Virtual Agents and Online Customer Service Tools

Virtual Agents should raise the online customer service effort bar, offering customers who wish to self-serve answers, an engaging, appropriate, and conversational automated interaction.

Virtual Agents are not a new concept.

In fact, Synthetix were one of the first pioneers of Virtual Agents as a concept. We were creating virtual agents for companies like the BBC, Vauxhall, and Ford, comparable to Alexa, Cortana and Siri, before they became the norm. Our Natural Language Processing technology has answered millions of customer queries by making sense of naturally (and occasionally, shoddily) worded questions.

Star employee?

Virtual Agents have certainly made headlines with IBM Watson, the newest interesting contender. A Virtual Agent can respond to customer queries in an intelligent manner 24/7. They don’t get ill and they don’t need to book holiday.

Self-service is a powerful tool, and deploying one of these customer service super-agents could certainly raise the bar when offering online customer service. But although a Virtual Agent is an impression of personal service - NLP artificial intelligence combined with a graphical representation – we believe Virtual Agents to be a supplementary contact channel.

When choosing to deploy a Virtual Agent, it’s important that it doesn’t stray from the specific job role it was created for in the first place. It should answer multiple simple questions, without getting annoyed, tired, and could even do so with a touch of humour.

However, as socialising is part of our human DNA, careful consideration should be given when choosing how they should interact with your customer audience. Aptitude levels of Virtual Agents are fundamental to delivering effective customer support. However, care should be taken to not encourage deep social conversations; Virtual Agents are not meant to be new best friends or digital agony aunts.

Virtual Agents are certainly not going anywhere soon. When they are deployed in the right manner, Virtual Agents can reduce support costs, encourage self-service, increase customer loyalty, and serve as a branding/marketing tool.

However, there are so many misconceptions about Virtual Agents, Artificial Intelligence, bots, and its current state. At Synthetix, we’ve been creating Virtual Agents and online customer support SaaS for over 16 years.

To find out more about this kind of self-service technology and how it can enhance the customer experience, contact us or you might want to download these whitepapers or look at these articles: