Microsoft introduced the public preview of its Power Virtual Agents tool in 2019. A no-code tool which could be used to build chatbots in a simple way. This was followed in May of this year by the general release of the Microsoft Power Virtual Agents now integrated with the Microsoft Bot Framework Composer. This means that chatbot creators and teams at all technical levels, from content experts to professional developers, can now build intelligent, powerful bots together using the Bot Framework Composer to create custom content to host and run on Power Virtual Agents.
And because no code is required and the user is guided through the entire process – from concept to implementation – anyone can build a bot. Even colleagues with no IT or programming knowledge. Which is a boon because, as a company, you are constantly looking for improvements, such as higher productivity and more efficiency, and you want to offer customers and staff the best possible experience. Every little bit helps, including a chatbot that takes over or supports interactions or processes.
In today’s digital world it is therefore hardly surprising that the chatbot market is on the rise. As the figures show. According to a forecast in a report by Research Dive this market is expected to grow to become worth US$19,570 million by 2028; an increase of almost 29% relative to 2019.
Digital dialogue partner
The growth in the market is partly due to the fact that customers want to have round-the-clock service and assistance available, and companies want to provide the best possible personalized customer experience. Personalization which can easily be added due to Artificial Intelligence (AI). Customers therefore seem to be increasingly willing to accept a digital dialogue partner. According to figures published by Business Insider, almost 40% of internet users worldwide would prefer to interact with a chatbot than a virtual agent. And this percentage is expected to climb even further. For a clear overview of the differences between a chatbot and a virtual agent, I refer you to a blog by Akshaya Srikanth at Freshdesk.com.
Given these rosy figures, it’s no wonder that companies like Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Google and Facebook have invested in the development of chatbot technology over the past year and are continuing to work on bot projects.
“Hi, how can I help you today?”
We all know this question. With chatbots ‘talking’ to a robot makes us think of customer service. Asking a question which the chatbot can generally answer in a fraction of a second. But you can also use chatbots to handle many different tasks in the areas of service, marketing and sales. For example, with booking tickets, leaving feedback, finding products, giving advice, watching a demo, checking stock availability, order tracking, or making personalized product recommendations. Even with requests for help with more complex problems which require contact with a person, a chatbot can help. By asking a chatbot to put you in contact with a member of staff immediately, you avoid the need to send e-mails, call a support line and wait in a queue. Alternatively, it can also create a support ticket.
‘Partner’ in marketing and sales
A chatbot can also help you with finding and converting sales leads. You could consider adding a chatbot to your homepage which also asks sales-oriented questions so you can create a customer profile based on the answers. Plus, a chatbot is a handy tool to use when creating e-mail lists and setting product prices.
And we should not forget the fun items, like quizzes, competitions and giveaways.
Here are some of my favourite chatbots:
Duolingo: you can use this app to learn a new language. Unfortunately, Lithuanian is not yet available – because it is high on my list to be able to greet my colleagues in Lithuania in their own language one day – but other than that the range on offer is huge and is indeed ideal if you just want to speak a few words while you’re on holiday abroad. The great thing about the app is that it has a native-speaker chatbot installed to help you converse – one of the greatest obstacles when learning a language. There are different personalities available so you can choose one to suit you.
Techcrunch: the chatbot of this tech website provides me with personalized content that interests me, sent only as often as I want to receive it. You can also ask the chatbot for certain news.
HelloFresh: I love Freddy, the Messenger bot of HelloFresh, because of the fun quizzes, interesting tips and the promotions, of course.
Finally, I often ask chatbots for help with practical matters, for example, the chatbot of insurer ASR or Bol.com.
Time for more enjoyable work
Apart from prompting conversations with customer service agents via chat messages to provide your customers with the right answers or help them quickly and give them a better customer experience 24/7, and supporting your sales and marketing, a chatbot can also have a positive impact on employee satisfaction. Because who wants to keep answering the same questions over and over again? Using technology for repetitive tasks leaves time for more enjoyable activities. And if you can create one yourself that provides immediate value, like a bot that guides your colleagues through the process of submitting an expense claim, for example, that’s pretty cool, don’t you think?
And that’s precisely what Microsoft had in mind. With its no code Power Virtual Agents tool, the Redmond-based company makes technology creation accessible to all – including non-professional developers. Anyone in your organisation can build a ‘conversational agent’ which is AI-driven to lighten their workload or help customers and partners find a solution.
Do you want to learn how to build a chatbot in one day using the Microsoft tool? Then sign up for our workshop.