By now you may have heard of Intelligent Virtual Assistants and understand the basic concepts of how this technology is a great advancement for businesses and consumers. But what does an IVA look like when it is functioning? What are the situations and platforms where you would find an IVA in action? Let’s take a look.
Intelligent Virtual Assistants Examples on Major Platforms
A popular usage of an Intelligent Virtual Assistant is for Appointment Applications. Let’s say you want to book an appointment at the hair salon. Historically you’d have to wait until they open and someone is there to answer the phone to call them. Today you can still call to make an appointment, and some businesses also have a web-based appointment program. Taking things even further with a single IVA, a business can set it up so that a customer can call, text, Facebook message or even webchat with the application in order to make an appointment.
A simplified way to think about IVAs is that it’s not what use case goes with what platform – it’s how can I, as a business, capture customers across all the channels they use to communicate? And how can I do that efficiently and cost-effectively?
An IVA is also not limited to the initial platform that a customer chooses to communicate with. Sometimes a customer will find the need to cross platforms when speaking with a business, and with a well-developed IVA it will be a seamless interaction. For instance, a patient could be on a text chat with a doctor’s office IVA to schedule a routine appointment. At some point they type in a symptom (i.e., ‘105 fever’) that triggers the need for a more urgent response. The IVA then triggers a phone to ring for an oncall doctor or nurse, or that professional can take over the text chat.
Benefits of IVA Versus Other Technologies
One of the biggest benefits of an IVA that a company like DiRAD offers over other technologies is that it is built using Google’s API. This programming interface is connected to vast AI resources and a speech recognition library. This means it is constantly learning and updating itself. Because of that, development resources needed for speech recognition is zero (unless you have a specialized domain where the words and phrases are unique to that space).
In most cases, development efforts can focus on the actual conversation and not the underlying technology. This can lead to lower costs and an increase in the situations the IVA can handle, as well as free up resources for other business needs.
When You May Want To Pause Before Using Intelligent Virtual Assistants
While we all agree that a properly developed and maintained IVA can benefit businesses and customers tremendously, there are some circumstances where an IVA might not be the best solution.
Since conversations need to be structured ahead of time, anything that requires free-form interactions would be difficult. Information and tasks must be finite. While AI and machine learning are terms thrown around with reckless abandon, IVA’s are still task-oriented, and those tasks must be anticipated during design and development time.
In other words, for the IVA to do something, that something had to be defined by a person during development. For example, Alexa Skills are tasks that are developed that perform specific functions – an IVA alone cannot understand something it wasn’t designed to understand, so a skill is built to handle it. And these skills are typically unique to your subject matter, business, and specific tasks you want to be able to define and control.
Sensitive areas such as emergency services, medical test results that require counseling, and other emotional scenarios are situations where automation may never be the best solution. It would be virtually impossible to develop a system for all types of emergencies to allow people to get the help they need quickly. An Intelligent Virtual Assistant may never be able to provide the empathy needed to help a patient through a difficult diagnosis. Of course with technological advancements this could all change, but for now businesses just need to make sure they are looking at the IVA from all perspectives before deciding to implement.
Want to talk more about how IVA can be integrated into your business? Talk to a DiRAD expert today. We’re excited about the evolving capabilities of Intelligent Virtual Assistants and how they will help business succeed in the future.