Components of Power Virtual Agents
When you create chatbots with Power Virtual Agents, you author and edit topics. Topics are discrete conversation paths that, when used together within a single chatbot, allow for users to have a conversation with a chatbot that feels natural and flows appropriately. Creating a chatbot with Power Virtual Agents is easy to do with the no-code authoring canvas, and there are a number of ways you can manage how topics interact, how you want the conversation to flow, and what it should feel like. It is also easy to test the chatbot without having to fully deploy the chatbot whenever you make a small change. There are also lesson topics that guide you through topic authoring - from simple to complex scenarios, as well as default system topics. You can also choose what language you want your chatbot to use.
In Power Virtual Agents, a topic defines how a chatbot conversation plays out. You can author topics by customizing provided templates, create new topics from scratch, or get suggestions from existing help sites.
A topic has trigger phrases—these are phrases, keywords, or questions that a user is likely to type that is related to a specific issue—and conversation nodes—these are what you use to define how a chatbot should respond and what it should do.
The AI uses natural language understanding to parse what a customer actually types and find the most appropriate trigger phrase or node.
For example, a user might type "Open hours" into your chatbot—the AI will be able to match that to the Store hours topic and begin a conversation that asks which store the customer is interested in, and then display the hours the store is open.
You can see how the chatbot conversation works in practice by testing it in the Test chatbot pane. This lets you fine-tune the topic until you are ready to deploy it without having to exit the Power Virtual Agents portal.
Use system and sample topics
When you create a chatbot, a number of topics will be automatically created for you.
Four prepopulated User Topics that are titled as lessons. These lesson topics can be used to help understand simple to complex ways of using nodes to create chatbot conversations.
A number of System Topics. These are prepopulated topics that you are likely to need during a chatbot conversation. We recommend you keep these and use them until you are comfortable with creating an end-to-end chatbot conversation.
You can edit both of these topic types in the same manner as for topics you create; however, you cannot delete them.
A big part of chatbot conversations in Power Virtual Agents is natural language understanding, which is the ability for the AI to understand a user's intent. For example, natural language understanding is involved when a user might say "I tried to use my gift card but it doesn't work" and the chatbot is able to route the user to the topic related to gift cards not working—even if that exact phrase isn't listed as a trigger phrase.
One fundamental aspect of natural language understanding is to identify entities in a user dialog. An entity can be viewed as an information unit that represents a certain type of a real-world subject, like a phone number, zip code, city, or even a person's name.
Out of the box, Power Virtual Agents comes with a set of prebuilt entities, which represent the most commonly used information in real-world dialogs, such as age, colors, numbers, and names.
With the knowledge granted by entities, a chatbot can smartly recognize the relevant information from a user input and save it for later use.
The prebuilt entities cover commonly used information types, but on some occasions, such as when building a chatbot that serves a specific purpose, you will need to teach the chatbot's language understanding model some domain-specific knowledge.
You can enable your chatbot to perform an action by calling a Microsoft Power Automate flow. Flows can help you automate activities or call backend systems. For example, you can use flows with end-user authentication to retrieve information about a user after they sign in.
You can call flows from within topics, as a discrete Call an action node. You can utilize flows that have already been created in your Power Apps environment, or you can create a flow from within the Power Virtual Agents authoring canvas.
A flow can only be called from a topic located in the same Microsoft Dataverse environment as your chatbot. Flows must also be in a solution in Power Automate. You can move flows into solutions, so they are listed in the authoring canvas.
Flows typically use variables to input and output information. The variables can then be used in other nodes within the topic.
With Power Virtual Agents, you can publish chatbots to engage with your customers on multiple platforms or channels. These include live websites, mobile apps, and messaging platforms like Microsoft Teams and Facebook.
After you have published at least once, you can connect your chatbot to additional channels.
Each time you want to update your chatbot, you publish it again from within the Power Virtual Agents app itself. This will update the chatbot across all the channels where you've inserted or connected your chatbot.
You can also configure a Power Virtual Agents chatbot to provide authentication capabilities, so users can sign in with any OAuth2 identity provider, such as Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), a Microsoft account, or Facebook.