As per my previous blog post on Microsoft Virtual Agents, this is Microsoft’s fourth tool designed for the Power Platform to empower Citizen Developers to build solutions with low to no coding requirements.
I love what Microsoft is doing with the Power Platform and the opportunities it creates for anyone wanting to get into Technology. My goal is to put that to the test. I want to see if I can hook it up to my website www.nz365guy.com and enable a chat agent on the 90-Day Mentoring Challenge page.
I get lots of questions about the 90-Day Mentoring Challenge, and I want to see if I can provide answers to people when they have questions, even though they may ask those questions when I am tucked in bed at the bottom of the world in New Zealand.
To provide context, I run my website on the latest version of WordPress and host it on Bluehost; I have set up a trial of Microsoft Virtual Agents.
My First Bot
When I jumped into the configuration portal for Microsoft Virtual Agents, I get this notification “In 5 minutes, you can design your first bot conversation, test it, and share it with your team.” So here goes! Yes, Microsoft is right. I created a single topic that would be triggered off the term intake.
For example, if the nzBOTguy was asked the question ‘When is the next intake?’ the bot would then explain when it was and give the option to either apply to the 90-Day Mentoring Challenge or not. I found it quite fun to come up with witty human comments for the bot to say. With one click, the bot was published on to a demo site. After I tested that everything was working, it was time to see if I could make it part of my website.
Now, this was crazy easy. All I had to do was go to the channels section on the left menu under Manage, and there I found 15 channels ready to choose from to make my bot available. I selected the option Customer Website so that I could connect it to my WordPress site. It gave me an HTML snippet that I could copy and paste into the page on my website. Here is what it looks like:
<!DOCTYPE html><html><body><iframe src=”https://powerva.microsoft.com/webchat/bots/aa00aaa0-000a-0000-00aa-aaa00aa0aaaa” frameborder=”0″ style=”width: 100%; height: 100%;”></iframe></body></html>
I copied this code and jumped into the WordPress admin section of my website, opening the page in edit mode and added a code block to the bottom of the page with the HTML provided. Then saved and published the page. And it worked. As you can see, sitting at the bottom of the page.
That was a good start so let’s test it to see if it works. As you can see, it did work but the layout of the container it is sitting in is not really what I was looking for.
I was expecting that I would have a little bot icon sitting at the right-hand side of the page, that if I clicked it would pop open a bot window ready for action. I am ok with what Microsoft has provided to this point. I will need to do a little bit of work to extend it to meet my needs, but you have got say that was quick from setup to go-live on my site.
My next steps will be to get this little guy to be an icon on my site that kind of floats based on where the person is looking, and when clicked will open a chat session.
If you have any suggestions of how to do this, please let me know in the comments below.
Once I have this looking sweet on my website I will then go back to Power Virtual Agents configuration and see if I can hook in the knowledge base from Dynamics 365 Customer Service to feed the nzBOTguy with questions and answers. Followed by the final step of getting it to hand off to a live person (that’s me) via a notification on my phone. I expect to do this with Power Automate so that when someone on my site cannot find the answer they are looking for they can go to live chat with me.
I noticed that Power Virtual Agents has a Power BI dashboard built into it. I am looking forward to seeing what questions people ask the nzBOTguy that I don’t have answers for. I will then use those questions to train nzBOTguy, so he gets smarter and smarter 😊
I want to change the name of nzBOTguy 🤖, but it does not look like that is possible ☹ I would expect a better option than having to KILL ☠️ nzBOTguy so I can resurrect him as nzBOTdragon 🐲, because if there are no dragons it’s just plain boring.