Microsoft announces expanded Copilot capabilities at Ignite for sales and service

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Microsoft wants to help sales and service teams to be more productive, with the power of an AI copilot.

At the Microsoft Ignite conference today, the tech giant unveiled a suite of innovative, AI-driven Copilot features, aimed at boosting sales productivity and improving customer service experiences across organizations.

The new Microsoft Copilot sales and services efforts represent a massive update from the initial set of capabilities that Microsoft first detailed for copilots back in July, when it announced its first Microsoft Sales Copilot. The new updates aren’t just about sales and service operations using Microsoft Dynamics, rather they are a much deeper integration across the Microsoft portfolio. Users will be able to more easily  integrate Microsoft 365 with source of sales and service data, than was previously possible.

“Since the beginning of this year, we’ve been pushing hard on having copilots embedded in all our products, all the way from Microsoft 365 to Dynamics and security,” Emily He, CVP for Microsoft Business Applications told VentureBeat.

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He noted that the reaction from customers to the initial round of copilots was that while they found the tools useful, there were too many different copilots to deal with. At Ignite, one of the things that Microsoft is announcing is a streamlined copilot experience that will sit on top of all Microsoft applications.

How the new Microsoft Copilot for sales is different than the old Micorosoft sales copilot

So how is the new Microsoft Copilot different for sales? He explained that because of the overarching Microsoft Copilot platform it has a lot more power and integration with Microsoft tools, most notably Microsoft 365, as well as other customer relationship management (CRM) tools.

“A lot of our users start with Microsoft 365 and they really love that experience, they love the ability to use, for example, copilot in PowerPoint to create presentations or copilot in Excel to create a new Excel spreadsheet and the same thing with Word and Outlook,” she said. “They’re asking us to extend the copilot in Microsoft 365 experience, to include the customer data that resides in CRM systems.”

That’s exactly what the new MIcrosoft Copilot for sales experience enables. So for example, an organization can use CRM information inside of Microsoft 365 to create emails in a seamless and integrated approach. 

In the past, He explained that in the predecessor Microsoft Sales Copilot  the experience would have been a bit disjointed. For example, if an organization was engaging with a customer on a Microsoft Teams call, they might have had to also log into a CRM system to get access to data.

With the new Microsoft Copilot for sales, CRM data is connected, even non-Microsoft CRM data such as Salesforce for example.  

“You can ask questions without having to log into your CRM system and the system can recommend competitive insights to you, it can recommend what you will say to a customer or answer questions for you,” she said.

Looking beyond Sales to Service

While sales is an area where Microsoft had a copilot before, service is not.

At Ignite, the Microsoft Copilot for Service technology is being introduced as a way to integrate service information from different systems into the overall copilot experience that, like the sales iteration, will also integrate with Microsoft 365.

“This is a brand new offering,” He said. “We’re excited about copilot for service because when we talk to customers, customer service is kind of ground zero for AI.”

He noted that the pain point for a lot of customer service agents is as they’re engaging with customers on the phone or in email and there are many different knowledge bases they have to navigate across. There can be the company website, internal knowledge bases as well as information that resides in CRM and service management systems like Zendesk and ServiceNow.

With the new Microsoft Copilot for Service, while the agents are engaging with customers on a Teams call, they don’t have to navigate across all the different systems. He explained that an agent can simply use natural language to ask a question, and the copilot will reason across all the various connected knowledge base sources and return the right answer, with links at the bottom for sources.

“It dramatically reduces the amount of time the customer service agents have to navigate across all these different sources to get right answers to the customer,” she said.

ServiceNow, Salesforce and others have all been adding AI capabilities of their own in recent months. In He’s view, Microsoft especially with its new integrated copilot approach has a distinct advantage.

“We already know that most of the employees across all the business functions are spending most of their time in their productivity tools, whether it’s in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Outlook or Teams,” she said. “We have the opportunity to bring customer data and business data into that experience without the employees having to leave the tools they love and use the most, and for other vendors it is harder because they don’t have that product footprint.”

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