Tech to the rescue: How Virtual Assistance can improve CX

CloudCherry | Featured | February 20, 2018

Technology has become decisive to shaping customer experiences. It has opened up infinite possibilities for brands to not just capture customer data, but also engage with customers in real-time, in a seamless manner. And Virtual Assistance is an important part of the technology wave.

It adds a level of personalization to the customer experience and also improves the efficiency of addressing customer queries, issues and more. Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) are the next step up from chatbots. Powered by artificial intelligence, they are becoming a highly effective customer service channel, allowing brands to accurately communicate with their customers, understand expectations precisely and act on the feedback received.

How IVAs Are Changing the Way Brands Communicate with Customers

Consumers have evolved more over the past decade than they have in the previous century. Never before has the customer had as much power as they do today. Their expectations have shifted towards a more personalized experience rather than the social broadcasting most brands engaged in before, which is why companies have had to adapt or fall behind.

Thus, consumers want to access information when they want to, and not be forced to answer a scheduled email from the brand. They also are more comfortable with social media, texting and live chat than waiting on a call with your call center or typing out long emails.

According to HubSpot, 48% of consumers would prefer to communicate with a brand through live chat rather than any other channel, while 55% are interested in using messaging apps to resolve their issues with a company.

The more convenient the channel, the more consumers prefer to use it. And that’s why people would rather have the answer to their question come to them rather than having to wait for it or find it themselves. This is where IVAs come in as they allow round-the-clock communication with customers in any language. And consumers are starting to pick up on the benefits of these intelligent chatbots.

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According to HubSpot, 27% of consumers are extremely interested in AI-based tools, while 57% prefer chatbots because they can connect with them instantly. Furthermore, 40% don’t care whether they are being helped by a chatbot or a person, just as long as their problem is solved.

Some friends of mine had a recent experience with a company’s customer service department that pretty much highlights the benefits and necessity of chatbots. They had IPTV installed, but the modem only had 4 ports and they were all mapped to provide TV services.

However, they needed one port for LAN internet. That’s tech speak for wanting to connect a computer to the internet via a cable. It took 10 days, a dozen phone calls (during one of these they were on hold for 45 minutes), and a lot of aggravation to finally figure out what the problem was and get it fixed.

They were passed through numerous departments and everyone came up with a different issue, though the problem was explained multiple times. In the end, the real problem was that no one had actually bothered to check how the modem’s ports were mapped, which they could have easily done from their end. It took two minutes to fix once they finally found someone who knew what they were doing and took the time to check.

My friends told me that if they hadn’t just signed a 24-month contract, they’d have dropped the company’s services like a hot potato.

With an IVA, this whole dilly dallying could have been avoided. Instead of just reading from a script, the IVA would have listened to the issue carefully i.e. to get the port re-mapped. Depending on how smart the IVA was, it would been able to check itself and make the changes, or, at the very least, it would have forwarded a simple instruction to the right person. The problem would have been resolved in three minutes rather than 10 days.

It’s a simple example but it happens more often than you might realize. And it’s an irritating situation for customers, especially when you’re always dealing with people who really don’t know how to help and are just reading off a script.

IVAs will eliminate these problems, leading to happier customers. Remember, the more convenient it is for customers to contact and engage with your brand, the happier they will be. The result is more delighted and loyal customers, leading to more referrals as they extol your virtues.

Is Human Intervention Still Necessary?

The need for human intervention is still necessary. An IVA might have trouble resolving certain higher-level issues – complex ones that need to be explained in detail – and it will require human assistance. The intervention of a human might also be necessary in situations where the customer is upset or angry; it would really help if there’s an actual employee there to empathize with the customer in this case, and provide a solution.

Luckily, though, IVAs will be able to tell when they should transfer the customer to a human customer service agent. They will also make the work of those agents more efficient by providing the complete context of the customer query and interactions.

For example, an IVA could provide all the data the agent needs about the customer in real-time, without him or her having to run complicated searches. This will make the agent more efficient and enable him or her to offer a more personalized experience and ultimately expedite effective loop closure.

Consumers Have a Strong Preference for Self-Service

According to a study commissioned by Nuance Enterprises, 75% of consumers feel self-service is convenient and a good way of solving their problems. Furthermore, 67% said they’d prefer to use self-service instead of speaking to a customer service agent.

However, self-service is only effective if brands do it right. A Coleman Parkes study found that 91% of consumers would resort to an online knowledge base if it provided them with the answers they need, but 40% of customers end up calling the company because they couldn’t find the answers to their problem.

IVAs are the perfect solution in this scenario. Essentially, they are a cross between self-service and agent
assistance. One of the main reasons people avoid calling up a company is because of the lack of convenience. It takes time to get through to an agent, and it can take time to get the answer.

With an IVA, though, the customer has the best of both worlds. They receive their answers immediately, without having to wait, like with a knowledge base, but they are certain to get the solution, as if they had spoken to a customer service agent.

Another issue many people have with contacting a company representative is that they never know if they will get through to someone who can help them. And they also don’t know how they will be treated. An IVA will always be able to help, either directly or by making sure the customer reaches the right agent who can actually fix their problem.

Referencing the example I’ve mentioned before, my friends simply didn’t want to call back because they were so frustrated. Plus, they told me that they had the “delightful” experience of having one agent hang up on them because they were annoyed and demanded the problem be fixed. This was after that 45-minute wait! Clearly, IVAs can slot in as a critical addition to futuristic customer service. They will not just help improve the overall customer experience and but also boost agent efficiency, leading to happier customers, higher customer loyalty and ultimately lower costs.

Given how swiftly customer demands are rising, IVAs can stay up to date on what’s relevant and also share that information with agents. This ensures that customer service agents are always proactive when it comes to engaging with customers. Great technology and humans can indeed co-exist to deliver delight!