What Is an Intelligent Virtual Assistant, and How Can It Benefit Your Company?




What Is an Intelligent Virtual Assistant, and How Can It Benefit Your Company?

This article was first published in Smart Selling Tools, and it is reprinted with the author’s permission. The piece has since been updated to reflect technological advancements.

We are in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution. Disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) have been made possible by the convergence of connectivity, data, and processing power. While we are only scratching the surface of what AI can do, we are seeing an increasing number of businesses – from small startups to large corporations – offering specialized AI applications.

Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) are a type of specialized AI that has recently gained a lot of traction. But what is an Intelligent Virtual Assistant, exactly?

Continue reading to learn more about what an Intelligent Virtual Assistant is and how businesses can use it to improve efficiency and revenue growth.

What Is an Intelligent Virtual Assistant, and How Does It Work?

Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) are the next generation of intelligent automation, allowing businesses to scale personal interactions in order to attract, acquire, and retain customers.

IVAs allow businesses to provide a personalized experience to all of their contacts, leads, and customers. The ability to communicate in a human-like manner represents a significant advancement over how businesses have previously interacted with contacts, which has been limited by employee capacity or largely generic mass email programs up until recently.

Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and Natural Language Generation are essential components of an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (NLG). This, according to Dr. Sid Reddy, SimpSocial’s Chief Scientist, entails having a system that precisely classifies intents and entities. By intent, we mean the end-goal user’s – what is the customer trying to accomplish? That intent’s context is provided by the entity. In other words, an entity is the data that is useful in responding to the user’s request.

Machine learning, which refers to a computer’s ability to learn without being explicitly programmed and become “smarter” as more information is received, is another important component of an IVA. Human languages are incredibly complex – whether you speak English, Spanish, Mandarin, or any of the world’s 6,000+ languages, language is nuanced and ever-changing.

Consider the various methods for requesting information. “Where are you located?” I might inquire if I need to get to a specific restaurant. or “Can you tell me your address?” or even “Can you tell me where I can find you?” Even if the entities differ, all of the variations of this question have the same intent. If you’re looking for an AI solution that can deliver human-like messages, look for applications that include machine learning, natural language understanding, and natural language generation.

In addition, you might want to inquire if potential IVA providers:

Have a lot of information? (information shared by people in conversations). This data will be used by an AI solution, such as an Intelligent Virtual Assistant, to improve language understanding and generation while also providing useful analytics.

Allow you to customize interactions and conversations to some extent.

Integrate with your current IT infrastructure. If you already have a CRM system or a marketing automation tool, make sure the IVA solution you’re considering will integrate with it so you can have a single source of data.

Incorporating Intelligent Virtual Assistants into the Workplace

To optimize key functions, businesses of all sizes and industries are turning to AI, intelligent automation, and specifically Intelligent Virtual Assistants. Sales is one traditional aspect of business that is getting a technological boost. Rather than relying on your workforce to reach out and follow up with interested prospects, an Augmented Workforce, which combines IVAs and people, automates this important but time-consuming task.

It’s important to remember that using an IVA to handle initial contact and lead engagement does not replace employees; rather, it allows them to better manage their time. Sales reps spend only 37% of their time selling, according to InsideSales.com. This means that the majority of a Salesperson’s time is spent on activities that do not generate revenue, such as administrative tasks (dealing with internal policies and approvals) and researching target accounts and contacts. Your Salespeople will be able to focus on high-value work that they actually enjoy by automating these repetitive tasks.

As customer expectations for prompt, courteous, and personalized communications rise, businesses must meet or exceed those expectations to earn the customer’s business. It only makes sense to invest in a solution that can deliver that much-desired prompt, personalized attention at a large scale.

The good news is that we’ve arrived at a point where we can use Intelligent Virtual Assistants to make customers feel as if they’re being heard and their needs are being met. That’s a competitive advantage your company can’t afford to overlook.






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