Intelligent Virtual Assistants: How Does the Customer Feel About Them?

It’s official: it’s 2019, which means it’s about to be a decade since Siri (Apple’s virtual voice-recognition assistant) came to exist as an application, which was later incorporated into the software giant’s operating system for phones and other Apple products. Today, the market is filled with voice-activated virtual digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Google’s Assistant, etc. all of which tells us the following: users are enjoying voice-activated virtual assistants.

We have been sharing a lot of information about the rise of Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) and why this is the perfect time to get on board with the required digital transformation in order to remain in the market. One of the key tools that come with the automation process are intelligent virtual assistants, which enable businesses to essentially grow their workforce without having to hire more employees, creating a better customer experience and freeing employees to dedicate time to other important areas of the company. This topic has sparked a conversation where many companies seem to be hesitant about implementing either a chat-bot or a voice-recognition virtual assistant because they’re not sure that customers are happy to deal with machines instead of humans. Let’s talk statistics:

  • According to Forrester, 71% of consumers say that the best way for a company to provide good service is by showing that they value their time. Having a customer on endless holds is a sure way to aggravate them, possibly lose their business and have them share their negative experience with others, creating a wide footprint for loss of business.
  • Intelligent virtual assistants are slated to become the most influential customer AI technology by 2020 – just one year from now.
  • Industry giants are literally throwing money at the IVA sector in order to achieve the top-performing experience for their customers. Google held a contest with a prize of $1 million for university students to create a “socialbot” that could converse coherently and engagingly for 20 minutes. Amazon has 5,000 employees dedicated to Alexa. And unsurprisingly, it’s expected that by 2021, the virtual digital assistant market will grow to $15.59 billion.

Intelligent virtual assistants use artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing to give customers as close to a human experience as possible. Some of the industries that have put IVAs at the center of their strategy:

  • Retail and E-commerce: after a dip in sales for a number of retail businesses, IVAs have come to the rescue. Giving store associates access to information on demand without using their hands allows them to provide a great customer experience. It has also become a part of throughput acceleration at fulfillment warehouses, helping achieve faster handling and deliveries, making customers happy.
  • Banking and Finance: whether checking account balances, transaction history, or making a payment, there’s no need for a human to be on call for these simple tasks, and banks have made intelligent virtual assistants a staple in the customer service department.
  • Healthcare: collecting patient information and maintaining their e-records is a tedious, time-consuming task that can easily be taken over by an intelligent virtual assistant. It also increases security and accuracy, which is a must for patients.

The bottom line is, for anyone hesitating to make intelligent virtual assistants a core area of innovation or not having a clear path to implementation due to fear of customer adoption, the reality is that as long as you invest in a well-crafted and properly managed IVA, your customers will appreciate the experience and the fact that you save them time in queue will add to their positive experience and convert them into a loyal, happy customer. Intelligent virtual assistants are no longer the future, but the present of a successful digital transformation. For questions on intelligent virtual assistants and how they can work for you, contact us.