Elite athletes, like teammates in any field, require a rock-star teammate in order to reach their full potential. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. Peyton Manning had Marvin Harrison. Babe Ruth had Lou Gehrig—the list goes on.
Contact centers have more in common with sports teams than you might think. And there’s a very simple way to unlock each of your customer service agent’s full potential—give them a rock-star number two player.
Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you double your workforce; we’re suggesting you give your agents a virtual sidekick. Virtual Agents are designed to be your human agents’ Pippen or Harrison or Gehrig (pick your sport). And you can leverage Virtual Agents’ artificial intelligence (AI) to level up your customer experience in a big way.
What, Exactly, Are Virtual Agents?
Virtual Agents are AI-powered assistants that ideally interact with consumers in a human-like way and thus serve as intelligent representatives of your brand.
Virtual Agents can interact with customers via text (chatbots, SMS, or email) or intelligent voice automation (IVA). Virtual Agents are often used to verify a customers’ identity, help a customer place an order, or direct a customer to the correct human agent (among myriad other tasks).
Intelligence Is a Matter of Features
All Virtual Agents are marketed as being “intelligent.” But how smart are they, really? The short answer is, it depends.
Different companies’ Virtual Agents vary drastically in both design and function, depending on how they’re set up and what technology they are equipped with. Virtual Agents can be outfitted with one or more of the following tech:
Natural language processing (NLP) is computer programming that enables computers or AI to understand natural human speech patterns, phrasing, and linguistics. NLP isn’t just something your software has or doesn’t have; there are levels of sophistication that vary greatly between Virtual Agents.
Basic NLP uses key phrases such as “refund” or “delayed” to generate responses to customer queries and direct interactions. Advanced NLP looks at sentences as a whole and can infer not only rudimentary key phrases but more complex intent, sentiment, tone, and nuanced requests.
Machine learning (ML) is computer programming that enables AI to adjust interactions with humans by analyzing, or learning from, previous interactions. Virtual Agents equipped with ML get better at understanding tone and context the more they interact with consumers.
NLP and ML are vital components in conversational AI (or Virtual Agents with human-like conversational skills). When Virtual Agents are designed with robust NLP and ML features, they’re capable of asking open-ended questions and of not just understanding key phrases but actually grasping inflection and frustration.
On the other hand, if your Virtual Agent doesn’t have advanced NLP and ML, their conversational capabilities will be limited. They won’t know the difference between a customer calling to find out where their lost package is and a customer calling to figure out what their delivery date is.
What’s more, truly intelligent Virtual Agents empower businesses to move away from interactive voice response (IVR) trees and into the world of IVA. This graduation from IVR to IVA means the difference between Virtual Agents asking open-ended questions like, “How can I help you?” and the limited IVR version, which usually prompts customers to choose from a list of pre-established options.
The UJET Virtual Agents
At UJET, we believe your customers should be able to speak naturally when interacting with AI. To deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction, we designed our UJET Virtual Agents with robust AI, ML, and NLP capabilities.
Say hello to the UJET Virtual Agents:
Virtual Agents are fully customizable. These advanced conversationalists can be set up as generalists to guide traffic flow and field common requests. Or you can set them up as specialized agents to handle very specific, nuanced tasks and inquiries.
Virtual Agents Are the Perfect Teammate for Your Human Agents
Think of your Virtual Agents as an elite number two player on your customer service team. The Virtual Agent’s job is to assist your star player—your human agent—by setting them up for a slam dunk. And just like in a basketball game, there are a variety of ways Virtual Agents can get the ball to the hoop.
Virtual Agents can direct traffic and set human agents up for success. Virtual Agents can field incoming customer service requests, direct calls to the appropriate queue, and gather relevant information. You can use Virtual Agents to authenticate customers, get preliminary account information, and set your human up with all of that information before they even get on a call.
Virtual Agents can also handle a range of tasks on their own. Virtual Agents take a range of lower-lift tasks off of your human agents’ plate, so your human workforce can focus on complex issues and so that all of your customers get the help they need quickly. If a customer calls in asking for your hours, for instance, a Virtual Agent could direct them to a web page or a recording that states your hours of operation.
Human agents can even use Virtual Agents as their own virtual assistants to protect customer privacy. Say, for instance, an agent needs to gather a customer’s credit card information. Instead of asking the customer to give their credit card number to the human agent, which presents an array of security concerns, the human agent could transfer the customer to the Virtual Agent just to give their credit card number. Once the Virtual Agent has the necessary payment information, the customer can return to their call with the human agent with the peace of mind that their personally identifiable information (PII) is secure.
Virtual Agents aren’t a replacement for your human agents. Because, let’s face it, sometimes customers just want to talk to another human. In fact, 71% of consumers surveyed in 2019 said that they would be “less likely to use a brand if they knew that brand didn’t have human agents available.” But it isn’t that consumers only want to talk to other humans. More than that, consumers want to know two things:
- If the consumer has a complicated request, they will have an option to speak to a person.
- No matter what they’re contacting a brand about, they’ll get a fast resolution.
The same 2019 survey concluded that consumers “prefer a hybrid AI/human approach to customer service.” And this is exactly how the UJET Virtual Agents are meant to be used.
Customers and Business Leaders Win with Virtual Agents, Too
Virtual Agents improve the customer experience and overall business efficiency, too.
Reduce average handle time
Virtual agents speed up average handle time (AHT) for customer service interactions. They do this by reducing the time it takes to authenticate a customer, transitioning customers to the appropriate agent quickly, and streamlining an array of other processes.
Through a process called contextual routing, Virtual Agents quickly identify when a customer should be escalated to a human agent or routed to a self-service option for the fastest resolution. Contextual routing pairs real-time customer requests with notes from previous calls and communications to determine the best road to customer success.
Say, for instance, that you own a credit card company. One of your customers found fraudulent activity on their account, and they call to put a hold on their account. A Virtual Agent would be able to get their credit card information, verify their identity, and even freeze their account—all before connecting that customer to a human agent.
By the time the customer speaks with the live agent, they’re already more at ease knowing that no additional purchases can be made on their card. Now, they just need to provide the human agent with information regarding which transactions are valid and which ones aren’t.
In this way, Virtual Agents not only speed up AHT but also create a better overall customer experience.
Increase accessibility for your customers
Virtual Agents are a great fail-safe if unexpected circumstances arise—which is inevitable. Sometimes, for any number of reasons, a customer will call in, and a human agent simply won’t be available to answer the call or text or email right away. What happens if there’s an internet outage where most of your human agents are located? Or a tornado takes out power?
When UJET Virtual Agents detect that fewer human agents are available, they dynamically reroute incoming requests. Self-service, callback options, and queue routing can be set up so that if your human agents are suddenly unavailable, the Virtual Agents can pick up the slack.
Provide seamless human-like interactions in multiple languages
The UJET Virtual Agents are able to recognize consumer intent in a variety of languages using ML, NLP, and grammar matching. UJET Virtual Agents are designed to deliver seamless conversational interactions to customers from a multitude of backgrounds and linguistic heritages.
Using sentiment analysis, an AI feature considered “deep learning,” UJET Virtual Agents are able to identify if a caller is stressed or frustrated based on the tone of their voice. Our Virtual Agents don’t just understand phrases but are capable of identifying urgency and adjusting their responses and course of action based on a customer’s emotional state.
Drive informed process improvements
The Virtual Agent dashboard delivers key insights that business leaders and contact center supervisors can use to make informed decisions and improve the customer experience going forward. Machine learning isn’t just for AI. Business leaders and people ops teams can access patterns and findings detected by Virtual Agents to glean actionable intelligence for business development.
You can also use Virtual Agents to test out service options and see what works best. You could, for instance, set up one Virtual Agent to provide self-service options, and another to schedule callbacks during regular business hours. Based on responses to the two agents, you’ll get clear data on which options are more effective.
Make UJET a Part of Your Team
At UJET, we know it takes true teamwork to achieve customer service and business success, which is why we treat each of our clients as teammates. We strive to understand each client’s unique business and work with them to build the best possible customer service platform to meet their unique needs.
We’re proud to partner with innovators and business leaders like Ivar Sköldvall, customer experience operations manager at iZettle, who said, “UJET’s Virtual Agent is not just cutting-edge technology, [UJET is] a partner in ensuring that we are building, testing, and delivering the best virtual experience possible.”
Book a demo to see our AI in action, or drop us a message using our own UJET Virtual Agent (just click the text-message icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen).