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Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) and their impact on the Contact Centre

Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA)

What are Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs)?


Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) are computer programs or software applications that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to interact with humans in a way that mimics human-to-human communication. They are also known as Virtual Assistants (VA) or chatbots.

IVAs can be used in a variety of settings, such as customer service, healthcare, education, and entertainment. They can be accessed through a range of devices, including websites, messaging apps, and voice assistants.


The Advantages of IVAs

The main advantage of IVAs is their ability to handle routine and repetitive tasks, such as answering frequently asked questions, processing orders, or scheduling appointments. This can free up human workers to focus on more complex or strategic tasks.


IVAs, have had a significant impact on contact centres in recent years. Here are some of the ways that IVAs have impacted contact centres:

  • Improved Customer Experience: IVAs can provide customers with quick and efficient responses to their queries. They can also be available 24/7, which means that customers can get the help they need at any time of the day or night. This has led to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

  • Increased Efficiency: IVAs can handle a large number of customer enquiries simultaneously, which means that contact centre agents can focus on more complex tasks. This has led to improved efficiency and productivity for contact centres.

  • Cost Savings: By automating routine tasks, IVAs have helped contact centres to reduce their operating costs. They can also reduce the need for human agents, which can lead to significant cost savings over time.

  • Data Collection: IVAs can collect and analyse customer data in real-time, which can help contact centres identify trends and improve their services. This data can also be used to personalise customer interactions and improve the overall customer experience.


Overall, IVAs have had a positive impact on contact centres by improving customer experience, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, and providing valuable customer data. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more benefits for contact centrers in the future.


So, do Customers like Intelligent Virtual Agents?


The acceptance of IVAs by customers depends on several factors, such as the quality of the interaction, the complexity of the problem, and the type of industry. However, studies suggest that the overall perception of IVAs by customers is positive.

Some customers like IVAs as they can provide quick and efficient assistance, and the fact that they are available 24/7, can be convenient for customers who need support outside of regular business hours. IVAs can also reduce the time and effort required to resolve issues, as they can handle routine tasks and answer frequently asked questions.

However, customers may have a negative perception of IVAs if the technology is not advanced enough to understand their queries, or if the interactions are impersonal or frustrating. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the IVA is well-designed and implemented to meet customer needs and expectations.

Overall, the use of IVAs has increased in recent years, and it is likely that this trend will continue as technology improves and customer acceptance grows.


The Disadvantages of Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs)


While IVAs have many advantages, as mentioned previously, there are also several disadvantages associated with them. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Limited Cognitive Ability: IVAs are not capable of complex reasoning or decision-making like humans. They can only respond based on pre-programmed rules, algorithms, or machine learning models, which may not be able to handle complex or unpredictable situations.

  • Lack of Empathy: IVAs may not be able to understand human emotions or empathise with customers, which can lead to frustration or dissatisfaction. Although some IVAs are designed to simulate empathy, they may not be as effective as human agents in creating a personal connection with customers.

  • Language Limitations: IVAs may have difficulty understanding accents, dialects, or colloquial expressions, which can result in miscommunication or confusion. Moreover, IVAs may not be able to understand and respond to all languages, which can limit their reach in multilingual environments.

  • Technical Glitches: IVAs are dependent on technology, and any technical glitches or malfunctions can cause delays, errors, or system crashes. This can lead to customer frustration and dissatisfaction.

  • Security and Privacy Concerns: IVAs may collect sensitive data, such as personal information or financial data, which can be vulnerable to hacking or misuse. Moreover, customers may be hesitant to share their information with a machine, which can affect their trust and confidence in the service.

  • Human Replacement: Some people may feel that IVAs are taking away jobs from humans, which can create social and economic concerns. Moreover, IVAs may not be able to replace the value and importance of human interaction, which can affect customer satisfaction and loyalty.


Conclusion


To summarise, IVAs in contact centres can provide many benefits to both businesses and customers. However, care should be taken to ensure they are implemented properly and used in conjunction with trained contact centre agents.


If you'd like to find out more about IVAs, why not get in touch with one of the team? After all, as winner of the SME Northern Enterprise Award for Cloud Communication MSP of the Year 2023, it's proven, we know what we're talking about!

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