Power Virtual Agent

Customer service plays substantial role in keeping your business alive & kicking because nowadays people prefer better customer service in lieu of better features. Having good customer service makes customer happy and satisfied which causes customer retention cheaper than customer acquisition. By providing top-of-the-line customer service, it helps multiply customer lifetime value. Moreover, Happy Customers brings other customers by word-of-mouth, which is the best kind of advertising that money can’t buy. Thus, excellent customer service improves public persona and strengthens your brand.

Why use Chatbot experience as a part of Customer Service?

Chatbots as a medium delivers consumer the flexibility of time and access, and offer businesses a way to side-track routine queries, promote self-service and free up customer service employees to focus on areas where they are most effective.

Well, in the earlier days, people used rule-based chatbots which are also referred to as decision-tree bots. They use a series of defined rules which are the basis for the types of problems the chatbot is familiar with and can deliver solutions for. Rule-based bots have a less flexible conversational flow and could not learn through interactions because they only perform and work with the scenarios you train them for.

Nowadays, AI chatbots have superseded rule-based chatbots. One of the most used AI chatbot is Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent. It is a new Microsoft Dynamics 365 feature built on Microsoft Bot Framework that helps Dynamics 365 CRM or Power Apps users to create powerful chat bots using no-code graphical interface.

This new idea of conversational AI is built into Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent. These are able to answer ambiguous and indirect questions since they create replies from scratch using natural language processing learning from questions asked and have the ability to become smarter over time.

Let's setup a Virtual Agent in Microsoft Dynamics 365:

There are totally 4 steps involved:

1. Create a bot.

2. Create a topic

3. Test the bot.

4. Deploy the bot.

1. Create a bot:

a. Click here to Sign Up for free trial of Dynamics 365 Virtual Agent

b. Click on ‘Start free’.

You will be then led to another screen where you need to provide your work email address.

c. To create a new Bot, click on ‘Create a new bot’, give it an appropriate name according to your requirement and select an appropriate environment. Click on ‘Create’ and your bot will be created.

Your bot is created in the default Power Apps environment that was created for you when you signed up. For most users, this is sufficient. However, if you want to specify a custom Power Apps environment for your Power Virtual Agents, you can do so by expanding the More options menu and selecting a different environment.

d. Once you select Create, the process of creating the first bot within a new environment can take up to 15 minutes. Subsequent bots will be created much faster.

e. Meanwhile, you will be redirected to the home page and you can explore the bot’s user interface and experiment with the preloaded User Topics and System Topics, and interact with your bot using the Test Canvas. Please note that any changes wouldn’t be saved as the bot would be in read-only mode.

After the bot is created, you would have access to modify any User or System topic, test your changes and then can deploy the bot.

2. Create a topic:

A Topic is dialog tree defines that how your bot should respond to a user’s question. Following are the steps required to create topics:

a. Select Topics on the left navigation pane and then select ‘New Topic’ at the left-top corner.

b. Give a name to your Topic and create some trigger phrases for this topic. Trigger phrases are examples of the type of user questions or utterances that help teach the bot when to respond with this dialog and select ‘Save’ to add your own topic.

c. Then select ‘Go to authoring canvas’ on the right side of the screen. This is the graphical dialog tree editor that allows you to define bot responses.

d. Give a customised message in the textbox of ‘Message’.

e. Then, click on the ‘+’ below the node, and add an Ask a question node by selecting it in the menu. Let’s add the question text, 'How old are you?' or ‘What is your gender?’, in the Ask a question box. To give the customer a choice between different responses, we can select Multiple choice options under ‘Identify’.

f. Select ‘+ New option’ to enter the options for the location.

g. Add values for regions in the textbox as ‘Options for user’. Each option will be displayed as a multiple-choice button to the user.

h. Authoring canvas creates paths for each option that we added for the multiple choice answer. Suppose we added 3 options, then it would create 3 different paths.

i. After that, we can add different message phrases as per the requirement by clicking on ‘+’ below each of the Condition Nodes.

j. Click on ‘Save’ on the top to save the Topic.

As shown, we can create simple branching tree. But you can also incorporate variables, entities and Power Automate flows.

3. Test the bot:

It is necessary to Test the bot, and the topics just to make sure everything is working fine:

1. After creating the bot with our Topic, we can test it by using the test bot panel.

2. To do so, please select ‘Test your bot’ at the bottom of the left navigation panel.

3. You can start testing by typing into the test bot window.

4. Turn on ‘Track between topics’ at the top, which enables you to follow along with the bot as it executes your dialog. You’ll start to see parts of your dialog tree highlighted as the bot gets to that portion of the dialog.

4. Deploy your bot:

Once everything is working fine, and you are satisfied you can deploy it to your website. If you don't have website, you can deploy it on a demo site:

a. Select ‘Deploy’ on side navigation panel on left.

b. You will be redirected to the below screen where you would need to select a website for the deployment.

c. Select ‘Demo website’, add information such as Welcome message & Conversation starters and click on ‘Publish’ (This may take few minutes).

d. After the deployment is completed, click on Publish to launch the demo website for the virtual agent that we created.

Thus, you can create your own bot with no code approach using Power Virtual Agents. Isn’t it so simple and less time consuming to create our own customized Chatbot?

Power Virtual Agent licensing guide:

Power Virtual Agent has only one subscription plan, which costs 1000 USD/month/tenant. It includes creation and maintaining of 1000 bots, and can have 2000 chat sessions/month/tenant.

Try creating it and let us know, how it went in the comments.

Also, if you have any questions/concerns feel free to email me. I am always happy to help the Dynamics community at no extra cost.

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