In the ever changing business landscape you have to watch for new trends closely if you want to find opportunities that can improve your company’s efficiency. You need to stay flexible and always be ready to change if you want to get the best shot at becoming successful. One of the new trends which should be brought to the attention of the vigilant business owner is the boom for virtual assistant services. So how can a virtual assistant help your business?
Let's start with the basics and explain what a virtual assistant does.
What are virtual assistants?
Chatbots. Virtual customer assistants. Virtual agents. Avatars. There are many names given to what is basically a bot answering customer questions. The fact that there isn’t even a standard name for this kind of service proves that it is fairly new. Which is a good news for any entrepreneur interested in being the first to employ a new technology, or anyone who wants to make money on improving it.
Virtual Assistants (let’s call them that from now on) are a kind of bots which provide information to customers. They answer questions and guide clients through different processes, be it something simple, like ordering a meal, or more complex like filling a multipage form. They are usually equipped with pretty advanced Artificial Intelligence scripts and can use voice recognition software to understand what customers are saying.
The technology has gained traction in the last few years. Apple uses Siri a virtual assistant, in their products. Microsoft has Cortana in related services and Google has Alexa on their payroll. Many more companies, like Taco Bell, are introducing their own bots.
The fact that food chains are starting to use virtual assistants shows that the usefulness of this new kind of technology goes beyond its initial use as experimental projects or mascots for huge corporations. Nowadays having a bot guideing customers while they browse your company's website is a prospect that many business owners have to consider if they want to be up to the date.
Those virtual assistants are becoming more capable with each passing year and before we know it they may become a standard feature being used for interacting with services. It is better to learn about the technology now, rather than risking falling behind your competition.
The benefits of using virtual assistants
So, how a virtual assistant can help your business? Virtual assistants just like all bots can automate the work needed to run your company. This way you will save some of your employees’ time, which can be focused on different tasks. Moving human resources to different parts of your enterprise will make it run more effectively.
Bots can be used to personalize user experience. For example, CNN uses a news bot, which provides cable news audience with information they may consider relevant based on the history of news segments they have watched and topics they like to follow.
There is a Kasisto virtual assistant which can answer questions to customers of a bank. It has a deep financial knowledge and shares it with the users.
There are virtual assistants like x.ai which are capable of scheduling meetings. X.ai will talk with people you want to meet with at your location. Based on your preferences and an existing schedule it will negotiate the best date for you. You will automatically get the appointment date marked on your calendar and all you need to do is to acknowledge, that it has been added to your busy schedule.
As you see from the examples above, virtual assistant, as all software, can be modified to fit the needs of a company which employs it. As the time progresses, the number of ready to use options will increase, as well as the capabilities of the changing, existing applications.
Some customers prefer human interactions to conversing with machines. Companies know this and try to humanize their bots as much as possible. They give them names and genders and try to install some identity, but they are still just bots. They try to act like humans, often with good results, but many people still feel uneasy talking with them.
Many business owners are afraid that virtual assistant may make mistakes and lower the quality of their services. The possibility of this decreases every year, but still should be taken into account.
Now you can see how a virtual assistant can help your business. As technology changes it may often be difficult to keep your business up to the date. Virtual assistants are a relatively new phenomenon, but their use spreads quickly and you should seriously consider if using this kind of technological solution will improve your business. In many cases it would. Even if, after carefully considering all advantages and disadvantages of using a bot, you decide that your business will be better off sticking to traditional methods of communication with your customers, you should constantly keep an eye on this new, quickly evolving technology. Otherwise you can miss the most optimal point for your company to implement the new virtual assistant software.