As part of the big “wave 2” October release Microsoft has released a preview version of Power Virtual Agents. In essence, Power Virtual Agents empowers subject matter experts at your firm to create bots in a code-free graphical interface. This sounds to good not to try it out.
Set up: The fastest bot in the West
One of the highlights in the Power Virtual Agents documentation states that you can “get started in seconds”. Well… not seconds, but it took me about four minutes (fun fact: in that time 263.888 photos are uploaded to Instagram) to get started with my own Virtual Agent: “Bertrand”.
A bot that does nothing isn’t very useful. To be able to interact with my Virtual Agent I need Topics. Topics define a conversation path with your Virtual Agent for a specific customer intent. Bertrand comes with 24 default user topics that handle common questions and 8 system topics that handle items such as greetings, end of conversation, etc. You can easily create additional topics in an intuitive interface.
Create custom topics: How can I help you
Topics define a specific conversation path and are triggered through trigger words or trigger phrases. Once the end user inserts one of these triggers the associated topic is launched. The topic defines your journey in a visual editor. In this simple example i’m asking the user to state what they want to know about Dynamics and friends or Bertrand.
The user input is being stored in a variable you can define to use later on in my topic flow. The Virtual Agent generates a conditional branch for each possible answer if you use a multiple option question.
Take action with Power Automate
The fun part is when you enable your bot to take action. It’s nice to have a conversation with Bertrand but I actually want him to do stuff. By using Power Automate my bot can act on his own to take action to resolve my issue or question.
In my conditional branch “What is Bertrand’s favourite song?” I have added an action. This triggers a Power Automate flow that retrieves Bertrand’s favourite song from my Common Data Service environment (Why? Because why not?). Some user input is asked in the topic flow to check whether a user also want’s to receive an email with Bertrand’s favourite song. Using the position in my topic flow and my user input I can then call my Power Automate flow and retrieve the song.
Below is a screenshot of my Power Automate flow.
I am fully aware that this is not a very professional use case of Power Automate and Power Virtual Agent but it does prove that it’s quite simple to get stuff done!
You can do a lot more cool stuff with the Virtual Agents like integration in Teams or other channels, check analytics of your agent, etc. And a lot more is on the roadmap. Stay tuned.
See Bertrand in action: