February 8, 2022
Virtual agents

Virtual agents: what are they and how do they work?

56% of companies say that conversational AI is driving disruption in their industry. Is your organization taking advantage of virtual agents?

Virtual agents are everywhere, and their popularity has grown exponentially in the past few years. Gartner estimates that 40% of enterprise applications will utilize conversational AI by 2023 – up from the 5% it is estimated at today.

If you are unfamiliar with virtual agents, you’ve come to the right place. At boost.ai, we pride ourselves on being a leader in the conversational AI realm. We offer the platform and technology needed to implement conversational AI and the resources businesses need to educate themselves on the ins and outs of chatbot implementation.

Chatbots are expected to drive $112 billion in retail revenue alone in 2023.  With how quickly virtual agents are taking over online customer service automation, it is important to consider how chatbots can revolutionize customer relations for your business. Keep reading to learn about virtual agents and how their speed and efficiency can positively transform your customer service.

In this article, you will discover:

  • What a virtual agent is, what it is capable of, and why they are transforming customer service automation.
  • How conversational AI gives virtual agents the ability to respond in personalized, human-like ways.
  • How a virtual agent can benefit your organization or business and how to get started.

Claim your FREE Chatbot Guide for Enterprise now! We provide the latest statistics, information, and facts regarding virtual agents and how chatbots benefit your business, workforce, and customers. 

Virtual agents, conversational AI & chatbots – Oh, my!

Virtual agents go by various names. They are often referred to as chatbots, conversational AI, intelligent assistance, conversational agents, and so forth. Depending on the vendor or solution, these names are interchangeable. 

At boost.ai, we prefer the term “virtual agent” since the term “agent” means “a person who acts on behalf of another company or group.” So, the term “virtual agent” covers a wide range of chatbot capabilities, functions, and uses.

What is a virtual agent?

A virtual agent is a type of software that uses natural language processing (NLP) to understand customer intent and search inquiries. They support the human employees in customer service departments by answering basic questions and performing standard procedures. 

With virtual agents available to take care of less complex customer inquiries, human agents are freed up to assist with more complicated customer requests.

How does a virtual agent work

As a digital customer service representative, chatbots respond to customers as though they were a real, live agent working for the company. 

They can assist with password recovery, account questions, sales recommendations, and solve a variety of customer problems. Some of the best features of chatbots are their ability to assist 24/7, answer questions instantly and accurately, and provide a positive customer experience due to their efficiency.

Virtual agents are mere digital assistants with one critical additional component – conversational AI. Conversational AI is an essential element that takes a virtual agent from a simple chatbot to a powerful, intelligent tool that helps customers with accuracy, ease, and instant responses.

The power of conversational AI

One of the best ways to understand how virtual agents and conversational AI work together is to compare them to a smartphone. A regular phone without the “smart” part has limited capabilities. It can only call, text, and do other basic functions. The smart part of your cellphone is the brains behind it, allowing for higher-level functions such as internet browsing and gaming.

Virtual agents, or chatbots, are like regular cellphones. They can perform basic functions and operations. With conversational AI, a virtual agent can do hundreds of advanced functions. Or, in this case, answer and act on thousands of online consumer inquiries.

Conversational AI gives chatbots the ability to scale, learn in real-time, and draw on a wealth of information. In one simultaneous moment, virtual agents powered by conversational AI can review a customer’s past purchases, answer the inquiry that brought them to the site in the first place, and make precise recommendations based on the customer’s history. 

These highly sophisticated chatbots can:

  • Interact with customers in a conversational manner.
  • Identify multiple intents in the same request and provide accurate answers to all inquiries.
  • Understand and respond appropriately to customer intents, regardless of the complexity of the request.
  • Understand context to keep interactions focused and to-the-point.
  • Ask clarifying and follow-up questions to gather actionable data.

The complex abilities of a virtual agent help increase consumer loyalty and overall satisfaction. Learn more about conversational AI and its benefits by visiting our blog article HERE.

Virtual agent modules

If your organization is new to the world of virtual agents, the best place to start for implementation is with virtual agent modules. A module is a pre-made framework that is equipped with content that is specific to an industry. Modules are developed so virtual agents can understand and perform standardized tasks right at implementation.

At boost.ai, our virtual agent modules have been used across banking, insurance, e-commerce, and various other industries. These modules are ready-made to support hundreds, and even thousands, of customer search inquiries and intents. 

Businesses get an immediate head start with their chatbot implementation when they use pre-made modules. Your business can focus on deploying and scaling conversational AI without having to start from scratch.

Learn more about our virtual agent modules and how they can benefit your organization by checking out our blog article HERE.

The Rise of the AI Trainer

Virtual agents are only as intelligent and capable as the humans behind them. Without human teams to power virtual agents, virtual agents are useless. 

Since their implementation, virtual agents haven’t taken jobs away from workers. Quite the opposite. While making it easier for customer service departments to manage heavy load inquiries, they have also created jobs within companies. 

One of the new jobs to come out of chatbot technology is what we call an AI trainer. AI trainers are responsible for managing and maintaining the company's virtual agent. This essential position makes it possible for virtual agents and human agents to work together efficiently.

To learn more about AI trainers and their role, visit our blog article HERE.

Ready to hire a virtual agent? Boost.ai is here to help!

A virtual agent transforms customer service processes and helps improve overall customer satisfaction ratings. As consumers are increasingly going online to spend and shop, virtual agents easily manage upticks in traffic and effortlessly assist consumers without hesitation or fatigue.

Chatbots work for any industry, including banks, telecommunications, insurance, e-commerce, and more. Boost.ai helps businesses implement virtual agents that give consumers personalized, instant, and 24/7 support.

Our case studies speak for themselves. Learn from businesses directly how boost.ai transformed their customer service by visiting our Case Study Page.

Further reading

Before you go, check out these other great resources:

Our Chatbot Guide for Enterprise provides even more in-depth information about virtual agents and their advantages. Grab a copy of your free guide HERE.

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