When researching or buying a product or service, a customer has several touchpoints with a company – these can include a salesperson, technical engineer, financial adviser, retail store employee, field technician, and many others. Through all these touchpoints, the customer is expecting a smooth, easy, and pleasant buying experience. For this to happen, all internal employees must be certain they’re providing the right information at the right time to their customers, which begs the question: do our employees have access to the right information, tools, and people to provide good and accurate information to the customer?
Many times, the issue that arises in this endeavor has nothing to do with providing information to customers or prospects – instead, it’s that our own employees may not be familiar with the processes in place and may need help getting their questions answered to get comfortable with the process. Here are a few examples:
- “What PowerPoint template should I use for my presentation with the prospect? There are so many!”
- “Do we give discounts to Non-Profits?”
- “My prospect is asking for a demo this week. How do I get technical sales involved?”
- “Is there a document I can read to get familiar with our sales process?”
All employees who accompany our customers on their buying journeys may have such questions. So, the question becomes, how do we ensure they are empowered every step of the customer journey and have access to the right information at their fingertips? In today’s blog, we’ll answer that question!
PowerApps + Chatbots
First, let’s quickly discuss chatbots and attempt to debunk some preconceived notions about them. In our experience, when most people think about chatbots, they automatically and immediately associate them with customer service. It seems they picture a customer wanting an update on their delivery status, so they go to a website, start a chat, ask a question about their delivery status, and boom! They immediately get a bot-powered response. Now, it’s great that customer service for end-consumers is the first thing that comes to mind, but chatbots can be used in so many other scenarios besides just tier-one customer service.
Let’s revisit one of the questions we posted above: “What PowerPoint template should I use for my presentation?” This is an innocuous question asked by a salesperson – can we not have a bot answer that question for them?
Yes, of course we can! Not just this, but many other process-, product-, or service-related questions, as well. And what this means is that your employees are not emailing, texting, or calling each other to find the right information. In times of needs, a beloved bot can be at their service and help them out immediately!
Let’s look at a few more possibilities:
- A Financial Planner goes to a meeting with an investor and accesses production-sales data from their mobile device. Can that Financial Planner ask the bot for recommendations on the best next action, product, or investment approach? Yes, of course! And a bot will provide them with responses and guide them through the process.
- A consumer walks into a retail store and wants to know where the slim-fit jeans are. Can they just walk up to a kiosk and ask? Yes, of course! And a bot can instantly provide the right information.
How to Create a Chatbot
A chatbot can be created in a variety of different ways. In this example, we’ll describe a specific bot from QnA Maker, which we’re using for two important reasons:
- It’s a no-code solution. Yes, you read that right: it requires zero coding!
- It can be surfaced easily in PowerApps through an out-of-the-box connector.
Indeed, QnA Maker is one of the easiest chatbots out there. Simply go to www.qnamaker.ai, sign in with your Microsoft account, and click <Create a knowledge base>. The page walks you through some very quick and easy steps, and before you know it, your bot is ready!
Once your QnA Maker chatbot is ready, you can use the QnA Maker connector in PowerApps to surface it in your app. Now, using a phone, tablet, or computer, anyone in your organization can access this bot to get answers to their questions!
Note: To see how to surface a QnA Maker chatbot in PowerApps, watch this live webinar
on Thursday, 11/8/2018.
What is the experience like? See for yourself:
Salespeople, Financial Planners, field technicians, customers at an in-store kiosk, and anyone else you can imagine… everyone can get their questions answered in a matter of seconds!
Who is it for?
Currently, the licensing for PowerApps does not allow for apps to be exposed to customers, although your employees with Office 365 accounts can always access any app. In other words, while your customers will not be able to access the app directly on their own device, your organization can use this chatbot app to enhance customer experiences. In addition, using PowerApps on your own devices, you can make these apps available at an in-store kiosk where anyone, including customers, can walk right up to it and get “self-service” answers to their questions.
Bringing it all together
Businesses of all sizes have various employees interacting with customers at several stages of their selling process. The goal of any successful business should be to not just close a sale, but to wow their customers in the process, gaining their trust for a long-lasting relationship. None of this is possible if we don’t provide our own employees with the right knowledge, ability, and tools to help our customers. In pursuit of enhancing consumer experiences, solutions like chatbots and PowerApps play a small yet crucial role. “No code/low code” platforms (which also tend to be “no cost/low cost”) are becoming increasingly viable solutions for many business scenarios, and PowerApps and QnA Maker are just a couple of examples.