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This week we’re unpacking another cool, yet, little known feature on Microsoft Dynamics 365. It’s called Recommendations and it’s  very easy to set up and use. Even more importantly…it will make you look great as the CRM administrator!

Using Microsoft Dynamics 365 Recommendations it’s possible to make suggestions based on various criteria on a record.  The concept is basically this… “As a result of other field values on this record, we think you might want to add option C in this field – do you want us to add it for you?”

An example might be, in the situation where an Event Organiser is entering data onto a form for an upcoming children birthday party . They click into the Event Type drop down field  and they select ‘Children’s Party’ from the list of event types. A suggestion appears that suggests in the Event Catering field they might want to choose ‘Children’s Party Food’.

An advantage of using Recommendations is that the user doesn’t have to accept the suggestion, they may decide to use a different value rather than the one being suggested.

Setting up a Recommendation Rule

Let’s take a look at how to set up a recommendation in Dynamics 365.

If you’ve ever worked with business rules in Dynamics 365 then you will already be familiar with the set up. In this post, we are making an assumption that you haven’t used business rules before so we’re going to set up a simple step by step recommendation scenario.

In our Madrid Hotel we want to be able to offer a free Tapas walking tour for those people who spend at least £1000 when they book their weekend trip with us. We want the suggestion to appear for the sales person creating the trip whilst they are on the phone to the customer, but we will leave it up to the sale person to decide whether to give the free tour or not.

Before setting up the scenario we created a new option set field called Free Tours and added it to the opportunity form.

Let’s have a look at how to set this up on the Recommendation on the Opportunity entity.
First, we go into our Power Apps Maker Portal (make.powerapps.com). Find the Opportunity entity and navigate to the business rules section.

1. Power Apps Opportunity Entity

Click the Add Business Rule button in the ribbon

2. Add new business Rule

Immediately a condition is placed on the canvas (that’s the purple box). Look closely and you’ll also see a semi-hidden drop down at the top (next to where it says ‘Opportunity: New Business Rule’). Click this drop down and you’ll be able to give your new Business Rule a name. You would be surprised how many people miss that and, consequently, all their business rules end up being called “New Business Rule”.

 

3. Name the new Business Rule

Next, we need to specify some criteria around when we want the recommendation to take place. Click on the Condition box and create a rule on the right hand side.

Note: Here we are creating two rules:

  • The first one checks to see if the spend is over £999.00
  • The second one checks to see if they already have been offered a free tour due to some other criteria.

Note: It is important to click the Apply button as soon as you make any changes. It’s too easy to lose what you have done by clicking away to another area. Also, give your condition a name, it will make it easier to see what is going on when you come back to look at it later.

Tip: If you are going to create a recommendation with multiple criteria, I would first just create it with one rule to make sure it works and then add anything else one at a time. This way you end up doing less troubleshooting if something goes wrong. In the example below, we are using And as the rule logic. This means both sets of criteria need to be met.

4. Condition Rules

Now that we have defined the conditions, we are ready to drag a blue Recommendation box onto the canvas and attach it to the condition. If you add the Recommendation box to the right hand side of the Condition box (the ticked side) the recommendation will be made when the criteria is met. If you wanted to add a Recommendation for when the criteria is not met, then add the box to the bottom of the condition box.5. Drag a Reccomendation onto the canvas
5a. Drag a Reccomendation onto the canvas on the negative path

Once the Action box is in place, click on it and configure the properties in the pane on the right hand side.
We have set the recommendation on the Estimated Revenue field as you can see below. This is the text that will appear on the field when the criteria is met.

6. Configure the Reccomendation

Next click on the Recommendations action box and select the field and value that will be offered to the user.
Note: only one field is allowed per action box.

Action Box defined with field
In this case, the field called Free Tour will be populated with the value ‘Tapas in Madrid with Jorge Espinosa’. Notice that I have to add a display name too. This is just to make it easier to identify when I come back to the Business Rule later.

To add further Recommendations, it is necessary to add another Recommendation Action box.

8. Adding a second Reccomendation box

All that remains is to activate the Business Rule and test it.
Note: The field called Scope (next to the Activate button) determines where the rule will be activated. By choosing ‘All Forms’ I am enabling this rule on my Main Form and My Quick Create form.

9. Activate the Business Rule

Testing the Recommendation Rule

Activate the Business Rule, set an opportunity with a value of anything over £999.00 and ensure the Free tours field is not already populated. A light bulb appears to the left of the Estimated Revenue field to show that there is a suggestion for this record.

10. Light bulb shows that there is a reccomendation

Click the light bulb… the recommendation appears.

11. Showing the Reccomendation text

Click Apply Now,  the suggested change will be made. Once the record is saved, the light bulb disappears, this is because the suggestion has been applied. The record no longer meets the specified criteria to show the change.

12. Reccomendation Applied

There you go, that how easy it is to set up Recommendations. I can think of some great uses for this such as updating the Rating field on an opportunity to ‘HOT ‘based on the Probability field being 80% or higher, or on other entities, if you add a phone number with a country code (e.g. +44 for United Kingdom) to an Account record, you might suggest to populate the Country field.

 

Our Verdict: Our opinion is that Recommendations is useful in simple scenarios such as the one we have outlined in this post. It can enhance the user experience as well as contribute towards the maintenance of good quality data.

Talk to an expert

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If you want to find out more about Dynamics 365 or even want to explore the possibility of a simple custom CRM app designed on the Microsoft Power Platform, get in touch with us.

About Iain Wicks

Iain has been working in the CRM industry since 1999 and has a wealth of experience of implementing CRM for small to medium sized business teams. Iain’s focus is on “Keeping it simple” and on user adoption.