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D365 CRM PORTAL: Getting started with Dynamics 365 Portals - An overview

A Dynamics 365 portal provides your audience an online location to communicate and collaborate. Depending on the audience that the portal is geared toward (such as whether it’s for customers, business partners, or internal team members), a Dynamics 365 portal can allow people to get support for issues, search knowledge guides and how-to guides, collaborate with communities, suggest new ideas, and learn more about your products and services.

There will be no new hardware to procure, certificates to install, or web servers to provision. In a few clicks, your new integrated web presence is ready to go and waiting for you to mold it into the online game-changer we both know it can be.

If you have a Dynamics 365 Enterprise subscription already, then you likely have at least one Dynamics 365 portal license at the ready. What you choose to do with it can help differentiate you from the crowd. Allow me to show you how easy it is to setup and what it can do for you.

Customer Engagement

Engaged customers turn into repeat customers, and repeat customers turn into advocates who spread the good word to potential new customers. I’m sure you wouldn’t turn down more repeat customers and new business. A Community portal could help with that effort by encouraging your customers and prospects to discuss your products or share helpful tips in your own moderated forum.

Make it a point to field questions and engage your customers online to keep the dialog going. Encourage product questions on your forum and answer them publically as an outreach to your install base. Monitor for product feedback that you can then leverage in new product offerings.

You can also use the Community portal to draft and host blog articles (hey, just like this one!). You may already host a blog or have someone host it for you. If you don’t or you are considering centralizing that content, you can use the Dynamics 365 portal as a blog platform to share news or answer common product questions.

Custom Portal Framework

Custom Portals come with minimal set of pre-defined page templates where you can start creating a Portal of your own per your tailored needs. The custom portal framework is completely extensible and customizable. It gives you a fantastic jump-start by minimizing the up-front overhead costs associated with infrastructure and platform development, and lets you get right to the meat of defining “what do we need this thing to do”.

Create a Franchise Portal. Need to manage independent agents? Create an Agent Portal. How about portfolios, investments, service technicians, professional relationships, certificate requests, or just standing up your own storefront? These are all excellent extensions to bridge communication, and offer collaborative functionality to those who otherwise would not have it.

Customer Self-Service Portal

Dynamics 365 portals offer self-service portal capabilities which enables external customers to monitor and interact with records in Dynamics 365. The portal offers a secure way to surface the data using a modern web interface. The Customer Self-Service Portal alllows your customers to create and manage case by log into their own account.  One more important feature of this portal is the ability to show a customer suggested knowledge base articles based on keywords they have entered before they even submit their case. What’s a good way to keep support cases down? Answering questions before they’ve even been submitted is a good start. You’ll get fewer emails and calls from folks just looking for updates, and you can capture better targeted data regarding a case.

Have a customer submit a case online and be able to see which exact products, down to the SKU, that this person has purchased in the past. This portal often prefer to transact online rather than navigating call handling systems. This also means that new support cases submitted online are subjected to the entitlements rules for each account.

Customers gain access to improved online resources that will help them understand your products and services, gain greater freedom of choice and find quicker answers to their questions. For organisations, CRM Portal provide greater scale to service more customers compared to traditional channels, making staff more productive by avoiding the need to supply the same solution to the same repetitive issues by phone or other channels

Partner Engagement

These portal templates are designed to empower partners by providing tools and information they need to generate leads and convert opportunities. Aside from the case logging and forum capabilities that are available with all templates, the dedicated partner portal has inbuilt functions to distribute leads, track deal and provide online account management. If you’re engaging a business partner to help you move product (such as a distributor, reseller, supplier, etc.), you can use the Partner Portal to start capturing sales channel data from your partners just as you would from your own captive sales staff.

It allows your external partners create, manage, and collaborate on their own opportunities alongside your in-house staff. The Partner Portal is all about simultaneously empowering your partners to make better and faster decisions while removing artificial barriers to their success. In addition, you enable yourself to collect richer data that can help in future strategic planning.

Employee Engagement

Similar to your intranet, the Employee Portal can give your internal staff a place to curate and share internal knowledge.  It uses the Office 365 Active Directory authentication for sign-in rather than local CRM authentication giving Office 365 users access to the help desk, knowledge articles and forum without needing direct CRM access. CRM licences are still required to access the employee portal but individuals not currently using CRM can be assigned the new ESS access licence specifically for this purpose. You can also give specialized groups very targeted access to CRM features without giving them the entire front-end. This can be helpful for staff that needs to interact with CRM data only in rare cases. Much like the Customer Service Portal, the Employee Portal can be used to submit and resolve internal trouble tickets.

Configure Your Own Dynamics 365 Demo Portal

If, like me, you like to kick the tires a little, let’s go ahead and get a demo of a Dynamics 365 portal set-up. You can do this in your existing instance or, if you’re just a little curious, use a free disposable trial organization (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/dynamics/free-crm-trial.aspx).
It takes a little time for the portal-bots to get everything up and running, but your actual involvement here should only take a few minutes.
Step 1 – Navigate to your Dynamics 365 Administration Center

From your Office 365 home (https://portal.office.com/) open the Admin center:

Then open the Dynamics 365 Admin center:

Step 2 – Click over to Applications and observe your Portal Add-On just sitting around doing nothing

Step 3 – Click Manage and get ready for the hard part
  1. Provide some starting parameters for your new Portal:
  • - A Name
  • - Just something to identify your portal instance. Don’t sweat it too much, you can change this later.
  • - A Portal URL (don’t worry, you can convert this to a vanity url at a later time)
  • - Select your CRM instance
  • - Select a Language
  • - Select an Administrator (If you’ve made it this far that’s probably you! Congratulations!)
  • - Select an Audience
  1. Partners – These folks might not be true employees but we want them to have some level of interaction with our CRM data to help deliver services or close deals.
  2. Customers – External folks who we can serve better by surfacing some things through an external portal such as customer service or community building.
  3. Employees – Support your own internal workforce though tailored portal applications such as Employee Self-Service.
  • - Select your portal template
    1. Customer Self-Service
    2. Community
    3. Partner
    4. Employee Self-Service
    5. Custom Portal

If you’re looking for a suggestion, the Customer Self-Service Portal has a good array of pre-configured items to explore.

Step 4 – Wait

You’ll be asked to login to your portal and grant some rights, which after you do that then you can just sit back and enjoy your free time while the portal-bots do all the hard work…

Sure it says a few hours… they have to say that… mine took about 20 minutes though your mileage may vary. Note that you can check on the status at any time from your Dynamics 365 Admin center by opening the Solutions link in your instance.

Observe that our custom portal template is in the Installing phase…

In good time you’ll have your new demo portal up and ready to explore. Good work!

Conclusion

Portal capabilities for Dynamics 365 brings qualified expertise in web engagement and CMS frameworks with an integrated bundle of web portal solutions that add sophisticated content management, knowledge and case management, opportunity management, membership, profile, and self-service capabilities to Dynamics 365. 

Please do leave feedback/comments below including any experience on the same topic that you would like to share. Thanks.

Dynamics365Authority.com is an ultimate source of all the key references on MS Dynamics 365 + Office 365 + MS Azure etc.- please use the CONTACT US form to connect with Urish Arora.

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Posted: Feb 15, 2018,
Categories: Microsoft Portals,
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Author: Urish Arora
Tags: portal
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