MB-230: Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Service – Entitlements

I am currently revising for the MB-230 exam. This exam is for Microsoft Dynamics 365 and covers all aspects of customer service. As I revise I plan to publish blog posts that collectively will become a complete revision guide for anyone embarking on the same journey as me. In this post I will review entitlements.

Below you can see an extract from the current skills measured statement that mentions entitlements.

Note: Microsoft do update these exams on a fairly frequent basis. Therefore I do encourage you to check the current skills measured statement to ensure you are aware of the latest information!

Entitlements are a “tool” to help companies manage the services they provide, this post will explain entitlements and how they are used to support service management within Microsoft Dynamics 365. Entitlements are effectively a definition of agreements between the customer and supplier for services to be provided.

Entitlements are used to define the amount of service to be provided (in terms of hours or numbers of cases), the service level to be applied and even what channels the service can be offered upon. It is possible to create a template for your entitlements, so let’s first look at those.

You will find two options connected with entitlements and entitlement templates in the service management area of the customer service hub.

Entitlement Templates

The first thing to note is that the use of templates is optional but they are available to help speed the process of creating entitlements. Using entitlement templates also enforces consistency.

When you create a new entitlement you can opt to create it from scratch or base the new record on an entitlement template.

There are several fields that are important to understand with regard to entitlements (and entitlement templates) as these govern how the entitlements behave;

Allocation Type – determines if the entitlement is based on number of cases or hours consumed.

Decrease remain on – this determines if the balance of support remaining should be decrementing based on cases created or cases resolved.

Total Terms – this is the total number of allocations allowed. (For example 100 cases or 50 hours of support.)

Restrict based in entitlement terms – This options decides if new case creation will be prevented if the entitlement limit has been reached.

SLA – If this entitlement is linked to a specific SLA then this can be defined here.

Note:
An entitlement template can include a start and end date, although typically these wouldn’t be used. As each entitlement created from the template will cover a different period.

You can also optionally define channel and product details within the template if required. These can be used to restrict the entitlement terms depending on the origin (channel) of the case. Or make it specific to services you provide connected with specific products.

Create new entitlements

Entitlements can optionally be created from an entitlement template, as I have already mentioned. It will therefore come as no surprise that the entitlement itself actually resembles the template. Although there are some differences, firstly the actual entitlement will be associated with a customer.

Tip:
There is a third method to create entitlements! As it is possible to create a new entitlement by renewing a cancelled or expired entitlement.

When creating an entitlement, you enter a name, customer as well as a start and end date. (Typically an entitlement will have a start and end date as it forms the contract between the supplier and the customer.) Plus you can associate an entitlement to an SLA. You can also define if this entitlement is the customer’s default entitlement or not.

Note: I will cover the detail of creating an SLA in another post as there is a specific section in the skills measured which relates to these.

As with the template you can define the allocation type (ie number of cases or hours) and number of allotments.

Another option (not available in the template) is the ability to restrict which contacts can raise cases against this entitlement. Useful if you need to tightly control who at the customer is allowed to log cases. For example: maybe only someone from their IT team is allowed to log support requests.

In addition to restricting support based on channel it is possible to limit support to specific products. As your customer’s could have their level of support restricted based on the product or service they have purchased.

Entitlements start off in a draft state and need to be activated. Note, that the entitlement does need to be activated before it can be set as the customer’s default entitlement. The “Set As Default” button does not show in the command bar for draft entitlements! This does mean if the default entitlement is deactivated, maybe because some details need to be amended, when the entitlement is re-activated the default status will have been reset. So you will need to remember to repeat the process of setting it as default.

Entitlement Channels

Channels are optional restrictions on the entitlement, used to limit the amount of support that is provided on a particular channel. You may, for example, limit the number of hours of support provided on the telephone.

Channels are the mechanism the customer used to raise the case. So channels might include email, phone, web portal or web, social media and even IoT. The channel is based on the origin of the case.

It is possible for the total sum of cases allowed on each channel to exceed the total allowed on the agreement. This may seem strange at first but is logical. You might allow someone to log a maximum of 100 cases. With a maximum of 100 being from email, and a maximum of 100 from web and 50 from phone. This doesn’t mean a total of 250 is allowed! The total is the maximum on that channel. So I can log a maximum of 50 on the phone leaving a balance of 50 that could be logged by email or web. (Or I could log none on the phone and log 100 on the web etc.)

Whilst this logic sounds confusing, if you think about it, the purpose is to try to drive customers to have a preference for one channel over another. So in the example I gave we are trying to encourage customers to email requests (or use web) rather than telephoning. This encourages a channel shift that might be very desirable in some situations.

Apply Entitlement to cases

As cases are created the default customer entitlement will be automatically populated onto the case. However, it is also possible to select an entitlement as you may have multiple entitlements for one customer. Maybe reflecting the different service agreements, you have with that customer. It is important to understand that each entitlement is always tied to a specific customer.

Also whilst working with cases the user can optionally decide whether or not to decrement the number of allotments. It might be that a case is raised for a very simple question and the operator taking the call applies some discretion and decides to not reduce outstanding balance of support on the entitlement. Even though you might opt to not decrement the allotment the case would still be associated with the entitlement. As this works well for later reporting of service provided under the agreement and also you may still wish to apply the SLA defined on the entitlement.

If the entitlement is set to restrict cases should the balance remaining on the entitlement reach zero then you will not be able to create any additional cases. One behavior on this you should be aware of is what happens if the balance remaining to decremented on case resolution. In this scenario, if a case is re-opened (unresolved) then the entitlement balance would increment. Giving one extra case that can be resolved.

Entitlements Lifecycle

As already mentioned an entitlement will start off life in draft mode. Only entitlements in a draft state can be amended. You then need to activate the entitlement to be able to start to “consume” the allotment by associating it with cases.

If you activate a contract that has a start date in the future its status will be set to “waiting”. It will then be automatically set to active on the start date. You can only set the entitlement as default once it is active (or waiting).

Once an entitlement has been activated (or set to waiting) it can’t be changed but you can deactivate entitlements at any point. (You must remember to reset as default once re-activated!)

Entitlements that are active or waiting can be cancelled. Once cancelled they cannot be changed and also cannot be used on new cases. A cancelled entitlement can however be renewed.

After the end date of the entitlement has passed it will automatically change to expired.

Cancelled or expired entitlements can be renewed. By selecting the renew button in the command bar.

Renewing an entitlement creates a new draft entitlement based on the expired one. The date range will automatically increment on the new draft entitlement. The draft can be changed before activating the new contract.

To help make this lifecycle clear I have attempted to draw the possible states below!

Note:
We can also deactivate entitlements at any point. This reverts them back into a draft state. (This might be useful if we want to amend an active entitlement and then activate again!)

I hope this post has covered all of the points mentioned for entitlements in the skills measured statement of the MB 230 exam. But as always I really encourage you to get some quality hands-on experience as port of your exam preparation.

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