Discover the Benefits of a Virtual Agent

Wireframed Robot hand making contact with human hand

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are increasingly crucial to transforming customer service.

Tools like chatbots and voice software can help customers rapidly find the answers they need and solve their problems through self-service. But AI-powered virtual agents are taking this machine-to-human interaction to new levels.

Virtual agents, also called Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs), maintain outstanding customer satisfaction.

People increasingly expect to be able to interact with brands through digital channels at any time without having to speak to customer service agents. And IVAs meet this requirement with round-the-clock availability and broader customer service benefits.

What is a Virtual Agent?

An AI-powered virtual agent is a self-service application that uses AI capabilities to simulate human conversation.

These virtual agents are effectively digital assistants that understand text requests and human speech, enabling a customer to speak to a machine like a customer service agent.

These virtual agents use AI-powered software called intelligent applications, which use rules engines, notifications and alerts, user interfaces and more to handle specific use cases.

This allows AI-powered virtual agents to respond dynamically to user questions and address their more complex queries.

Intelligent applications learn from customer conversations and other data sources they interact with. Therefore, AI-powered virtual agents can build on databases of historical data and predict potential future outcomes.

This provides businesses with a constantly evolving knowledge base of AI-powered insights that can accelerate efficiencies and prevent challenges before they occur.

Virtual Agent vs. Chatbot

Chatbots are computer programs that simulate human conversation with a customer. They typically recognize words or phrases they’ve been programmed to understand and automatically respond to them.

Not all chatbots use AI capabilities, but some rely on tools and technologies like natural language processing (NLP) to understand a user’s question and issue an automated response.

However, virtual agents go far beyond these capabilities. Advances in conversational and generative AI enable these superpowered chatbots to participate in contextual, human-like dialogue.

Virtual agents use historical and real-time data from user interactions to make smart predictions and suggestions.

Their software constantly evolves, enabling them to begin every customer interaction with updated information and relevant data, such as the customer’s purchase history, their intent and other conversations they’ve had with the brand.

Furthermore, an IVA can understand and respond to any question, even one they’ve not been specifically programmed to recognize.

Using a combination of conversational and generative AI, machine learning, NLP and natural language understanding (NLU), AI-powered virtual agents can recognize human dialogue, understand the context, emotion and intent behind it and respond in the same way as a human.

As a result, AI-powered virtual agents allow you to create highly adaptive and personalized conversations and user experiences.

They also offer predictive analysis capabilities that anticipate user behavior, enabling you to deliver real-time actionable suggestions that enhance customer satisfaction.

Why Invest in Intelligent Virtual Agents?

Implementing a virtual agent offers many benefits for your business, from providing a dynamic, personalized customer experience to offering 24/7 support without employing teams of people worldwide. Reasons to invest in IVAs include:

Greater Scalability

AI-powered virtual agents offer extreme scalability that no human agent could ever match. A bot can simultaneously provide personalized engagement for 100 customers and engage 1,000 customers with minimal changes to your underlying infrastructure.

This can have significant benefits if you need to scale customer service at short notice or meet sudden traffic spikes.

Powerful Personalization

Implementing IVAs across your business enables you to tailor experiences to individual customers’ specific needs.

For example, integrating virtual agents into your customer relationship management systems allows them to track customers’ prior purchases and previous behavior traits.

As a result, they can provide a personalized approach to every customer and streamline user interactions—removing the need for agents to ask callers to confirm their name, date of birth and any other security questions.

Greater Convenience

Customers increasingly expect their challenges and questions to be resolved in real time without speaking to a human agent or being held in a lengthy queue.

Utilizing IVAs to handle customer problems encourages first-time resolution and enables the self-service that users demand.

And unlike human agents, virtual agents aren’t bound to traditional office hours. They can answer queries and resolve issues at the customer’s convenience—day or night.

Employee Satisfaction

Repetitive, tedious tasks are frequently cited as a major contributor to contact centre agent burnout and attrition.

But AI-powered virtual agents can perform the same tasks again and again without getting tired or fed up.

By assigning low-value, high-effort calls to IVAs, your contact centre agents can take on more challenging work, spend more time cultivating customer relationships and perform more meaningful tasks that deliver business value. And that means happier staff and lower employee turnover.

Improved Consistency

Providing a consistently high standard of customer service to thousands of people for 10 hours per day is hard work for even the most elite call agent.

It’s only natural that fielding a high volume of calls and handling manual, tedious tasks will eventually result in human error.

But machine learning and NLP capabilities allow bots to deliver consistent, error-free customer service time after time. That translates to better brand perception and higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Universal Support

AI-powered chatbots can automatically converse with customers in multiple languages, enabling you to run global operations without needing a team of people on the ground.

Cost Saving

All of the above benefits also drive significant cost savings for your business. For example, bots can simultaneously handle thousands of customers and converse in multiple languages around the clock, preventing you from having to hire vast teams of human agents in various locations.

Meanwhile, removing the risk of human error by deploying consistent, 24/7 bots helps contact centres avoid costly mistakes.

And because IVAs divert basic conversations away from human call agents, contact centres save on hiring, training and retaining more employees than they need.

Two Great Use Cases of Virtual Agents in Contact Centres

Deploying virtual agents in your contact centre enables you to provide a highly personalized approach that keeps customers coming back for more. Here are a couple of examples of the benefits of AI-powered virtual agents:

Virtual Agent Use Case 1: Eliminating Language Barriers

A critical advantage of IVAs is the ability to speak to customers in any language. For example, if a customer struggles to interact due to English being their second language, the bot can search their history to discover their preferred language.

It can immediately request to switch the conversation to, for example, Spanish or Chinese and continue the interaction.

As a result, this “polyglot” bot capability overcomes a common barrier to improve customer experience and drive loyalty and spend.

Virtual Agent Use Case 2: Unifying Self-Service Channels

IVAs enable customers to quickly resolve their issues in their preferred channel(s). For example, if a customer typically relies on voice chat and struggles to use text, the bot can ask them if they’d prefer to interact via their landline rather than through a smartphone or computer.

The customer gets the same level of personalized service via their preferred channel as they could through an app or website.

IVA Solutions

Conversational AI uses machine learning, NLP and NLU to recognize speech and text patterns, predict caller intent and respond with adaptive, automated scripts.

This combination allows IVAs to interact in a more natural, dynamic and human-like way and enables them to handle more complex queries.

These capabilities are particularly critical for businesses operating interactive voice response (IVR) systems, which, according to a Interactions study, routinely frustrate customers with poor performance.

Uniphore’s technology, by contrast, can enhance IVR capabilities by infusing them with the power of emotion, generative and knowledge AI.

As a result, businesses that leverage AI within their contact centre IVA systems are able to:

Lead with Digital Customer Service

AI technologies ensure you’re always available to deal with a customer’s issue, regardless of time or location. The solutions extend the reach of your customer service, allowing customers to bypass contact centre agents for many, if not most, common queries.

Tap Into Past Interactions with Intelligent Virtual Agents

IVA technology tracks the digital assets your customers have used and promotes the solutions that help them achieve self-service success.

This ensures customers never have to repeat themselves to a call agent again and speeds up the entire service process.

Deliver Multimodal CX – Tap, Text and Talk

Customers are increasingly leaning toward self-service and have higher expectations than ever. Creating a multimodal customer experience allows customers to interact via their preferred channel and device.

It also enables you to streamline customer service and enjoy greater customer engagement, satisfaction and retention, saving your support teams considerable time and effort.

Understand Customer Emotion and Respond Accordingly

For AI to be genuinely multimodal, it must tap into your customers’ emotions. Emotion AI enables multimodal virtual agents to not only understand what a customer says, but how they say it.

IVAs, built with no-code design and industry-leading conversational AI, empower contact centres to capture every customer’s intent through cognitive search, sentiment analysis, speech synthesis and more.

Transform Customer Service with Better Virtual Agents

With the growing popularity of AI and automation solutions, businesses are scrambling to find new ways to differentiate their customer service from the pack.

Many are turning to IVAs to transform their customer experience and drive self-service adoption.

Those at the forefront have learned to harness the power of multimodal conversational AI, emotion AI, generative AI and knowledge AI to deliver a seamless, intuitive and empathetic customer experience—and do it at scale.

AI-powered virtual agents aren’t just intuitive; they communicate with customers through the right channel, recognize their emotions, frustrations, intent and sentiment in real time and respond in ways that delight customers and keep them coming back for more.

And because AI models continuously learn and grow through interaction, your IVA experience will only improve with time.

This blog post has been re-published by kind permission of Uniphore – View the Original Article

For more information about Uniphore - visit the Uniphore Website

About Uniphore

Uniphore Uniphore has built the most comprehensive and powerful platform that combines conversational AI and automation, computer vision, emotion and tonal analysis, workflow automation, and RPA in a single integrated platform.

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Call Centre Helper is not responsible for the content of these guest blog posts. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect those of Call Centre Helper.

Author: Uniphore

Published On: 25th Mar 2024
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