It’s been years since companies like Microsoft and Facebook jumped into the race for the best digital assistant. At that point, Apple had already sported the lackluster Siri option for years. Google’s virtual assistant had also been busily paving the way for voice search and other automated activities.
In the years that have passed since then, digital assistants have become ever more important. Many companies have developed their own answers to voice command and other AI-driven assistants. Third-party vendors have also created digital solutions that companies can implement within their existing businesses. This has opened up a new world of possibilities.
However, an expanding global customer base and the increased focus on personalization have made using these cutting-edge technologies challenging at times. It’s become essential that businesses optimize their digital assistant for the different demographics that will utilize it. Here are a few suggestions for ways to get that process started.
Understanding Digital Assistants
Before diving into optimizing your digital assistant, it’s worth breaking down what digital assistants are and how they can help. This is important to keep in mind when optimizing your digital assistant.
Countless businesses benefit from the use of digital agents. These pieces of software are, in a nutshell, “a computer program leveraging artificial intelligence that can understand a variety of inputs (text, voice, data) in order to answer questions and carry out tasks for an individual."
On a broader scale, digital assistants can answer an endless variety of questions. They can tell a user how to get somewhere, what’s going on in their calendar, the local temperature, or random trivia about their favorite actor. On a more business-specific level, digital assistants can help an enterprise reduce customer service costs while setting up 24/7 computer-generated service for its customer base.
Digital assistants aren’t just on smartphones, either. They exist in many different forms as they utilize AI and existing data to answer customer queries.
For instance, websites also use digital assistants, with many companies installing autonomous text chat assistants right onto their home page. Other companies also set up entire Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVAs) to help them manage customer service inquiries at any time of the day or night.
The Unique Power of Digital Assistants
Digital assistants aren’t just another fun piece of tech to integrate into a business’s processes. They offer a powerful, one-of-a-kind solution to the increasingly convoluted world of technology.
Digital assistants reduce the number of touchpoints for a consumer. They cut through the clutter of options and find the most applicable answer. This helps to streamline the customer journey and makes a positive omnichannel customer experience more possible.
However, in order to tap into this unique benefit, digital assistants must be set up to accept input in an effective manner. If they aren’t able to understand what a customer wants, it’s difficult for them to provide the correct solution. That’s where optimization comes into play.
Ways to Optimize Your Digital Assistant
As already mentioned, there are multiple forms that a digital assistant can take. They could be a text-driven bot on your website or an audible menu on your customer service line. In either case, when a business uses a digital assistant, it’s a good idea to optimize it so that it can deftly work with a diverse number of circumstances and situations. You should try to account for things like location, culture, and language, in particular.
If set up properly, these limitations won’t hold back a digital assistant. On the contrary, a human agent can be hamstrung by something like an inability to speak another language. Once optimized, though, a digital assistant won’t have issues with these common human shortcomings.
In addition, a human being can slip into biases and preconceived notions. These cultural proclivities can make communication difficult at times. However, a well-equipped digital assistant can function as a neutral intermediary between your brand and all of your customers.
With all of that said, there are a few ways that you can ensure that your digital assistant is as equipped as possible to handle the various customer situations it may face.
Offer Language Options
One of the simplest ways to optimize your digital assistant is to offer a language selection. If you know that a significant portion of your audience speaks Spanish or French, offer digital assistant solutions in those languages.
Just make sure to present the language choice early in your virtual menu. That way, a customer can find their preferred language right away.
Calls to action are helpful in narrowing down what the customer needs. For instance, a menu can include CTAs like “call us now” or “book an appointment.” These cues should be simple and clear.
At these early stages in answering a customer’s question, the last thing you want to do is launch into a nuanced angle about their predicament. Offering direct and succinct CTAs, like “get directions” or “check your account balance,” can help your system overcome demographic barriers.
It’s important to integrate plenty of keywords into your digital assistant system. Structure your website content and other databases with keywords that are clear and concise.
This can make it easy for your digital assistant to connect the need of a customer with a specific resource or answer that can solve their problem.
Whether it’s through fancy GPS tracking or asking a customer for input, geography is also worth consideration. Often, physical distance can lead to distinct demographic differences.
If your digital assistant is handling requests from people in different places, you can use their location to help narrow down the options and solutions that are offered.
Customer service is a subtle and nuanced art at times. Differences in communication, location, and culture can make consistent service difficult.
However, adding an optimized and effective digital assistant to your customer service toolkit is a great way to overcome these challenges.
By setting up your Intelligent Virtual Agent or some other digital assistant with CTAs, keyword-filled data, and language and geography options, you equip it with the capability to handle a variety of customer inquiries.
You also create an initial level of customer service that can function above the biases and limitations of human representatives, as well.
Larry Alton is a professional blogger, writer, and researcher. A graduate of Iowa State University, he's now a full-time freelance writer and business consultant. Currently, Larry writes for Entrepreneur.com, Inc.com, and Forbes.com, among others. In addition to journalism, technical writing and in-depth research, he's also active in his community and spends weekends volunteering with a local non-profit literacy organization and rock climbing. Follow him on Twitter (@LarryAlton3), at LinkedIn.com/in/larryalton, and on his website, LarryAlton.com. Read Larry Alton's Reports — More Here
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