In the past few years, the virtual agent space has been transforming rapidly. Since 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has further accelerated its growth as enterprises were forced to adopt digital channel support for their customers when stores closed down and call centers became remote.
As virtual agents become an essential in most industries, it has been observed that there is a delicate balance between getting a virtual agent set up by automating low complexity touchpoints, and finding out what transactional use cases are most important to the particular business. There have been many instances where organizations were unable to strike the right balance, resulting in worsened customer experience, increasing the load on live agents (and therefore their operating costs), or simply being a late adopter and getting left behind by competitors.
Getting it right
The maturity model used to be “get an informational virtual agent up quickly, then scale”. However, as the technology has become more normalized, customers expect more from the outset. Having a purely informational virtual agent does not work as customers expect some self-serve capabilities, regardless of how recently the virtual agent was launched. The key to getting a virtual agent up and running quickly, without sacrificing customer satisfaction, is to find out what integrated experiences are quick wins.
Waiting too long
Enterprise architecture is complex, as are back-office operations. However, the mindset of waiting years to launch a virtual agent until a company feels it is “ready” is counterproductive, and will put a company behind its competitors. A virtual agent can enable automation and speed up contact centre operations, and has become table stakes for most industries.
Select the right decision makers
Getting the right people involved, and the right eyes on the experience is crucial. There are many instances where delays occur simply because there are too many people involved, and the experience becomes convoluted instead of optimized. It is important to find someone to oversee the experience, someone who is familiar with the contact centre, and a sponsor that can get the team to the finish line. Others can act as influencers, but it is key to have designated decision-makers.
It is essential to strike the right balance between rapid launch and experience quality. Finding quick wins that can help your customers and/or your team is an excellent way to do so. Defining a roadmap by selecting and measuring KPIs for each phase of the implementation process will ensure a company’s virtual agent evolves over time, based on customer and/or employee feedback.
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