SOURCE: InteliWISE

May 19, 2010 15:00 ET

Independent Research Firm and Cable TV Industry Giant Laud 'Virtual Agents' That Deliver Answers With Speed & Accuracy While Lowering Enterprise's CRM Costs Exponentially

SUNNYVALE, CA--(Marketwire - May 19, 2010) - In a complimentary webinar titled "Avatars Drastically Reduce Call Center Costs," enterprises with online customers learn from a highly regarded industry analyst firm and a cable TV company with more than 23 million customers and 100,000 employees just how potent the phrase 'knowledge is power' is for their own sales representatives and online customers.

The complimentary 60-minute webinar hosted by destinationCRM is accessible until July 19, 2010 via the link http://www.destinationcrm.com/Webinars/249-Avatars-Drastically-Reduce-Call-Center-Costs.htm. The webinar features insight and empirical evidence from Forrester Research, Inc. analyst Diane Clarkson, the cable TV company's vice president of sales, learning and development, and Jeffrey Greenwald, vice president of U.S. Operations at InteliWISE, which provides a CRM virtual agent solution called AnswerNow™ that meshes natural language recognition and processing technology with video avatar technology. The webinar addresses a variety of questions, such as:

  • How are Virtual Agents used by top-tier companies like Comcast?
  • How does this technolgy enhance service and eCommerce platforms?
  • How much does an intelligent Avatar cost?
  • Can I have my CEO as a customized Avatar?

The Cable TV Company's Challenge

The provider of cable, entertainment, and communication products and services to 23.6 million cable customers has approximately 100,000 employees nationwide who need to be 'in the know' to best serve their customers. The company's challenge was to help its employees quickly access data that's located in multiple sources through the entire organization. Deploying InteliWISE's AnswerNow solution, the cable TV company has solved its challenge.

"Before we deployed InteliWISE's AnswerNow, one of our employees might go to one system to find out information about a customer, another data source to find out information about product, and another data source to find out information about serviceability of a specific address," says the cable TV company's vice president of sales, learning and development. "And as that employee tries to navigate that, they interface with our customers. We needed a single point of entry so our employee could quickly log in via their internet browser, find the content that is applicable to their needs, and thus free up their time from searching and really focus on the customers' needs and understand what challenges customers were having or what issues they were trying to resolve."

The vice president of the cable TV company reports that in a three-month period after it launched InteliWISE's AnswerNow in January of this year, InteliWISE's AnswerNow was able to access 150 different question and response groups within the cable company, and also search the cable company's internal learning management system for courses that might address a sales representative's need, as well as search the cable company's site for product information.

How AnswerNow Works With an Avatar

The cable company's employees can log in to a website to engage an Avatar, a virtual agent character from InteliWise's video library that can ask and answer questions. The cable company's employee can type their questions in a box, and if they type in a question that the virtual agent can't answer, the AnswerNow solution has the capability to find the answer and build up the cable company's AnswerNow database for the future.

"InteliWISE's AnswerNow currently has a 90% success rate," says the vice president of the cable company. "That means that when our employee asks a question, nine out of 10 times the virtual agent provides the correct answer. Our sale reps are now able to quickly find answers, they don't have to wait to find a supervisor or call the help desk."

In the initial three months of deploying InteliWISE's AnswerNow, the cable company is averaging 2,000 interactions with the Avatar per week. "We think that is a very healthy number," says the vice president of the cable company. "We believe the more content we add or link to the higher those interactions will increase and continue to grow. And we will continue to grow and explore this based on our employees' demands of what they're looking for answers to."

AnswerNow enables an organization to understand what their employees already know and what they need to know. AnswerNow can produce lists of all the questions that employees ask, and the cable company can use this information to constantly tweak and enhance what's in the cable company's AnswerNow questions and answers data repository.

AnswerNow also provides reports that reveal usage and the lengths of the conversation times of AnswerNow. The cable company's vice president notes, "We are able to see the number of conversations, the length of each conversation, as well as the average response time. And we are very pleased to see that over the last 3 months, this continues to grow -- which means that the tool is definitely having a positive impact and that our employees are continually going back to the tool to seek out additional information."

The cable company vice president says that her company is seeing the reduction in the number of calls going to its help desk, as the cable company employees are getting the answers that they need at the time of need.

Forrester: Virtual Agents Can Provide Answers Fast, Cost Effectively For Online Customers

While the cable company vice president notes that AnswerNow is working for the company's sales reps, Forrester research indicates that online customers, if they can't get an answer to the question when they are in the middle of buying something, will abandon their purchase. Diane Clarkson, an analyst with Forrester, says virtual agent technology has progressed greatly in the last couple of years to be able to provide online customers with answers, fast.

"The Natural Language Processing has improved and the technology capability to integrate to backend systems has also improved," says Clarkson, "And as a result the virtual agent now can help customers with some troubleshooting, they can answer much more complex questions, the dialogues is much more engaging and personal. The virtual agent can connect into enterprise-wide systems such as e-billing, shipping and delivery, CRM systems, and really be able to provide a personalized experience for a customer."

Clarkson said that in the event that the virtual conversational agent is not able answer a particular question, the agent has the ability to escalate the conversation to live help. Clarkson emphasized, however, that the cost of a virtual agent providing answers to questions from online customers is vastly more cost-effective than alternative CRM approaches such as live chat, or telephone conversation with a call center representative.

During the webinar, Clarkson provides a checklist for enterprises who might be taking a look at the effectiveness of their current CRM initiatives:

  • If your enterprise has a significant portion of low value, high volume calls coming in to your call center or if your e-mail customer service is having a notable proportion of requests that require repetitive answers, a virtual agent could in fact be a very good solution for you to be considering;
  • If a chat session costs you about $5 but the questions being posed during those chat sessions are repetitive and could be resolved with a more robot self service offering, then a virtual agent is definitely worthwhile, as a virtual agent costs around 10 cents per customer engagement;
  • If you have shopping cart abandonment, or completion form abandon rates that are a little higher than you would like them to be, or, most importantly, if you are getting traffic to your help pages that's coming from a general search engine, it means that your customers are having trouble finding information on your website. Your enterprise could benefit from a virtual agent that can offer guided assistance to help people get to the sessions that are relevant to them.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:

    Michael Krems
    KremsPR for InteliWISE
    Email Contact
    805.496.8166
    Cell: 650.759.7133