An intelligent virtual agent (IVA) is an AI-powered application that allows businesses to deliver intuitive resolutions for common questions across voice and digital channels. Contact centers are increasingly adopting IVAs as they offer significant business value. According to a report from Deloitte, the global conversational AI market including IVAs, is expected to grow at a CAGR of 22% during 2020–25.
Let’s take a look at the reasons for having an IVA in your call center.
Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant have heightened the level of customer expectations. Today, when customers interact with companies, they expect human-like yet effortless automated conversations similar to these smart devices. IVAs use the latest speech-to-text, text-to-speech, and natural language processing (NLP) technologies, allowing customers to talk naturally.
Customers no longer have to listen to irrelevant, long IVR menus or use touch-tone inputs that accept a limited response set. Instead, customers speak naturally and respond to open-ended answers. They also understand customers accurately by using intent prediction and sentiment analysis, providing a superior customer experience.
After rejecting self-service for years, customers now prefer it. According to a report from Harvard Business Review, 81% of all customers attempt to take care of their needs themselves before reaching out to a live agent. Natural language responses power IVAs dramatically to simplify complex interactions, making it easier for customers. Businesses are empowered to boost customer satisfaction as they provide faster resolutions without human interventions.
For simple tasks like ‘I want to make a loan payment,” this can quickly and accurately be conducted without escalating to an agent. IVAs are also equipped to support advanced use cases involving multi-turn conversations such as booking a ride or ordering a pizza with toppings.
Building on the increasing demand for self-service, businesses can now increase the percentage of tasks that can be automated. All company and industry sizes in different verticals can quickly build automated workflows for tasks like appointment booking and reminders, reset passwords, lookup orders, process payments, order / status / account checks, answering FAQs, outbound notifications, and much more.
Companies may start deploying IVAs to handle relatively basic tasks and then grow to automate more complicated tasks later. This also minimizes escalations to live agents.
By off-loading common, repetitive, and sometimes mundane tasks to an IVA, live agents are provided the opportunity to handle more fulfilling, high-value tasks that can benefit their human growth. This continually challenges agents to tap into their knowledge and skills to help customers leading to a better customer and agent experience.
Most customer-centric companies know that providing uninterrupted 24/7 customer service can be a crucial differentiator. This leads to a better customer experience and drives customer loyalty and retention. However, providing around-the-clock support can be challenging for any business. Employing enough staff for round-the-clock shifts might require businesses to outsource to other call centers in other time zones or provide limited hours. With IVAs, companies can meet the customer demand for constant availability and resolve customer issues without delays. A retailer, for example, can dynamically add virtual agents during the holidays, when there’s a big sale, or if there is a product recall.
IVA platforms use common AI models to build, manage and deploy across multiple channels, driving consistent experience. Users can build content for one channel and reuse it across voice, chatbot, SMS & mobile messaging apps.
Virtual agents can collect and process sensitive health data or sensitive credit card information without the potential for live agents compromising the data. That offers the highest level of security, and for many customers, the highest level of comfort.
Using live agents to do repetitive tasks is not a cost-effective approach. Enabling organizations to significantly decrease support costs with IVAs is substantially less expensive than live agents with costs being 10% of hiring. Also when needed, intelligent virtual agents can also effectively route customers to the right agents using natural call steering, reducing the costs of incorrect transfers.
Adopting an IVA-enabled automation strategy increasingly provides a competitive advantage as you provide what customers are demanding, increase your service levels, and on top of all that, lower your costs.
Want to learn even more about IVAs and how it works?
Read our post What are Intelligent Virtual Agents.
Sarika Prasad is a product marketer who loves being the voice of the product. She has extensive experience developing and implementing go-to-market strategies, differentiated product positioning and messaging, and programs for customer acquisition for high-growth SaaS companies. She is passionate about CX, CCaaS, Digital Engagement, and AI-powered technologies. She enjoys partnering and collaborating with cross-functional teams for product launches and driving business outcomes.