To survive and thrive, today’s businesses have to provide timely and empathetic customer service. However, in an always-on digital world, that is no mean feat. As such, businesses are accelerating their use of virtual agents, otherwise known as chatbots, in both business and consumer markets. Virtual agents have become accepted by customers as a core component of the customer experience and have the potential to build customer satisfaction, drive loyalty and generate higher revenues.

While virtual agents offer businesses the ability to scale their customer service offerings and gain new insights into their customers, not all solutions are equal. Microsoft's Power Virtual Agents can be implemented quickly and easily, can be applied to many use cases and offers intelligence and advanced capabilities to help optimise the customer experience and grow business opportunities.

How Do Virtual Agents (Chatbots) Work?​

A virtual agent is a piece of software or computer program that simulates human conversation through text or voice interactions, hence their nickname ‘chatbots’. While implementing a chatbot often requires low or no coding, they can have various levels of complexity, which depends on whether they are:

Virtual Agents (Chatbots)

Each of these types of solutions has a place in the business world. If a chatbot is simply needed to respond to frequently asked questions or perform simple, repetitive tasks, then a stateless solution can suffice. However, if more complex interactions are required, natural language processing is fundamental.

What is a Power Virtual Agent (PVA)?

Power Virtual Agents (PVA) is a service within the Microsoft Power Platform that enables businesses to easily create powerful, scalable, AI-powered virtual agents that can deal with a range of requests. Whether you need to provide simple answers to commonly asked questions or engage in complex conversations, PVA can provide a solution. PVA can engage with customers and employees in multiple languages over a wide variety of channels, streamline the customer experience and improve customer satisfaction. Moreover, PVA does all that using a guided, low-code/no-code interface without the requirement for developers. The solution democratises AI-based virtual agents, removing the complexity of coding and advanced technologies. Instead, an easy-to-use interface enables users with practically no programming or AI experience to effectively and efficiently build smart bots. Meanwhile, with less time spent deploying and maintaining Microsoft's solution, employees can focus on higher-value work for the business.

PVA enables you to build a bot in a matter of mere minutes, with no code or expertise required. However, if you want to add code or more complex capabilities, Microsoft Cognitive Services and Azure Bot Framework is there to support you, enabling you to go as deep as you like. What’s more, as PVAs are already integrated with the Microsoft Power Platform, you can use hundreds of free built-in connectors to enable your bot to talk to your back-end systems. PVAs are smart, learning every day and using AI to suggest new topics to help you improve organisational productivity.

What Are the Benefits of Using PVA?

While previous chatbots have been frustrating for both businesses and their customers, PVA changes all of that. With PVA, your bot can communicate easily in any language via text and audio. In fact, it offers several business benefits:

Where Can PVA Be Used?

Power Virtual Agent can be used for everything from customer service to HR and sales on any channel or domain imaginable. Whether you have a small or large business, it can be applied anywhere that you want to engage with your employees or customers. As they can be created without the need for data scientists or developers, PVA bots can be used within just about every industry: customer support, healthcare, entertainment, eCommerce and logistics, to name but a few. Some of the ways they have been used include sales and help desk support information, common employee questions, bookings and customer support.

For example, store opening hours and information or website frequently asked questions can easily be converted into a PVA bot. The result is that internal staff spend less time answering simple questions. Meanwhile, by setting up automatic alerts for keywords, business owners can ensure they catch opportunities as they arise. With applications in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business environments, PVA bots can reduce overhead costs, support employees, and improve customer satisfaction around the clock.

What Integrations Does PVA Enable?

Power Virtual Agents is available in two distinct versions. While the functionality is fairly similar between the two, the choice between the versions comes down to how you want to use PVA and specific use cases:

Whichever version you use, as a Microsoft Power Platform tool, PVA specialises in integration and allows you to access the full breadth of Microsoft 365 apps and external data sources through pre-built Microsoft connectors. In fact, you can integrate PVA with websites, apps, email, social media sites and more. Through integrations, PVA bots can fully integrate with your workflows and platforms with minimal barriers and enable the automation of activities across your entire business.

How Can PVA Change Your Business?

The rapidly evolving digital world is changing customer and employee expectations. With conversational chatbots built with Microsoft Power Virtual Agents, you can respond rapidly to customer and employee needs at scale. You don’t required any coding or programming experience. With PVA, the power is in your hands to easily build bots that can transform your business.

About the Author

Gokula Krishnan Ganesan (GK) is the Senior Technical Manager and a Solutions Consultant at Intergy Consulting, who got more than a decade of experience in help various types of business in implementing best software solutions for their business to automate, innovate and provide best customer service. If you wish to talk to GK or one of our other consultants to explore how Power Virtual Agents can help your business, please contact us today!

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