What is an Intelligent Virtual Agent?
Think of a business process that your company handles multiple times an hour. Password resets, basic customer service questions, balance inquiries — depending on your business, you might have dozens of these processes to manage simultaneously. In order to help you understand the power of intelligent virtual agents, let’s use the example of a basic customer service question as a baseline.
Customers have gotten better at self-service thanks to search engines and easy-to-navigate websites. Finding store hours, product descriptions, inventory and more has become as easy as typing in a request. Still, companies spend millions of dollars every year fielding these kinds of queries. Call center workers, customer service email respondents and even in-store associates provide the same responses over and over again. “Yes, we have this shirt in a size large.” “Yes, we’re open on Presidents Day.” These basic questions cost a lot of money to answer at scale with live, human agents.
While customers jam up phone lines and inboxes with easily answerable questions, other customers wait on hold. Although these hold times are difficult to quantify in terms of lost revenue, it’s obvious that dissatisfied customers, and customers who drop off calls out of frustration, do not equate to added revenue.
Intelligent Virtual Agents Can Help
What if you could wipe away the time spent and the costs associated with these mundane processes, and convert the manpower you’ve saved into revenue-generating processes? This is where intelligent virtual agents fit into the equation.
Let’s not confuse the point: Intelligent virtual agents cost money, they need to be trained and you’ll still have to deal with a certain number of repeatable tasks no matter how enjoyable customers find your digital experience. However, intelligent virtual agents can eliminate the vast majority of questions pertaining to certain levels of information. They learn your product catalog. They integrate with data systems and pull in customer information. Anything customers need to know that can be found on an FAQ page, or within an account page, can be repeated by a virtual agent during a service conversation.
Intelligent Virtual Agents and ROI
Instead of handling hundreds of FAQ interactions each day, your brand can assign human agents to more unique or impactful work. Rather than telling customers when a branch closes, your employees can answer calls about bulk orders, or they can address problems that are specific to long-term, high-value customers. Moreover, freeing human agents from mundane tasks allows them to help sell products. Customers can chat with employees about product selection and your employees can notify them about new items, upcoming sales, possible upgrades — each of which provides more short- and long-term value than telling customers when a branch closes.
FAQs are still crucial to running your business. You want all of your customers to know exactly when a branch closes. Fortunately, intelligent virtual agents can field these questions without hurting the overall brand experience, and, in some cases, they can improve the experience. For example: If a customer calls into the contact center to find out what time a branch closes, she will likely wait on hold longer than the duration of the conversation with a service agent. By employing an intelligent virtual agent, your customer can receive an almost-immediate response via chat, or via telephone. This rapid service trumps the experience of waiting on hold for five minutes and then receiving the same answer from a human agent.
By taking advantage of intelligent virtual agents, your brand converts the time it spends handling busy work into impactful interactions. You turn high-volume, low-impact conversations into quality brand experiences. This not only saves time and money, but it provides immeasurable improvements to how customers interact with your business.