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Virtual Agent Operations: The State of the Industry

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The use of virtual agents in business, for both employee and customer use, has accelerated in the past few years and has overcome the trials and pilots to deliver real measurable business value. As the need for smarter, more capable, complex virtual agents increases, a virtual agent operations industry is rapidly emerging to help companies navigate the difficult post-launch roadmap needed to be successful.

Clients considering outsourcing their virtual agent operations are looking to vendors with successful deployments, strong references and powerful services and tools. But, is the industry delivering?

What is Virtual Agent operations?

Virtual agent operations is the work that begins after a virtual agent has launched. Unlike traditional software, NLP-based applications require continuous “tuning” to ensure they evolve and learn new things. Virtual agents can always get smarter and operations teams have the expertise, experience, and state-of-the-art tools to deliver the continuous evolution your business and customers deserve.

They know what it takes to create and sustain a successful virtual agent program, and use various AI management, customer journey management and insight-gathering tools to keep your virtual agents working the way they should.

Companies need to invest in Virtual Agent operations teams to be successful

Yes, anyone can build a chatbot in hours using the many builder applications or websites. However, that approach is only good for automating the very simplest of questions.

Business-grade virtual agents require more time and investment to develop a high-quality and high-value level of service that delivers what customers need. Companies need to invest time and money with their in-house and external teams to operate virtual agents based on strong analytics and customer insights, or they really should not bother at all.

This is especially true for high-volume and complex use cases including airlines, banks and healthcare, where chatbots can handle between 50% to 90% of typical use-cases. Research firm Gartner estimated that 25% of digital workers will use a virtual agent daily by 2021, and with the rapid growth, that number could easily be higher.

The value of outsourcing the more difficult or tedious aspects of Virtual Agent operations

Operations teams need access to niche skills and tools.

An analytics-based approach starts with studying every single message between a customer and a bot. Given that there are typically millions of messages this obviously requires specialized analytics tooling. Building your bots around a strong knowledge base of real-world data also adds greater value over teams building a bot from a blank piece of paper.

In operations, teams measure each chatbot on many dimensions to understand the performance across many areas. Analysis starts with the core contact reason and then dive into specific metrics such as volume, containment, sentiment and handle times by topic. Operations teams are also paying close attention to lesser-known examples including false positive rates, repetition rates, undertrained intents and confused intents.

These will show the true value the chatbot provides and highlights statistical and functional areas where it can be improved to deliver greater service to customers. Understanding those metrics and the resulting statistics is one thing but any business looking to build a bot will gain more from an experienced team who have seen plenty of bots in action and know what the numbers actually mean.

They can help deliver continuous improvement as a value-added feature of chatbots, filtering and delivering fresh or improved use cases, channels and transactional capabilities. Taking an analytic-based approach in identifying the greatest value, especially for firms migrating from live customer support to chatbot-based approaches as part of a strong partnership.

As an industry, Virtual Agent operations is maturing

As the rapid rise in enterprise and business class virtual assistant deployments continues, so does the field of supporting operations. Virtual agents are finally reaching enterprise-grade, however, they can always be improved and the training cost of these systems can often be prohibitive.

Underlying the process is the need to build a data-driven roadmap of all candidates for automation across the business. This should highlight the path to success with AI and explicitly state what is needed for each use case and what the success goals are. 

With a strong roadmap, operations team and an overall virtual agent plan, firms will be able to develop and deliver strong projects that deliver amazing results early on and become a key part of the business, freeing up live agents and other workers for high-priority and higher-value work.  If you have any concerns about your virtual agent operations, give Wysdom a call.

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Cognitive Data Specialist

As a Cognitive Data Specialist, you will be responsible for the performance of the AI and quality of the corpus and will focus primarily on the VA training.  You will work with the client as required to ensure corpus is performing in an optimal manner.

Conversational Experience Designer

As a Conversational Experience Designer, you will be responsible for the designs of the overall customer experience, including the end-to-end dialog flows & journeys of the solution ensuring  design leverages  UxD best practices for optimal customer experience.

Conversational AI Specialist

As a Conversational AI Optimization Specialist, your responsibility will be to help drive the success of our solution for our clients. This involves building conversation flows, performing AI training, and partnering with clients to enhance their deployments.

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As a Conversational AI Lead, you will be responsible for leading all Conversational AI program activities.  You will work with all team members to ensure deliverables are completed on time, with high quality and exceeds client expectations and goals.

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Responsible for the overall success for the client, including the end-to-end delivery and optimization of the solution, you will manage the sales process from pillar to post, including technical and commercial proposals, pipeline management, sales forecasting, and contractual documentation.

David Trotter, Wysdom

David Trotter

SVP, Sales & Marketing

David has 30 years of global sales leadership experience as a collaborative leader who believes in a strong team concept within sales and marketing organizations. David has spent many years working with growth companies and enjoys being face to face with customers and partners to create solutions that have a lasting effect on the customer’s business environment. 


Prior to joining Wysdom, David was the Vice President, Sales at Scalepad, and previously spent 11 years as Vice President for Latin America and Asia Pacific for Absolute Software. He also held senior sales management positions at GE Capital and Clevest.  

Michel Benitah

VP, Optimization & Delivery

Michel has 20 years of experience in leading the successful delivery of Conversational AI and Natural Language Customer Care solutions to some of the largest financial, telco, healthcare, utilities, and retail enterprises throughout North America. 

 

Prior to joining Wysdom, Michel spent 20 years at Nuance Communications, holding senior management and leadership positions within the enterprise division, most recently as director of the Toronto office and professional services team.

Frederic Lam

SVP, Sales

Fred brings in 25 years of international experience in sales and business development across North America, the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle-East.

 

Prior to Wysdom.AI, he held sales leadership positions at Oracle, Redknee, and Movius/Glenayre, successfully growing revenues in both large and small organizations. Fred has also been involved in the start-up community in the earlier stages of his career as an Investment Manager with SP Capital and was an alternate director on a few investee companies.

Karen Chan

Chief Engineering Officer, Co-Founder

With 20 years of experience in software and mobile, Karen has held senior technical roles at 5 startups, including Wysdom.AI, Clickfree, Mobile Diagnostix (HP), Teamatic, and Virtualthere.

Karthik Balakrishnan

Chief Technology Officer

Karthik has over a decade of hands-on, proven global expertise in emerging technologies and implementing intricate platforms and solutions for telecommunications and enterprise during his time at Amdocs, with senior positions in their India, Cyprus, America, and Canada offices.

Nitin Singhal

Chief Operating Officer

Nitin has over 20 years of success in global executions of business technology, driving operational efficiency and digital scalability for some of the world’s largest enterprise clients. 

 

Nitin spent 16 years at Redknee holding executive positions in Research and Development, Customer Operations, Partner Alliances, and most recently as COO.

Jeff Brunet​

President, Co-Founder

Jeff has more than 20 years of experience in the startup world, founding and growing 4 software companies: AracNet, Mobile Diagnostix (HP), ClickFree, and Wysdom.AI. 

 

His in-depth understanding of software development and the challenges in making new technologies successful in the startup world prove invaluable as he serves on the boards of XMG, SurfEasy (Opera), Locationary (Apple), Groupie, and as an advisor to Pushlife (Google), LogMeIn (IPO) and HP. 

 

Jeff holds 23 issued patents in the wireless and consumer electronics spaces and is the lead inventor on 30+ pending patents.

Ian Collins​

CEO, Co-Founder

Ian has founded and grown 6 technology companies over the past 20 years, primarily in the enterprise software space including Wyrex, Mobile Diagnostix (HP), Clickfree, and most recently Wysdom.AI. 

 

Ian invests, mentors, and sits on the boards of several startups in the Toronto area.