttons, answers in agent scripts, and window navigation rules.

You will also hear the term UII Action. UII stands for “User Interface Integration”. This is the framework that USD is built upon. When we say UII action we are typically referring to the actions that can be performed on a given hosted control. For example, on a CRM Page hosted control we would have a UII action to close it, save it etc. (Tip, each hosted control type has some pre-defined uii actions but developers can extend USD by creating custom UII actions.)

Agent Scripting Agent scripts can be configured to prompt agents with questions and answers in context to the data being viewed.
Entity Searches An entity search is essentially a piece of Fetch XML that when triggered can drive actions and window navigation rules.
Events Events are triggered when “important” things occur. Unified Service Desk’s hosted controls receive notifications about events that can then be tied to actions.

For example, we have an event called “BrowserDocumentComplete” that happens each time a CRM Page is loaded. We can use this event to add actions to make “stuff” happen after the page has loaded.

Configurations All of the hosted controls, actions, events (etc) can belong to one or more configurations. Then each user can be assigned to a configuration. This approach can be adopted when different users need different functionality.

There can be multiple configurations or a single organization. Users can share one default configuration or they can be separate.

Forms Forms are a place to store declarative form definitions.
Options Options are global name / value pairs. Think of them an constants that can then be addressed in the various parts of the Unified Service Desk solution.
Window Navigation Rules Window Navigation Rules define the system behaviour as users navigate the system. This might include opening a session when a customer is selected from a view. Or popping up a tab if a search returns some data. And can even interact with telephone systems via a standard known as CTI.
Scriptlets These are chunks of JavaScript code that can be used within actions (etc) and run in context of the current session.
Toolbars Unified Service Desk can have multiple menus (toolbars), each one will contain a number buttons and each button can then be associated with one or more actions.
Session Lines Session lines define how sessions should behave. Including how the tabs should be named and how to display a summary overview of the sessions content.
User settings These operate a little like options, but are tied to a named user. Meaning you can define “variables” on a user by user basis.

Ok, so we know what USD is and have an appreciation of some of the key concepts / terminology. In my next post I will start to consider the specific points mentioned in the skills measured statement ….

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