Virtual agents have become a large part of today’s customer experience. We interact with these AI-based applications almost daily, sometimes even without knowing it. The industry talks a lot about the intelligence and functionality behind virtual agents. There is another important aspect to consider too: the presentation of the system.
Many customer service centres measure virtual agents’ performance by efficiency, speed and resolution times. But it takes more than that to earn customer trust and loyalty. Because we humans are social animals, we rate a conversation based on personal traits like sense of humour, personality and tone of voice. The conversation feels more natural when we can recognise these traits in a virtual agent.
Attributing human qualities to nonhuman entities is by no means a new concept. Think of Bambi or Mickey Mouse for example. Most cartoon characters have human characteristics to make them more appealing to the audience. It’s called anthropomorphism.
Leave your customer feeling hugged
The number one reason to give virtual agents a personality is to deliver better customer experiences. A satisfied customer should feel like they were given a big hug. The impact is quite the opposite if the agent answers questions mechanically without any signs of personality or emotion. It can leave the customer feeling undervalued.
A good virtual agent that boosts your CSAT score is like a good human agent; friendly, personable and able to hold a seamless conversation flow. Most virtual agents don’t have faces but they all have either a voice or a text box. Start creating a persona around small nuances like personable accent, tone of voice, dialect and behaviour. Think of words, music choices and the overall experience from the very first moment a customer contacts your company. It all adds up to create that feel-good experience of being hugged.
Just remember, the goal here is to mimic human conversations, not to trick people into believing they’re interacting with a human. Because you would almost always get caught.
Integrate brand values and image
The knowledge behind virtual agents can be very similar. A banking digital agent has industry-specific knowledge and a deep understanding of terminology. It’s programmed to know the ins and outs of overdraft. But compare HSBC and Lloyds, for example, and you will notice the agents have very different personas. They are personalised to match the bank’s corporate brand.
McDonalds’ hiring assistant Olivia is ready to help candidates with their job hunt.
A virtual agent represents the company to its customers, just like any customer service professional. Big corporate entities, such as Virgin Media, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola, are very good at incorporating corporate image and values into everything they do, including customer service. They know that it’s the key to customer loyalty.
It’s good to involve marketing teams in the process from early on when talking about brand and values. They make sure that the virtual agent is on brand and says the right things from a marketing and branding perspective. Some companies add an extra sprinkle of character by using copywriters and comedians to write compelling scripts into the conversation flow.
Think of Alexa with the personality of Gordon Ramsay.
Are you ready to hire a virtual agent with a personality?
Implementing a virtual agent is like any recruitment process. You want a candidate whose skill set and character fits the role and the company culture. The goal is to design a virtual agent that is like your best customer service agent on their best day (except they can operate 24/7 without a break or a holiday).
Partners like BrightCloud Group help you understand the AI landscape and find a developer that fits your needs. We work with a number of AI suppliers that are the best-of-breed for their value proposition. Whether you decide to partner with an advisor, or work directly with the developer, here’s one thing to keep in mind: don’t buy a chatbot, buy an AI strategy. Avoid companies that replicate the same cookie-cutter solution to 100s of companies.
Contact the BrightCloud Group team today and let our experts build a virtual agent that reflects your corporate image and brings your brand to life.