Smarter Sale & Service with Microsoft Bot Framework

Let’s Talk Business, First

In today's competitive business environment businesses strive to achieve higher efficiency and customer satisfaction and lowering cost to maximize profits through their sales and operations. Not long ago, managing customer information and interactions in a CRM system was considered to be gateway to high class customer service; yet now implementing a robust CRM system is one piece in a bigger puzzle of customer service. In the current competitive market higher efficiency may be achieved by utilizing scarce and efficient resources in appropriate places and releasing them from tedious jobs. Similarly, reducing cost may be achieved by delegate jobs with recurring, predictable outcomes and unpredictable occurrence timings to computers instead of more expensive human resources.

For instance, BOT applications can be used in a business environment to achieve the following:
  • 24x7 service
  • Preliminary Lead Qualification
  • Respond to Product Inquiries; Additionally, Answer from Knowledge base & FAQ
  • Personal assistant like booking appointments, reporting status & etc.
In all of the above scenarios, businesses would need additional resources for a longer time period to support their customers and prospects whereas using BOTs will eliminate this need.

Smarter Sales & Service In Practice

Explaining what a BOT is and how it works is beyond the scope of this article. Extensive documentation and support is available for learning and developing BOT applications. You can start your design and development journey from here. In this article, I aim to present how a bot is used to provide a superior customer service. I have developed the entire solution which is available in this GitHub library.

Bots are the latest realization of the initial idea behind invention of computers: Producing an output to user's input after its processing. In simplest forms, Bots do exactly the same. Bot applications listen to users, process users inputs and respond to users.

Processing input can be simple by using nested if and else or advanced by employing LUIS. Nested if and else statements try to create a logical flow of execution and direct users in the same logical flow. In contrast, LUIS makes the work of coding numerous conditional statements by identifying Intents. Nevertheless, understanding the user intent is only the start of the journey. Users will see the real value when the Bot application is capable of acting on what they intend.

The Bot application is able to connect to business applications such as Dynamics 365 for customer engagement to create Leads, Opportunities and Orders. When users express their interest products and services, the solution creates an opportunity and lead (if the user is not identified) in CRM and assigns the opportunity to an appropriate team.

Upon request, the solution is able to inquire about existing opportunity status and inform the user about the expected timeline, sales staff and opportunity status.

The application manages the conversation history in the CRM in form of a new type of customer interaction. It is able to identify the user based on their channel data and history of conversation and have a meaningful conversation with them.

The Bot application is also able to create orders in CRM and push orders to Dynamics 365 for Operations. Stock availability can be checked and invoices can be created in the Dynamics 365 for Operations.

Bots are capable to connect to multiple channels & platforms like Skype, WebChat, Facebook Messenger, Slack and Telegram. This means a wider audience to interact and communicate with.

Bot Solution Architecture and Design
Putting all of the above capabilities give us the scale to reach to wider audience in an extended time frame (24x7), fulfill various business scenarios using different line of business applications and offload the resource loading. The Bot application design can be demonstrated as the following:


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