The new Power Virtual Agents now have a home page from where you can access all the bots that live under that environment. This is not something that we had in the past, where (one of) the bots would open, and users could switch to access other bots under the PVA instance. You'll notice the home button on the sitemap, with the '+Create' button and 'Chat Bots' below it. (this is from where you can review a list of all bots and access them.)
Unified Authoring Canvas
Let's start with the authoring canvas! The old authoring canvas is gone and has been replaced with a new canvas, which was built from scratch! This new canvas brings together low code and pro-code capabilities all into one unified canvas! Now don't worry, this doesn't mean that this new authoring canvas looks completely different from the one that you were used to! There are just more options that you can choose from when you're building your topic! When we open a topic in the new authoring canvas, you'll notice it has a command bar on the top of the screen. Previously we only saw buttons to access the topic details, trigger phrases, variables and analytics, but the new canvas has a lot more options available:
Save: Allows you to save the topic
Test: Allows you to test your topic
Undo: Erases the last change
Redo: Brings back the last erased change
Cut, Copy, Paste: You can now cut, paste and copy steps from the topic
Delete: Delete the topic
New Comment: Allows you to add comments to the topic
Discharge Changes: Will not save the changes made
Of course you will also still have access to the topic checker, variables and step properties in the topic. The other thing that I personally really like, it the ability to switch from one topic to a different topic by clicking on the drop down next to the topic name. No need to navigate back to the main topic list!
Messages & Question Updates
There are also a few very nice updates to the messages and questions in Power Virtual Agents. A completely new feature are the message variations. This reminds me a little of the synonyms in entities, as this allows you to enter several different messages, which the bot will randomly choose from when it gets to the message or question. For example, if you enter 'Hello there' as a message, you can add several (similar) greetings to the message or question, and each time the bot is engaged, it will automatically pick one of the options that were configured. So if you added "Good Day' and 'Hi there' as additional messaging variations, each time someone gets to this step, either one of those message variations will get randomly selected/used by the bot.
Another great new feature is the ability to add images or videos to a message or question step in the authoring canvas! No, you don't have to upload a video or an image, all you need is the public URL to the video or image! Lastly, we now also have the option to show a message or question as a basic card or as an adaptive card! You can start building your adaptive cards by accessing the designer from here, and even add add variables from the Power Virtual Agent topic inside the adaptive card! The last option on the 'Add' button on the message or question is the option to add a quick reply. This allows users to click on the quick reply, without having to manually type in their response. Lastly, questions now have another feature which is called 'Properties'. From here you can configure whether or not the question can be skipped or needs to be asked each single time (we might want to skip a question if the customer gave the information previously in the conversation), how often the bot should ask the customer again if the answer was invalid, and ... drumroll... we can add a customized message that the bot will send to the customer to better explain what the bot is looking for in the answer! I don't know how we could make it any easier for them!
When you navigate to channels (settings > channels) you'll notice the new telephony channel, which is in preview. This allows you to configure your bot to make and receive phone calls. In order to set this up, you'll need to have an azure subscription and an existing Azure Communication Services phone number. Having said that, this looks like we don't have to have a separate bot for chat and voice channels! And listen to this: you can even configure the voice and speaking style of the bot! All bots are configured to use the 'Default font' by default, but you can select other fonts/voices.
If I go back to a message or question in one of my topics, you'll notice that on the top right side of the message or question there is a drop down that shows 'Text' by default. You can change this dropdown to 'Speech' which means that if this topic is accessed through the voice channel, the voice message or question will be triggered.
Additional Node Options
I noticed there are a lot more options when adding a note in the leveled up version of Power Virtual Agents! Previously we had 4 options which you can see below in the screenshot, but now we have 2 additional options that were added to the new experience! We can add conditions and set Variable values! I'm very exited about both of them! Variables can be used not just to store data, we can use a PowerFX formula from when setting the value of the variable in that node! In my example I am using power automate to retrieve the waiting time from another application (in minutes) and I then calculate the estimated appointment time, (this is when these folks will actually be tended to) by adding the waiting time to the requested appointment time. So for example if the appointment is at 7AM, but the waiting time is 45 minutes, they will be tended to at approximately 7:45AM. I'm sure you can see how this can be a very powerful feature!!!!
Conditions allow us to create branches based on answers we received from the customer, for example my Power Virtual Agent is asking the customer on what date and time they would like to make a reservation and they enter December 25. Unfortunately my business is closed that day! What I can do is set a condition to show a message stating 'We're sorry, we are closed that day' when December 25th is entered by the customer! Another great new feature allowing us to branch the conversation path based on answers provided by the customer! All and all some great new content is coming to Power Virtual Agents and I hope you enjoyed this overview! As mentioned earlier, I will write additional more detailed articles on how to configure some of these things that I mentioned in this article! To learn more and to sign up for the technology preview to get access to this, click here. To view a demo view my YouTube video here.
This article was originally published at https://d365goddess.com/power-virtual-agents-leveled-up/