Top Reasons To Consider A Virtual Agent for Customer Service

Top Reasons To Consider A Virtual Agent for Customer Service

It’s no secret that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has infiltrated many aspects of today’s business world, and customer service is no exception. With the help of AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP), businesses can now operate more reliably, accurately and efficiently.

One of the top tools for companies has been intelligent virtual agents (IVA), which is essentially an automated version of a customer service representative. It can handle many of the reasons customers are calling your business, from payment services to common customer inquiries. 

Here are some of the top reasons a virtual agent can be a game-changer for how your company does customer service. 

Less Friction, More Convenience

Research from Velaro shows how customers are unwilling to  tolerate being put on hold. Of more than 2,500 respondents, 60% report that it only takes one minute of hold time before they will hang up. One-third weren’t willing to be put on hold at all. Callbacks, which utilize IVA technology, are one way to get around this. And according to another survey of 1,100 respondents, the majority (63%) prefer this option. 
Another reason a virtual agent improves customer service is the fact that customers can access them 24/7. And thanks to NPL, they won’t be lost in a maze of annoying menus. Let alone that this opens up call center employees to handle more complicated issues, it’s also extremely efficient for the caller and works around their lifestyle.

Here are a few more ways IVAs foster less friction and more convenience:

  • API integrations could mean a more seamless switchover from the customer’s perspective. Avoiding the need for customers to duplicate their efforts to accommodate a new system would be ideal.
  • NPL technology means more natural conversations for customers in which they don’t have to constantly repeat themselves. This isn’t only a practical security concern, it may reduce social awkwardness for the customer if they are in public while taking the call. 
  • Self-service options empower the customer and foster an overall positive experience toward your brand. This is especially true for customers whose schedules veer away from the 9-to-5 such as night-shift workers and caregivers who may not be available during common business hours.

Customers Feel Understood 

Anyone who has ever experienced a pharmacy anticipating your next refill, filling it for you, then notifying you when it’s ready has experienced the relief of good IVA technology at work. How can that be re-created for your company’s most common phone transactions?

The pharmacy example is just one of many ways IVAs can be utilized to make the customer feel as if the business gets them. Another way is to utilize user data to optimize the consumer’s path though your phone system. If the most common reason people are calling you is to pay their bills, make this option available as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Other ways to utilize IVA technology for personalization include:

  • Integrating the platform with your existing CRM database(s). This allows businesses to maximize the resources they already have. 
  • Choosing a platform that is rich in customization options. Avoid the temptation of investing in an out-of-the-box solution. 
  • Crafting notification and alerts messaging with as much personalization as possible. Examples include the customer’s first name, product name (for example, first few letters of a medication), or even an order number if the customer is going to need it later. 

Higher Security Measures

When building your IVA on a reputable platform, not only do you avoid the heavy responsibility of many compliance issues, the customer’s information is safer. For example, the Plum Voice platform has passed several rigorous standards such as PCI-DSS, SOC2, and HIPAA. This provides an extra layer of assurance that private information is protected in accordance with the requirements of your industry.

Because the security needs of your particular industry will be ever-evolving, it’s important to partner with a service that thoroughly understands every aspect of the security measures. As customers become more attuned to the risk of information breaches, they will become savvier consumers and demand this level of protection.

Other benefits of using highly secured IVA technology include:

  • Utilizing secure data centers that are geographically dispersed will signal to customers that you know what you’re doing and that their information is safe. The use of top-tier telecommunication infrastructure reinforces to users that their information is in good hands. Customers will increasingly be looking for these types of details when partnering with businesses in the future (if it’s not already happening).

More Effective Communication

Delivering the right information at the right time is an area where IVA technology really shines. Businesses can anticipate client needs and be proactive in meeting them via notifications, alerts and reminders. Device customization takes this a step further by ensuring customers receive the information in the way that’s best for them.

This type of proactive outreach not only keeps customers happy, but it also prevents issues before they occur. For example, it’s much easier to remind a customer that a payment is due in a couple of days versus all of the energy it takes to locate the customer and resolve the issue after the fact. In another example, imagine how much easier it would be for a utility company to notify an entire service area about an outage rather than fielding individual calls. 

Here are other ways IVAs are effective for communication:

  • Urgent information that can’t wait to travel through snail mail (or even email). Consider the effectiveness of sending hurricane evacuation notices and tornado warnings through SMS, for example.
  • SMS options that remove the agent and customer from playing phone tag. This is especially critical if callers may not be likely to answer their phones.
  • The ability to solicit feedback from customers via whichever device suits them best. This will increase the chances that the customer will respond.

Conclusion

While all businesses know customer service is king, it’s only the ones who can follow through that will prevail. Consumers are too knowledgeable these days of what’s possible to expect anything less.

Those who understand this need will prevail, and not because it’s a delight. It’s because the customer gets their needs met while developing positive feelings toward your brand that will be reinforced with every positive transaction during their consumer life cycle. Contact us today if you would like to learn more about providing your customers with the best possible service.

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