The Role of Intelligent Virtual Assistant in Transforming Customer Experience
In this competitive market, organizations are always on the lookout to transform their business units into more profitable ones. Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions have transformed the way business units function. One such AI solution, Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA), has had a major positive impact with respect to customer experiences/customer interactions in contact centers.
The global IVA market is expected to grow by approximately 37 percent during the period 2016–2024 and reach $12 billion by 2024. Telecommunications, retail, hospitality and consumer banking are the sectors where IVA’s have been primarily implemented. The deployments in these sectors have resulted in significant business benefits as highlighted below.
The supplier market for IVA consists of both global and niche suppliers. Predictive analytics is the key capability that determines the success of an IVA solution. The IVA should learn with each customer interaction, which would further refine the interaction process and responses without any human intervention.
Multi-lingual capabilities, integration with third party systems, such as SAP and Oracle, and speech-to-text capabilities are not well established at present and provide scope for further technological improvement of the IVA solution.
What is an IVA?
AI technologies have been continuously evolving and transforming the manner in which businesses are driven. IVA is an AI technology that has the capabilities to perform tasks like humans. IVA interacts with customers through Web sites or applications and responds to queries immediately without the need for human intervention.
IVA uses Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning, Data integration, Speech recognition and other similar technologies to provide an efficient customer engagement platform. Below is the architectural layout of an IVA. Third party software and services (Salesforce, SAP, Oracle, etc.), knowledge bank (Product and service details, Query resolution guidelines, etc.) and customer interaction database (data from previous customer interactions) are the critical backend tools with which the solution is integrated.
Need for IVA
With businesses going digital, customers are increasingly preferring online interaction methods rather than telephonic conversations with a customer/sales representative. The real-time conversational nature and accurate personalized responses of IVAs have been critical in providing seamless and satisfying customer experiences. Customer experiences directly impact the overall revenue of a business. Hence, providing the ideal customer experience is what each organization is striving for. Forrester reports have highlighted the importance of time to respond and have quoted based on their analysis that “71% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.”
IVAs are proving to be the ideal solution to respond to customer queries in a timely, precise, actionable and most importantly human manner. IVA has been majorly adopted in telecom, hospitality and retail sectors to reduce the total contact center operation cost.
Retail Industry – Disney Stores, a global retail giant, has always looked for innovative solutions to improve its business. Disney wanted to reduce the number of informational calls made by customers to their contact centers for shipment, tracking and return purposes. Disney deployed an IVA solution to meet this objective. The deployment was a massive success. Approximately 45,000 questions per month with an accuracy rate of 97 percent was achieved.
“Disney Store deployed an IVA solution to reduce the number of calls made to their contact center for order tracking and returns policy. The IVA solution drastically reduced the number of calls and answered 45,000 questions per month with an accuracy of 97 percent.”
Source: 7 Inc. Case Study
“Movistar, a Chilean telecommunication giant deployed IVA to improve its self-service capabilities and reduce the number of support calls and emails. The IVA solution reduced the incoming calls and emails by approximately 75 percent in the first year.”
Source: Aivo Case Study
Telecommunications Industry – Movistar, part of the Telefonica group, has an extensive presence in Latin America. Movistar wanted to deploy a solution through which they could decrease the total support center operating cost. The IVA solution was assessed and deployed, and this resulted in a reduction of incoming support calls and emails by approximately 75 percent.
Business benefits of IVA
Source: Inbenta Case Study
How does an IVA work?
Supplier Market Landscape
IVA is predicted to be the most influential customer AI technology by the year 2020. This estimation coupled with the increasing customer adoption has led to a heterogeneous market for IVA with the presence of global as well as niche suppliers.
For an organization looking to deploy an IVA solution, the choice of IVA solution should be made based on a balanced assessment of the internal requirement as well as the solution capabilities. The following capabilities are critical to the efficient functioning of an IVA:
- Self-learning predictive analytics tool
- Conversational format and speech-to-text capability
- Data integration and third party software integration
- Contextual tracking and ability to cross sell/upsell
“Predictive learning or self-learning is the key feature of any IVA solution and the level of predictive learning that a solution can perform define the functional superiority of the solution.”
IVA solutions have been deployed for customer-centric business units, such as sales, marketing and support. Solutions for other business units, such as human resources, procurement and finance are still in its nascent stages. Suppliers have expressed that IVA solutions for other business units can also be effective if the total volume of interactions is high (more than 1 million).
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