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Have You Heard? AI Virtual Assistants Can Take Your Customer Conversations to the Next Level

This article was published on April 15, 2024

Sky-high engagement rates. Big increases in conversions. Vastly improved experiences for your customers whenever they call, and on whichever channels they prefer. Do we have your attention yet? With AI virtual assistants, it’s easier than ever to achieve these goals by personalizing the customer journey, gaining valuable insights into your customers that help you stand out in their eyes and, in turn, fuel your business. 

 

The trick to making the most of this tool? Understanding the great capabilities and how to integrate them into your existing infrastructure — a turnaround that has become far simpler and easier to manage in recent years thanks to ongoing evolution of this technology.

Illustration of a robot surrounded by icons representing calls, texts, emails, chats, and more.

What Is an AI Virtual Assistant?

AI virtual assistants bridge the gap between active human service and standalone self-service by giving users or customers an agent to talk to that isn't human at all — consider them like a customer service virtual assistant. The technology works via text, voice, or video and can carry out tasks (or guide humans to them). 

For example, a company could use the technology to perform outbound contact like carrying out surveys, or use the same tools to hold an automated conversation with inbound customers and determine what tier of human service they need to be transferred to. This gives customers the support they need when they need it and frees up your employees to focus on other areas of business.

In other words, an AI virtual assistant is a lot more than a chatbot. The technology puts a more personable, customizable, adaptive link between customers and the company they wish to interact with, giving them and the company a lot more flexibility to solve problems and answer queries on the fly. 

How Your Business Can Benefit from AI Virtual Assistants

The process of implementing an AI virtual assistant starts with scoping and sizing for your business. In most cases, you'll be assigned a conversational designer to help walk you through the setup and integration into your business communication plan.

Not sure exactly what you need for your business? AI virtual assistant packages are highly customizable and can be tailored to suit your unique business needs. AI virtual assistants are so advanced nowadays you can consider them in terms of the problems they help solve and tasks they help manage, including:

  • Outbound communication: With the right AI virtual assistant, tasks that impact the customer experience like surveys become far easier to complete at scale. The technology can interpret and configure data from customer accounts to adjust its approach to the conversation as needed. That kind of adaptability makes it easier to kick off, scale, and tweak a broad range of outbound communications without needing to retrain entire teams of employees.

  • Active transcription and translation: AI virtual assistants bring natural language understanding (NLU) into a variety of contexts and formats. Today, the format is mature and capable enough to capture insights from verbal cues; for example, the AI can find meaning in words, speech patterns, and contexts, which can help everywhere from initial routing to the end of the call (whether it ends up needing human intervention or not). 

  • Inbound query handling: AI excels at guiding customers through routine self-service interactions and providing easy-to-field answers that would otherwise hold up the call queue. For instance, a retail customer can easily chime in via voice or text to "ask someone" the status of their shipment; the AI can find the data and feed it back in natural language. Customers and the companies they call benefit with low hold times and reduced demand on human agents — by smartly handling a number of complex tasks, an AI virtual assistant can help with both. 

  • Concierge or receptionist: AI virtual assistants excel at routing customers to the right agent to resolve common queries. You can also automate the process of answering questions from inbound callers with a dedicated AI agent that responds immediately and at any scale you need — a hugely helpful tool that can grow with demand as needed.

  • Business continuity: Following the previous section, continuity is an important part of staying responsive. During site outages, peak usage or busy seasonal periods, an AI virtual assistant can step from a backup role into the spotlight, managing customer queries and adding a more human touch to routing — for example, taking the lead to determine if a given customer issue needs attention by a Tier 1 agent or if a ground-level agent can do the job.

Can an AI Virtual Assistant Work in Your Current UCaaS Configuration?

In a word, yes. Generally, an AI virtual assistant can be easily integrated into a UCaaS (unified communications as a service) solution. The specifics of the implementation will naturally depend on the provider you go with, but coming in with a strong idea of what you’d like to accomplish is always a good idea — helping you determine if the provider’s implementation and roadmap are aligned with current and projected future needs.

Not so long ago, AI-powered virtual assistants were exclusively the domain of large tech players with more resources. That's not the case today. When added to a UCaaS system, this tool allows large businesses to arm relevant points of their operations with appropriate coverage. Smaller organizations, meanwhile, can use its cutting-edge conversational capabilities to compete in the marketplace with enhanced CX. 

Enhancing operations with an AI virtual assistant becomes easier, faster, and more effective with one word: planning. Take the time to think through your specific needs to find the vendor whose solution best aligns with your plan — at whatever scale you require. 

Getting Started

The Vonage Business Communications AI Virtual Assistant, powered by Vonage AI Studio, uses conversational AI that can complement your human team by answering customer queries immediately, guiding a conversation to get to the main issue, and executing the appropriate plan.

Connect with a Vonage specialist to discover how your business can benefit from an AI Virtual Assistant solution.

Have You Heard?

Don't miss other installments of the Have You Heard? blog series.

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