4 Key Trends in Interactive Virtual Assistants

A robot and a man have a conversation

Lauren Famiglietti of Interactions discusses the future of intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) by sharing four key trends.

From making AI truly conversational and the possible end of the chatbot as we know it today, to deciding how to implement your customer care strategy, here’s a look at what we can expect to see from IVAs in the near future.

1. Conversational AI

One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen is the growing focus on customer conversations. They influence brand perception, loyalty and purchase decisions.

For many brands, it’s no longer just the website or the store front that makes a lasting impression. And with growing competition in all industries, every conversation you have with your customers has an impact on your company’s success.

Conversational AI has the ability to greatly improve that perception, making it easy to always provide a great first, second and third impression, whether your customer is calling, texting or webchatting.

2. The “DIY” vs. Vendor Approach

Maybe your company has already decided to take on an AI strategy for customer care. Great! But now what?

While some companies may opt to do it themselves, others rely on a vendor to help them with design, implementation, and support before, during, and after launch.

There are many tools out there today that make it seem easy to build your own AI application, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s simple. Building an application that’s tied into complex business rules and customisations requires a team of speech, natural language processing (NLP) and IT specialists that are in tight demand.

While there are pros and cons to building or buying, working with a vendor has the distinct advantage of bringing expertise in applied AI, vast access to anonymised data for continuous tuning and quick start-up, and knowledge of user experience design.

When it comes to AI, going it alone may not yield the best results. So, 2019 may be the year we see more companies ditching the DIY effort and turning to the IVA experts.

3. Rethinking Success

What does success look like? For years, many companies have been focusing on standard contact centre metrics to judge the performance of their customer care. But with the introduction of AI-based IVAs, chatbots and other automation, it’s time to start thinking bigger in terms of measuring success and uncovering future improvements.

For companies that are looking to make the largest improvements in customer care, it’s safe to still focus on things like First Contact Resolution (FCR) and CSat. However, you should also add in new metrics like revenue growth driven through up-sells or new sales opportunities, customer effort (how easy or hard it is for people to get things done), and even things like agent job satisfaction and turnover.

4. Bye-Bye Chatbots?

As we mentioned in our 2018 round-up, chatbots have failed to live up to their hype. This is because chatbots are only as smart as the technology behind them, so they’re limited to what they can do when it comes to customer care. And while they’re great for automating simple tasks, they’re far from conversational.

It’s time to start thinking in terms of conversational AI on every channel, with an omnichannel approach, which means being able to understand context and persistence.

Lauren Famiglietti

Customers don’t want to feel like they’re talking to a bot; they want to be able to converse with someone who can quickly and efficiently solve their issues.

So, in the near future we’re likely to see more companies take an omnichannel IVA approach to customer care.

Only time will tell how IVAs will place in the customer care world this year, but one thing’s for sure… they’re not going anywhere and they’re only getting better.

Author: Robyn Coppell

Published On: 22nd Feb 2019 - Last modified: 26th Feb 2019
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