Convergence 2014 Recap P1: Leo, Parature & Unified Service Desk

March 9, 2014 — 4 Comments

Leo Release

The CRM release codenamed ‘LEO’ is oriented around the customer care side of things. It’s loaded with a bunch of new features for improving case management. There is an entirely new settings area for managing these new features.

Leo - Service Management Area

Leo – Service Management Area

  • SLA’s (Service Level Agreements): Develop robust SLA’s for delivering different tier’s of care for your respective customers. (E.g. Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum customers.)
    • Independently set ‘First Response’ (E.g. 1 Business Hour) and ‘Case Resolution’ times. (E.g. 1 Business Day)
      • Case Resolution Times work in conjunction with your business hours that have been set in CRM (e.g. If it’s 4:30PM on a Friday, it will roll over to 8:00AM on Monday)
    • Escalation Rules allow you to set to whom and when a case should be escalated (E.g. If customer switched channels from Email to Phone, or has sent over 3 emails – escalate to a manager)
    • Entitlement Rules allow you to set how many cases a customer is allowed to have without exceeding their SLA.
    • Some interesting KPI’s like how many ‘Channel Switches’ the customer has made (I.e. moving from Email to Twitter to Phone constitutes a channel switch).
      Leo - SLA KPIs

      Leo – SLA KPIs

      Leo - Define SLA Rules

      Leo – Define SLA Rules

  • Case Creation Rules: Develop rules around when a Case is created (E.g. If an email is sent – Create cases from unknown senders? Only create cases if the customer has an existing SLA? etc)

    Leo - Email to Case Creation Rules

    Leo – Email to Case Creation Rules


Parature was clearly a big one this year given the recency of it’s acquisition. Microsoft didn’t have much time to change the product prior to Convergence, so UI and features are still that of Parature and not of Microsoft. But it’s clear this product has a number of benefits including but not limited to:

  1. Improving organization’s ability to deliver 24/7 self-service to it’s customers.
  2. Drives down support calls and emails.
  3. Improve customer satisfaction and retention.
  4. Alleviate pressure on customer service, making you less re-active and more pro-active, and reducing your staffing requirements.
  5. Improve customer service staff job satisfaction and retention.
  6. Reduce repetitive support engagements (i.e. same issue over and over).
  7. Reduce resolution times.
  8. Draw customers to your website.
  9. Improve likelihood a customer will purchase your product/service.
  10. Allows you to ‘be where your customers are’ across multiple channels.
  11. Learn something about your customers – what questions are they asking?

A live example of Parature is which serves over 100 million people supported by a team of five staff. Another example is the Social Security Help Site: The State of Georgia, IBM, and Nascar are some other well-known customers.

Parature already serves over 3000 brands and 70 million users.



CRM Knowledge Base Vs. Parature Knowledge Base

While CRM does have KB functionality, it is relatively rudimentary compared to the features offered by Parature. Microsoft’s long term plan is to replace the KB features of CRM with those of Parature.

Also, many organizations use SharePoint as their internal knowledge base. There is no current integration for Parature into SharePoint, however Parature does have an API that could potentially be leveraged to help an organization get information out of SharePoint and into Parature where it may be better served.

CRM Cases Vs. Parature Cases

There is certainly some overlap between Cases in CRM and Parature, but that’s the point. Parature was acquired to help fill-in the gaps that exist in the customer service side of Dynamics CRM. While Parature and CRM are not yet integrated fully, you can start using the Parature application with CRM today using ParaConnect for Microsoft Dynamics.

Parature - In Dynamics CRM Cases

Parature – In Dynamics CRM Cases


  • Portal: Provide a centralized location for customer service and information.
    • Language Packs (Parature translates portal and KB articles into 34 built-in language – great for multinational organizations)
    • Portal Templates (Can develop your own – requires a web developer – HTML/CSS/Javascript)
    • Many To One Portals AKA ‘Poly-Portal’ (i.e. many branded portal experiences that can be managed by a single team)
    • One to Many Portals (i.e. single branded portal experience that can be managed by multiple teams)
    • SSL Enabled (Make users sign-in if you prefer)
  • Knowledge Base: Create articles that are surfaced in the Self-Service portal
    • KB articles are searchable (via a search bar) and optimized for SEO. – This feature drove down’s ticketing volume by 62% & IBM to increase customer base by 350% without adding headcount.

      Parature - SEO

      Parature – SEO

    • Serve up KB articles based on a user’s case subject (last chance deflection)

      Parature - Last Chance Deflection

      Parature – Last Chance Deflection

    • Scope KB articles to show content based on a customer’s unique product purchase history (i.e. A customer has only purchased ‘Widget A’ – show only KB articles related to ‘Widget A’ and hide all others)
  • Service Desk: Admin panel interface for CS agents.
    • Mobile Client
  • Live Chat: (it will be interesting to see how this fits with Lync and Unifed Service Desk ‘screen pops’ down the road)
    • Multi-Language Live Chat – Parature is working on a feature to translate Live Chat to a customer’s local country. (i.e. Your agent speaks English, your customer speaks French – Parature will translate Live)
    • Embed links to Live Chat anywhere (Web and Mobile Apps)
  • Social Monitoring (overlaps with the Netbreeze acquisition – yet to be seen how the two will dovetail)

    Parature - Social Monitoring

    Parature – Social Monitoring

  • Ticketing:
    • Tickets from Email
    • Tickets from Social (e.g. Tickets from Facebook posts or Tweets) – Reduces tickets from Phone Calls and Email
    • Ticket Workflows allow case routing to the proper support channel (i.e. Send all Cases regarding ‘Widget A’ to ‘Dept. A’, send all Cases regarding ‘Widget B’ to ‘Dept. B’)
  • Reporting:
    • Failed Search Terms/Feedback/Ratings (Gives you the opportunity to write/improve articles that don’t exist, or are rated poorly)
    • Channel Volume (Gives you the opportunity to see which channels are being overloaded, where you might be able to re-distribute)

      Parature - Reporting

      Parature – Reporting

  • Facebook Portals
      • Surface KB articles within Facebook
      • Live Chat from Facebook
    Parature - Facebook Portal

    Parature – Facebook Portal



Unified Service Desk

It’s yet another product MS is developing to round out the Customer Care side of CRM. The intention here is to enable customer care agents to bring in multiple applications into a single ‘unified’ interface, avoiding them having to jump from one application to another in order to piece together the full story about a particular case, or resolution. Bottom line, this allows your service agents to be more productive – which drives down customer effort, agent effort, and ultimately costs. Several third parties (incl. InGenius and Aspect) have already developed Phone Contact ‘Screen Pop’ integration’s.

As of Convergence the tool seemed a little rough (to me), giving the feel of a patchwork quilt of IFrames. However I can see USD becoming a very useful, and highly configurable/customizable product that could keep CS personnel on one screen instead of multiple. The UI will certainly start to feel more unified once Microsoft has given Parature a UI overhaul.

Parature Vs. Unified Service Desk

When I first heard the term ‘Unified Service Desk’ around Convergence I immediately thought it was the new Microsoft name for Parature (just as Microsoft Dynamics Marketing was the new name for MarketingPilot). I was wrong, as Jukka kindly pointed out to me.

While USD is separate from Parature, it does integrate (as shown below). Parature Live Chat can be brought into USD, and KB articles can be searched for and inserted into Live Chat conversation. Meanwhile all this is kept in sync with Cases in CRM.

Unified Service Desk - Sample Dashboard

Unified Service Desk – Sample Dashboard

Unified Service Desk - Inline KB (Parature)

Unified Service Desk – Inline KB (Parature)

Virtual Convergence Sessions:

  1. Parature: An introduction
  2. Best practices for using Parature to deliver exceptional customer service
  3. Better Together: Connecting Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Parature
  4. Data from Parature reporting
  5. Using Parature for multi-channel customer care
  6. Parature customer portal and knowledge base
  7. The future of Microsoft customer care
  8. Leo: Transform your Customer Service with Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  9. Unified Service Desk: Enabling a super agent!
  • Miha Pecnik

    Can you provide any information regarding which of these functions will be available for On-Premise customers? We only get mentioned regarding Social Listening.

  • Kyle Garrett

    Good question Miha. I’ll try to find out what the on-prem situation is.

  • Srikanth

    Hi Kyle, Do you have any update on this ??

  • Kyle A.

    Just fair warning to folks looking at USD, it’s being priced at $1500/seat on prem right now for a 3 year license (roughly). Kind of a kick to the gut when compared to the previously free CCA.