Creative Virtual Ltd Showcases V-Person™ Technology in the Best of British Virtual Exhibition

by Mandy Reed, Global Marketing Manager

UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) recently hosted a series of Global Business Summits to coincide with the London 2012 Olympic Games. The ICT Summit, held on 3 August 2012 at the British Business Embassy, was a well-attended and successful event which brought together technology leaders from across the globe to hear from and engage with UK business and industry leaders. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said, “London 2012 is the perfect stage to show investors and entrepreneurs how much we have already achieved, and the exciting potential of what is to come.”

Delegates unable to attend the summit in London were given the opportunity to watch live streams of the technology showcases and participate in event discussions via a virtual platform. This virtual platform, which was visited by more than 650 individual delegates on 3 August, also provides access to the Best of British technology virtual exhibition that is continuing until 4 February 2013. Creative Virtual Ltd is honoured to be one of the select British companies participating in the technology virtual exhibition.

Creative Virtual, founded in Great Britain by Chris Ezekiel, is a world leader in virtual assistant natural language technology and is currently showcasing their V-Person solution in this virtual exhibition. V-Person functions as a virtual employee, trained as an expert in all necessary aspects of the company, so users can be provided with the information they need, when they need it. The powerful natural language engine keeps the context of the conversation giving users the sensation of communicating with a ‘real’ person. V-Person has been designed to work on mobile, social media, IVR platforms as well as the web, providing organisations with a highly cost effective multi-channel self-service solution. This technology also offers a valuable insight into customers’ behaviour with reporting that sheds light on what users are actually saying, thinking and feeling at the most granular level.

Ezekiel, CEO of Creative Virtual Ltd, attended the Global ICT Summit and is proud to be a part of the virtual exhibition. “UKTI hosted a fantastic event and we were proud to have been part of it. It’s great to have the opportunity to continue the Best of British technology showcase over the coming months through the virtual exhibition; it comes at a perfect time for us as we continue our international expansion through building local partnerships.”

If you would like to explore partnership opportunities then please email Creative Virtual at [email protected].

Access to the Global ICT Summit virtual platform has now been opened to the public. In order to register and visit Creative Virtual’s booth in the Best of British technology virtual exhibition, please visit the Global ICT Summit webpage.

innovation is great britain

Virtual Airport Agents Humanize the Customer Experience

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

Just when you think Virtual Agent technology couldn’t get more innovative, a whole new dimension is popularized.  Case in point is the virtual passenger information agents that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has recently installed in Newark Liberty International Airport, as well as LaGuardia and John F. Kennedy International Airports.

Technically a kiosk, this passenger information agent appears as an actual person, projected onto a female-shaped glass pane. She is available to aid customers with important airport information at Newark, LaGuardia and Kennedy airports.   Likewise, the Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC also recently installed a 3D hologram Virtual Agent named Paige to assist international travelers with customs inquiries. While these avatars aren’t currently interactive, there is potential for them to be integrated with natural language processing technology in the future so they can answer questions when spoken to.  With these Virtual Agents front and center at such popular airports, this advancement, following the emergence of Siri onto the market earlier this year, is guaranteed to further familiarize people with the concept of Virtual Agents.

This development also demonstrates the importance of humanizing the customer experience, even when it is delivered by an automated Virtual Agent.  Companies such as Creative Virtual are implementing and deploying Virtual Agents that are capable of holding and remembering more information than any human, and able to reply to questions quicker.  This makes them an ideal investment for companies with high call center and website visitor volumes.

ask alison on the beach screenshot 20120806Creative Virtual deployments such as Ask Alison, On the Beach’s automated Virtual Agent, feature animated avatars with human characteristics that appeal to users.  On the Beach is a UK-based company that offers cheap flight and hotel deals to top destinations around the world.  Alison appears as a warm and welcoming customer service advisor, wearing an On the Beach branded polo and standing in the company call center.  She also displays a variety of facial expressions.

Since intelligent Virtual Agents such as Ask Alison are able to handle more inquiries than humans, Creative Virtual customers have seen reductions of up to 70% in Live Chat volume and call deflections of up to 50%.  Another feature that makes the experience more meaningful to each particular customer is the intelligent Virtual Agent’s ability to provide personalized responses through integration with backend systems.  For example, Verizon customers are able to log in to their online accounts and ask the Virtual Agent, Ask Verizon, questions such as “Can I see my payment history?” or “Is my account paid through AutoPay?”.  This allows users to have an experience that is specific to them and their needs.

Creative Virtual is an established provider of Virtual Agents (VAs) with over 40 deployments of our V-Person™ product. Our V-Person technology functions as a virtual employee, trained as an expert in all necessary aspects of the company, so website users can be provided with the information they need, available 24/7 when they need it. Delivering accuracy of over 90%, and call deflection of up to 50%, V-Person is one of the most compelling self-service products in the world today. Our solution is used for the purposes of customer support, sales, marketing and call center assistance, and streamlines the workflow of self-service information across Mobile, Web, and Social Media channels.

For more information about Creative Virtual’s V-Person technology and implementations, please visit our website.

Creative Virtual Sparks Appeal with Live Chat Integration Exhibit at LivePerson’s Aspire

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

o2 lucy before live chat with border 2On June 12-14, 2012, Creative Virtual USA participated as a sponsor at LivePerson’s Aspire Customer Summit for the second year in a row, exhibiting the V-Person™ (Virtual Agent) and LivePerson Live Chat integration for O2, a leading telecommunications company in the UK.  The conference was a unique collaboration of eCommerce executives with a common goal in mind: mastering online customer engagement for the purpose of generating profit and driving down customer support costs.

Creative Virtual generated a satisfying response from their booth where they held demonstrations of the integration.  “We partner with LivePerson to provide automated responses to those questions that can be answered without a real person,” explained Richard Simons, CEO of Creative Virtual USA.

live chat integration 3As both technologies have matured in the past year into powerful components for online customer engagement, it has become apparent how well Virtual Agent technology and Live Chat work together as a combined solution.

Utilizes the Live Chat agent’s time more effectively, saving their skills for the more complex, unique questions, and allowing the intelligent Virtual Agent to handle the more easily answered, repeatedly asked questions. Using both solutions together provides the following benefits:

  • The Virtual Agent is able to support the Live Chat agent by identifying sales-ready customers for escalation to Live Chat
  • Dramatically reduces the company’s customer service costs by filtering out questions that do not require live assistance (recent clients have seen a reduction of up to 70% in Live Chat volume)
  • Allows the conversation to continue within the same window, so there is no need for the user to deal with multiple windows opening or to go searching for additional support channels
  • The user benefits from the intelligent Virtual Agent providing the live agent with a copy of the conversation that took place prior to escalation to Live Chat (so the user does not need to repeat themselves)

The event itself was heavily focused on topics such as gathering of meaningful customer insights, personalization of the customer experience and consistency for the customer across all channels (including web, mobile, social media, call center and voice).  “The Internet has become the primary place to sell,” stated Robert LoCascio, Founder and CEO of liveperson aspire 2012 2LivePerson, at the conference.

As more and more people flock to the Internet to make purchases and seek support, online customer experience technologies, particularly Virtual Agent technology and Live Chat, must step up to the plate to ensure these customers are both highly engaged and satisfied.

Intelligent Virtual Agents Drive Telecommunications Support

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

Telecommunications plays a pivotal role in most aspects of our lives today. Cell phones, Internet and cable are tools that are relied upon consistently by the population, both for business and pleasure. It is, therefore, extremely important that high quality customer service to support these services is available 24/7 across all channels. For these reasons, intelligent Virtual Agents from Creative Virtual have established a strong presence in the telecommunications industry.

Intelligent Virtual Agents provide an instant response to telecommunications customers for issues such as billing inquiries, repairs or troubleshooting. Creative Virtual can link their natural language processing engine to a company’s backend systems, allowing users to ask questions and process transactions easily. This enables the Virtual Agent to collect personalized information about the user from behind log-in screens and assist them in completing tasksask verizon screenshot 20120523 small such as checking their account balance or upgrading their mobile plan.

This technology has become a huge success at Verizon, one of Creative Virtual’s biggest clients in the telecommunications industry. Ask Verizoncan be accessed from the Residential Help pages, support landing pages and in My Verizon on the website.  The Virtual Agent can also be accessed from the Verizon FiOS Facebook page. Other features of Ask Verizoninclude escalation to Live Chat and a mobile installation. Conversational transaction processing allows the Virtual Agent to complete transactions for customers such as signing up for paperless billing instead of directing the customer to another screen to fill out the form for themselves.

O2’s Virtual Agent Ask Lucy has been a valuable resource for customers since she was implemented in 2008, and by 2010 had answered over one million questions on the O2 website. According to Richard Clarke, Head of Self Service at O2, “About two-thirds of people that speak to Lucy on our website do not have to go anywhere else for support.” Creative Virtual’s integration of Lucy with Live Chat from LivePerson landed them anEconsultancy Innovation Award shortlisting. Lucy is able to identify when live assistance is required and provide the option of Live Chat to the user in the same window. For more tier 2 support, she is also able to escalate users to an O2 Guru if needed. Recently, Lucy went live on O2’s Facebook page as well.

virgin media ask jenny screenshot 20120523 smallIn 2009, Creative Virtual implemented an intelligent Virtual Agent for Virgin Media, another popular telecommunications company located in the UK. They have deployed their V-Person™ Ask Jenny to provide online assistance for both National and Cable Broadband customers. One interesting feature of Jenny is her ability to sense if the user chatting with her is asking about an existing service or sales inquiry, and switch the context as needed to better serve the customer. Ask Jenny’s avatar was modeled after one of Virgin Media’s top-performing call center agents, who is also named Jenny. The Virtual Agent has even taken on the real Jenny’s personality when asked questions pertaining to topics such as her favorite food or drink.

To enable a quicker and easier implementation for telecommunications clients, Creative Virtual has a telecommunications Virtual Agent knowledge pack that provides about 80% of the content needed. This allows the client to focus on providing accurate answers to those questions for the knowledgebase, instead of having to come up with all of the questions themselves.

Creative Virtual is an established provider of Virtual Agents (VAs) with over 40 deployments of our V-Person product. Our clients include HSBC, Intuit, Verizon, CA Technologies, E*TRADE, Lloyds Banking Group, O2 and Virgin Media. Our V-Person technology functions as a virtual employee, trained as an expert in all necessary aspects of the company, so they can provide website users with the information they need, available 24/7 when they need it. Delivering accuracy of over 90%, and call deflection of up to 50%, V-Person is one of the most compelling self-service products in the world today. Our solution is used for the purposes of customer support, sales, marketing and call center assistance, and streamlines the workflow of self-service information across Mobile, Web, and Social Media channels.

Creative Virtual Showcases Live Chat Integration at LivePerson Aspire EMEA

by Mandy Reed, Global Marketing Manager

photo2On 3rd May 2012 Creative Virtual participated as a Sponsor at LivePerson Aspire EMEA 2012 held at Vinopolis in London. The conference is a unique event designed to highlight the most innovative and groundbreaking developments from LivePerson and their partners and customers. Around 200 delegates attended this customer summit to take advantage of the keynote speakers, small group sessions and demonstrations of new ways to connect and engage with customers.

Creative Virtual generated lots of interest at the event with their demonstration of the integration of their V-Person™ (Virtual Assistant) technology and LivePerson’s Live Chat. They displayed the system currently being utilised by O2 UK. O2 first launched their V-Person, featuring animated avatar Lucy, in 2008 as an alternative and cost effective communication route for customer queries. By January 2010 Lucy had answered over one million questions on the O2 website. Both O2 and Creative Virtual saw even more potential to improve upon this implementation and, in 2011, collaborated with LivePerson to take O2’s online customer support one step further.o2 aspire image

Together O2 and Creative Virtual identified trigger phrases and questions that might require escalation to Live Chat. When a user’s input matches one of these predetermined rules, Lucy offers the option of chatting with a customer service advisor. If the user chooses to do to this, handover to Live Chat is initiated and the standard virtual assistant template automatically updates to feature the Live Chat interface. The virtual agent alerts the LivePerson agent and provides a history of the conversation that has already taken place prior to the agent accepting the call. As soon as the live agent accepts the call, avatar Lucy exits the interface and a new male or female avatar enters depending on the gender of the live agent. The LivePerson interaction then takes place within this template. The conversation can also be handed over to Live Chat with an O2 Guru when the user needs individualised assistance with their mobile technology. A male or female O2 Guru avatar enters the interface to replace the previous avatar when this handover takes place. If the V-Person detects there is no LivePerson agent available (out-of-hours, engaged with other users, etc), Lucy offers alternative escalation options instead of Live Chat.

By integrating the two systems in this way the Live Chat conversation is able to continue within the same virtual assistant template offering the user a seamless experience.  There is no need for the user to deal with multiple windows opening on the screen or go searching for additional support channels.  The user also benefits from Lucy providing the live agent with a copy of the conversation, both questions asked and answers given, that has taken place prior to escalation to Live Chat.  This transcript allows the LivePerson agent to have a better understanding of the user’s requirements without the user needing to repeat the conversation. All of these details make this integration of O2’s V-Person with Live Chat an innovative and unique advancement in the online customer service experience.

The integration of Ask Lucy with Live Chat from LivePerson earned Creative Virtual the honour of being shortlisted for the Econsultancy Innovation Awards 2012 in the category of ‘Innovation in Customer & User Experience’ earlier this year. To learn more about Ask Lucy and to view a video demonstration of the Live Chat integration, please visit the O2 Customer Story.

LP Aspire EMEACreative Virtual is excited by the opportunities their strategic partnership with LivePerson will create for new developments and implementations in the future. Integrations of V-Person technology with LivePerson’s Live Chat give companies inventive methods of engaging with customers and providing a positive customer service experience. Creative Virtual will also be participating inAspire APAC 2012 being held on 24th May 2012 at the Sydney Theatre in Walsh Bay, Sydney and Aspire 2012 which is taking place on 12th—14th June 2012 in SoHo, New York City.

Creative Virtual Ranked Top Advanced Business Member on Chatbots.org

by Mandy Reed, Global Marketing Manager

Creative Virtual is excited to announce that they recently become the Chatbots.org Advanced Business Member with the most contribution points. Chatbots.org is a website set up and maintained by Erwin Van Lun and his team as an industrial catalyst to advance the industry of Intelligent Virtual Characters.  In 2011, Chatbots.org launched their Advanced Membership Program which allows companies to become more visible on the site, complete an enhanced membership profile and have access to statistics on their profile including lead reporting. Contribution points are earned by individuals associated with the company for activities such as adding new Virtual Assistant listings, submitting items for the business news section and leaving comments in various areas around the site. All companies added to the site as being involved with Intelligent Virtual Characters in some capacity are included on the Companies page with Advanced Business Members appearing at the top of the list sorted by years of commitment and contribution points.

erwin van lunChris Ezekiel, CEO of Creative Virtual Ltd, said of the site, “Chatbots.org is a great resource for companies and individuals interested in the most recent developments and innovations in the industry, and it’s really good to have such a strong advocate for our industry.” Creative Virtual made a two year commitment to the Advanced Membership Program in October 2011 although the company had been active on Chatbots.org prior to joining.

Creative Virtual’s V-Person™ systems (also referred to as Virtual Assistants or Virtual Agents) are being implemented by a growing number of businesses looking to reduce customer service costs while elevating customer engagement and satisfaction. This technology is constantly being improved and expanded to meet the changing needs of customers. The company displayed their most recent advancements last month during a webinar hosted in collaboration with Forrester Research, How Virtual Agent Innovations Can Benefit Your Mobile, Web, Call Centre and Social Channels. This well-attended event included an introduction to V-Portal™, Creative Virtual’s new content management system that enables content to be seamlessly shared across mobile, web, call centre and social channels. Also highlighted was the new Smartphone solution that listens and talks to the customer. This mobile Virtual Agent is HTML5-based, so it does not require the download of an app. Futurist Erwin Van Lun, CEO and Founder of Chatbots.org, said of the company’s involvement, “We’re pleased to have companies like Creative Virtual contributing so actively to the field. Our ranking system rewards those companies which are willing to share their knowledge, bringing the industry forward.”

National Rail Enquiries Launches Virtual Agent “Ask Lisa” on Facebook

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

Creative Virtual and their partner The Virtual Zone have enhanced social media Virtual Agent technology with the launch of National Rail Enquiries’ Ask Lisa on the company’s Facebook page.  Instead of simply having the website Virtual Agent accessible from Facebook, Ask Lisa has been integrated into the Facebook page as an app.  This allows the user experience to remain in one location, so there is no need to leave Facebook or open another window.

nre facebook lisa1

This advancement in Virtual Agent technology shows how the Virtual Agent can be placed in a number of locations and presented in different layouts.  Facebook Virtual Agents such as these are easy to implement, since the knowledgebase from the website Virtual Agent is re-used in a new context.

While having a conversation with the Virtual Agent, the user is able to “like” the Virtual Agent answers, which are then displayed on their Facebook wall.  This serves as an excellent method of viral marketing for companies like National Rail Enquiries, since Facebook users are able to see the interactions others had with the Virtual Agent.   If someone clicks on an answer, they are taken directly to the Virtual Agent Facebook interface.

From an analytics perspective, having a Virtual Agent within Facebook is very beneficial to the company as well.  The Virtual Agent is able to gather profile data about the users with which it has conversations, and this gives the company a more complete picture of their customer than they get from website Virtual Agent analytics, such as the user’s interests, age, job, etc.

Click here to chat with Facebook Lisa about the National Rail network in Great Britain (she is located just under the cover photo on the company’s Facebook page).  To find out more about Virtual Agent innovations, visit Creative Virtual and The Virtual Zone.

Creative Virtual and Forrester Highlight Latest Virtual Agent Innovations in Recent Webinar

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

On April 4, 2012, Creative Virtual hosted an enlightening webinar with Forrester Research, How Virtual Agent Innovations Can Benefit Your Mobile, Web, Call Center and Social Channels.  The event was a huge success with a turnout of over 100 attendees from around the world.  The event was hosted by Forrester Research analyst Diane Clarkson and Richard Simons, CEO of Creative Virtual USA.

Richard Simons gave attendees a glimpse into the evolution of Creative Virtual’s V-Person™ technology and how it applies to the principles Diane Clarkson articulated about Virtual Agent technology in general.  “The interest in our technology has grown exponentially,” Simons enthused.

The first highlight of Simons’ presentation was the revelation of V-Portal™, Creative Virtual’s new content management tool, which enables content to be shared across mobile, web, call center and social channels.  Simons explained that the system was created in response to increasing demand for Virtual Agent technology, accompanied by a growing desire of customers to be able to manage more of the content themselves, within their organization.

“This is really what we believe to be the most advanced multi-channel Virtual Agent knowledge management system available today, and it can be hosted by us, in the cloud or hosted on-site,” stated Simons.

Simons’ presentation also featured an introduction of Creative Virtual’s Smartphone (iPhone and Android) solution that uses HTML5 (no app download necessary).  This mobile Virtual Agent is platform independent, offers personalized content and is able to listen and talk to the customer using speech recognition and voice.  Other important points made in Simons’ presentation included recent Creative Virtual deployments at E*TRADE and Autodesk, the use of Virtual Agents in company call centers (not just company websites), and the consolidation of Virtual Agent content across multiple channels.diane clarkson forrester webinar 2

Clarkson pointed out that online commerce has grown rapidly over the past couple of years.  “In 2007, just more than one third of North American consumers were shopping online.  Within 3 short years, 60% of North American consumers are shopping online.”  This fact alone makes a strong case for Virtual Agent technology.  Clarkson went on to explain the boom in social media as an avenue for customer service, the advantage of natural language processing to provide relevant answers (as opposed to search), and the need for a seamless transition between customer service channels (such as Virtual Agent, Live Chat and Callback).  To demonstrate these points, she used examples of Creative Virtual’s implementations at Verizon,O2National Rail Enquiries and Intuit.

Overall, the webinar was informative and provided insight into Creative Virtual’s V-Person solution and the latest developments in Virtual Agent technology.  Creative Virtual would like to thank everyone that attended and participated.

Join Creative Virtual’s Latest Webinar With Forrester Research

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

How Virtual Agent Innovations Can Benefit Your Mobile, Web, Call Center and Social Channels

This event will feature an introduction of Creative Virtual’s smartphone solution that listens and talks to the customer. The first HTML5-based mobile Virtual Agent that doesn’t require the download of an app!

diane clarkson forrester webinar 2Diane Clarkson from Forrester will be sharing the latest insights and hot trends in customer self-service.Also, this is the first public view of our new content management tool, V-Portal™, that enables content to be seamlessly shared across Mobile, Web, Call Center and Live Chat.

The webinar with Creative Virtual and Forrester Research takes place Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 at 11 am EST/ 4 pm UK time.

Why attend this webinar?  

This webinar will be of interest to corporate professionals who are looking to satisfy the following objectives:

  • Develop a single support strategy that includes Mobile, Web, Call Center and Live Chat
  • Personalize their customer experience
  • Include social media in the support experience
  • Increase web self-service at a low cost

Webinar Agenda

Creative Virtual will show: 

  • How our V-Person™ technology has evolved in the past year
  • V-Portal  managing content for Web, Mobile, Live Chat and the Call Center
  • The role of a Virtual Agent in the Call Center
  • Results we are seeing from our clients
  • New Reporting dashboard, demonstrating the ability to drill down from summary-level data all the way to actual conversations

Forrester analyst Diane Clarkson will talk about: forrester logo transparent

  • What are customers’ attitudes and preferences regarding Virtual Agents for social media and mobile?
  • Extending the reach of self-service to multiple devices and touchpoints

The event will be hosted by Richard Simons, CEO of Creative Virtual USA, and Diane Clarkson, an analyst at Forrester who services eBusiness and Channel Strategy Professionals.

The Benefits of Internal Virtual Agents

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

Virtual Agents are a great resource for customers, providing excellent customer support as well as marketing products and increasing sales.  But the benefits of a Virtual Agent go beyond customers; they can also serve as a great tool for your company’s employees.  Virtual Agents are being used by many companies for internal purposes, including payroll support and call center assistance.

For a big company with many employees such as Verizon, a central resource for common internal issues saves a lot of steps for employees trying to find answers.  One of these common issues is payroll concerns.  Often times, issues such as these can be resolved easily before a supervisor’s assistance is required.  In 2009, Creative Virtual implemented an internal payroll Virtual Agent for Verizon employees as a go-to resource for anyone that needs payroll support.

The internal system is split up into multiple business units.  Commonly asked questions the payroll Virtual Agent receives include: “How much vacation am I entitled to, and how much have I used?” and “I didn’t receive my paycheck, what should I do?”.

Another excellent internal use for Virtual Agents is call center assistance.  The call center Virtual Agent reduces the number of clicks for the call center agent to find a soluask mo 31tion for the customer.   Content for the call center Virtual Agent can in many cases be duplicated from the customer-facing Virtual Agent, with additional content and further features added to help agents answer callers’ questions.  The benefits of a call center Virtual Agent include:

  1. Speeds up the training process for call center agents.
  2. Decreases average handling time (AHT) for calls and reduces the number of calls per customer.
  3. Uniform support across all channels.

One company that has had much success with utilizing a Virtual Agent in their call center is Motability Operations.  They have implemented 3 versions of their V-Person™ Ask Mo:

  1. One on their website for customers.
  2. One for dealers, providing them with information on cars as well as scooters.
  3. One specifically for their call center, which helps guide their advisors to the right solution for the customer.

With these solutions implemented, Motability has all of their customer relationship management bases covered.