VIRTUAL AGENTS AND ASSISTANTS PART 2: USE CASES / by Jon Meyer Meyer

Here’s Your Coffee. Have a Seat.  

I’m squeaking in a post a week! The New Year has brought new opportunities that have kept me busy, so I’m posting later than I’d like. I have a slew of topics I want to cover for self-service and customer experience (about 30 to date) so I’ll do my best to keep up.

Onward.

The Use Cases

In Let's Talk About Virtual Agents And Assistants (Part 1), we covered the broad definition of a virtual agent as well as how they work (no subpoenas yet). This week we’re going to look into a bit more of the nitty-gritty and focus on some channel use cases. 

There are three primary use cases for customer facing support: Technical Support, Post Sales Support, and Sales. In all of these cases, escalation or forwarding links can be added as part of the solution or the journey, depending on the question. So not only will a vAgent help with self-service, they are great tools to filter cold prospects for sales, retain important post-sales touches, or escalate tough issues to an agent. Additionally, some virtual agent/assistant vendors can connect to Salesforce where a transcript of the interactions can be passed to email or chat agents.

Technical Support

While I have used vAgents for some really complicated technical scenarios successfully, they work best when used for a limited amount of knowledge solutions - usually around 100 - 150. Believe it or not, this works well for companies that have products that have lots of feature/functionality overlap or only a couple flagship products.

Generally, a vAgent can respond to your most common technical queries as well as some customer service related results. As mentioned in the original post, the data harvest of customer queries for a prominently placed vAgent is a goldmine of new technical questions and trends.

The downside for large enterprises with multiple product lines (e.g., Microsoft), will need to create multiple vAgents - which can be really effective for the top issues. But for complex errors and deep solutions being displayed in a tiny chat window, it will get tedious for users. (Note: in some cases you can get around this by linking to KB articles, but this removes the user from the vAgent session where related metrics are gathered).

An additional tip is to use broad categories, such as error codes, product functionality (how-to's), product maintenance (updates, upgrades), or product information (compatibility, requirements, etc.). It may seem logical to duplicate your knowledge base hierarchy here, but it could lead to increased customer effort. vAgent’s are supposed to be a more causal, less intimidating experience than using a huge list of FAQs or browsing your KB. So try to simplify your categories into larger groups as in the break down above. 

Post Sales Support

Virtual agents excel at answering queries on upgrading, refunds, policies, email subscription preferences, privacy, and other cold prospect/noise questions that take up expensive agent time.  A vAgent will easily prove its ROI in both low and high volume contact centers where live support is limited in staff and time.

Many times, Sales topics are small enough to be combined with technical virtual agents or sales virtual assistants. These types of post-sales support questions tend to hit both technical and sales channels and should be included in both to reduce escalations or channel them to relevant live agents. 

Sales 

Sales is where a virtual agent becomes a “virtual assistant” - and they do a great job. Per the Ikea scenario mentioned in Part 1, the knowledge admin can load keywords and phrases of features customers are looking for and then have the virtual assistant guide them through a browsing or search experience to find the product that fits their prospects needs.

For example, if you have a garden shop, you can create a hierarchy of plant types and their associated keywords such a "drought resistant", "winter flowers", "shady garden,” and other phrases that a novice or expert may use in their search for plants.

Once a solution is suggested, Buy links or Chat buttons can be added to the solution for conversion or have a live agent close the sale. If you’re really fancy, add a click-to-call button for customers to request a call back. 

Next Time

We’ll cover some real world scenarios for virtual agents and assistants. Have a great week!