Module 6: Intro to Power Virtual Agents

Lab: How to build a basic chatbot


Bellows College is an educational organization with multiple buildings on campus. Campus visits are currently recorded in paper journals. The information is not captured consistently, and there are no means to collect and analyze data about the visits across the entire campus.

Like most organizations, Bellows College is quickly responding to concerns with misinformation about COVID-19, best practices, schedules, and so on. In this lab, you will build a Power Virtual Agent chatbot that will point to the Center for Disease Control page with questions and answers regarding the current status of the pandemic. The college will want this setup so that it can be embedded on their portal site, as well made available ad hoc as departments make their own planned reopening.

High level steps

We will follow the below outline to build our Power Virtual Agent:

  • Sign up for a trial of Power Virtual Agent

  • Build a bot using FAQs

  • Test the bot

  • Change the default greeting

  • Publish the bot

  • Bonus Challenge: Embed bot in your portal


The following have been identified as requirements you must implement to complete the project:

  • Completion of Module 0 Lab 0 - Validate lab environment

  • Completion of Module 2 Lab 1 - Introduction to Microsoft Dataverse

  • Bonus exercise only: Completion of Module 6 Lab 4 - Introduction to Power Apps portals

Things to consider before you begin

Bots can be very useful in many different scenarios. Based on what you know so far about Bellows College, consider where else in the organization a bot might be of use.

Exercise #1: Sign up for PVA and Create a New Bot

In this exercise, you will sign up for Power Virtual Agents trial.

  1. Navigate to Power Virtual Agents

  2. Click Start Free Trial.

  3. Sign in, if required.

  4. The Create new bot window should appear.

  5. Enter Crisis Bot for Name and select a language.

  6. Select your Practice environment to create the bot in and click Create. Wait for the bot to be created. Click Explore bot if prompted.

  7. Test the bot. Type Hello in the message box and click Send. The bot should greet you and tell you what it can do.

  8. Close the Chat.

  9. Select Topics. The bot comes with some sample user topics and some system topics. The default greeting came from the system topics.

In the next exercise, you will generate your own topics from the CDC FAQ site. Do not navigate away from this browser window.

Exercise #2: Create Topics

In this exercise, you will generate topics from the CDC FAQ site.

  1. In a new tab, navigate to the CDC FAQ site and examine what is on the site. You will generate your topics from these FAQs.

  2. Copy the URL.

  3. Go back to Power Virtual Agents and make sure you still have Topics selected.

  4. Select the Suggested tab, below Topics.

  5. Click Get started.

  6. Paste the URL you copied in the Link to online content textbox and click Add.

  7. Click Start and wait. This can take a few minutes.

  8. You should get some suggested topics created for you. Click to open one of the suggested topics.

  9. You should see the trigger phrase and what the bot reply will be. Click Add to topics.

  10. The suggested topic should be added to your topics. Select all the suggested topics and click Add to topics

    You can select all topics by using the icon to the left of the Name column. If you receive an error message, please try again.

  11. Once the Suggested topics have been added, select the Existing tab. You should see the new topics with their status set to Off.

  12. Use the toggle button in the Status column to turn some of the topics to On.

  13. Write down the trigger phrase for one of the topics that you have turned on so that you can test with this later.

Do not navigate away from this browser window.

Exercise #3: Test Topics

In this task, you will test the topics you added.

  1. Click Test your bot at the bottom left.

  2. Click Reset.

  3. Type the trigger phrase that you recorded from the previous task and click Send.

  4. The bot should give you the correct information and ask if it answered your question. Click Yes.

  5. The bot should ask you the rate how it did. Give it an excellent rating.

  6. The bot should ask if it can help you with anything else. Click No, thanks.

  7. The bot should conclude the chat session.

  8. Type hello and click Send.

  9. The bot should greet you and tell you what it can do. Your bot can now help users with COVID-19 FAQs, so you will need to change the greeting message in the next task. Do not navigate away from this browser window.

Exercise #4: Change the Greeting

In this task, you will change the greeting to COVID-19 specific.

  1. Make sure you have Topics selected and select the Existing tab.

  2. Collapse the User Topics section.

  3. Click to open the Greeting topic of the System Topics. You can also use the search box to Search existing topics.

  4. The greeting topic has 52 trigger phrases, click Go to authoring canvas.

  5. Go to the first message and replace it with Hi, I’m a virtual agent. I can tell you about how COVID-19 spreads, how to protect yourself, preparing your home and family for COVID-19, symptoms, testing, and more.

  6. Click Save.

  7. Click Test Bot if your bot is not still open. Click Reset to reset the chat.

  8. Type hello and click Send.

  9. The bot should now reply with the new greeting.

Exercise #5: Publish the Bot

In this exercise, you will publish the bot.

  1. Select Publish on the left navigation bar.

  2. Click Publish.

  3. Click Publish again and wait for the publishing to complete.

  4. Expand Manage on the left navigation bar and select Channels.

  5. You will get list of available channels you can publish your bot to. Select Demo website.

  6. Change the welcome message to Try my COVID-19 FAQ bot.

  7. Enter the following in Conversation starters:
     “Who is at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19”
     “What does more severe illness mean”
     “What is the CDC doing about COVID-19”
  8. Click Save.

  9. Copy the URL.

You can share the URL with your colleagues and get feedback from them.

  1. Start a new browser window or tab and navigate to the URL you copied. The demo website should like the image below.

  2. Go ahead and start chatting with the bot.

When completed, your published bot should look similar to this:

Bot demo website - screenshot


  • Embed your chatbot on your Bellows College Visitors portal (more information on how to do this under Add bot to Power Apps here.)