Virtual Customer Assistants – What are they?

“A Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA) is a software application that replicates organic conversation and delivers information to customers in voice or text- based form over various mediums like web, mobile application, messaging and peer-to-peer communication. A VCA merges natural-language processing and conversational artificial intelligence to adapt to the content and context of user input.”

Keeping true to their name, VCAs are used as a middleman between organization and customer for provision of help in form of basic information, account management and problem resolution. Virtual customer assistants are a type of conversational interface that adopt a human approach to communicate with users and receive information. They create an illusion of two individuals conversing casually to put a customer at ease.

Research has proven that when a user is oblivious of the technological aspect of backend processes, they feel more confident in supplying information. So, automation technology that can generate trust, loyalty and confidence in customers has become the goal for organizations all over the world.

Benefits of using a Virtual Customer Assistant to reach customers

  • They never stop working – For global or multinational companies that have customers spread across the globe, VCAs ensure 24*7 service. Replacing oddly times shifts for human agents, VCAs provide partial, if not complete, closure and manage to keep customers on hold.
  • Multiple points of contact – Even though humans can attend to one request at a time, VCAs are not limited in a similar way. Manifold customers can be sending in requests to a VCA from their respective computer or mobile devices and receive quick and comprehensive response. Hence, a VCA clearly has more reachability than traditional customer service agents.
  • Consistency and dependability – Running on carefully constructed algorithms, a VCA rarely makes a mistake. Their design may limit capability to perform certain functions, but when assigned a task within their reach, the scope for errors is negligible.

A vital steppingstone in customer journey automation, VCAs are, by no means, limited to distribution of information. The functionality of a virtual customer assistant can be expanded to perform complex tasks such as

  1. Account handling
  2. Application submissions
  3. Automation of payments and refunds
  4. Renewal of memberships
  5. Feedback collection
  6. Sales Generation
  7. Product recommendation
  8. Scanning of dockets
  9. Tracking orders
  10. Appointment scheduling

VCA or Chatbot – Is one better than the other?

Seeing as Chatbots and VCAs are customer user interfaces that overlap slightly in functionality, one may be left wondering if the former is superior. While scaling a business and adopting automation technology, it can be puzzling to make the proper choices. However, in this case, there is quite a simple solution.

While a chatbot can handle simple tasks like resetting passwords, answering FAQs or supplying possible solutions to a customer, more complex tasks like account management and data recording can only be done by a virtual customer assistant. Therefore, depending on the complexity of tasks an organization expects to automate, a combination of Chatbots, VCAs and other conversational user interfaces would be the most suitable choice.

Advances in integration of software now make it possible to seamlessly execute and perfect customer relationship management automation. Collecting real-time information and harvesting data from APIs (Application Programming Interface) allows a VCA to build customer profiles and condense the information, promotional offers and solutions visible to them.
Virtual Customer Assistants and other conversational user interfaces are revolutionizing the customer servicing and relationship management front of organizational operation. They have changed the way organizations interact with customers and vice-versa by making customer experience the focal aspect of quality determination.