Why virtual agents are so useful
Back in 2018, Gartner had predicted that 25% of all customer service operations will become automated within the next two years, replacing manual efforts with virtual customer assistants. While we may not have hit the 25% number, research suggests that customer-facing virtual agents are well on their way to becoming a mainstay for contact centres. Deloitte found that 13% of companies have fully deployed AI-enabled virtual advisors/chatbot technology, with another 59% in the pilot stage. Going by these current numbers, AI could become part of 95% of all customer interactions by 2025.
At the heart of this emerging trend lies virtual agent technology and its revolutionary potential in customer service automation.
Virtual agents can be defined as an AI-enabled assistant that can autonomously address customer queries, doubts and grievances entirely through a conversational experience that uses a natural language like English. Virtual agents act and appear just like a live agent, but do not require any human intervention. The conversational flow, script, and decision-making triggers are pre-programmed into the algorithm and the AI incrementally improves with every interaction.
Virtual agents are different from bots, in that they have far more extensive cognitive capabilities. They mimic human personality and tone of voice, they can understand complex queries, and they have names or even animated avatars to recreate a personal touch.
Today, virtual agents are still considered experimental technology and only a complement for live conversations. With advancements in AI and ML, this would gradually change and relegate all basic conversations to an automated medium.