BizMisconnect: Intelligent virtual assistants save time (and the day) for busy consumers

In today’s always-on digital world, consumers have little patience with businesses that waste their time. Missed opportunities to provide easy ordering or streamlined customer service have significant ramifications, impacting revenue, loyalty and operating expense. Intelligent virtual assistants can help companies prevent this common BizMisconnect by creating effortless, intuitive experiences on web and mobile. Discover how one virtual assistant is saving families one pizza at a time.
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Delivering effortless self-service with intelligent virtual assistant technology.

With my iPhone providing instant answers to random questions (“What is a crepinette?) and YouTube offering DIY tutorials for just about everything, I find myself impatient with sales and service encounters that don’t make it easy for me to serve myself. It’s not that I don’t enjoy my morning banter with the Starbucks baristas, but with so many demands on my time, I place a premium on experiences that are fast and convenient.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating BizMisconnect occurs when businesses make it difficult for consumers to do business with them. Our recent research shows that while nearly nine in 10 American consumers have used an automated self-service system, their top desires all centered around technology that makes things easier, including:

  • Phone systems that can understand and navigate them to answers (42 percent)
  • A better way to search and find information on a company website (37 percent)
  • Proactive customer service systems that anticipate their needs (28 percent)
  • Virtual assistant technology to advise them on customer service issues (19 percent)

With consumers increasing turning to the web or a mobile app first, it’s increasingly important for businesses to make these channels easy to use and productive for consumers. Many companies are implementing intelligent virtual assistants to provide happy endings to everyday situations, as well as nightmare scenarios, such as the one in the video below:

When eleven ravenous boys flood into your house unexpectedly, rapidly placing a pizza order becomes mission critical. That’s the beauty of an intelligent virtual assistant like Dom, who has transformed the pizza-ordering experience for Domino’s Pizza customers. By allowing customers to order pizza through their mobile app by speaking naturally, Domino’s has reduced the steps required and shortened the process significantly. And that’s just one pepperoni-powered example of how intelligent virtual assistants can make a difference for customers.

Think for a moment about the effort involved in finding answers on a company website. As a consumer, it’s frustrating to first guess at which keywords and phrases will yield results, and then scroll through a multitude of search results, hoping my answer is listed. Churn becomes a real concern if the process becomes too cumbersome – after all, alternative offerings are only a Google search away. To keep pace with customer expectations, many companies have introduced virtual assistants to engage, guide and quickly provide consumers with relevant answers. Wendy, the virtual assistant at Windstream, successfully responds to both simple and complex questions, including those about wireless networking, email set up, device troubleshooting and even helps customers understand their bills. Just 90 days after going live, Wendy was handling an average of 24,000 conversations a month and delivering a 72% first contact resolution rate.

Just the other day, USAA introduced the first proactive virtual assistant, designed as a Savings Coach to help Millennials improve their savings rate. Using a conversational interface, the app enables users to track when they skip purchases, like buying coffee, and moves the money from their checking to their savings account. Members are rewarded through points, badges and achieving new levels within the app. Nearly 800 USAA members, between 18-24, participated in a four-month pilot. Collectively they saved close to $120,000, an impressive accomplishment when you consider Moody’s Analytics data reveals their peers have a negative 2% savings rate.

Our ‘pizza emergency’ scenario is a humorous example of how complexity in the sales or service process can result in a BizMisconnect. However the ramifications from failing to offer effortless self-service are no laughing matter. Businesses risk falling behind their competition, jeopardizing their market position and missing an opportunity to reduce their call center costs. Virtual assistants create an intuitive experience, allowing consumers to express themselves naturally – by typing or speaking – and quickly accomplish their objective. As virtual assistants rapidly become more sophisticated, evolving to offer more personal engagement, they represent the experience more consumers will prefer.

Be sure to check back at our other BizMisconnect scenarios!

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Lynn Ridenour

About Lynn Ridenour

Lynn leads the solutions and channel marketing efforts for the Nuance Enterprise Division. She enjoys engaging with customers, learning about their businesses, listening closely to understand their challenges, and exploring how they are optimizing their customer care experiences. Lynn has spent more than 20 years working at the intersection of marketing and innovation. She’s a veteran of several venture-backed companies in the telecommunications, software, Internet and clean technology industries.