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 knowledge base.
Below you can see the skills measured statement for 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 365 you can search knowledge base articles and quickly associated them with cases, helping to resolve cases. Additionally those articles maybe emailed to customers or even accessed publicly from your customer service portal.
It will be important to know that CRM2016 introduced a new style of knowledge base, so two types of article exist. The older style articles are not the ones this post will concentrate on! Here my focus will be the articles that can be found in the knowledge base that is managed from within the Interactive Service Hub (ISH). You may find you have some confusion on the differences between the old and new approaches! I recommend always using the new style knowledge base, hence it will be my focus. But I will reference the old style during this post and your revision should ideally cover gain hands on experience of both approaches.
Search for Articles
There are several ways we can search the knowledge base, starting with the knowledge search available in the Dynamics 365 web client. For this you will find a knowledge search option in the service area of Dynamics 365. Notice that the knowledge search option is under the Service heading of the site map and also notice that we have an articles option under the collateral heading. (These articles are the old style ones I mentioned in my introduction.)
Search the knowledge base here is a simple enough process. Simply enter a search term and click the search icon. By default only published articles will be searched but you can change this filter to look for draft and approved articles. (I will explain these status values when we review how to create knowledge articles.) In the example below articles have been sorted by relevance, other options include number of views and modified date.
W will soon see that Knowledge articles are created and maintained in the Interactive Service Hub (ISH), it should came as no surprise then that we have a similar search capability in the ISH. The articles returned are the same but the search options do differ slightly so experimenting with all the search options is worthwhile.
We can also search for knowledge articles directly from within the case form and associate them with the case. This can be done in the standard web client, Interactive Service Hub (ISH) and the mobile client. I am going to show the we client but keep in mind that we can work with the knowledge base in any of the Dynamics 365 clients. (You might want to experiment with some of these as part of your revision.)
You can see below that I have the ability to search the knowledge base in the social pane displayed on cases. The subject to be searched will default to the case title but you can edit this as required. When an article is selected a number of icons display. These can be used to link / unlink the article to the case, copy the public url for the article, email to the customer, link and email the article or pop it out so the full detail can be viewed.
It is obviously beneficial to use articles to help resolve cases! And additionally to send useful information to customers. But why would we link articles to cases? The answer is future reporting. Seeing which articles provide solutions to cases may help us understand which articles are useful and importantly which aren’t! There is an analytics tab on the article which will include a history of cases that have used it. Including a field that can be optionally entered to show if the article was simply used for reference or if it provided the solution.
Additionally analytics are maintained on the number of views made on each article and any feedback received.
We maintain knowledge articles in the ISH using a rich text editor. You can see below that when I access knowledge articles I can add new ones using the “New” option or directly from the + icon in the ribbon bar of ISH.
Below you can see that I have started to create an article. Notice that a business process flow is used to help with the authoring process anf that each article has major and minor versions. I wil explain these in greater detail below.
It will be import to understand the life cycle of an article. Articles start off in a draft mode. When we move them forward in the business process flow they can be approved or rejected. Draft articles can use the status reason field to show if they are “proposed”, “draft”, “needs review” or “in review”.
Rejected articles will revert to the draft status. Additionally you will see an entry is added to the articles time line containing the reason for rejection.
Articles can be scheduled and therefore can also expire.
The chart below tries to highlight the status possibilities for a knowledge base article.
Approved articles can be published. Below you can see that published articles can be given an expiry date. (Expired articles may still show in search results but will clearly show as expired.)
A published article may have a new version created. (A described below.) Or it can be reverted back to draft mode. Also, an option does exist to directly update the published article if required.
Articles can have major and minor versions. A major or minor version can be created for an existing article. At that point the current published version remains and a copy is created with a new version number. After any changes have been completed the original version will be archived and the new version will replace it.
As already mentioned we can see information in the articles timeline which overtime will provide a useful history of changes in the status and versions on an article.
Additionally the article’s “SUMMARY” tab will give us access to some Additional fields and other related information. Including, related versions, related translations, related categories, related articles, related products.
Article templates are mentioned in the skills measured statement, so I will mention them here. But templates only apply to the old style knowledge articles that are not the focus of this post! However their inclusion does suggest you need to be aware of the old style articles and the newer knowledge base available via ISH. So including both the new and old styles in your revision might be wise!
All “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
Since our skills measured statement does suggest we need to be aware of the old style articles, I will quickly mention one other difference which relates to the searching of articles. The search dialog for the old style articles is shown below. Notice that we can search by full text, keyword, title, article number and by browsing using the subject tree. Additionally we can do an exact match of the keywords entered or perform a “like words” search.
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 an activity
- From the Outlook client
In outlook, knowledge base articles can be added to new emails. First track the email into Dynamics. (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 MB2-718 exam. I strongly suggest you experiment with this feature as part of your preparation. I am confident will uncover even more features by getting some essential hands on experience.