The rise of Virtual Agents: Time to automate, personalize and contextualize customer experience

In most industries, there has been a lot of talk about Virtual Agents and their role in enhancing customer service. Virtual agents are software programs that enable automated, contextual conversations with customers. At a basic the-rise-of-virtual-agents-time-to-automate-personalize-and-contextualize-customer-experiencelevel, Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven Virtual Agents can be suitable alternatives to staff taking up customer calls. No doubt these virtual calls may not completely address all questions for a customer, but can help in getting answers and deliverables at the moment the customer is requesting for.

According to a recent Forrester survey, respondents preferred using more of self-service channels including those through web or mobile, when compared to speaking to a company representative over the phone. This is the age of the digital customer, a customer who wants instant gratification and experience. And self-service channels provide the frictionless avenue to address their needs. Increasingly, we are seeing today’s customers resolving most of their basic product or service specific queries through digital channels. In this context, Virtual Agents are offering a great platform for enterprises to drive customer relationships, by lessening any source of friction to customer experience. Forrester survey indicates Virtual Agent use jumped from 28% in 2012 to 58% in 2015.

The underlying platform of a Virtual Agent leverages a host of technologies including AI, analytics, and back-end systems among others. AI for natural language processing and enabling intelligent interactions with the customer, analytics is able to pull up information from across varied sources of interactions with the customer including web, mobile, offline, etc. With the right integration with back-end systems, Virtual Agents can personalize customer interactions.

The use cases for Virtual Agents can be across industries. Whether it is for addressing a service issue, trying to identify the right product for a customer’s need, or cross-selling other products or service to a customer, Virtual Agents can make the process less daunting, and at the same time align the discussions to the needs of the customer. In the process, this self-service model can significantly cut down time, optimize workflow and reduce costs for the enterprise. Importantly, deliver an engaging customer experience! And over a period of time drive customer relationships and loyalty for the company.

In my next blog, I will be taking you through a use case of leveraging Virtual Agents in the Insurance Industry.