Designed correctly, virtual agents reduce operational costs and improve the customer experience – all while upholding the highest of security standards. The final product is efficient and convenient for the customer and frees up agents to take on more complicated tasks. Company leadership and frontline contact center agents both can easily appreciate the benefits.
Our best virtual agent success stories include teams that determine their needs upfront and select a building method that meets their unique needs in terms of both service options and industry. Whether you need to stay PCI/DSS compliant or have a sophisticated customer survey system, you’ll want a virtual agent that has all bases covered. How do you make a virtual agent? Here’s what to consider.
Step 1: Determine Your Needs
Think through your customer’s journey and consider the types of tasks you would like to automate through a virtual agent. What are the common inquiries that customers are calling about, and are these simple tasks that are currently taking up a lot of your agents’ time? Which are the best tasks to automate to give you the most bang for your buck? What kind of information is the most valuable to offer in a self-service capacity?
Make sure that you also consider future service options so that your solution will easily integrate with whatever the future brings. If you can’t have automated surveys or analytics right now but may need them later, how can you set up your system so that you can easily expand it later?
What Makes A Smooth Experience?
Additionally, brainstorm ways to make the self-service journey as efficient and convenient as possible, with features such as language options and personalization options specific to the task. One of the most common ways to reduce user friction is to never make a customer ask for an agent more than once. While they’re waiting to be connected to an agent, respect their choice and previous self-service efforts, and avoid playing recorded messages that discuss self-service options. Finally, let callers know about hold times and provide them other options, like a callback, if they can’t wait that long.
What Do You Already Have?
Finally, take inventory of the various applications you already have in use that will need to play nicely with your IVR solution. An omnichannel solution can not only be cost- and time-efficient, it can prevent the customer from having to repeat their information. During this process, ensure that you fully integrate the system to leverage as much personalization as possible and confirm all customer needs are met, and be sure to include your agents in the process along the way.
Step 2: Decide How You Will Build
Do you have a team in-house that can build your solution or do you need something that’s completely turnkey? Here are a few options you may consider when selecting how to make your virtual agent.
A visual editor allows business owners and product managers to participate in developing automated dialogs, messaging services and IVR applications. Built for speed, an intuitive call flow editor lets you create IVR voice applications in days, not months like with legacy systems. Features you may consider, which are offered by our Plum Fuse platform, include pre-built templates, drag-and-drop, collaborative development, cloud IVR, audio file management, analytics, and interoperability via APIs.
A fully programmable platform lets you incorporate the latest and most appropriate voice technologies available for your virtual agent, such as Nuance, Amazon and IBM, and gives you more control over customizing your project. They also can offer support for VoiceXML 2.0, the W3C-standard dialog language that enables management of complex dialog states. The best platforms help create dynamic, scalable and mission-critical conversational applications. For example, Plum DEV features include multi-tenant capability, two-way SMS, analytics, cloud IVR, complex voice operations, and robust support.
Professional Services & Additional Tools
Consider whether you’ll need a team that specializes in voice solutions, automation, consumer satisfaction, and compliance with PCI-DSS and HIPAA standards. Also determine whether you’ll need a secure virtual assistant, omnichannel surveys or advanced voice analytics that can help take your core solution to the next level. Examples offered by Plum Voice include:
- SecureAssistant, a PCI-compliant virtual assistant that can be conferenced into calls to accept and mask sensitive payment details while the agent remains on the line to maintain a cohesive consumer experience.
- Plum Insight, which lets you connect feedback to specific customer service interactions using omnichannel automated IVR survey software.
- VoiceTrends, IVR reporting and analytics software that gives you the data you need to measure, improve and optimize your automated voice communications.
Step 3: Choose A Vendor
Now that you know your needs, it’s time to select a vendor. Here are a few factors that may be important to you when deciding:
Security – Are you a financial or health institution with special compliance needs? Or are you looking for security that’s state-of-the-art? Make sure you are working with a tool that takes security seriously. For example, Plum Voice technology is certified with PCI-DSS, HIPAA, SOC2, Cyber Essentials, and Visa & Mastercard.
Dependability – What kind of uptime can the vendor guarantee? What kind of help can you expect to have when things go wrong? A good solution will have robust technical support and account management throughout your company’s lifecycle.
Pricing – What type of pricing model are you most comfortable with? For example, Plum’s simple subscription structure allows customers access to all products without hidden fees. Even as we continue to improve and expand our tools, you’ll play a steady and reliable monthly fee.
Features – Why do you need a virtual agent in the first place? What are the must-have features of your next solution and what’s just nice to have? Some of the top features our customers are looking for include payments, account inquiries/FAQs, surveys, mobile workforce reporting, notifications/reminders, and conversational AI.
Long before you start to build, it’s critical to map out what you hope to achieve before making a virtual agent. Next, you will need to decide how you will build your agent and who you will partner with to make this happen. Have more questions about how to make a virtual agent? Talk to an expert today to get started building the virtual agent of your dreams.