George Skaff, CMO TouchCommerce
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Virtual Assistants are today’s reality

28th Jul 2016
George Skaff, CMO TouchCommerce
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With smartphones and tablet devices immediately at hand for a majority of consumers, it is very much the first port of call when anyone is looking for answers or support from a brand.   Previously, consumers may think of calling a company for help or perhaps even emailing them;  now, however, it is far easier for them to pick-up their device and find a way of making contact to get the answer they need.

Today, people are quick to turn to a brand’s website, social media or Google to try and find the answers they need.   It’s very much apparent that consumers like the control of being able to self-serve to find the answers to their questions at any time of day.

In fact, according to data from Forrester Research, 84% of online adults now attempt to answer their own questions using digital self-service applications.  On the flip side, however, the Forrester analysts also found that 53% are likely to abandon a purchase online if they are unable to find a quick answer to a question they may have.

Therefore, being able to deliver immediate and always-on support to web visitors is a priority for brands.   With the evolution of technology, including artificial intelligence and virtual assistant (VA) chat tools, advanced self-service technologies are coming to the fore in order to deliver the 24/7 intelligent support that consumers crave.

In fact, many innovators are already piloting technology that balances automated assistance with human agents to get the best of both worlds.

For example, our new TouchAssist VA bridges the gap by delivering a human-like chat experience, yet with the ability to transfer to a real customer representative if more personalised help is needed.  The intelligent VA lets consumers talk to it using natural language, and it is able to understand the intent of the questions being asked, as well as ask clarifying questions.

If the consumer still has further questions, it offers the option of taking the conversation over to a live agent who can step in, see the context of the chat conversation that has already taken place with the VA, and help the customer to find the right resolution.

The appetite for virtual assistants and related technology is increasing, with a study by the UK’s DMA identifying that 79% of 16-24 year olds, 76% of 25-34 year olds and 62% of 35-44 year olds expressed an interest in automated approaches to customer engagement, such as virtual assistants, when asked about online services.

As such, having the ability to supplement digital support with intelligent VA technology – which importantly integrates with existing live agents – will provide consumers with the immediacy they demand, while enabling brands to deliver support for a lower operational cost in return for increased satisfaction scores.

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