How to Leverage Power Virtual Agents for Your Business

If you have the option to call a contact centre or to type a question into a chatbot window, what would you choose? Many of us would want to type our question into the chatbot window – we'd get the answers we want quickly, without waiting on hold. Businesses realise that these virtual service options are cost-effective and appealing to customers, but they don't always have the time, skillset, or budget to build them.

Microsoft's Power Virtual Agents solves this problem by enabling citizen developers to build chatbots – read on to learn more. 

Chatbot Statistics

When given the option of a chatbot, customers will turn to one over talking to a human. Here are some statistics that show how people feel about chatbots: 

  • Sixty-nine per cent of customers prefer chatbots because they reply quickly to simple questions 
  • Fifty-six per cent of customers would rather use a chatbot to contact a business than call customer support 
  • A third of customers want to use chatbots to do things like place orders or make reservations 

The Chatbot Development Process

Yes, chatbots have high ROI for businesses – if they develop them, many people will use them. However, chatbots have a lengthy, costly development process.

First, developers determine what the chatbot will do – will it answer questions about a specific topic, will it book appointments, or does it need to act as a broad knowledge base? Once they've determined the chatbot's purpose, they identify the top five to ten customer requests. Someone will need to write the chatbot's responses, ensuring that what it says matches the brand's voice. 

Chatbots can have a lengthy, costly development process.

Next, developers create dialogue flows that show what a chatbot will say when a customer asks a question. They must also choose which business applications need to be integrated into the chatbot (for example, if a customer wants to check his account balance, the chatbot needs to be integrated with the accounting software). 

Then, developers choose a platform and implement the dialogue flow. However, the process isn't over – developers will still need to test and tinker until it's running smoothly. That process can take months and can cost over $20,000. The length and time put chatbots out of reach of businesses without the resources or funds for such a project.

Citizen Developers and Chatbots 

What if developing a chatbot didn't involve a lengthy development process or high costs? What if people within your organisation could create chatbots on their own without having to be technical experts? 

It sounds like a pipe dream, but it's not. The rise of citizen developers means that app development has become faster and more affordable than ever. Citizen developers are employees who create new applications by utilising development and runtime environments approved by the IT department. They're generally not part of the IT department. They don't always have technical knowledge; rather, they're curious about using technology to improve current workflows, and they're passionate and driven to find a solution. 

A man wearing a watch and a dark shirt is standing in a door frame. He is using both hands to hold his phone as he looks down at it and types as he smiles.

The rise of citizen developers means that app development is faster and more affordable than ever before.

However, citizen developers need software that makes it easy and fast to develop new apps. That’s where Microsoft Power Virtual Agents come in.

Microsoft Power Virtual Agents

Microsoft’s Power suite empowers citizen developers with easy-to-use tools to create apps to drive productivity and collaboration. For example, Power Virtual Agents allows employees to build chatbots without the need for technical expertise in coding or AI. They don’t have to turn to the IT department for help, either – everything they need to create an intelligent chatbot is at their fingertips.

Originally, Power Virtual Agents was a part of the Dynamics platform; however, Microsoft added it to the Power family in 2019. Companies can purchase Power Virtual Agents as a standalone product, too.

How Does Power Virtual Agents Work?

We’ll use an example to show how Power Virtual Agents works. Let’s say you want to design a chatbot to answer customer questions on your e-commerce site. Within Power Virtual Agents, you define a list of topics that you think customers will ask about. Customers might have several types of questions, such as, ‘How do I return an item,’ or ‘How can I track my order.’

Each topic has a list of defined trigger phrases (such as ‘When will my order arrive?’) that prompts the bot to answer. Next, you’ll define which steps you want the bot to take and under which conditions. For example, you could choose to answer a question or display a message (like, ‘We’re out of the office right now, but someone will get back to you first thing’). You can also add branching, which means that the bot will respond with a particular answer depending on what the customer says next.
Virtual Power Agents makes it easy for citizen developers to create a chatbot.
Because Power Virtual Agents is part of the Power family, you can use Power Automate to turn a task into a multi-step automated workflow. You can also connect a vast library of applications to your chatbot, so customers can access the information they need. If the chatbot can’t answer a question, it will hand it off to a human, ensuring that the customer always receives the service they deserve.

You can also integrate analytics into your chatbot, so you understand which topics are the most popular, how many people use the chatbot, interaction completion and abandonment rates (which refer to whether the customer ends the interaction early, before the chatbot can give them the necessary information, or if the customer completes the interaction). This data helps you fine-tune your chatbot, so it provides excellent customer service and ROI to businesses.

Leverage Power Virtual Agents with Enlighten Designs

For over two decades, Enlighten Designs has delivered amazing digital experiences to its customers. We’re proud Microsoft partners – in 2020, we won the Partner of the Year Award. Our expertise in AI and chatbots create high ROI for businesses. To learn more, contact us.

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