Enforce Consistency and Streamline Tasks with Prompt and Response Dialogs in Microsoft CRM 2011

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The concept of Workflows in Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 has been replaced by the term “Processes” in CRM 2011. Now there are two categories of Processes: 1) Workflows and 2) Dialogs, and both are intended to automate key business processes. Workflows and Dialogs can help automate just a few steps or multiple layers of business activities in strategic areas such as lead qualification, client acquisition, client service, and client retention.


The aim of the familiar and reliable Workflows concept from CRM 4.0 continues to be to automate tasks or sets of actions to be executed on CRM records. For instance, Workflows can be designed to send new account, client assignment, or support case email notifications. They can also automatically create user follow-up activities and even update CRM fields. As before, Workflows run in the background of CRM asynchronously. Workflows are usually triggered by some particular event or can even be run on-demand by certain users.


The new feature of Processes in CRM 2011 is Dialogs, which are interactive step-by-step guides that ease data input and data collection based on prompt and response logic and conversational scripts. Unlike Workflows, Dialogs are synchronous and cannot be initiated by an event. CRM users must start Dialogs, and in order for them to keep running to completion, user input is required. Besides automating business tasks, Dialogs create consistency in how users interact with customers. The use of wizard-driven scripts encourages compliance, discourages rogue behavior, and results in standard messaging and uniformity.

To view, create, or activate/deactivate Workflows or Dialogs, one can go to Settings – Process Center – Processes. In the following example, I will focus on how to create a new Dialog. First, click the New button, and fill in the required fields as seen below.


Now you can actually build the steps for the Dialog.


To construct a basic Prompt and Response Dialog, follow these instructions:

  • Under Steps, select the row, click Add Step, select Page, and type a description of the Dialog.
  • Click Add Step again, but this time select Prompt and Response.
  • Click Set Properties next to Prompt and Response under Steps. This allows you to actually add Prompt and Response steps to your Dialog.
  • Fill in the Statement Label to title your set of steps for this Prompt and Response component of the Dialog.
  • Type in a certain question or list of instructions in the Prompt Text box.
  • Use the Tips text box to type in supplemental tips and reminders related to the Prompt.
  • Use the Response Details section to indicate how you want to track the Response, such as option sets or lines of text. If an option set is selected, you can then define your values to the response or query CRM data to bring in values from a record already in CRM.
  • Click Save and Close.
  • Repeat the above if more Prompts and Responses are needed. Then Save and Activate the Dialog.

If the Dialog is set up to be run on-demand, users can click on the “Start Dialog” icon in the ribbon on any screen showing the related entity. The same applies to Workflows.

Below, I have highlighted how the tips section can supplement a question in the Dialog. In this case, the CRM user, a client service associate, is asking the client how she would like to receive her withdrawal proceeds. The answer is recorded in the picklist and can be one of the following four options: 1) check by mail to address on file, 2) ACH, 3) Wire, or 4) check to special payee. The tips on the right remind the client service associate to secure a signed letter of instruction from the client if proceeds are to be sent to a different address than the one on file. Providing these tips mitigates risk and facilitates compliance with internal and external regulations. Additionally, the associate is reminded to disclose possible fees with the selected method of delivery, such as overnight delivery charges or bank wire processing fees.


The next screenshot from the same Dialog example demonstrates how scripted phrases can be placed on the screen for reps to say word for word. This may come in handy when needing to relay adequate disclosures or just to provide thorough next steps on particular transactions to keep clients informed and at ease. Besides basic “Yes” or “No” radio button or picklist option sets, blank text fields can also be included on the Dialog form to record answers. Any additional information collected throughout the course of the Dialog can also be captured at the bottom in the Comments section as seen below.


Lastly, in CRM 2011 Dialog results can even result in the creation of new records, such as an Opportunity or Case, or possibly lead to another child Dialog or a Workflow. However, a Workflow cannot lead to a Dialog. Once all responses for the prompted Dialog questions are saved, the entire log history of the Dialog Session is then stored with the related record for future reference.

Enjoy leveraging Workflows and Dialogs in your CRM 2011 implementations to reduce manual efforts, lower processing costs, enhance operational efficiencies, improve data quality, and ensure daily consistent execution.

by Kevin Wessels, Customer Effective , Georgia Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner

1 thought on “Enforce Consistency and Streamline Tasks with Prompt and Response Dialogs in Microsoft CRM 2011”

  1. Enforcing consistency and compliance is a lot more difficult when you can't make any of the fields mandatory! Tips are all very well but there doesn't seem to be an easy way to enforce the behaviour!

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