Using Virtual Agent Technology to Adapt to Customer Demands

By Richard Simons, CEO, Creative Virtual USA

Technology is adapting to the consumer, and not the other way around.  Finally.

I recently spoke as a panelist for a destinationCRM roundtable webinar.  The one hour event “Meet Customer Demands with Virtual Agents” focused on the changing trend in technology today to become more adaptive to customers’ behavior versus the other way around.

I think one of the biggest frustrations for customers when online help first surfaced was the inability to have their issues solved in either the channel they were requesting it in, or having to switch to a separate channel and start from square one.  At some point when a customer has spent their valuable time talking to an automated system or inputting their information, they expect, and rightly so, that the organization they are working with has retained their data.

That’s what makes the seamless multi-channel integration of Creative Virtual’s V-Person™ so exciting.  During the webinar I was able to show examples of how Creative Virtual’s technology is working to help successful companies deliver consistent and accurate information to their customers across channels such mobile, tablet, IVR and social media.   This flexible technology allows customers to have personalized interactions on-demand with an organization, delivering a more humanized customer experience in the medium, or mediums of the customer’s choosing.

For anyone who missed the live event, the presentation is now available for viewing. I’d like to extend a big thank you to destinationCRM and David Myron for hosting and moderating the discussion.

What I Learned @LivePerson Aspire EMEA This Year

By Rachel Freeman, Head of Operations

When an event is called Aspire the bar is raised for high expectations, and I must say I was not disappointed. At the LivePerson Aspire EMEA 2013 conference, venue, programme, catering and buzz were all of high calibre. The catch phrase was “making meaningful connections” and whilst I did not go away having made any new BFFs, I certainly spoke to quite a few interesting industry pros about improving communication and creating better customer experiences. In fact there were three common themes everyone “aspired” to for 2013. I thought I’d share them with you and see if you shared the same sentiments.

LP Aspire EMEA 2013

  • Customer experience is now more important than ever.It was refreshing to see that so many companies were genuinely concerned about their customers’ journey and were keen for tools to help them understand and make improvements. Forrester Research’s Harley Manning touched on these points during his session asserting that we need to remember that sales, account and technical teams all have valuable insight and input. It pays to take the time to bring representatives from these teams together to share ideas, strategies and perspectives. In the end, you’ll get a more holistic view of what customers want from your brand and be able to design a more effective strategy.
  • Mobile is hot, hot, hot. Not surprisingly, everyone wanted to get a better understanding of how their customers are using mobile devices. They’re seeing the trends and need to adapt, but have found it slow going in some areas, particularly because departmental silos restrict access to the information that customers really want. However, customers could care less about how their companies operate on the backend. They simply want the information, when they want it, and companies are struggling to find ways to deliver.
  • Customers drive our business. Everyone agreed that we need our customers more than they need us. With so many choices, it’s essential we put ourselves in the shoes of the customer and deliver a customer experience that goes beyond their expectations. In this new era, service and experience has become the differentiator and everyone is anxious to find ways to communicate their value on this front.

If you’ve never been to LivePerson Aspire, make plans to attend next year. It’s a great place to make connections and get the pulse of your peers on key issues affecting the industry. Plus, the event is a lot of fun too. Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Deep Purple and other rock legends were played between speakers, allowing us to not only conduct business, but to rock out along the way and bang on some drums at the end of the day. But don’t tell my CEO. He may want to go in my stead next year!

Next Stop: LivePerson Aspire EMEA in London, UK

by Mandy Reed, Marketing Manager

Following on the heels of a successful Aspire APAC conference, as reported by Chris in his event round-up, Creative Virtual will also be at LivePerson Aspire EMEA as a Gold Sponsor. Taking place on 11 June 2013 at The Roundhouse on Chalk Farm Road in London, this conference has so much to offer. It will feature:

  • Speakers from a range of organisations including Royal Bank of Scotland, O2, Snapfish and Forrester Research
  • Breakout Sessions on topics such as mobile engagement, digital marketing techniques and intelligent online engagement
  • A Partner Showcase for attendees to find out more about LivePerson’s partners

As part of that Showcase, we will be providing a firsthand look at the advanced technologies we have developed in knowledge management, natural language processing and virtual assistants.  Specifically, we will be demonstrating how the integration of V-Person™ (virtual assistant) technology with Live Chat from LivePerson provides a seamless customer experience. Utilising Live Chat in conjunction with our other solutions means organisations can provide real-time, consistent customer support across all touchpoints to improve their customer experience while reducing support costs.

It’s totally free to attend Aspire EMEA so register online and stop by our stand to say hello and have a look at our innovative solutions.

Google’s Answer to Siri- The Next Step in Natural Language Processing

by Jessica Cody, Marketing Manager

As could have been predicted, Siri, Apple’s voice-to-text virtual assistant, now has competition coming from several directions. It is safe to say that Virtual Agent technology, along with natural language processing (NLP), has been catapulted to high demand, first in web and now in the rapidly-growing mobile platform. Google is bringinggoogle 3 competition with Majel, their voice-to-text virtual assistant that comes as a more digital, less personalized answer to Siri. Google is the current desktop and mobile search market leader. They are also Apple’s loftiest competitor.

According to an article from FastCompany.com, Google’s application could have several advantages over Siri, including the ability to operate inside apps, better Android integration and the ability to use Google’s abundance of data and different search services to produce answers. The article also points out that Google’s mobile search ad revenues have gone down with the dawn of Siri, giving them even more motivation to beat Apple in its search ventures.

Majel adds natural language processing to the already existing Google Voice Actions application. Voice Actions allowed the user to accomplish tasks on their phone by speaking into the phone, but its abilities were restricted. According to the blog Android and Me (which first released the news about Majel), “Where Voice Actions required you to issue specific commands like ‘send text to…’ or ‘navigate to…’, Majel will allow you to perform actions in your natural language, similar to how Siri functions.”

Creative Virtual uses a powerful natural language processing engine, which keeps the context of the conversation, allowing the user to explain their issue in the way they would to a real customer service representative or salesperson. This enables the Virtual Agent to not only understand the subject the person is interested in (like a website search would do), but ask asdaproduce the exact answer the user is looking for in a conversational style. For example, when you inquire to ASDA Groceries’ Ask ASDA, “How do you deliver?” the Virtual Agent gives you the step-by-step delivery process from the store to your front door.  When you ask, “Where are my favourites?” an answer is provided that explains the location of favourites in the new website layout.

Natural language processing is becoming more and more prominent on mobile devices, and is on its way to becoming a household term. A good NLP engine can recognize a question regardless of the form it is phrased in, and will still answer it correctly even if there are minor misspellings and incorrect grammar used. Virtual Agents’ natural language processing offers an excellent benefit to mobile phone users who need an instant answer to their question. Check out Creative Virtual’s mobile Virtual Agent device strategy.

The concept of voice-to-text Virtual Agent technology using natural language processing has a significant place in history, as the codename of Google’s application reminds us. The name “Majel” is taken from Star Trek’s Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, the voice of the Federation Computer. Ages before Siri, Star Trek had already dabbled in Virtual Agent technology. Android and Me predicts that Majel could be released as soon as sometime as this month.