5 Best Practices for Deploying an Intelligent Virtual Assistant

customers can get quick answers regardless of the channel. There is nothing more aggravating than having to change devices to ask a question. Avoid customer frustration by providing a consistent multichannel customer service experience.


While the design of an intelligent virtual assistant should never trump effectiveness and accuracy, deploying this technology gives you an opportunity to give your branding a boost on your Web site. As you think through the user interface on your Web site, you can design your virtual agent to enhance familiarity and recognition of your brand, promote interaction and self-service, and increase consumer adoption and use.

Many companies brand their intelligent virtual assistants with personas. For instance, Copa Airlines has Ask Ana, while Cornell University has Ask Ezra. Whether you deploy your intelligent virtual assistant using a static avatar or a voice capability, there is no right or wrong strategy. The key is to ensure that it fits with your overall corporate culture, branding, and objectives.

Intelligent Virtual Assistants, Site Search, or Both

If you currently have a site search function embedded within your Web site, you need to consider if the introduction of an intelligent virtual assistant will change your search strategy. Presenting both a search box and an "ask a question" box can lead to confusion for your customers. As a best practice, replace your site search with the intelligent virtual assistant.

Recent technological developments now allow you to deploy a single federated search or assisted search option that leverages the powerful virtual assistant technology in addition to your Web site's existing search functionality. In some cases, especially when site search can't be removed or minimized, this, too, can be a good approach as it minimizes any end user confusion by presenting to the consumer a single option.

Voice of the Customer Insights

An intelligent virtual assistant is a fount of knowledge about your customers. The questions that customers ask provide valuable information about where they are running into trouble, what they find confusing, and what they are looking for from your brand. On the back end, you should have a robust reporting system that allows you to identify which questions are trending in real time so that you can fix problems quickly. For instance, if customers keep asking how to activate a credit card, this probably means you should make activation instructions more visible on the Web site. Also, the more visual the reporting is, the more useful and actionable it will be to members of your team. While raw data can be difficult to parse by people who do not have technical backgrounds, companies can overcome this by arming their employees with a system that generates accessible, interactive graphs and charts.

Regardless of how your intelligent virtual assistant is presented, what matters most is its ability to understand the intent behind the millions of questions it will be receiving, its ability to instantly match them with an accurate response, and the insights you can gather from these interactions. Equipped with this powerful technology, you will be able to better engage with your customers and provide them with a quick, streamlined way to ask questions across all your platforms.

Mike Hennessy is the vice president of marketing at IntelliResponse.

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