Virtual Agents Enter the Mobile Device Realm
by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager
Mobile devices are playing an increasing role in the lives of millions of people across the world, across all generations. As more and more online technologies deploy into the mobile realm, Virtual Agent technology is following this trend. Apple’s implementation of Siri, the voice-to-text virtual assistant feature they have added to the iPhone 4S, opened the world’s eyes to mobile Virtual Agent technology. Android also has added Vlingo, a similar feature that combines voice-to-text and voice recognition technology with its powerful “intent engine” to help users complete their desired action.
There are several key factors that make Creative Virtual’s mobile Virtual Agent an excellent online customer service solution:
- It provides an immediate response to a customer’s inquiry. Creative Virtual’s conversational transaction processing provides them with a straight forward answer to their question, instead of multiple and often confusing search results to choose from.
- Transactions take place in a conversational style similar to Instant Messaging, which is a familiar interface to mobile users. Transactions require fewer clicks to complete and this leads to a quicker answer.
- It makes excellent use of the restricted real estate on a mobile device, making it easier for the user to navigate and view what they need.
- It provides easy escalation to Live Chat or Call Back in the same window if the Virtual Agent cannot provide an answer, so the user doesn’t have to navigate elsewhere on the website for further assistance.
- The HTML5 interface runs across all mobile platforms without the need for specific apps.
Creative Virtual developed their mobile Virtual Agent device strategy with these needs in mind. Existing natural language processing is re-used, so implementing mobile content is simple, efficient and easy to maintain.
The integration with the mobile platform our strategy offers make it possible to locate nearby services easily (bank branches, doctors’ offices, etc.). The system is also able to easily provide customer specific account information (e.g. “What is my account balance?” or “What are my outstanding orders?”). Creative Virtual’s mobile Virtual Agent technology is easy to scale, with a low cost per conversation.
As opposed to using specific apps, which can be expensive to create and maintain, Creative Virtual uses a simpler method of deploying their mobile V-Person™ that is just as effective: a browser interface that runs across all mobile platforms. The browser takes advantage of specific device features on mobile devices and is easy to use. This is made possible by the use of HTML5, an emerging web standard that offers a device and manufacturer independent path. For more information on HTML5, check out this article from CNN Money.
Creative Virtual has implemented a mobile Virtual Agent browser version of Ask Verizon, which in 2010 brought on a dramatic increase in traffic for Verizon. The mobile version of Verizon’s V-Person is closely integrated with their backend systems, allowing users to find both general information, such as payment locations, and specific account information, such as their current balance. Many people are checking their account information and making payments while on the go.
Deployment on mobile devices is likely to expand the popularity of Virtual Agents. In his article “The Rise of Artificial Intelligence Personal Assistant”, Gregory Roekens predicts that “mobile is what will catapult [artificial intelligence] into adoption.” This, according to Roekens, is due to a smartphone’s ability to imitate the human cognitive process. “It can perceive through sensors that can not only replicate human senses (camera, touchscreen, microphone), but actually do more (geo-location, compass, etc.).” Indeed, the mobile platform allows Virtual Agents to assist users more intimately than on a computer.