As the world becomes increasingly digitized, many forward-looking businesses have started deploying intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) in their customer service delivery model. iQor has extensive experience designing, implementing and managing intelligent automation customer experience solutions for brands. We’re sharing our expertise and best practices on IVAs in this post.

IVAs are artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chat assistants that give customers personalized responses by combining cognitive computing and analytics. Unlike chatbots, which follow a given script, IVAs start humanlike, context-based dialogues to reach out to customers. For instance, if a customer enters an order number and asks a question about the order, the IVA will save this information so it can refer to it later in the conversation.

IVAs offer many benefits. They’re cost-effective, efficient, and they form an integral part of your customer retention strategy. IVAs can also help human agents interface with customers and improve customer service and loyalty. Additionally, they can be integrated with human agents through Customer Experience as a Service (CXaaS), a cloud-based solution that empowers organizations to deliver a cost-effective and hyper-personalized customer experience.

Read on to learn more about how IVAs work, how they can improve customer service, and how you can start integrating IVAs with human agents.

How an Intelligent Virtual Agent Works

An intelligent virtual agent is an AI virtual assistant that leverages various AI technologies to understand customers’ concerns. Using natural language processing (NLP) technologies, IVAs can understand answers that they haven’t been explicitly programmed to understand. That’s because NLP technologies — which include natural language understanding (NLU), text-to-speech, transcription, and speech-to-text — enable IVAs to find insights and meanings in spoken and written conversations. They also empower IVAs to understand the meaning of conversations without a predefined syntax and build their knowledge base.

Deep learning, speech recognition, and machine learning also help IVAs build up a large vocabulary, understand different accents and colloquialisms, and provide correct and accurate answers to customers.

Because they’re powered by so many different types of advanced AI technologies, IVAs can understand:

  • Free text
  • Speech
  • Multiple-choice selection of answers

What IVAs are used for

IVAs are used to answer and resolve simple customer requests. They come in two forms:

  • Messenger apps: This form is the most common. It’s the chat box that pops up at the bottom of your screen when you land on a website.
  • Virtual customer service agents: These IVAs give interactive voice responses during customer calls. 

How an IVA can reduce operating costs

An intelligent virtual assistant can help you reduce operating costs by:

  • Reducing wait times for calls. Without IVAs, your call volumes can get increasingly high, which will lead to call abandonment and frustration for your customer. Some customers may even give up on your brand due to long wait times. To prevent customers from abandoning and get them to continue interacting with your company, you could deploy IVAs to engage with them. Giving people instant answers and possible solutions will significantly improve the customer experience.
  • Automating repetitive tasks that don’t require human ingenuity. IVAs can deal with routine tasks and inquiries to give human chat agents more time and energy to deal with more pressing issues. This frees up more time and resources for agents to address customer questions and concerns that require more effort to answer and resolve. In other words, IVAs accelerate workflows.
  • Acting as assistants for agents. If an IVA can’t resolve an issue, it can gather key information from customers and pass that along to human agents.

Ways That IVAs Help Human Agents Interface With Customers

Although IVAs can do a lot of the things that human agents can, they don’t replace human agents. There are still a number of things that only human agents can do. These include resolving complex issues that require empathy and compassion. In such scenarios, IVAs act as assistants for human agents and help human agents become augmented agents

Here are some ways IVAs can help human agents become better ambassadors for your brand:

  • Keep human agents in the loop: As mentioned above, an IVA can gather and pass vital customer information on to live agents. For example, if a customer wants to talk to a human agent about a warranty on her laptop, she can leave her order number with the IVA. The IVA will then pass the order number and a summary of her concern on to a human agent who has the skills, empathy, and compassion to help the customer understand her warranty better. 
  • Show human agents key metrics: Unlike chatbots and virtual assistants (VAs), IVAs have access to an entire ecosystem of software, services, data, and products. They also understand how these parts interact and how customers have interacted with them so far, thanks to machine and deep learning. This means human agents can use IVAs to:
    • Get a better and more accurate understanding of how customers have been interacting with the business so far
    • Develop a strategy to attract and retain clients based on existing statistics

How Intelligent Virtual Agents Improve Customer Service and Loyalty

IVAs can also improve customer service and loyalty. 

Due to their conversational AI capabilities, IVAs can attract and retain customers by creating positive, helpful experiences that stick in people’s minds. Think about that helpful store employee, museum guide, or IT professional who wants to guide customers to more resources. IVAs are like that, only they can work 24/7.

By creating these memorable experiences for customers, IVAs can help you improve your service design. Service design is based on the simple idea that customer service excellence is the most important concern when delivering a service or product. By putting your customers’ concerns and feelings at the forefront, you’ll be able to offer value and promote your brand every time you interact with customers. 

Integrating IVAs With Human Agents for CXaaS

Another way you can use IVAs to your advantage is to integrate them with human agents for CXaaS.

CXaaS is a cloud-based holistic solution for the design, planning, and implementation of activities that make up the customer experience. Specialty service providers such as iQor specialize in managing such cloud-based solutions for brands at scale. CXaaS solutions combine automation with customer experience (CX) strategy and data integration. In other words, CXaaS is the backbone of digital transformation. It’s not just a patchwork of the newest technologies — it’s also a foundational shift to digital. CXaaS deconstructs and re-imagines CX to ensure customer satisfaction.

What makes CXaaS special?

CXaaS leverages AI technology and massive amounts of customer data to give you a deeper understanding of customers’ specific needs in real-time by providing analytics to gather and analyze customer data, automating simple employee and customer tasks, and segmenting customers to give them personalized experiences. It also helps you create a CX roadmap that smooths out the customer journey and helps you initiate tools like automated IVAs, customer self-service apps, and proactive alerts to improve CX and customer engagement.

CXaaS also makes your brand future-proof. After you’ve created a CX roadmap and enhanced customer interaction and engagement by using CXaaS’ actionable insights, you can use CXaaS tools to expand your brand to other customer channels.

How does CXaaS work?

CXaaS comes with critical components for intelligent virtual assistants that you can integrate with human agents:

  • Online engagement: CXaaS lets your IVAs respond to customers immediately through text or text-to-speech. This allows you to keep your customers engaged, even if you can’t solve their problems immediately.
  • Personalized services: CXaaS tools let you and your agents create hyperpersonalized experiences for different types of customers. This will make customers feel cared for, so they’ll be more likely to visit your site again.
  • Cloud computing: Cloud computing makes everything more flexible and accessible. Instead of working from contact centers, your live agents can work from home and use screen sharing, Google Docs, and other cloud-based apps to communicate with customers.
  • Detailed metrics: CXaaS solutions come with detailed messaging and voice analytics to gather insights for improvement. Your human agents can access these metrics to determine:
    • Ways to improve CX
    • Prevent bad CX from happening again
    • Make adjustments to IVAs if they aren’t getting the results you want
  • Creative omnichannel experiences: CXaaS will help your IVAs and live agents reach your customers on the channels and platforms they use the most, whether it be Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or WhatsApp.

Experience the iQor Difference Today

All in all, intelligent chatbots like IVAs are a future-proof, cost-effective part of your digital customer experience strategy. IVAs can help your brand compete and stand out among your competitors and ultimately build more loyalty. Powerful, streamlined, and intuitive, IVAs can be used alone, with human agents, or as part of a full-suite CXaaS solution.

If you’re interested in improving your brand’s customer experience, consider working with iQor.  We help brands deliver the world’s most sought-after customer experiences. We offer the following: 

  • A diversified technological suite that maximizes and scales performance across multiple geographies.
  • A secure private cloud platform that extends the call center experience into remote agents’ homes. This lowers costs while boosting customer satisfaction and agent loyalty.
  • Work-from-home solutions that blend IVAs with on-site and remote agents.
  • A partnership approach. Besides our agents, our Business Development Executives, C-Level Executives and Data Scientists will work with you to provide a consultative partnership focused on your success.

Interested in learning more about the iQor difference? Learn more by listening to our podcasts. If you’re ready to start a conversation with a customer experience expert, you can contact us directly to learn more about how we can help you create more smiles.

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