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Understanding Virtual Agents and Their Role

Many technologies have been designed for contact centers, and each of them has a specific role in customer service. But for a business owner who is unfamiliar with these solutions, they can be quite daunting. And because different businesses benefit from different technologies, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. 

As a result, it’s essential that you understand what these technologies are and what their roles should be within a contact center. Whether you want to focus on improving customer service, boosting your KPIs, or giving your agents a break from the customer service calls piling up around them, you’ll need to determine for your company which technologies will make the biggest difference.

Virtual agents are one of these technologies. While they can be very useful for certain tasks, they are by no means the right solution for every situation. Like any other technology, virtual call center agents have a number of advantages and disadvantages. Read our Definitive Guide to Contact Center Automation.

What is a Virtual Call Center Agent?

An intelligent virtual agent (IVA) is a rule-based self-service tool that takes care of customer service requests. It communicates information, directs customers to websites, and sometimes helps customers resolve issues. However, it can’t handle multiple questions at the same time or resolve the majority of customer requests. As a result, a virtual support agent often results in lower customer satisfaction. 

What is an AI-Powered Virtual Agent?

Many CCaaS platforms have integrated IVA into their customer call center solutions. These virtual agents use artificial intelligence for friendly communication and problem resolution. While AI-enabled virtual agents can be quite useful within a contact center, they are a more primitive solution compared to newer technology. 

Replicant’s cloud-based contact center automation solution, for example, is able to do all an AI-powered virtual agent can – and more. Contact center automation uses artificial intelligence to its fullest potential, creating the possibility for “self-service through human language”, according to Forbes. Because it aims for resolution rather than deflection, Replicant eliminates the need for agent involvement in the majority of customer requests. 

What Do Virtual Agents Do?

Virtual agents were designed to solve an ongoing contact center issue: a shortage of human agents. Contact centers often struggle with high call volumes as there aren’t enough agents to handle them. As a result, customers find themselves either struggling to get a bot to understand them or waiting hours for a human agent to become available. 

Created to resolve very basic customer calls, virtual agents free live agents so that they can take care of other requests. While, for some industries, virtual agents make clear communication and great customer service possible, they are often inadequate. They take some of the load off agents’ shoulders, but customers continue to find themselves stuck in an IVR cycle or waiting for an agent. 

When Should a Virtual Agent Be Considered?

When deciding on a contact center solution, think about the type of customer service requests you receive on a daily basis. Do they tend to be essentially the same questions, or do you often receive multi-faceted and complex requests? Let the answer to that question factor into your decision between a virtual rep and other solutions, like contact center automation.

Harvard Business Review suggests thinking about whether or not your business really needs the help of bots. However, if you determine that a contact center solution would make a big difference, keep in mind that virtual support agents can only handle a certain level of complexity. Artificial intelligence and automation solutions have advanced a long way within the past couple of decades – and they’ll continue to improve. If it makes sense for your company, use the latest cutting-edge technology to keep your business as up-to-date as possible. 

Try Replicant’s Solution

If you’re considering virtual agents as a contact center solution, you might want to consider Replicant as an alternative. With a more holistic and customizable approach to automation, Replicant has been the answer to customer service issues across a variety of industries, improving contact center automation ROI and enhancing customer service. 

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