The digital customer service: 4 things brands should


With the increasing use of virtual assistant and AI technologies, how can businesses use the technology to support the contact centre in handling the omni-channel influx of customer interactions? What will be the drivers for businesses to start integrating automated assistants? What will customers think of virtual assistants?

The contact centre has evolved greatly since the days of the “call centre”.

The telephone is no longer the main channel of customer contact; it now collaborates with email, phone self-service (IVR), live chat, web self-service, and even social media and SMS – through omni-channel capabilities. Thus, the call centre has transformed into a “contact centre”, where all customer touchpoints converge.

With the growing number of customer interactions coming into the contact centre, brands are facing the challenge of not only handling all customers, but engaging each customer with a personalised experience.

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More brands are meeting this challenge with virtual assistance and AI technology; as integration efforts roll out the savings gained from reducing average handle time and increasing loyal customers, virtual assistance will be the sought-after solution to alleviate contact centre congestion.

In addition to providing contact centre support, virtual assistance answers the demands of today’s time-starved consumer who wants fast, effortless service.

Rising mobile ownership is training the digitally-savvy consumer to self-serve while expecting to find answers immediately, anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Fortunately, a virtual assistant provides interactive guidance to help that consumer self-serve more successfully; a customer-centric brand sees the value in that.

However, forward-thinking brands must not be too quick to jump into the virtual assistant game. There are several important considerations that should accompany the VA integration process.

1. Brands need to decide if they will use virtual assistance for the whole site or only for specific areas

Integration teams should begin by offering virtual assistance only on the website pages where it would best be used. They should determine where customers are spending most of their time looking for basic answers.

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From which page do customers contact customer service the most? Would this page benefit from offering a virtual agent to help the majority of these customers with top-level issues, therefore freeing up live agents to assist the customers who need to go deeper? Then, having learned best practices from that first implementation, they can decide whether or not virtual assistance would work well for the whole site.

2. Brands must have a fall-back strategy for when the customer cannot be helped by the virtual assistant

Sometimes, the basic questions lead to more complex questions for which the virtual assistant may not have an answer.

In these cases, the best practice is to seamlessly escalate the customer to a live chat agent. In order to make it seamless, an integrated design should be implemented in which the chat happens in the same environment, or window, as the VA conversation.

Perhaps the most important aspect of integrated design is that it should give agents access to the full end-to-end conversation regardless of the agent.

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This gives the appearance of working as one unit.

3. Automated customer engagement should utilise a strong targeting engine to find the right visitors at the right time with the right interaction

Use personalisation data to empower the conversation’s accuracy or relevancy. Targeting capabilities should include being able to choose between live agent, guides or virtual assistant based on user behaviour, profile and page on a per conversation basis.

4. Automated assistance is never a “set-it-and-forget-it” solution

Business rules and both live and automated scripts need to be continuously optimised and consolidated to feed the interaction with richer conversation.

Various KPIs and user experience stats should be leveraged to learn ways to improve virtual assistance as well as live chat and self-service guides.

As brands integrate virtual assistance into their customer experience, they should keep in mind that each time a customer is exposed to an improved experience, their expectations rise to an even higher standard.

Therefore, the core customer service objective of today’s brands is to provide customers with seamless, convenient and consistent experiences that meet or exceed expectations.


Sourced by George Skaff, VP of WW marketing, enterprise division, at Nuance

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...