A Virtual Assistant Doesn’t Just Answer, It Listens

Successful business people know the value of real-world experience: the more experience we accrue, the better we respond to both challenges and opportunities. We also know the importance of listening to customers and colleagues, and we’re aware that we have to avoid making assumptions about their preferences and behavior.

Successful Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) are like successful business people: they learn from experience and they listen to customers and colleagues.

When we build IVAs, we use proprietary language-analysis tools to categorize topics and unique ideas that are important to end users. Next, we gather natural language by capturing samples of how users articulate their intent. The more natural language gathered, the better the IVA is at understanding end users.

Put simply, we listen to end-users, rather than making assumptions.

This helps us bridge the gap between the information a business wants to share and the actual information that end users ask for. Think about how many times you’ve been to a website and not been able to find the information you need. Typically, that’s because the language you used to search the site wasn’t the same as the language the site used for a given piece of content.

IVAs offer a new paradigm for users on your site. They eliminate search in favor of a natural conversation. For that very reason, your IVA is only as good as its data, and there’s no substitute for real user data collected from IVAs deployed in the wild.

A successful IVA engages with an array of listening posts – points where end users interact directly with your company. Some of the most important listening posts are customer-support centers, web, mobile sites and mobile apps, but related resources include live-chat transcripts, website keyword search logs, twitter and more.

At Next IT, we’ve done this enough times over the past decade that we can deploy IVAs with vertical-specific expertise, out of the box. Next IT’s travel product, for example, addresses the most common service and support processes in the industry. But that doesn’t mean the IVAs stop listening once they’re deployed. Language has a funny way of changing with market trends, and your IVA can’t be frozen in time.

IVA implementations should be designed to keep listening and learning from your customers so that they refine their conversational skills and company-specific knowledge over time.

This is just like a successful business person. The evolving conversation with a colleague or customer is the foundation for a relationship, and ideally a relationship that evolves.

You learn and grow with your business. Ask nothing less of your IVA.