What are Microsoft Virtual Agents?

One of the most aggravating parts of being a parent is answering the same question repeatedly. Instead of simply answering the question for my daughter, I enable her to answer the question for herself and make myself available to her to answer any more difficult questions as they arise. 

Microsoft’s Virtual Agents tool works in a similar manner, to enable customers, vendors, and employees to find the answers to their questions without the need for manual intervention, but allowing for escalation to a live person or other means of support. 

In this blog, I will discuss what Virtual Agents are, why they are important to businesses, and dive into examples of how they resolve different types of opportunities seen across multiple industries.

What are Microsoft Virtual Agents?

Microsoft Virtual Agents stand as an intermediary to provide 24/7 support to interested parties as part of the Power Platform. They interact with Power Automate to kick off flows based on conversation triggers, and developers will enable these agents to solve customer problems using no-code or low-code solutions. These bots have the capabilities to reach users on multiple platforms.

an example of Microsoft virtual agent answering a customer question

Why are Microsoft Virtual Agents Important?

Virtual Agents provide a win-win scenario in making information available to users while allowing the host to focus more time on deep work and not get overwhelmed by an avalanche of questions. The information provided can also be protected through authentication or by requesting pertinent information such as the combination of an order number and last name. 

3 Real Examples of Microsoft Virtual Agents 

Order Status Checker

Making an outward-facing bot to allow customers to check the status of their orders after they are placed keeps phones from ringing off the hook and declutters inboxes while serving customers efficiently. 

Simply have the customer provide their name and order number, and they will get the latest status for their order. A Power Automate flow can be configured to return the status and any additional information such as shipping order, provider, and estimated delivery date. 

This can be deployed to bots on many modern messaging services such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, or any website. If the customer needs any additional data, they can be forwarded to an email, live chat, or contact directory to resolve their issues. 

topics for Microsoft virtual agents

Inventory Management and Replenishment

When fulfilling orders or gathering supplies for a project, knowing what supplies are in stock and having the ability to adjust inventory counts, or prompt the buyer to acquire more, allows for less downtime. 

Power Automate allows the chatbot to write back to the data source, so rows can be added to inventory fact tables to show adjustments to counts, all from the Microsoft Teams app without any additional software. An additional advantage to the Teams app is unlimited sessions available with the standard Power Platform license with no additional cost.  

Viewing Personal Data for Employees

Using any Azure Active Directory or OAuth2 Authentication, a secured connection can be configured to allow employees to explore their personal data by asking how many PTO days they have left or how many hours they worked this pay cycle. In addition to non-sensitive data, an authentication action can branch out whenever a sensitive topic arises. Once successful, allow for employees to answer some questions about their data without tying up HR’s time. 

Test Our Microsoft Power Virtual Agent Below by Saying 'Hi'!

Closing

Balancing being available to match demand and using time efficiently to accomplish deep work is an everyday struggle, but by leveraging Microsoft Virtual Agents, you can allow those seeking information to answer their own questions securely without sacrificing premier customer service. 

Microsoft Virtual Agents stand up best when paired with the rest of the Power Platform.  Developing flows with Power Automate can take inputs from the Virtual Agents chat, make necessary changes to underlying data, and impact business decisions without manual intervention. 

At phData, we know this work is foundational to your success, and we are here to help! We’ve built a set of tools, processes, and reference architectures for customers at every life cycle stage. From years of experience learning and iterating, our team is ready to help you get on the right path towards utilizing Microsoft Virtual Agents within your organization.

FAQ

You can set up a link to your custom chat program, or they can be transferred using Microsoft Dynamics Omnichannel tool, which allows multiple socials to be brought together and managed from one platform. Once you determine which solution you want to use, you edit the ‘Escalate’ action to make the agent transfer successful. 

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