Altigen’s Tech Talk is a chance for us to dive deeper into the world of telecommunications. Often hosted by our Chief Technical Officer, Mark Allen, these blogs will talk about the future of the modern workplace.

This week we sat down to discuss how Altigen’s CoreInteract integration with Dynamics 365 enhances the use of Microsoft Teams.

Mark, during our last session you explained how CoreInteract routes and queues inbound customer phone calls to the appropriate department, and person, all natively within Microsoft Teams.

Q: How does CoreInteract utilize Dynamics 365 to give Microsoft Teams users a more intuitive customer experience?

A: When we were designing CoreInteract we had to ask ourselves two questions. One, are we going to display data inside of the Dynamics experience? Or are we going to display data inside the Teams native experience?

(*one of these days we will have to have a Tech Talk on “Teams Native” because those terms are being thrown around heavily and the lines are intentionally being blurred because people are trying to claim native when it’s not native.)

The reason I say Teams native experience, is because you can take Dynamics, the Dynamics screen, the Dynamics experience, and embed that into teams but it’s not native. You’re in the native Dynamics experience inside of Teams. Whereas our approach with CoreInteract brings Dynamics data into Teams. You’re in the chat function, you’re using Teams adaptive cards, you’re using the Teams experience with Dynamics data is being presented to you.

Q: What’s the difference?

A: The difference there is licensing. If you want to sign in to Dynamics and see Dynamics Data, you must have a named Dynamics 365 license. However, through CoreInteract, you can display Dynamics Data and not be a Dynamics user. We display Dynamics Data natively with a Teams user license by simply grabbing the data with an API or service account. We then display that data and pop up the record to show with the inbound call.

Q: What does that mean for the customer?

A: A completely tailored Dynamics experience. By using our APIs to retrieve calls along with data from Dynamics we can create Teams screens that are designed to show the fields you want to display, all through the native Teams experience.

For example, we can have a template that focuses on a support user, or customer sales, or to show when a VIP is calling. The customer can customize their experience to display an account name versus a company name. This is done in real-time, as the call comes in, the data is retrieved and displayed for the user in Teams, natively.

Q: What if a customer has already spent time and resources to customize a Dynamics instance?

A: We work with whatever system; in this case, the customer has spent significant customization dollars with a Microsoft partner to create custom Dynamics Fields and Screens that fit their business. However, even when Microsoft has written the connectors, and programmed the triggers for when a call comes into Teams, or the ability to create and update a record – You must be a licensed Dynamics named user to access the information, you’re still choosing the Dynamics experience. Whereas, what we do with CoreInteract is deliver Dynamics data in a Teams experience.

Q: So just to summarize on that – Microsoft has enabled a Dynamics user to be able to see Dynamics data in Microsoft Teams. However, they must be a licensed Dynamics user and obviously a licensed Teams user to be able to see that data. But we’re doing that differently by using the Dynamics API and a service account to pull in the data the user requires without them needing the Dynamics license?

A: That’s correct, and more importantly, delivering that in the native Teams experience.

Q: And that really follows along with Satya Nadella’s vision for Teams being the single place to get work done.

A: Correct. It’s a matter of focus. Ours is Teams. Whereas Microsoft’s offering of what they call “Omni Channel” is Dynamics focused, using things like Azure communication services for SMS and some other things to pull that Teams experience out and into Dynamics. We’re focused on the opposite. We do support Teams related data through our CoreInteract platform if that’s the direction the customer wants to go.

However, our target market has chosen the Teams experience, they’ve chosen the Teams voice experience, they’ve chosen Teams to be their home for communications. We’re getting their data externally and putting it into Teams.

Q: From a use case scenario I understand that as a sales user, I’m going to be able to see my customer records and contact for follow-ups. If I’m a service user, I’m going to be able to see open cases and entitlements. What other roles or use cases do you see being enabled with this approach, from a business perspective?

A: This is the biggest difference that highlights our focus, and it starts before any human interacts with a call. Let me give you an example. When a VIP customer calls into your organization CoreInteract picks up the call and routes it based on the data that’s stored in Dynamics. The caller has no idea that they are being routed directly to their favorite user or their call jumps the queue. CoreInteract has the capability to take any part of the Dynamics data be that name, number, or company, etc., and lets you use that data to route the communication to a user for them to handle it in Teams. We’re taking the customer experience to the next level though because the user can now tell the VIP customer how much they’ve spent in the past week or some other detailed point. So, when it comes to other roles, CoreInteract is universal. The challenge is to find a scenario it doesn’t work in. We’re creating an experience for the customer that’s calling in to be identified by Dynamics but handled in Teams.

Q: A lot of people think about calling in Teams and not a lot of people are thinking about other modalities of communications within Teams. Can CoreInteract manage other forms of communication?

A: Definitely, CoreInteract’s routing and queueing capabilities are technically separate from Teams even though we’re using Teams as the provider for voice. When we get to the omni channel conversation that’s where we switch to using the Microsoft BOT frameworks, which means we can tie in any provider be that SMS, social media, or email and bring that into the Teams experience. (This is where we need to have one of these conversations about what native really means.)  However, so that we’re super clear on this, because a customer may have already paid for some SMS service, or social media campaigners to be pulled into your Dynamics, the data-directed routing experience of CoreInteract will handle it.

Q: Again, just to be clear. Let’s say that a customer calls in because an email campaign we sent out had the call to action to contact us about our Best Chicken Soup Recipe. If that customer contacts us via email, SMS, or voice – they’re going to be routed to the Chicken Soup workgroup – before they’ve even spoken to a single human?

A: That’s right, that customer will be taken to get that Chicken Soup Recipe and to take it further. Not only have they received the recipe, but their info has been updated in Dynamics. And that’s where we get into the concept of what we’re really doing with multiple data sources. Anytime you talk to a sales team they will tell you that they’re using multiple sales tools every day. They use these tools to analyze, to market, to look at customer leads data and all of this is pre-contract. All these tools are used to help their lead generation, but the end game is Dynamics, that’s where your customer database is kept.

Whereas our philosophy is no matter where your end source of authority for your customer database is, CoreInteract can take all of the sales tools and Dynamics and route a call based off the information that it’s a new customer from this campaign for Chicken Soup, then it routes it to this region from Dynamics, then it routes it this sales rep because of another sales tool.

Q: How scalable is CoreInteract?

A: We have solutions for enterprise and small customers that might not need complex workflows, it could be routing calls from an account to a specific sales rep or if someone calls in for a service issue and I want to route it to the support team. However, CoreInteract has the capacity to scale up very easily to help very large organizations that might have very complex ways of managing customers or ways to communicate with them.

We’re trying to be the middle ground for communication and getting those data points into the right person in the enterprise. It may even be internal communications. If you take Health Insurance Groups, you might have 50,000 employees and you may be trying to get something routed from HR data versus Dynamics data. Your customer might not be someone external, your customer calling in might be yourselves. Depending on what your role is, but taking HR as an example, your customer is your own employee.

Q: Thank you for your time, Mark and it was great to get a better insight into Dynamics, Teams, and CoreInteract.

A: My pleasure.