The magic of virtual assistants

Scott Rigdon, technology writer, Vonage, explains what virtual assistants are, the different types, and how they can transform contact centres.

Customers today expect more from the businesses they interact with — quicker responses, more personalisation, seamless multichannel communications, and the like. And virtual assistants can be a powerful tool to help you meet these growing demands.

So, what are virtual assistants? An AI virtual assistant is a digital, personal software-based agent that assists in performing simple daily activities like setting clock alarms, scheduling an appointment, making calls, typing messages, and so on.

In the business world, AI virtual assistants combine access to business and communication data with automated actions that support today’s workforce.

Tools available to virtual assistants include:

  • Natural language understanding (NLU) — Users can ask for what they need using only their voice. Additionally, NLU can help with real-time transcriptions of meetings or translating spoken conversations.
  • Computer vision — Advanced virtual assistants can use a camera to see who enters a meeting space, then adjust the room settings to match that person’s preferences or needs.
  • Automation — Virtual assistants can work with automatic triggers to deliver various types of support for customer service, e.g., pulling up data about specific customers or topics when requested by a team member.

Chatbots are automated programs used to interact with people via text or voice. This AI-powered software simulates human conversations and is primarily used by organisations to enrich customer service programs, allowing customers to clarify queries regarding a product, get product-related information, and more.

Both AI virtual assistants and chatbots have limitations. While NLU is getting better all the time, it’s not perfect. Likewise, there can be a lack of personalisation or emotion that a human can provide. Customer questions that are too specific or are unclear can lead to misunderstandings.

But, because they’re always on, can handle huge amounts of enquiries, and a host of other factors, these digital solutions represent proven assets to deliver customer service.

Find out more about the Vonage Partner Network and how to join here.