A Conversation on Customer Experience with Microsoft’s Lori Lamkin

By Stephen Burns | July 1, 2024

Stoneridge CEO Eric Newell had the chance to sit down with Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Dynamics 365 Customer Experience, Lori Lamkin.

They discussed Dynamics 365 Customer Insights – Journeys, formerly known as Dynamics 365 Marketing – and new features and innovations in the platform that will help you enhance your marketing efforts. They also touched on Dynamics 365 for Sales, Customer Service, and the Power Platform.

Here is a summary of their conversation:

Eric Newell: What are some key advances in the Customer Insights platform over the next year to two years?

Lori Lamkin: The Customer Insights platform has two main elements. The data platform pulls together data from disparate sources and then what used to be Dynamics 365 Marketing. Because those two things work hand-in-hand. You have vast amounts of customer data right there and you want to be able to act on it quickly from a marketing standpoint. It pulls all that information together into what we call “gold records” to give you a full understanding of your customer. It’s about orchestrating the end-to-end experience and using your data to create a cohesive experience through your marketing efforts.

Eric: I’ve been using Copilot for Sales and love how it’s taking the Outlook Clients and Teams integrations to another level. What are you seeing people use in Copilot for Sales today? What are they getting excited about?

Lori: Basically, we’re seeing that sellers don’t like to live in the CRM tool, and it doesn’t matter which CRM tool it is. They want to focus on interacting deeply and directly with their customer. So, we have seen a big shift where sellers are spending vast amounts of time communicating digitally with customers. Copilot for Sales factors in because it helps automate the tracking of action items, updates, customer communications, and more to help sellers avoid having to do the repetitive task of entering this into their CRM system manually after every call. They can use Copilot to generate and send reports and capture customer information and sales activities as well. It’s making sellers happy on multiple fronts because it automates processes that used to be time-consuming.

Eric: And are there any future updates you’re particularly excited about?

Lori: We have a lot of other features coming up. For example, if a competitor is mentioned in the conversation, Copilot can pull relevant information from your system and prompt you with tips during your live conversation. It might pull up a strengths and weaknesses analysis on your competitor or product specifications, basically whatever the customer asks you it will grab that relevant information, so you are ready to answer their questions.

Eric: It sounds like this is streamlining a ton of work for sellers.

Lori: The magic here is twofold: One, Copilot is generative AI that is going to make recommendations and automatically put data into CRM as it happens. It is much more intelligent than how people have worked before. The second thing is that Copilot isn’t just pumping data into CRM, it’s also keeping sellers in the loop and making recommendations during their flow of work. They won’t have to go into their CRM after a sales call and find a bunch of things that they recommended to a client like a budget change or stage of the deal. It generates that as soon as the meeting closes. From there, sellers can just go and check to make sure everything lines up to ensure accuracy.

Eric: Wave One release came out recently, what are some highlights you want to share from that?

Lori: We have a lot of great features coming to help organizations create great experiences for their customer and we’ve been listening to a lot of feedback about what it takes to get a campaign off the ground. Number one is we are taking more of an agile methodology rather than a waterfall methodology. This essentially means people can communicate much more effectively together because things are linked together and changed as a unit. Second, through generative AI, we can create drafts of highly targeted social media posts, emails, journeys, segments, and much more. You can also base these drafts on past successful ones and then edit and modify them as needed.

Eric: I love the way Microsoft is taking the opportunity to rethink things and see what you can do differently to make it easier for users to be able to use these tools and get information into the system.

Lori: Yes, and I think this is going to be important for our partners to grab ahold of because people will need help implementing these new tools and training their users to get the most out of it. People get used to doing things a certain way and need guidance on how empowering and effective these new tools and features will be.

Eric: Internally we have rolled out Dynamics 365 Customer Insights and have used Power Automate to help kickstart campaigns. How do you see the Power Platform integrating and pairing with Customer Insights?

Lori: Very well. Power Platform is the underlying data and automation layer across the Microsoft suite of products. Our marketing automation is built on Power Automate and it just streamlines marketing workflows by reducing manual work. Likewise in Sales and Customer Service, the data that flows into your CRM goes into golden records and sellers and service agents can see all of that. That happens through Power Automate. From there you can create Power Apps, Power Pages, Power BI, and Copilot Studio on top of that to help further optimization as well.

Eric: Thinking long-term, is there anything else you want to share about Microsoft’s line of thinking when it comes to developing these tools?

Lori: Copilot is a huge tool for eliminating a lot of pain points. AI is a huge topic of discussion and we have already seen Copilot be very useful in tracking and jumpstarting campaigns. Being able to ask Copilot questions through a chat-based experience rather than having to reach out to a specific department or person to access files or data is another big feature. It also helps improve the user experience with improved navigation and friendlier user interfaces. These patterns we are seeing in generative AI are something that will guide continued reinvention.

Eric: Lastly, do you have any favorite examples of how you have used Customer Insights or any of these tools for your productivity?

Lori: I have two. The first is I get a lot of emails and the threads and conversations between people can get very long and complicated. So I often use the summarize feature. It gives me a few bullet points with the main topics of discussion and collects context on the accounts involved and their relationships with Microsoft. Before I wouldn’t have even bothered collecting this information, so it makes me feel more up to speed. The second is the recap of Teams meetings and Copilot for Sales. When you combine them, you can get all of the action items and key topics discussed. It also tracks customer sentiment and makes sure you follow up on everything you promised you’d do for the customer. It allows me to focus on the interaction without being distracted by taking notes. I use them every day.

Eric: That’s awesome. Thank you for joining us, we appreciate your insights and our clients do as well.

Lori: Thank you for joining us on this journey at Microsoft.

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