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Contact centers have evolved into dynamic communication hubs that have been tested over the past two years.
Companies have started investing in intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) as they are effective in improving contact center productivity and customer experience. However, to get the most out of these virtual assistants, you need to know your strategy. Without clear direction, you ultimately compromise the customer experience.
Here are questions to ask and challenges to consider before expanding your IVA strategy. Checking these boxes will ensure that the IVA meets your business needs and your clients’ communication preferences.
Question: What level of complexity will the IVA support?
As I noted above, one of the first and most important questions you should ask yourself is, “What is the general strategy for IVA?” Will the IVA complement your agents to allow them to focus on more complex tasks? Or is the IVA going to focus on one or a few very specific use cases (e.g. password reset, bill payments, or two-factor authentication)?
When diving into your IVA strategy, it really comes down to knowing how much complexity you want the IVA to handle and how many of those requests you want to prevent from being passed on to live agents. A clear strategy and knowledge of the complexities that may arise are essential for a successful integration.
Challenge: Understand the technology
Understanding the technology is key to designing IVAs that will support the complexity required. Knowing the differences between IVAs and other contact center solutions such as chatbots, voicebots, and interactive voice response, known as IVR, will help you ensure that your IVA can effectively support critical cases. specific uses, regardless of their complexity. Below are different contact center technologies and their main differences.
- Chatbot: A chatbot is a program that can automatically communicate with a user without the help of a human agent. They have limited abilities and usually interact via text. Chatbots are rule-based and task-specific, allowing them to ask questions based on predetermined options. They lack sophistication and will make no inferences from previous customer interactions. Chatbots are best suited as a question and answer use case.
- Voice robot: Voicebots and chatbots have similar functionality. The main difference between a chatbot and a voicebot is the channel. Voicebots involve more complexity as they incorporate text-to-speech, which allows callers to speak to the bot. These solutions use IVR software.
- IVR: Briefly mentioned above, IVR software is an automated phone system technology that interacts with callers and collects information based on how the caller navigates through a call menu. It does not use AI. Callers navigate menu options through voice responses or by pressing numbers on their phone. The IVR software routes the caller to specific departments or specialists. Some may think of an IVR as just a voice robot.
- VAT : An intelligent virtual assistant is the most sophisticated of the options and you can use it across different channels. IVAs process natural language requests using natural language understanding or natural language processing and understand the situational context, which allows them to handle a more complex range of questions and interactions. These tools closely resemble human speech and can understand queries containing spelling and grammatical errors, slang, or other potentially confusing language, much like a human agent.
You are better equipped to advance existing contact center communication strategies when you understand IVAs, the full volume of features they offer, and how they differ from other AI-based solutions.
Question: What personality should the intelligent virtual assistant represent?
For an IVA to be effective, you need to understand the persona you want the virtual assistant to portray. This persona will indicate how you design your virtual assistant to act according to your company’s brand. To know the persona, you need to know how your customers interact with the contact center and the complexity of skills that assistants – live and virtual – need to be able to handle.
Based on these defining characteristics, you can define business rules for the IVA. These rules then create the standard for the design of the IVA. Key questions to answer to uncover personality include:
- Should the voice be feminine? Man?
- Should he have an accent?
- How many languages should he be able to speak?
- Will he need to familiarize himself with the lingo of a particular industry?
- Should it have a casual tone and follow a more informal language pattern? Or should it be formal and professional?
- How will clients talk to the IVA?
Answering these questions will guide you in designing an effective IVA that you can tailor to your brand.
Challenge: Lack of collaboration between IT and CX teams
IT teams often work closely with a communications provider to design and implement the IVA. Although they support this process, IT teams typically don’t interact with customers and may not have a clear idea of their engagement preferences. You can overcome this challenge by increasing collaboration between IT and customer experience (CX) teams.
For example, CX team members can provide insight into the company’s rules for customer support and how the company manages interaction paths and escalation levels. In banking, this may include the ability for a caller to set up a payment plan with an IVA over the phone; however, if the IVA hears a specific balance number or concern through a particular phrase, it knows to connect the caller to a human agent. If the IVA lacks this level of business logic, the business can compromise the customer experience.
CX team members also know how to create personas for customers and how to understand their engagement preferences. They are also familiar with industry standard terms that customers may use when interacting with an IVA that the IT team may not consider. Once IT teams are familiar with these terms, they can then create IVA training templates that include common terms and phrases.
What the future holds for intelligent virtual assistants
A current limitation of IVAs is that they sometimes lack visual engagement. It will be interesting to see IVAs evolve into video channels in the years to come. With video, customer support teams, through the use of IVA, would use biometrics to understand people’s body language and experience, make inferences about their experience and sentiment, and automate video support experiences. or switch to an agent.
For example, in healthcare settings, if a person with a critical illness called their doctor’s office and communicated via IVA-enabled video, the IVA could visually detect common symptoms the patient is exhibiting. This can include lack of concentration, inability to maintain eye contact, drowsiness, etc. The VIA can then note these visible symptoms in the patient’s chart to inform the team of nurses and doctors. The potential of this technology is exciting.
Answering the essential questions and addressing the challenges of using IVAs early in the investment process will help you optimize your strategies to take advantage of automated and intelligent solutions that improve the client experience. As you dig deeper into your IVA strategies, you will better understand the potential of technology, improve customer experience and see positive impacts on your operations.
Tim Wurth is director of product management at Underside.
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