Currently, people everywhere use multiple communication channels such as email, web chat, telephone, and platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Facebook. Organizations need to be accessible to their customers over these multiple channels; moreover, they need to respond consistently in the same manner, regardless of which channel that a customer decides to use.

Users and customers have become increasingly demanding, requiring constant daily response, responses that are tailored to their behaviors and characteristics, and answers to more complex requests.

AI-powered agents use conversational AI, known as chatbots, to respond to human questions and requests in an intelligent way. Organizations use chatbots to provide the first line of response to customers, handling common inquiries across multiple channels. Chatbots instigate a conversational dialog with the human, whether it's over the web or another channel such as SMS text service.

Issues around building chatbots

The following statistics depict the complex challenges that organizations are currently experiencing when dealing with both employees and customers:

  • 66 percent of customers opt for using self-service first before contacting an agent. The reason is because contacting an agent can be time-consuming, and the customer waits in a queue when all they want is an immediate answer.
  • 90 percent of customers expect consistency across channels. Whether they're on the phone, website, or retail store, customers want the same treatment from all channels.
  • 59 percent of channels are managed in silos; call centers have different incentives than retail stores, the website is managed separately, and so on.

Chatbots can help address these challenges, but chatbots can be difficult to create and expensive to maintain. Traditionally, creating a chatbot requires skill and effort; you need developers to code the chatbot, subject matter experts (SMEs) to define the conversational flow, AI specialists to handle the language processing, and the chatbot needs to connect to your operating systems to access relevant data.

Microsoft Copilot Studio chatbots

Microsoft Copilot Studio is designed to create chatbots whether the user is external (your customers) or internal (your employees). SMEs can build conversational flows by using a graphical interface, with no code, in a browser. Developers and administrators can assist SMEs in building conversational flows and integrating chatbots with line-of-business applications by using Microsoft Power Automate cloud flows. Microsoft Copilot Studio includes AI language processing to create natural, conversational AI.

Microsoft Copilot Studio makes it possible for anyone to build a chatbot, which greatly reduces the time and cost that is involved in deploying a chatbot.

Use cases for chatbots

You can add conversational AI into an application to increase the user experience. Common uses for external chatbots include:

  • Answer questions or inquiries
  • Process return and exchange requests
  • Resolve a complaint or problem
  • Make a purchase, check inventory, make a recommendation, or track shipping
  • Introduce a product and use as a help desk
  • Make a reservation or reserve a ticket to an event
  • Manage email subscription preferences
  • Pay a bill or process a claim
  • Find a qualified person (for example, professional services)
  • Provide triage for healthcare and crisis communication
  • Request customer feedback and create quizzes, surveys, and competitions

A popular use for chatbots is in customer support scenarios. For example, a chatbot can assist you with troubleshooting, warranty, and repairs.

Most people's experience with chatbots is in customer support scenarios; however, more powerful use cases exist for using chatbots inside of an organization:

  • HR support
  • Employee onboarding
  • Employee ideas
  • Change management
  • IT support
  • Sales support
  • Case management
  • Issue management
  • Inspections
  • Internal process information

Reasons to consider building an internal chatbot include:

  • Consistent internal communication.
  • Convenience, speed, and accessibility.
  • All day, everyday availability.
  • Its ability to act on behalf of the user for routine tasks.
  • Its ability to replace intranet or internal email for frequently accessed information.

Solution architect's role in determining the need for chatbots

Solution architects should consider using chatbots as part of the solution as follows:

  • Replacing web forms, including lead generation forms and inquiry forms
  • Helping customers navigate and finding a person or information instead of using a website search
  • Redirecting inquiries to the right person in the organization, such as customer service agents or professional services staff

Chatbots are not only for websites. Microsoft Copilot Studio can also be deployed to the following entities:

  • Facebook
  • Slack
  • Twilio
  • Email
  • Mobile apps

If the solution architect decides to use chatbots, they will need to ensure that the project team follows the principles and best practices for building chatbots, as discussed in the remainder of this module.

Responsible AI

Microsoft has defined six principles for the responsible use of AI. Because chatbots are AI-based services, solution architects need to keep these in mind when designing chatbots. The Transparency principle is one that particularly applies to chatbots.

The Transparency principle is concerned with ensuring that the human understands that they are interacting with a chatbot. When a chatbot conversation is started, the chatbot should clearly state that it is a chatbot. The chatbot should state its purpose and limitations, such as listing the scope of what the bot can answer or do. A chatbot should enable the user to escalate or transfer to a human.

Chatbots work well when they are limited solely to their purpose and don't try to be too generic.