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How to Choose the Right Type of Virtual Agent: Page 3 of 3

Intelligent Virtual Agent Buying Framework

Now that you know that virtual agents can have varying levels of intelligence, how do you choose the right type for your business?


Intelligence scale for virtual agents


This framework is a tool to help you assess where your business should fall on the spectrum of virtual agent capabilities -- and where you would eventually like to go, depending on your business drivers. By matching up your business needs with the relevant level of virtual agent intelligence needed to achieve your goals, you’ll have a solid framework to make a purchase decision on what level of virtual agent technologies to implement. Remember that virtual agents are highly customizable, allowing you to combine almost any skills with a set of tasks that can be automated. This model is intended to provide you with some examples to get you started.

  1. Business Need -- Determine what you’re currently looking to achieve with a virtual agent; what’s your business need now? What are your business goals in the future? Are they different than today’s? A broad range of agent skills and capabilities fall under the intelligent virtual agent umbrella; some companies will want to implement the entire spectrum over time, but for others, the full set of capabilities won’t ever be necessary or desirable.
  2. Virtual Agent Capabilities -- Match those business needs up with the virtual agent skills to help you determine the most relevant out-of-the-box virtual agent technologies for your company to consider. Repeat this process if your future business goals for your virtual agent evolve and grow over time -- for example, if you’re looking to cut costs today with a virtual agent, but anticipate growing the tool to delight your customers in the future.
Intelligent Virtual Agent Buying Framework
Decision Criteria Checklist
An intelligent virtual agent is built on an IVA platform, but not all IVA platforms are the same. The first few generations of AI-based virtual agent platforms are still around, delivering a “black box” that requires many, many hours of customized development, professional services, and data scientist resources for tweaking and maintaining complex AI models and conversational dialog flows. This has resulted in extended deployment times and inflated costs for companies that choose the wrong vendor.
The new generation of purpose-built, SaaS-based intelligent virtual agents offers a much better, more cost-effective and easier way to deploy virtual agents. Here’s what to look for when comparing intelligent virtual agent solutions:
  • Purpose-Built -- for customer care or sales
  • Omnichannel -- speech (voice) and chat (written text) interfaces, across a variety of customer touchpoints and channels, such as phone, websites, and messaging platforms
  • Build Once, Deploy Anywhere -- Ability to build the virtual agent once, then deploy to any channel with minimal changes
  • Speech Recognition and Text-to-Speech -- with easy access to hundreds of languages
  • Advanced NLP -- with integration to services like Google Dialogflow and IBM Watson
  • Technology Neutral -- your virtual agent solution should bring together access to all relevant vendors’ AI and speech tools with an easy-to-use visual front end
  • Future-Proofed Technology Access -- does the solution give you timely access to new innovations in speech, conversational AI, and natural language as they’re adopted in the market?
  • No Developers or Data Scientists Required -- Does the solution provide drag-and-drop, easy-to-use visual tools to create new tasks for your virtual agent? Can you build a virtual agent without coding? Even non-techies should be able to build new virtual agent tasks in minutes after minimal training
  • Pre-Built, Re-usable Task Library -- so you don’t start from scratch
  • Deploy and Build New Tasks in Minutes -- not weeks, months… or years! If you want to add new tasks such as appointment confirmations, bill payments, or account lookups, you should be able to build them quickly.
  • Easy Integration to Enterprise Systems -- ERP, billing, CRM, etc. Can you quickly look up a customers’ information and personalize the response as needed?
  • Enterprise Ready -- is the solution scalable to hundreds of thousands or millions of interactions? Does it provide security and authentication capabilities? Is it reliable?
Virtual agents are rapidly coming of age; picking the right one can save you time, money, and improve your relationship with your customers. To learn more about how intelligent virtual agents can benefit your particular business you might also want to take a look at this helpful guide.