Think of IVA’s (Intelligent Virtual Assistants) as highly advanced chatbots. While chatbots manage simple tasks and offer low intelligence functions that address a singular need, IVAs introduce Conversational AI to address enterprise scale needs. 

Out-the-box chatbot solutions are only capable of answering the queries it has programmed. Anything outside of that and it’s going to struggle to provide a good user experience.

IVAs, on the other hand, continue to learn, improve and deliver human-emulated conversations in ways that feel natural and accessible. They use natural language understanding and other AI tools for a more authentic interaction.

IVAs are also the better option if the tasks users are trying to complete are multi-step or complex in some way. For example, if users typically want to see a variety of options before they make a choice. That is difficult to present with an out-the-box chatbot. 

What problems do Chatbots solve?

People don’t want to wait on hold 

No one enjoys waiting on hold. Especially when the on-hold music is distorted Scottish bagpipes. Yes, we’ve seen companies doing that.

Modern consumers want quick resolutions and get easily frustrated when they encounter needless friction. Not being able to get an answer quickly can soon escalate them from an average, happy customer to an angry customer, particularly if they have a simple question.

Bonus: IVAs don’t go home at the end of the day. They are a constant, always available resource.

People don’t want to speak to reps

Again, no offence… but modern consumers would rather self-solve their problem than speak to a customer service rep. Besides, when it comes to solving straightforward customer issues, there is no way a human agent can compete with the speed and convenience of an intelligent virtual assistant. 

Especially when diminishing budgets restrict the amount of available reps. 

We are in the era of convenience, people expect their interactions with brands to be convenient. 

Of course, there will always be the need to escalate issues for human review. However, unlike out-the-box chatbots, with IVAs escalation is seamless and effortless, enabling customers to swiftly pick up the conversation with a human where their self-service session left off. 

Can’t scale CS quickly

If you adopt a human-only approach, growing your customer service capabilities quickly is difficult. It takes time to train customer service reps, and it takes even longer for them to acquire the institutional knowledge to solve support tickets in the first instance. 

Having a knowledge base will help, but you are also restricted by the cost of having a growing team of reps, and limited by the time it takes to solve each individual problem. 

Meanwhile, with intelligent virtual assistants, consumers don’t need to wait for others to finish their conversation. IVAs can handle thousands of customer queries simultaneously without a drop in quality by answering queries directly or by linking to help articles.

You also don’t have to keep retraining IVAs like you do with new CS reps. Yes, there is obviously development required, but it’s far more cost effective than finding and training new hires. 

Meanwhile, Intelligent self-service is customer service built to scale. 

If you’re not sold, consider the economic value when you scale out your operations. According to Forrester, a chat with a live customer support rep can cost $6-$12 per interaction. Meanwhile, an automated interaction can cost as little as 25 cents.

Reduces repetition for reps

High turnover of support staff is a common problem for customer support across many industries. 

When you’re buried in support tickets and live chats, and you find yourself answering the same questions over and over again, it can feel incredibly frustrating. When reps hit this wall, they may think it’s time to move on.

Letting an IVA handle the low-level interactions frees up human agents to tackle the more advanced problems and increases the variation of their day-to-day operations. 

Solving these issues helps to make their roles more meaningful. Don’t overlook the importance of employee engagement and satisfaction; unhappy employees don’t care as much about giving customers a good experience.

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