“Last mile” is a major buzzword right now, especially as it relates to PowerApps. To understand the concept behind the buzz, let’s consider a company that spends millions of dollars on CRM and other software to help induce customers to buy their product. Perhaps the various parts of said product are created in multiple countries, shipped to the US, and driven across the country to stores or warehouses to facilitate a customer’s purchase, all of which is nicely tracked in the CRM. Then, after all that complexity, the sale falls apart in the “last mile,” which is the seemingly simple act of delivering said product to the customer’s house.

last mile

This is a big issue across industries right now, as customers have high (and constantly increasing) expectations for flawless execution, service, delivery, etc. To that end, it is becoming tougher every day to meet the standards set by the likes of Uber and Amazon, and thus “last mile” gaps are created.

In this blog post, we will show you how you can build last mile solutions to ensure your users:

  1. Can get what they want, when they want it, wherever they are.
  2. Can get information easily, seamlessly, and painlessly.
  3. Adopt the bigger Dynamics 365 implementation through these apps!

In the example below, we’ll look at how an employee who is always (or mostly) on the road can use a PowerApps app to:

  • Easily communicate with customers through phone calls and text messaging.
  • Get driving directions to customer locations.
  • Email customers and coworkers.
  • Schedule appointments.

…all with minimal clicks!

In the home screen below, we have a list of contacts that the user owns. (Note this “gallery” can be filtered based on various conditions.) For each contact, we can do the following with a single click:

  1. Call
  2. Text/SMS
  3. Get driving directions to their location from user’s current location
  4. Email
  5. Check calendar + schedule appointments

last mile

Digression: At the very bottom is a “robot” icon. We have integrated a QnaMaker.ai chatbot with this app that does not require any coding. More on that in an upcoming blog post!

Notice that not all contacts have the same icons. That is intentional! If we don’t have a contact’s mobile number, we make our users know that by hiding the call and text icons (another option is to “gray out” the icons).

The first three icons under Yvonne McKay perform calling, texting, and getting driving directions – with a single click, as shown in the video below:

 

Clicking on Yvonne’s fourth icon takes us to the next screen, where we can add as many email addresses as we want, compose an email, and send it to everyone.

Note: The email screen integrates PowerApps with Exchange, making it a breeze to find coworkers to add to emails.

 

Clicking the final icon for each of our contacts allows the user to do two things: check calendar and schedule appointments. As a bonus, our app once again connects to Exchange to:

  1. Show the current user’s appointments first
  2. Schedule meetings with coworkers – by picking a date and duration of the meeting, the app shows all the times that work for everyone without conflicts.

 

The screen is doing a lot here, and the coolest part is that we’re using one of the out-of-the-box screens that are available within PowerApps. In other words, you wouldn’t need to write a single formula to adopt this functionality!

Bringing it All Together

So, what are we really doing here? Essentially, four things:

  1. Surfacing information from a certain data source. In our example, contacts are coming from Dynamics 365, but the source can be SharePoint, Excel, or any other.
  2. Providing users the ability to interact with their customers and co-workers easily, creating a wow! factor for everyone involved.
  3. Encouraging user adoption.
  4. Helping to close those last mile gaps!

Apps like this one are extremely quick and easy to build. In our next blog post, we’ll show you the formulas that our PowerApps designers used to build this app. Until then, learn more about PowerApps here and be sure to register for our upcoming webcast, PO TV Live Webcast: Providing a Better Customer Experience with PowerApps.

As always, Happy D365’ing!

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Joe D365

Joe D365 is a Microsoft Dynamics 365 superhero who runs on pure Dynamics adrenaline. As the face of PowerObjects, Joe D365’s mission is to reveal innovative ways to use Dynamics 365 and bring the application to more businesses and organizations around the world.