Creative Virtual Executive Interview
benefits have companies been deriving from deploying intelligent virtual agent
technology across a broad spectrum of communication channels?
Companies are seeing all
of the usual benefits that you’ve heard associated with intelligent virtual
agent technology for years – an enhanced user experience, improvement in CSAT
scores, reductions in calls to the contact centre and lower customer service
costs. As the number of communication channels have grown and customers have
become more digitally savvy, virtual agent technology has also become more
advanced and sophisticated and is helping companies increase engagement through
natural language conversations.
Chatbots and virtual
agents can now provide a complete omnichannel experience for those at a desk
and on the move. By being able to linkup channels – web, mobile, Facebook,
messenger apps (like Facebook Messenger and WeChat), voice assistants (like
Google Home and Amazon Alexa), etc. – companies are benefiting from delivering
a consistent, accurate and seamless experience that’s available to customers
24/7. It’s important that companies looking to implement a virtual agent fully
explore the benefits of deploying the solution across multiple contact channels
using a single knowledgebase, and then consider that as part of their selection
process. Many virtual agent and chatbot solutions on the market today don’t
have this capability which means you end up with a stand-alone tool on a single
communication channel and an even more disjointed customer experience.
The industry is also
seeing a surge in organisations deploying virtual agents for employee support,
particularly for internal service desk and HR support. By offering employees an
easy and convenient way to self-serve, companies are seeing many of the same
benefits as with the customer-facing solutions. They’re reducing their internal
support costs, improving the employee experience and seeing increased employee
In what ways do you work with
potential clients to determine and develop the opportunities to enable
customers to self-serve with reduced effort?
As part of our initial discovery process, we analyse live chat sessions and
call logs to identify where the virtual agent can provide support without the
need for a user to interact with a human. From this analysis, we can calculate
the amount of calls that will be saved and the ROI (return on investment) for
the potential client. What’s missing from that analysis are the other benefits
that the organisation will see, such as increased engagement, improved user
experience and a better brand perception. Some of the partners we work with
will also go into the call centre and sit with the agents to determine how the
virtual agent can help.
The experience and expertise of the Creative Virtual
team is a definite advantage when it comes to helping our clients get the most
from a virtual agent. We work with them to determine the best opportunities to reduce
customer effort and improve the experience – whether that be something as small
as adding a hand-hold process for completing a form or a larger undertaking
such as expanding the virtual agent to an additional channel.
are the most significant recent upgrades you have made in delivering more
effective self-service and empowering live agents to provide a higher
percentage of first contact resolutions?
V-Person Live Chat™ has been an important addition to our suite of products. By
integrating the virtual agent with our live chat product, the system can read
users questions as they type and show live chat agents the answer
automatically. This saves the agent from searching, thereby reducing average
handling times whilst at the same time increasing first contact resolution.
This integration also features an industry-defining feedback loop which allows
agents to submit content updates and suggestions to keep content accurate for
both live chat agents and the virtual agent.
Our hybrid approach
to self-learning which combines AI (artificial intelligence) with human input
is also helping us deliver more effective self-service. We’ve all seen the
potential disaster of leaving AI on its own to deliver information – remember
Microsoft’s chatbot Tay? By using human moderation of the machine learning
component, we’ve enabled companies to benefit from self-learnings based on how
customers interact with the chatbot while still maintaining control over the
accuracy of answers and reliability of the system.
is your growing network of partnerships enabling Creative Virtual to offer more
innovation and increase the adoption of IVA and chatbot solutions in the
customer service space?
Working with our partners enables us to enhance the partner’s offering by
providing a self-service solution to their current customer base as well as
helping them gain new customers. Our technology becomes the virtual agent part
of their platform. These partners are able to provide a complete end-to-end
platform package to meet companies’ customer service and engagement
Our growing partner
network allows us to offer more innovation directly to our customers, by
developing integrations with our partners’ technology as well as other
third-party systems they work with. In some cases, these partnerships also
allow us to offer more localised and specialised support.
has the explosion of media hype and buzz around artificial intelligence and chatbots
affected the virtual agent industry?
The media hype around
artificial intelligence and chatbots has been dying down after the initial
explosion. According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, the technology has entered the
‘trough of disillusionment’ and I agree with that assessment based on my own
experience in the market. The initial media buzz has proven to be overstated,
and people are starting to work out the hype from the reality. Unfortunately,
some of these unrealistic expectations were set by other virtual agent vendors
who jumped on the AI bandwagon by making over-inflated claims about their
technology. Now the industry has come crashing down to reality and there is
certainly some disappointment as people are starting to understand the
As the market is
becoming more educated and the technology moves toward the ‘slope of
enlightenment’ on Gartner’s Hype Cycle, companies are realising that no matter
what virtual agent system they select for customer or employee support it will
need proper training and nurturing. Despite the initial hype, these systems are
not a black box they can sit in the corner, switch on and then leave to
automatically provide reliable, accurate self-service.