We hear a lot of talk about “Virtual Agents”, but what exactly are they? No, we’re not talking about debonair and mysterious secret agents like James Bond. Intelligent virtual agents are simply a digital interface through which people can interact and access information. Virtual agents are powered by AI-driven software, and they send essential data back to human team members. Virtual agents appear, most commonly, in the form of a chat-based user interface (UI), and typically handle simple high volume requests, which often have predictable answers.
Virtual agents have two primary benefits- the first is to provide an enhanced overall experience to customers, and the second is to provide efficiencies to the business. Virtual agents are a great way to provide customers with an enjoyable user experience and allows them to be more engaged with an organization’s provided services. The introduction of task automation eliminates delays for customers, and they are able quickly access on-demand information without having to spend time researching their query. In a survey of “more than 2,500 consumers, nearly 60% of respondents believe that one minute is too long to be on hold (PRWeb reports).
From an efficiency perspective a virtual agent is able to save time and money for a business as routine queries and processes are managed through an automated process freeing up an employee’s time for more complex tasks. The automation elements of a virtual agent also allow a business to collect additional data, allowing the business to gain deeper insights into consumer behavior and trends. The large volume of calls that can be managed through virtual agents can help to reduce the size of a contact center, allowing those resources to be deployed in other client-facing activities.
Virtual Agents are here to stay. By 2021, $4.5 billion will be invested in chatbot technology. (Opus Research). In a report titled The Real Self-Service Economy, Steven Van Beleghem indicates that “40% of approximately 3,000 consumers in a global survey said they prefer self-service to human contact for their future contact with companies.” There’s an increased need for organization’s to invest in virtual agents to help drive increased consumer engagement and enhanced customer experience.