Today’s virtual agents don’t look the same as several years ago, when the best we could expect was a simplistic bot that could only respond to the most basic queries. Recent innovations have taken the virtual agent to the next level, allowing human agents to use it as a partner and source of information. Companies have increasingly been integrating chatbots into their communications process, helping to engage customers. Meanwhile, they’ve also been applying virtual agents across channels, improving the omnichannel experience across social media platforms and company apps. In a recent study, 80% of customers said they have positive experiences with virtual agents.

Still, there’s room for improvement, especially as customers’ behaviors and expectations change over time. The state of the virtual agent will improve over the next few years as technology continues to advance. Experts expect several exciting new virtual assistant trends in the upcoming years.

Trend 1: Increasing Levels of Self Service on Any Device

Just as self-service skyrocketed when the COVID-19 pandemic began, it will only continue to be vital for organizations to succeed. Many customers have become accustomed to this method of communicating with brands. According to CXBuzz, self-service is developing into a highly competitive area for consumer acquisition. Customers want to interact with brands on their own terms, and having multiple self-service tools to explore across channels will convince them that the brand can genuinely offer what they want.

Experts from CXBuzz also expect self-service solutions to become increasingly smartphone centric. Customers browse and make purchasing decisions on multiple devices, especially smartphones. Organizations who want to stay relevant to this increasingly mobile customer population will need to ensure that their virtual agent solutions are a seamless part of the smartphone experience.

Trend 2: Growing Trust in Virtual Agents

In a recent survey of 1,000 consumers, 60% said that they lack enthusiasm for chatbots, even though they’ve had mostly positive experiences with the technology. Further, 43% said that in order to improve, chatbots need to get more accurate in understanding what customers are looking for. One reason customers may be wary is that chatbots in the past weren’t good enough to ensure a good experience, according to the paper “The Future of the Enterprise Intelligent Assistants.” Future technologies must convince customers otherwise to build up interest and enthusiasm.

Luckily, recent innovations in virtual agents make it easier to accomplish these goals. The future of virtual agents offers brands a chance to create a more effective chatbot experience for consumers. Some of these major trends impacting the customer experience are artificial intelligence, machine learning and natural language processing. NLP essentially makes it easier and more natural for customers to interact with virtual agents. As NLP improves, customers’ trust will grow.

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Trend 3: More Opportunities to Give Customers An Individual Experience

Customer service teams have been chasing personalization for a long time, and current technologies allow virtual agents to go deeper than ever before. WIth data integration and the ability to create increased accurate customer profiles, chatbots can access all the information they need about a customer’s journey with the brand.

Omnichannel is an increasingly important part of communication, especially since customers have their own individual communication preferences. Omnichannel capabilities are growing to create a strong, consistent customer experience across channels. With a smoother pathway toward solving inquiries, customers don’t have to repeat information, and agents can pick up where they left off. The answers and level of customer support that customers receive should be identical across channels, and more companies are getting closer to this goal.

It’s Time to Adopt a Forward-Thinking Virtual Assistant

With virtual agents improving over time, companies have a lot to gain. Not only do customers benefit, but virtual agents can cut customer service costs by 30%, with a potential to save brands $23 billion in the U.S. According to a recent report, the inclusion of innovative technology such as AI in contact center solutions is driving the most rapid pace of change ever experienced in the service sector. The Intelligent Virtual Assistant by Interactions is a prime example of how this type of solution can vastly improve the quality of your customer service. With the ability to deliver natural conversations across channels and understand what customers are trying to say, the Intelligent Virtual Assistant can take customers through a more forward-thinking version of the chatbot experience.

Download “The Future of the Enterprise Intelligent Assistants” here.