AI Translation for Omnichannel

How to start off this post? I’ve been trying to work out how exactly I can express my excitement around this new feature for Omnichannel. Included in the Wave 2 2020 release, it’s just AMAZING. That, however, doesn’t give it true justice. So let’s see how I can describe it properly to give it due respect.

Previously I’ve mentioned the ability to use skills within Omnichannel (see https://thecrm.ninja/omnichannel-for-dynamics-365-queues-users-skills/). This can be used to indicate, for example, agents who can communicate in a certain language. That’s useful of course, but what happens when you don’t have anyone who can speak the language that the customer wants to use? It’s a problem, and one that’s really not easily solved. At least, not until now.

So, what exactly does this new translation feature do? Simple – it translates from one language to another. OK, it’s actually a little more awesome than just that. Having delved into it quite a bit over the last week or so, there are (in my view) three main benefits (with a bonus one as well!):

  1. It translates incoming text from the customer (through chat) from the language that they’re using to the language that the agent is using
  2. It translates outgoing text from the agent (through chat) from the language that the agent is using to the language that the customer is using
  3. It translates text between agents from one language to the other & vice versa (eg on an internal consult)

Now for the bonus. It doesn’t just translate text from one language to another. It follows the languages being used! So if the customer switches in mid-conversation to a different language, the system picks it up. Not only is the new incoming language translated into the agents language, but the replies from the agent are shown in the (new) language being used by the customer. It’ll automatically show text in the ‘last used’ language, which is really quite incredible (at least in my opinion).

There’s no fiddling around of needing agents to select the language that they need, or anything else. It’s a simple click to turn it on, and then another click to turn it off. I’m going to go through the setup of it below, as there are a few fiddly bits that did confuse me for a bit.

It’s also possible to use different translation tools. At the time of writing this post, it’s possible to use Bing, Google or Azure translation models. I’m sure that there will be other options available in the future as well to use, which really opens up possibilities for clients with differing digital estates.

Translation happens in real time, so there’s no waiting around for it to actually get on with it. It’s displayed immediately on the screen for the agent to see.

Setup for translation

I found the general guides to be alright, but weren’t too clear on a few items. I’m therefore sharing below how I went about it, in order to get things working properly. Please be aware that this isn’t in the order specified in the documentation, but in retrospect means less switching between screens:

  1. Ensure that you have the latest updates to your Omnichannel environment (this is always a good idea, regardless of anything else!)
  1. Go to https://github.com/microsoft/Dynamics365-Apps-Samples/tree/master/customer-service/omnichannel/real-time-translation & download the ‘webResourceV2.js’ file there (if you’re unfamiliar with how to do this, click to open the file, click the ‘Raw’ button, and then save the page (ensure it’s got the ‘.js’ extension when you save it!).
  1. Ensure you have an API key to enter into the web resource file! This is what tripped me up at first. You can use any text editor (I use Notepad++) to open it up. How you get the API key will depend on the provider. For example, to set up a free account in Azure, take a look at https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cognitive-services/translator/translator-how-to-signup. There are also some additional things that you can configure in the web resource file, but I’m not going to go into that here
  1. Go to your solutions (this can either be through the Classic interface, or through http://make.powerapps.com). You can either create a new solution to hold the web resource file, or alternatively if you have existing solutions that you’d deploy, you can add the web resource file to that. Either:
    1. In the classic interface, navigate to Web Resources, click to create a new web resource, and upload the file (ensure you select the type to be ‘Script (JScript)’, or
    2. In the modern interface, click the ‘New’ button, select ‘Web Resource’ from the ‘Other’ section, and then follow the steps above

Once it’s saved, it’ll give you a URL. Copy that, and publish the solution.

  1. Go to the Omnichannel Administration Hub, find ‘Real Time Translation’ under Settings, and set this to Yes. You can also select a default input language from the selection. Also enter the URL that you copied above. Save it
  1. You’re all done!

Agent Experience

Depending on how you’ve configured your web resource, auto translation will either by on by default, or be off. If it’s not on by default, the agent can simply click within their chat window to select it to be active:

Once active, it’ll then start to translate everything, in both directions. Below are side by side screens of the customer & agent experiences. You’ll note that the customer is seeing the initial agent response in English, as the agent was the first in the conversation

From the agent side of things, both the original language, as well as the translated language, are shown. The customer is only shown the language that they’re actually using

If the agent isn’t sure what language the customer is using (as it’s being auto-translated for them), they can hover over the text, and it’ll show the details for it:

If the agent will consult, or transfer the session to another agent, the second agent will see the conversation in the language that they are themselves using (with the original text as well). This allows for the possibility to pass a customer to a specialist to assist them, even if they don’t speak the same language! It’s really cool to see this in action.

Even more wonderfully, this is even stored down to the transcript level:

This is really opening up major new concepts that Omnichannel can be used for, which will be supported entirely by this feature. As I said at the beginning of this post, I’m absolutely excited for it, and we’re already envisioning how this will be able to empower our clients even more.

Do you have any questions around this? Can you think of any scenarios that this could solve for you? Drop a comment below – I’d love to hear!

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