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Automation and Machine Learning

ServiceNow Virtual Agents – Finding Cost Savings with Automation During the Rise of Smart Services

ServiceNow Virtual Agent

With their latest release London, ServiceNow has launched Virtual Agent capabilities available for ITSM, CSM, and HR.

I am often asked the question if we already have a self-service portal available to the customers and employees, why does Virtual Agent make a difference in customer satisfaction and ROI?

Virtual Agent can be built with ServiceNow’s virtual agent flow designer with smart and contextually aware responses to the common service inquiries. Like Service Portal, Virtual Agent can improve customer satisfaction, but Virtual Agent also prepares the organization for harnessing the advances in agent intelligence and machine learning in the future.

Picture a department store with numerous styles and brands of clothing available.

Virtual Agent is like the assistant who knows every customers’ needs, taste, size, and budget and uses this information and plus his own knowledge and expertise to shortlist available choices for them and have them waiting in the dressing room. The assistant saves the shopper time in looking and browsing through all the options and the frustration of coming up empty. This saves the department store from the hassle of handling and following the customer through the whole store, providing quicker resolution (and maybe even upsell of more items the customer is able to view and enjoy).

ServiceNow Virtual Agent on iPhone

In your ServiceNow instance, a well-built knowledge base is like the department store, where even a pointed keyword search will return a lot of information. Virtual Agent is the shopping assistant, helping customers find the relevant answer in the sea of knowledge base articles.

You might think the use of Virtual Agents sounds superfluous, especially in the case where a mature self-service portal with knowledge and the availability of chat service already exists. Maybe you are worried Virtual Agents will annoy some customers. Either way, with the right change management and communication, Virtual Agents can be a vital tool for your service management needs.

Let’s explore the Virtual Agents, how they can help the business with increased ROI and customer satisfaction and how your business should implement the Virtual Agent.

What’s the need for Virtual Agent in ServiceNow?

Gartner says that “as more customers engage on digital channels, Virtual Agents are being implemented for handling customer requests on websites, mobile apps, consumer messaging apps and social networks, underpinned by improvements in natural-language processing, machine learning, and intent-matching capabilities.”

This comes with immense benefits.

The reduction of up to 70% in personnel supported channels such as email, chat or call leads to a positive customer experience, increased customer satisfaction, and close to 33% saving, thus increasing the total ROI of your ServiceNow platform. The added bonus? Virtual Agents can be made available 24/7, 365 days a year, across the globe at a fraction of employee staff costs.

It’s no surprise that more and more companies are looking to increase their investments in the customer experience, artificial learning, and virtual agent automation.

So, how should Virtual Agent implementation actually be done?

  1. First and foremost, brand your Virtual Agent. Make it readily available to your customers, so it stands out from other options on your page and customers don’t have to dig through pages or menu links to access it. Use the same branding and features across your self-service and mobile platforms.
  2. It might go without saying, but, your Virtual Agent and your support team should use the same knowledge base(s). Make sure your knowledge bases are adaptive and agile, they should be omnichannel, your single source of truth, and capable of learning from customer interactions and evolving with customer usage.
  3. Look at your customer interactions to determine the topics for Virtual Agent to serve on. A lot of your customer calls are simple and repetitive tasks including simple troubleshooting, standard operational help like password reset etc. Most of these interactions can be handled by Virtual Agent.
  4. The Virtual Agent should be able to appropriately escalate or transition to a human agent, as intervention from live agents is necessary in cases of complex issues or high touch customers. A smart and efficient escalation ensures that the customer doesn’t need to repeat themselves, thus reducing the frustration on their part and increasing customer satisfaction.
  5. Predict the customer needs based on the interaction, and don’t stop at resolving what they asked for. Provide them relevant next steps or product information based on the interaction. This proactive approach can do wonders to your customer satisfaction and also reduce future calls/interactions.
  6. A good Virtual Agent adapts continuously. Analyze its interactions and use your findings to improve and optimize the service. Look at other customer interactions to add more topics and features to the Virtual Agent.

Virtual Agent is the newest move left in a Shift-Left Service Management design, and with the right implementation approach, it can drive customer satisfaction and increase the ROI. Get started by creating your own ServiceNow roadmap including Knowledge Management and Virtual Agent capabilities.

 

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