Ironically, organizations are focusing more on improving the relationship with the customer via positive transactions when the digital transformation suggests using virtual agents to manage this value zone. Consequently, the VA-based service desk may be the key to improving relationships and emotional bonding.
Managing human empathy in the bot relationship
Relationships extend beyond contracts and create emotional bonding between the customer and the organization. The following are some approaches to make sure the emotional relationship continues and customer confidence within the company grows consistently.
- Personalize the VA: Organizations providing intelligent virtual assistants are doing research to make communication more personal. The VEA has a name and an individual profile to make it almost real. For example, Deutsche post has an e-post virtual assistant, Jana, who interprets questions raised by the postal customers and answers them. Jana also has the ability to distinguish between business and private customers. In order to make a personal impact, Jana is introduced as married and having a daughter named Marie who likes animals and has a pet called bunny.
- Episodic memory: Episodic memory is the memory of autobiographical events (times, places, associated emotions, and other contextual who, what, when, where, why knowledge) that can be explicitly stated or procured. It is the collection of past personal experiences that occurred at a particular time and place. The Virtual Assistant has to be trained on the required level of details for understanding what the customer wants in context, and provide immediate answers. My experience booking an outpatient appointment at a pediatric clinic is worth mentioning here. Whenever I used to call the clinic, the hospital assistant (a human assistant) would recognize my voice, recall my background, and ask if the appointment was for my daughter or son. She also used to suggest evening appointments, as that was my preferable timeslot. The fact that the assistant recognized my voice, and therefore my personal details, from her experience strengthens the emotional bond between the customer and the organization.
- Anti-abusive API for polite communication: Recently, Jigsaw and Google have published an open API for the developer community. We can use the API to automatically detect insults, harassment, and abusive speech online. The digital employee or Virtual Assistant can use the API to make the conversation more polite and human.
- Ontology and its application: Semantic web technologies and artificial neural networks use ontology heavily for knowledge source discovery. Researchers have been working on how ontology can help a bot’s communication skills match those of a human’s.
With new research in the area of linguistics, psychology, and artificial intelligence, we believe the human empathy of these virtual agents will improve and match that of human beings. Upon reaching this level, we believe the relationship will improve for the following reasons:
- Machines do not change their mood and therefore maintain consistent relationships
- We can configure the politeness and emotional level of the bots, and as a result we will have a better relationship with the customer.
This will be an exciting journey. The next time you are having a pleasant, useful chat with a service rep, it may be Jena on the other end of the line.