Empower your frontline workers in times of crisis with Microsoft Teams and Power Apps

The Coronavirus – or Covid-19, if you’d prefer – has been having significant impact on all our lives for the last couple of months. But unlike during pandemics of the past, this time technology has played a huge part in helping us adjust to the “new normal”.

Indeed, the importance of technology in our everyday lives has rarely been so high. In a time where it’s crucial to maintain “business as usual”, organisations are under pressure to support, manage and communicate with their staff, customers and service users. And imperatively, they need to ensure that they can continue to effectively operate throughout the pandemic and beyond.

In this blog, I’ll discuss how Microsoft Teams and Power Apps technologies can offer organisations a platform to provide core services to their staff and customers in this time of crisis. In particular, I’ll focus on specific Power Apps templates which Microsoft have developed to help frontline workers predominantly in the Healthcare, Local Government, Retail and Manufacturing sectors.

Crisis Communications Power App

Microsoft Power Apps Crisis Communications

There isn’t a more pressing time to need to communicate quickly and effectively than during an emergency. Utilising
the Crisis Communications Power App delivered via Teams, you can keep frontline workers informed about the latest developments in rapidly-changing and highly-stressful situations.

The highly-customisable, no-code app provides a central resource for leaders and communicators to share important news and announcements, supporting multiple languages and incorporating push notifications to ensure timely delivery. You can even include RSS feeds with information from groups such as the government or The World Health
Organisation. This method of communication is not only ideal for engaging with stuff but is ideal for Local Government Authorities who want to easily connect with all their citizens at once to share important service information.

It also provides the ideal mobile platform for employee engagement and management, allowing them to make requests and report their work status (e.g. if they are working from home), giving managers a simple overview across their teams and enabling them to easily coordinate their staff, as well as giving staff a place to feel connected to their colleagues.

There’s even the option to incorporate the Power Virtual Agent to automate answering some of your more common questions; for instance, staff queries around your company’s action plan for dealing with the impact of Coronavirus.

Power Virtual Agents

Microsoft Power Apps Power Virtual Agents

Today’s customer doesn’t want to be stuck at the end of a phone, waiting in a queue for their query to be answered or their problem resolved. Microsoft reports that 90% of consumers expect an online portal for customer service, but that still takes man power to operate successfully.

Power Virtual Agents allow you to create your own personalised, automated chatbot as an accompaniment to the Crisis Communications app or as a standalone solution to answer FAQs within a chat interface. It’s a low-code, fully-customisable app which can be embedded on any website, negating the need for the specific coding or AI expertise usually required to design this sort of app.

Retailers can help their customers with delivery or payment questions round-the-clock, or councils and government bodies can instantly respond to queries, encouraging people to self-serve and freeing up time within your Customer Service Teams so that they can deal with more complex issues. Power Virtual Agents also increase customer satisfaction by ensuring that information is easily accessible 24/7 and available quickly.

Emergency Response Resource Tracking

Microsoft Power Apps Emergency Response TrackingOriginally designed in conjunction with the Swedish Health Services to track the availability of beds and stock such as masks and ventilators, the Emergency Response Resource Tracking Power App can play a vital part in the organisation of healthcare providers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

The solution allows frontline staff to not only get a quick overview of the inventory of critical items in real time – even as granular as stock per floor – it also offers detailed dashboards to highlight urgent needs and support critical decision making, allowing staff to make quick choices about where to allocate increasingly-scarce resources. Its highly-configurable nature can also enable you to track an number of other factors – such as the number and location of patients testing positive for COVID-19 – or communicate with other parts of the organisation, like making requests for additional staff.

However, the Emergency Response Power App isn’t just limited to use by healthcare providers or only to be used in crisis situations. It can be easily tailored for inventory control – perfect for manufacturers – giving you complete insight over your stock levels and part whereabouts to reduce unnecessary interaction between your staff.

What next?

Microsoft are currently offering all Power Apps users free access to a premium feature – Power Apps Push Notifications – so you won’t need premium licenses to use Power Apps to push information to users. They are also offering free Office 365 E1 licences for 6 months (which includes Teams), meaning that your organisation can become more communicative and collaborative at no extra cost.

Additionally, Microsoft have made Power Apps, Power Automate, Power Apps portals and Power Virtual Agents available for free for customers in the healthcare, education, Not-for-Profit, and government sectors! This offers access to all premium capabilities for six months.

Talk to Transparity

We want to do our bit to help. To support British businesses, Transparity are offering complimentary virtual consultations for organisations who want to know how to access, implement, configure and make the most out of these intelligent solutions. To book yours, simply click below and we’ll be in touch

Microsoft Teams is constantly evolving. Microsoft released its new, improved version back in October 2023 – and from the end of June, only the new Teams will be available. So, if you haven’t already switched or don’t yet know about new Teams, now is the time to start.

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