Virtual Customer Assistants and Knowledge Management: A Winning Combination for an Omnichannel Customer Experience
By Chris Ezekiel,
Founder & CEO, Creative Virtual
More than just buzzwords, multichannel and omnichannel
are hot topics for organizations today and each brings its own definition and
challenges to an organization’s customer experience strategy.
Multichannel is allowing a customer to simultaneously
communicate with your organization via multiple channels. To be truly
multichannel, a company must not only offer multiple engagement channels for
customers, they must also properly support those channels with the necessary
information and staffing.
Omnichannel takes this one step further and is defined
as a seamless customer experience across all channels, with seamless being the key to this strategy.
An organization with a successful omnichannel customer experience program must
connect their engagement channels to create a consistent, seamless experience
and offer personalized support to customers.
One of the biggest challenges for organizations to
overcome is the surprisingly high number of business leaders that don’t
actually understand the definitions of these terms or the importance of having
a true omnichannel experience. As customers become empowered with new
technologies, their expectation for a seamless, consistent experience is
continuing to grow. Organizations with leaders that understand the true meanings
of multichannel and omnichannel, and allow that to guide their customer
experience strategies, are going to gain a clear competitive advantage.
Once that understanding is in place, organizations can
then look to implement innovative, flexible technologies backed by an
experienced team that will enable them to offer a seamless and consistent
experience. Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA) technology combined with a
knowledge management platform empowers organizations to meet omnichannel
challenges. These customizable
and flexible solutions give customers consistent, connected
and personalized engagement.
A VCA, also known as a virtual agent, engages customers
in a natural language conversation and provides an instant, single answer to
the customer every time. Current advancements and innovations in virtual
assistant technology are attracting the attention of industry analysts,
including Gartner who see VCAs as a player in the Smart Machines
field. Today’s VCAs can be deployed across contact channels – web, mobile,
social media, contact center, kiosk, IVR – and integrated with other support
options, such as live chat and call back, for seamless handover. The
flexibility of the technology also makes possible integrations with site
search, community forums, speech technology and personalized
account information, as well as other existing backend systems
(e.g. contact center and CRM systems). These are important elements for many
organizations as they strive for a seamless experience.
VCAs become a true omnichannel solution when they are
backed by a powerful
knowledge management system. Knowledge management is
key for eliminating departmental and information silos and managing all content
from one platform. This allows your organization to easily identify gaps in
your information, create customer-specific conversations for virtual and live
agents, manage workflow and deliver that all important consistent messaging to
customers across channels.
When deployed in the contact
center, VCAs improve first contact resolution and reduce
average handling times while also enabling live agents to provide real-time
feedback on knowledgebase content. With the right workflow, collaboration and
approval processes in place to support this within your knowledge management
platform, live agents are constantly improving the virtual agent just by doing
their normal jobs, and your organization can create a feedback loop in line
with industry best practices.
By bringing together knowledge management with VCA
technology, you create Smart Help solutions that deliver consistent, accurate
and personalized information to your customers and produce a seamless
experience regardless of the initial contact channel.
VCAs have proven themselves to be a win-win for
organizations and their customers. These solutions give customers 24/7 access
to smart self-help they can rely upon to deliver consistent, accurate and
personalized information. The customer experience becomes convenient and
seamless. Organizations not only see improved customer engagement, but at the
same time are able to reduce customer support costs, increase sales and achieve
ROI in typically less than 12 months. Plus, VCAs offer unique customer insights
through advanced business intelligence and Voice of the Customer reporting
capabilities which enable your team to make better informed decisions about the
future of your customer experience strategy.
Take a moment to look at your customer experience. Is
it a true seamless experience or is
it time to rethink your definition of omnichannel?