What Is an Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA)?

Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) are often confused with chatbots; however, IVAs are considerably more advanced than regular chatbots and can engage with a customer in a manner that mimics a human.

Instead of chatbots, more and more businesses talk about intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs). Both terms are often used synonymously, but there are clear differences. Chatbots imitate human dialogue to a certain extent but are limited by a given script. Whereas IVA’s initiate context-related, human-like dialogues:

If a user asks a question about an order and enters an order number, the IVA saves this information and can access it again later in the conversation. If the next question is about changing the delivery address, the bot still knows who is talking and what it is about. This means that intelligent assistants are able to save and use memories of a conversation.

IVAs can understand answers for which they have not been explicitly programmed using Natural Language Processing (NLP). Through the use of machine learning and deep learning, they also build up a larger vocabulary, understand colloquial formulations, and give precise and correct answers to inquiries. That's a clear advantage compared to traditional chatbots, as engaging customers in natural conversations helps to create a positive experience that sticks in the customer's mind.

How Intelligent Virtual Agents Help Businesses

IVAs can change the way that a business deals with its customers. Machines examine data and provide personalised insights to customers in a manner that simply cannot be matched by a customer service agent. By implementing this technology, businesses are able to deliver 24/7 support with almost no downtime. Customer issues can be resolved quickly and with minimum effort from customer service agents and customers themselves. AI helps businesses to tailor experiences to individual customers and keep track of their previous behaviours, which also helps to streamline interactions. Businesses save money by automating aspects of their customer service process as there are no costs associated with training new staff.

Intelligent Virtual Assistants and Customer Service

By introducing intelligent virtual agents, businesses can dramatically improve their customer service processes. The entire process of dealing with customer queries is streamlined as there is no need to be waiting in queues to speak to an agent, and finding the time to call during opening hours is no longer necessary as IVAs can respond to queries at any time. The impact that this has on a customer's experience is massive. Waiting in long queues either on the phone or for live chat support often leaves customers with a negative perception of the business. However, by introducing IVAs to lighten the load on human staff, businesses can almost completely eliminate wait times and help customers access the information that they require in a heartbeat.

 

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