Tag: virtual agent

02 Mar 2017

What Can Your Business Learn about CX from the Latest in Smart Technology?

The gap between human support and digital self-service is narrowing more than ever. A survey of 97,000 customers showed that the most impactful way that businesses could improve is by making their customer’s lives easier.

Businesses should keep this in mind when implementing a digital strategy. While some technology seems to exist just because it can, there is no benefit to technology replacing something which already works. The goal should be improving on the status quo for an effective yet simple customer experience. Something quicker, something smarter, something new.

Oak Labs have a lot to teach us. The company are transforming the retail experience with their state of the art ‘smart mirrors.’ These allow customers to adapt the ambience of the changing room, choose items and sizes directly from the mirror itself, and interact with sales assistants who can help them with their purchases. Customers can also pay from the mirror, and have the items delivered to their homes. Behind the scenes, the company can benefit from the collection of data about which items are being tried on, which are abandoned and why.

Putting the Customer in the Driver’s Seat

The Oak Labs dressing room experience gives each customer autonomy to reach out to a sales assistant for help when they need it, moving between the retail website, the items in stock on the shop floor, and to human assistance where necessary. Tap in the item you want and the size you need, and a staff member will bring it to you immediately.

Many businesses are encouraging their customers to grasp the same flexibility and control with online support bots and virtual assistants. They connect on all channels, allowing your customers to reach out to you via your website, by mobile phone or app, and even from social media. Long term investor Danny Vena believes that 2017 “will be the tipping point for virtual personal assistants becoming part of most people’s daily lives” as natural language processing improves.

The intelligent support chat bots offer a space for your customers to start a conversation, enabling them to be transferred seamlessly to the right member of staff if the need for human-assisted channels arises and allowing agents to focus on the issues where their effort is better allocated, armed with prior information. Rather than technology replacing the human assistants, in both cases here customers can benefit from the digital and the human elements working seamlessly together. This creates a more efficient support team, getting the customer what they need faster.

Collecting the Data That Matters

Rebecca Minkoff is one of the companies who are currently trialling the smart mirrors, and their preliminary findings show that the lessons we can learn don’t end there. Uri Minkoff comments that the mirrors are worth their weight in gold in terms of analytics too. “You can really learn some truths other than what’s sold,” he says.

While retailers both online and off might be used to analysing the data of what sells, smart analytics gives you the opportunity to look at what doesn’t and why that might be.

Which pieces of clothing were taken into the changing rooms and abandoned? What extra sizes were asked for, and which other items were looked up or requested? Using this data, the Oak Labs mirror helps customers (retailers) realize which clothing has an awkward fit or is seen as too expensive, which items are bought to complement others, and which do visitors prefer to order direct to their homes, showing they are looking for a more anonymous service.

Your website analytics could have the same capabilities, giving you a visual overview of every interaction your customers have on every channel, and the questions that they ask, too. With the help of customer feedback and interactions, your business can learn about where the specific issues are which need attention. You can then use this data as actionable analytics to make the changes where they will have the most impact.

Empowering your Staff with the Support to Succeed

But this isn’t the only behind-the-scenes benefit of cutting-edge smart technology. Russell Acton, VP of Capriza, has recently written for the Huffington Post about the importance of updating legacy systems and giving our employees the best tools to keep up with modern day best practice. “Today’s workforce needs intuitive, simple and personalised technology at their fingertips… Poor IT equals poor productivity.”

Think about it. How long does it take your staff to find the answer to a query? What systems and processes do they have to sift through? How many clicks does it take? If the answer is more complex than the simple tasks you do throughout the day on your smart phone, then your staff are likely to be frustrated, and you could be improving productivity at your workplace.

Imagine the time and productivity benefits of one centralized knowledgebase. Available on all channels, and updated constantly with real-time information. Your staff is now empowered to interact with customers and give them consistent, accurate and efficient information, information that mirrors the information the customers can also find themselves through self-service for consistent, accurate customer service at all times through all scenarios.

The Oak Labs smart mirrors are an exciting innovation for anyone who is invested in retail and CX. They are an example of how online and offline spaces are becoming more intertwined in an effort to make life easier for both customers and staff. What can you do to follow suit?

09 Oct 2013
How nanorep is Better Than Virtual Agents

How Nanorep is Better Than Virtual Agents

Back in 2011, analyst firm CCM predicted that the use of virtual agents in customer support would increase 400% by 2014. BusinessWeek published a debate on the topic. Today, however, the incorporation of single sets of manually pre-written questions and answers is presenting problems.

As the Taylor Reach Group notes:
People are more eager to deal with virtual agents according to Harvard Business Review, we are certainly more accustomed to interacting with technology than we were in 2003. Yet the success of self serve technology is declining. So why is this happening?

… [the virtual-agent system] is still menu driven. A tight “one to a few” relationship (for each question there are only 3-4 answers the virtual agent will understand and can process). The result is often in a much lower success rate.

No manual virtual-agent system will ever “have all the answers” because humans must constantly maintain it and add questions with responses. If a large website receives 1,000 new queries each day, no customer support team will be able to keep up.

The only way to keep up with the increasing demand for instant, online answers in customer service is to use a system that constantly adds new questions and responses automatically rather than manually. So, with that in mind, I wanted to present a few reasons that show why nanorep customer support software is the future of customer service rather than traditional virtual agents.


nanorep: Our solution easily scales to hundreds of thousands of questions and answers for any small, medium, or large website.
Virtual Agents: Setup takes months since questions and answers are manually added, managed, and incorporated in scripts, so it takes more and more time to manage online customer service as companies and websites grow.

Accuracy of Answers

nanorep: Our answer-accuracy rate is 95% because the solution learns seven things automatically: visitors’ questions; agents’ answers (before being approved and going live); the phrasing of similar questions (to be aggregated); the importance of specific terms in questions and answers; search prediction; spelling correction; and international translation.

Virtual Agents: The accuracy rate is generally not as high and the tools do not learn anything automatically.

Cost of Use

nanorep: The cost-per-answer in an learning self-service solution such as nanorep is typically very low at $0.1 and lower.

Virtual Agents:The cost to create and manage answers is higher and could be up to $1.0 per contact because of the amount of manual work needed to prepare the Q&A ahead of time.



nanorep: Setup work is needed only to customize design and behavior within the intuitive administrative dashboard. nanorep allows for the importation of existing FAQ documents. When users ask new questions and customer-support agents answer them, nanorep automatically learns the information and can provide it automatically in the future after quick human approval.

Virtual Agents: Conversations, questions, and answers must be pre-written and pre-programmed according to a certain predicted script. This is extremely time-consuming and inefficient process since it there are many different ways the conversation can go and it is hard to cover all potential questions at a certain point. So the preparation process might take a few weeks to a few months depending on the amount of scripts.

Languages Support

nanorep: Can translate questions and answers automatically so that users can find the solutions they need in their native languages regardless of the languages in which the questions and answers had been submitted.

Virtual Agents: Virtual Agents do not support automatic translation into int’l languages. But only provide robotic assistance via conversation scripts and pre-written questions and answers. So questions and answers must be separately translated in advance to all target languages.


nanorep: Can be located on specific pages (product pages, support page, etc.) or on every page of the website for instant, automatic, and continuous customer support until a visitor converts – or has his problem resolved or question answered.

Virtual Agents: Usually placed on the homepage or a certain landing page as it is too complex to create different conversation scripts for each page. As a result, Virtual Agents are merely used for lead-generation that routes people with serious questions to (expensive!) live agents in a way that resembles old and inefficient voice-response systems.


Virtual agents are used primarily to generate business leads. nanorep, however, takes online marketing to the next level by making customer service more efficient and cost-effective while maximizing the number of website conversions at the same time.