The Power of Virtual Agents in Uncertain Times
Posted on April 6, 2020 by Jake Beyer

Online store, virtual agentsDuring this pandemic, I have had extra time to think about how to come out of this crisis full steam ahead, learning from the current situation, and anticipating shifts in organizational demands. I have been asking myself two questions:

  1. What can we do to handle the immediate shift in expectations in customer communication?
  2. What can we do after this to make sure we do not have to deal with the same issues again?

I keep coming back to the power of virtual agents and the necessity of utilizing voice and digital bots being the answer to both questions. Let me explain a bit…

Every single day, we are getting more information, more direction, and better messaging related to COVID-19. As a result, the messaging to our front line (the call center agent) has to be updated and changed regularly.  As we know, change in the contact center costs money and slows down handle time. Furthermore, the customers and/or patients are constantly calling in to hear more details about how COVID-19 affects them. So, we need to change our standard answers on a regular basis. When it comes to implementing this change, a managed bot makes it simple, easy to deploy, accurate, consistent, and addresses the business continuity demand we are all experiencing.

Looking forward to when things settle down, I can already imagine the initiatives companies will be pursuing: business continuity, scalability, and nimble/dynamic inbound/outbound messaging. Every one of these requests will have one main goal: increase the patient experience while reducing the cost in the contact center.

With the latest trends in technology, there is one that seems to stand out to handle both the requirements we need immediately, and the requirements we expect in the future. That technology is a virtual agent, or a bot.

Here’s a Quick Look at Virtual Agents

  • They live in the cloud
  • They have no client-side footprint
  • They are easy to spin up (typically 1-3 weeks for automating routine tasks).
  • They do not require a huge investment
    • Pay per usage = low risk
  • The virtual agent provider typically manages the solution completely
    • No need to worry about training and IT resourcing.
  • They provide 24 x 7 x 365 service (they never get sick)

In a nutshell, a virtual agent will provide a low cost, high efficiency agent with business continuity. The virtual agent will be able to solve call volume issues almost immediately, and set you up for future demand.

Prior to this pandemic, bots were on the rise. Now, more than ever, we need to consider the power of virtual agents and bots. In a previous post, somebody commented along the lines, “it is amazing that virtual agents were considered a ‘nice to have’ just a couple of months ago, and are now an absolute necessity”. I challenge you to weigh whether or not now is the time for a bot. Let me know if you need any help or have any ideas on how to automate in your organization.