Techsplained: Power Virtual Agents

Chatbots seem to be improving every day. And they can offer real business value as well, as they reduce customer service costs, unburden employees and improve the customer experience. What’s more, you no longer need an AI expert or technical wizard to design a chatbot. With Power Virtual Agents, even your least tech-savvy employees can easily design a sophisticated chatbot themselves. Here’s how it works!

Techsplained is an animated video series in which we dissect current and upcoming technologies and business solutions. In episode 4: Power Virtual Agents.



What is Power Virtual Agents?

In short, Power Virtual Agents is an easy-to-design chatbot. It’s a feature within Microsoft Power Platform, but it’s also available standalone.


Through an intuitive no-code interface, anyone can build a sophisticated chatbot, even without any technical knowledge. They simply drag and drop trigger phrases, branches and options in a foolproof interface. This is a prime example of citizen development, where non-IT employees are empowered to build and use apps without requiring IT support.


The chatbot can then be deployed across multiple channels such as intranet, Microsoft Teams or your website.


Curious to discover a real-life application of Power Virtual Agents? Check our use case! 


How does it work?

At the heart of Power Virtual Agents is an intuitive and easy-to-use interface where employees can simply define topics and link answers, options or actions to each topic. Here’s a step-by-step overview of the features and capabilities of Power Virtual Agents.


1. Define topics

First order of business is to define the different topics you want the chatbot to cover.


For instance, you could build a chatbot to answer questions from customers on your website. Possible topics could include opening hours, prices, accepted pay methods or product information.

2. Add trigger phrases

Each topic will then have a few trigger phrases that will elicit a response from the chatbot. You can add multiple trigger phrases. Moreover, a phrase does not need to be exact, the chatbot can deal with some fuzziness.


If the set trigger phrase is ‘what are your opening hours?’, and a customer asks the chatbot ‘when are you open?’, the chatbot will recognize this trigger phrase and link it to the correct answer.

3. Define each step and condition for the trigger phrases

From the trigger phrase, the user can then define each step of the bot and different conditions. You can answer a trigger phrase by giving a response within the chat, displaying an image, or sending a link. Another option is to add different branches to the trigger phrase.


The chatbot can answer a trigger asking for product information with the question ‘which product do you need information on?’. It can then offer a number of options for the customer to click on. The chatbot will in turn follow up with either the correct answer, or it could retrieve a product sheet from a database and send it to the client.

4. Link an action to the request

One of the coolest features of Power Virtual Agents is the integration with Power Platform. This means that the chatbot can not only answer questions, but trigger Power Automate Flows.


Power Virtual Agents can retrieve information from different systems, or trigger actions such as placing an order, cancelling an existing order or booking an appointment. There is a whole database of connectors Power Virtual Agents can be linked to.

5. Transfer the request to a live agent

In some cases, the chatbot won’t be able to help. Either it doesn’t recognize the trigger, or the customer has a question on a topic that is not programmed. In this case, the chatbot will forward this question to a live agent. This way, Power Virtual Agents serves as a strong filter for non-urgent or simple requests that don’t require employee’s time.

6. Analyze and optimize

Finally, Power Virtual Agents also contains a well-designed analytics dashboard that displays information on how users interact with the chatbot, the volume of certain trigger phrases or questions etc. This dashboard leads to insights that will help users add new trigger phrases, options or actions.

Why Power Virtual Agents is valuable for your business

  • It allows non-IT users to design a chatbot without requiring any technical knowledge.
  • This in turn allows users to deliver the input directly from their own experience and expertise.
  • Powerful integrations empower the chatbots to not only answer questions, but help users with concrete actions such as retrieving information or triggering workflows.

Do you want to empower your employees with citizen development apps?

Check out our low-code app solutions!


Techsplained: innovations don't have to be complicated

Discover how you can go above and beyond in the digital age with the latest technologies featured in our series of 1 minute animated explainer videos. Inspirational, crystal-clear and a relief from the dry business blogs all over the web.

Check out the entire series here

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