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Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Insights: An overview

by Hannes Holst
Dynamics 365 Business Central Consultant, Freelance

For many people, working in the IT sector is great  do what you love with like-minded people. But when it comes to the advertisement of new products, it gets blurry. Maybe it's just because I'm a technical person, but the language of marketing disguises the ability of the product in a veil of promises, with claims like"grow your sales with us." It can be hard to imagine how a new product will actually interact with existing infrastructure.

One crucial part of my consulting business is working to decipher what lies behind the shiny surface to be able to advise my clients. So, on today's menu is Dynamics 365 Customer Insights - let's have a look inside!

Customer view in Customer Insights

The data mediator

Microsoft designed Customer Insights to allow organizations to map, match, merge, and enrich customer-based data from different sources. A classic scenario would be to merge data from customer service software, like Freshdesk, and online sales, such as Shopware, into one source for reporting and further data analysis.

One of the big benefits is reduced development costs compared to more manual methods for combining data from different databases. This makes sense, especially in a scenario in which several report designers are collaborating. Using Customer Insights, you can create a defined set of data mappings from different sources so your report designers focus on the reports, not on finding and building the relationships in the data. This reduces development time and minimizes the risk of individual mistakes. Especially when new staff joins a company, it is possible to make them productive in a shorter amount of time.


Available data connectors in Customer Insights

Customer stories

Tivoli, the second oldest amusement park in Copenhagen makes use of Customer Insights. Tivoli restructured their business model from single tickets to a subscription model. To make sure customers are satisfied (and keep their subscription), Tivoli consolidates data from different sources using Customer Insights to help represent the individual history of a customer. One example of how this might be used is to send an email after a regular visitor has an unresolved complaint and stops coming.

Another Customer Insights user is the British pub and hotel chain, Marston's. To make headway in a difficult market, Marston's utilizes Customer Insights to unify data from customers, including table reservations, room reservations, customer surveys, vouchers, service incidents, weather and TripAdvisor reviews. The resulting personalized services include special offers for individual customers, business insights, such as better understanding of complaints and targeted communication through a newsletter. Going a step further, Marston's makes predictions using the weather-data.

Not for everyone

Customer Insights is branded as part of Dynamics 365 product family, which might be a little bit misleading. All Dynamics 365 products are designed to be the front end for a range of departmental users, like sales, finance, marketing, or purchasing.

In contrast, Customer Insights is designed for tech-savvy users, such as data technicians who have a deep understanding of data sources, databases, tables, and fields. Customer Insights is designed to unify data from different data sources to provide an accurate foundation of all available customer data.

To take advantage of Customer Insights, I recommend selecting a person with knowledge about Microsoft's data connectors to do the initial setup and to maintain any changes.

The current preview is an early version with some rough edges. That explains why it is necessary to put a CSV-file with customer data on SharePoint and to expect error messages that appear to users on the screen. But that's OK. The focus of Customer Insights is to connect directly to a database or Web APIs to be able to refresh data without any further user interaction. Overall this is quite well integrated.

Data improvement

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About Hannes Holst

Hannes Holst is a Dynamics NAV/365 Business Central freelancer with more than 13 years of hands-on experience. His involvement covers the full spectrum, including consulting and development of tailor-made modules and gold-certified industry solutions in various industries. He helps companies to prepare the business for future growth by adapting most of the standard functionality of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central into the company's processes.

"I always try to translate the (technical) world of Dynamics NAV and Business Central into a language that everyone can understand. Having all participants on the same level of understanding is a great foundation to create situations in which everyone wins."

Hannes also tries to convey Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning into the world of Dynamics 365 Business Central. Check out his blog for details and keep an eye out for 365 Saturday-events where he holds introduction sessions for Machine Learning.

Hannes has done work for Dynamics NAV and Business Central-projects in Germany, France, Denmark and the USA. Currently he is located in London, UK. In his free time, he studies Japanese and once or twice a year, he likes to run a marathon.

You can find more information about Hannes and his blog on his website

More about Hannes Holst