From cost forecasting to managing compliance and regulations, organizations are using AI to better solve some of their key problems. One of the ways they are doing this is via chatbots.
Chatbots have been around for some time now, and many sites rely on them as a first point of contact with customers. However, chatbots aren’t just for external use. In fact, organizations now use intelligent internal Microsoft Teams chatbots to carry out basic functionalities, such as dealing with employee leave, scheduling meetings, and even keeping up morale with a joke or two.
What do Microsoft Teams chatbots do?
Chatbots are becoming increasingly advanced and can now handle more than simple conversational duties. Depending on the kind of chatbots software you use, there are a number of ways you can add them to enhance the Teams experience at your organization.
For example, you could build a quick meeting-booking chatbot that recognizes certain phrases related to the meeting in your teams’ chats. The bot will recognize phrases such as ‘book a meeting’, ‘green room’,’10:30am’ and book the meeting automatically for your team.
Another example might be that you want to streamline the process of requesting leave. You could set up a chatbot that:
- Is triggered by phrases such as ‘time off’, ‘take leave’ or ‘time off request’
- Responds with specific questions about how long the leave is for, from which date etc.
- Gives options to click through to your company’s HR portal, or contact a manager
- Automatically alerts the employee’s manager to the time off request with information from the initial questions asked – dates, reason.
- Can give a response to the employee if they no longer have any leave remaining
But before you begin, you’ll need to assess the complexity of your needs, then decide on how you want to build your Microsoft Teams chatbot.
Different kinds of chatbots in Microsoft Teams
There are two main ways to add a chatbot to Teams:
- Developer-made chatbot based on Microsoft Bot SDK
One option for creating customizable chatbots in Microsoft Teams is via Bot Framework SDK; the basic framework from which to build bots for all applications. You will then need a developer with good knowledge of chatbots to help you tailor functionality to your specific needs.
- Microsoft Power Virtual Agents Teams chatbot
Alternatively, you could use Microsoft Power Virtual Agents. This way you can build Microsoft Teams chatbots without writing a single line of code. Simply use a logic-based drag and drop interface to build your bot’s workflows and rules. This also means that almost anyone in your organization can build a chatbot, expanding the scope for improvement.
Building Teams Chatbots in Power Virtual Agents
If you’re a Power Platform user, you’ll be able to build your chatbot straight from Teams, in the dedicated app. Just add the app to your sidebar using the Teams app store, then you can build and test chatbots without navigating away from Teams.
Once you’ve opened Power Virtual Agents, you’ll have the option to create a chatbot, without using a single line of code. Simply choose the team you want the chatbot to be present in, pick a language and give your bot a name.
Power Virtual Agents comes with some pre-made, out-the-box topics that you can add to your Microsoft Teams chatbot. You can also add your own topic if you need something more specific.
Once you’ve added or created a topic, go to the ‘Authoring Canvas’ to see a flowchart for your Teams chatbot. This will show you the phrases that will trigger your chatbot to interact, as well as any added interaction nodes for further conversation between the employee and the bot. You can fill in these interaction nodes with the message you want your chatbot to respond with.
Then, it’s time to test your bot. You’ll see a testing pane on the left where you can type messages to your chatbot to see how it responds based on your current build. From here you can continue to add and test more triggers, messages, and multiple–choice questions to enrich your Microsoft Teams chatbots experience.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can begin to experiment with Power Virtual Agents and get even more value from Microsoft Teams. You can create chatbots that are capable of sustained conversation or complex internal tasks that take some of the strain off hardworking employees.
Get help setting up chatbots
Need help getting started with Teams chatbots?
ZAACT Consulting is a Microsoft Gold consulting partner, specializing in SharePoint, Azure, Teams, and Microsoft 365. Our team of experts can help your business set up chatbots that add value to your organization.
We’ll help you to pinpoint exactly where you might benefit from a more streamlined, bot-led approach, then work with you to realize that goal. Whether it’s with chatbots or one of the many other tools available to you in Microsoft 365, our team of experts always find a way.
To find out more about Teams chatbots, or some of our other Microsoft Teams services, contact us.