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Virtual Assistant for Improving Customer Engagement

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Abstract

Over the past few years, development of social networking, cellular smart phones, big data, analytics and cloud has been fundamentally changing our lives and how we work and interact. These forces have increased client’s expectations, pushing the enterprises to reconsider their end-to-end customer experience strategy. Customer engagement solutions should focus on providing an improved direct experience and help enterprises increase revenue, expand margins, improve customer satisfaction and retention, and supply the much-needed differentiators in this competitive world.

Virtual Assistant seattle technology is a new area which could be incorporated with the existing applications, helping users to converse in natural language with a lifelike online avatar that responds to their queries in text or voice. They offer a personalized experience that lessens the need of being in touch with support team; builds a brand image and increases customer satisfaction. It may be integrated with the present software as well extending them and adding value to the services they offer.

Here we explore on how Virtual Assistants could be added to the Omni-channel communication solutions and discuss solutions developed for the insurance domain to help streamline and reevaluate their client engagement opportunities.

Introduction

Customer expects the appropriate response to their questions when they visit a service website or contact the helpdesk. They expect their queries answered, issues resolved so that the general experience becomes a satisfying one. Not meeting their expectations could cause an unsatisfied customer and hence a loss to the business brand. Other challenges in providing top quality service are the bad experience with support via internet, telephone or email, lack of product knowledge, long call waiting queues and linguistic misunderstandings etc..

Enterprises can significantly increase their brand value and sales by providing customers with fast and proper responses through an effective customer engagement services. It helps them improving their services, increasing customer retention and satisfaction. Enterprises can leverage virtual assistant solutions improving their various customer service functions such as enrollment form filling, first notice of loss claim, front desk, meeting reminders and other personalized services.

Since the”Virtual Assistant” solutions are getting popular, plenty of vendors have come up with their solutions on the marketplace. Some of the popular vendors in are market are: Creative Virtual, eGain, INTELLIRESPONSE, next IT, Nuance Nina and ANBOTO.

Challenges in Customer Engagement Services

Here are some of the key challenges faced by the enterprises in handling customer engagements:

• Meeting the ever-increasing expectations of the tech savvy users having various channels for communication, such as web, mobile, Facebook, Twitter etc..

• Making a good first impression when a web application or a mobile app is accessed for the first time and thereby increasing the odds of a revisit.

• Providing a personalized service at the time of a new account development or product registration which may need involving a broker.

• Providing a user-friendly self-service feature that may be quicker than speaking to a live agent as a preferred mechanism.

Overview

A Virtual Assistant is a conversational lifelike, online avatar that could simulate a conversation to provide voice or text-based engagement on any web application or mobile interface. They can converse in natural language with the avatar to respond to queries, understand questions, provide a detailed step-by-step activities for certain processes and supply cross-sell opportunities based on interests, etc.. It is extremely effective in scenarios where call rates are extremely high. They are capable of understanding different languages and can communicate in the language that is natural. Virtual Assistants can be quite successfully implemented to improve the number of service team size.

A Virtual Assistant not only simplifies the query of the consumers, but may also be configured to provide more information about the promotions and offers. For the example, if we have to fly from one area to another, it won’t only inform about the flights, but also provides the facts about the hotels where we can remain, offers and promotions, luggage limits, climate of the destination and any other destination specific details which are configured.

In web applications, though there are online FAQs and user manuals to help the users, they are found inadequate when a user wishes to look for some specific information. It may have quite a long time for them to go through the FAQs and discover the solution for their problems. At times this is time consuming and prevents them from performing particular functions and they may call up customer support. Virtual Assistants allow creation of knowledge base and offer an interface where the users can set their queries and get the relevant answers interactively.

Additionally, Virtual Assistants can create reports showing the frequently asked queries, their tendencies (of being requested ), unanswered or new queries and degree of customer satisfaction with the answers and so on. This offers an opportunity to improving the question bank and the answer.

Mobile Virtual Assistants

Along with Virtual Assistants for the net applications, there are cellular based Virtual Assistants that give a user-friendly interface for a smart phone. They are capable of understanding the user profile, questions and offer a powerful engagement which is more effective. With advances in voice and speech recognition technology, the cellular Virtual Assistant can turn the wise phone into voice empowered customer support person. They can recognize the individual, understand what the client is looking for and interact in a conversational way to facilitate a unique way of interaction.

Virtual Assistants are more than a voice enabled help file and have inbuilt intelligence which may help in providing a more personalized help and provide the further inputs sensing the context of the aid being asked. By way of example, once we need to reserve a ticket between two places, the aid can also be personalized to ask different questions like kind of food preferences, preferred seating arrangement. Users can be asked whether they would be interested in hotel booking at the destination, any vehicle requirements, taxis etc. to include cross-selling into the list.

Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA)

With new technological advancements, the Idea of”Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA)” is developing, which is providing new technology enablers such as:

• Algorithms allowing natural language interactions

• Artificial Intelligence triggered by self-learning

• Context-aware, proactive search of knowledge portals

• Voice biometrics

The Intelligent Virtual Assistant is also used to enhance interactions on traditional online web portals, in addition to on smart phones. Furthermore, they provide a more personalized engagement of the person’s identity while talking. They are also able to customize recommendations by leveraging the features and capabilities provided by clever devices and accessories (e.g., Geo location, accelerometer etc. and feed provided by clever watch and fitness wearable) extending the border of the services and making them context aware. The future generations of Intelligent Virtual Assistant can leverage artificial intelligence using self-learning algorithms to provide more relevant solutions to customer queries.

Virtual Assistant Tools from the Industry

According to Gartner, “Virtual Assistants” have transformational benefits. Global Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) will grow at a CAGR of 39.3percent over 2013-2018, and the total market shall be projected to climb to more than $2.1 billion by 2019.

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Virtual Assistant Comparison Matrix

Different clients have different requirements, hence it’s important to be certain that we evaluate to map the Virtual Assistant tool features according to the requirements so before starting the development we have done some comparison between different tools available in the marketplace and chose the best tool according to their need to develop the proof of concept.

Iactive smart, Creative Virtual Ltd, eGain Corp. and Nuance Communication are some of the major Virtual Assistant tools available on the market that covers most of the features like 3D Persona with Emotions, Mobile solutions, concept understanding, multiple questions, Analytics, Social Dialogue, Natural language processing capability, multiple language support, etc.. Apart from all these attributes Creative Virtual is great in analytics and reporting, Nuance (Nina) is great in Voice biometric (individual and voice identification) and Iactive smart technology is great in features decision-making and planning.

Customer Engagement Solutions using Virtual Assistant

To verify the viability and usability of Virtual Assistant products we developed two Proof of Concepts (POC) based on the use cases from the insurance domain:

• Product Enrolment: A online Virtual Assistant solution that provides assisted form filling while registering for a new insurance product.

• First Notice of Loss Program: A mobile-based Virtual Assistant alternative enabling users to log First Notification of Loss (FNOL) using voice for a vehicle in case of an accident

In a product enrolment form, any user who wants to enroll for a policy will need to enter their personal details and express interest in the product. Typically the form could be complex asking for various details and customers may call up support asking how to fill it. This solution uses a Virtual Assistant to help the user filling the enrollment form by asking questions and considering the user answers as input vales.

When a man driving an automobile meets an accident, he’ll need to report the accident to the insurance company at the earliest. As there are numerous pieces of information to be entered occasionally additional help would be required and the person will try getting in touch with the support staff. This smart-phone-based application uses a Virtual Assistant and provides a voice-assisted solution to capture the information. User will simply must respond to questions spoken with the tool and react to them in talking. The entire process can be completed as a natural conversation.

Implementing a Virtual Assistant solution for automating the business processes provides many advantages by increasing the productivity and efficiency. With this an enterprise can’t just increase the overall customer satisfaction, but also cut the cost involved.

• Enhanced customer experience

• Optimized support team

• Reduced cost

• Better monitoring and management

Summary

Customer engagement is being no more seen as a nice to have thing anymore and businesses are having a strategic view towards it. Virtual Assistant technology combined together with other emerging technologies is enabling them to revamp their customer engagement platforms. It’s enormous potentials in the areas where a lot of interactions occur as a regular with a large support team. Enterprises can reap tremendous business benefits through a well thought Virtual Assistant implementation.

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