Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Virtual Assistants: 5 things to consider when choosing the right technology

The Virtual Assistant (VA) market has grown exponentially in the past two years. This is an exciting time in the industry. Technology is improving daily and new methodologies for providing Artificial Intelligence are sprouting everywhere.

This brings a renewed need for identifying the right components of a VA technology. The following list was created based on the 17 years of experience noHold has in the AI and Virtual Assistant space.

Customer Experience
Addressing customer need is paramount. The people who purchase and use your product must be considered with the utmost importance. When choosing a VA technology, ensure a history of success by looking at long term customers. The amount of time that a customer has used a given technology not only indicates the customer’s appreciation of the experience, but also reflects the positive experiences gained by the ultimate end users - your customers. The more long term customers a VA provider has, the more likely they are to consider the customer first.

The second part of customer experience is to learn and cater specifically to your user base. This means utilizing methodologies like journey mapping to understand pain points for users and identification of where a VA can help. The user interface must also be flexible and meet the requirements of your users. That means mobile first, intuitive placement, clear position statements, and meeting the customer where they are - your website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google.

You need a VA technology that is scalable. Handling hundreds or thousands of knowledge artifacts is imperative. Look for a provider that offers multiple import options and an easy-to-use set of authoring and editing tools so administrators can make modifications. Your ability to act fast on the content and information gleaned from the VA will ensure a higher degree of success.

The underlying resources need to respond to demand of the users - for example, automatically scaling with traffic spikes when a new product is released - is quite important too. Cloud hosting means your platform responds to demand without the need for human intervention. When your servers are in the cloud, you do not have to worry about planning and modifying systems to accommodate varying usage rates.

Your customers come first and your platform administrators are just as important. They need tools and processes that enable them to quickly, accurately, and easily author new content, check reports, or deploy a new VA. Look for a technology that enables your people to become administrators, reducing any reliance on the vendor for providing content to your users. Look for a vendor who has SLAs in place that address customer questions within the same business day and who provides training certification for your employees, as well as continuing education services.

Your VA must capture KPIs. Not to be confused with personally identifiable information (PII), but rather the type of experiences users have with the VA. You want to be able to identify with only a few clicks the top questions for a given day / week / month. You should be able to measure the number of answers the VA was able to provide, as well as the number that it couldn’t. You should be able to track clicking behavior to understand the information most interesting to your users.

Processes should be in place to move knowledge gaps through content drafts and ultimately approved solutions. Processes should be in place to track escalations - those users who couldn’t find an answer through the VA. These processes are important to help administrators as well as the overall customer experience. It is important to frame your VA as an entity that is in continually growing.

Look for VA technology that meets a variety of compliance standards; like SOC 2, GDPR, and WCAG. Your users are concerned with security, privacy, and accessibility. Make sure you choose a VA provider that also prioritizes these things. The technology you choose should be low-risk for security vulnerabilities and should be protecting any user PII that is inadvertently collected. And if collected by design, for example to integrate with a CRM, the data should be collected with transparency to the user and transmitted securely. Your VA should follow guidelines that make it safe to use all over the world. And it should be accessible to everyone, regardless of whether they can see the screen.

For more a personal assessment visit www.nohold.com and contact us.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Use the Power of AI and your Best and Brightest Employees to Engage with your Customers

I am excited to share a guest blog post from noHold's very own Program Manager, Francesco Ventura.

Use the Power of AI and your Best and Brightest Employees to Engage with your Customers

Customer Engagement
Some see it as a trendy differentiator, others see it as a necessary business investment. Still others believe customer engagement is a way to deflect calls to your call center. In my view, it is a mix of all three and serves both businesses and consumers equally.

At its core, customer engagement opens the lines of communication between businesses and the folks who buy their products. The benefits are obvious:
  • Better brand management
  • Better understanding of customer needs
  • Better access to relevant support and customer service

Top Customer Engagement Tools
Social media, live chat, and traditional phone & email support are the most common customer engagement tools used today. Businesses are investing in these technologies because they want their customers to feel valued and they need ways to communicate with them.

But because these tools need human involvement from both customer and business, they are often costly alternatives to self-service. What's more, the tools listed above do not usually exist on their own - they are usually part of a wider customer engagement net that includes options to utilize each tool.

Virtual Assistants Provide Engagement Too
I don't just mean in the interactive and diagnostic way they interact with customers, but in their ability to act as the personal assistant to get customers where they want to go. We call it the concierge approach. The virtual assistant is positioned ahead of other options on your website, like chat or email. Customers begin interacting with it and the concierge will provide one of three outcomes:
  1. The customer will be guided to an answer immediately
  2. The customer will be asked to provide additional information which leads to an answer
  3. The customer will be guided to the most appropriate contact channel
Our experience has demonstrated that the concierge can answer about 80% of the questions that come in to other channels, like social, chat, and phone & email.

We realize however that there will always be a need for the human touch at some point. In the concierge scenario, that would come when the concierge doesn't have an answer, or when the best option is to transfer to a live agent (e.g., refund requests). And with noHold's APIs, we've been able to connect to a wide range of 3rd-party platforms: CRM, Chat, Social, and even the call center. This ability makes the transition seamless to the customer. Best of all, they need only one browser window open - no ping-ponging them from page to page, form to form, or queue to queue.

We believe the utilization of a concierge to handle those 80% of questions frees up your employees to perform better on the live contacts that do come in - less of a need to hurry the customer off the phone, more ability to deep dive into a problem, higher customer satisfaction, lower agent stress.

Also, the concierge is collecting and grouping user phrases in real time. Those data points represent actionable behavior metrics - areas where content may be needed, processes improved, feedback provided, or completely unknown issues are discovered. Indeed those grouped data points need to be reviewed and acted upon by humans. Imagine a team of highly knowledgeable customer engagement reps who get user input real time, in a secure platform environment.

The Action Plan
Create a virtual assistant based on your most common contact topics. Don't know what they are, read about EZintel and the ability to quickly gain insight into your customers' needs. Position your virtual assistant prominently on your website and other online channels. Review data collected by the virtual assistant and take action on it - create content, modify processes, listen to your customers. Empower your employees to make immediate changes in the virtual assistant platform.

If you want to learn more about the virtual assistant's role in customer engagement, please reach out.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Diego Ventura Joins the Discussion Panel at Finastra's Business Forum

noHold's CEO and Founder, Diego Ventura, is excited to be part of a panel discussion at Finastra's Business Forum client conference. Finastra is the third largest financial technology company in the world. This exclusive event welcomes select senior banking professionals to network with Finastra executives and participate in thought-leadership sessions. It is a two day event that will be taking place on Sept 24th and 25th in Kohler, Wisconsin. 

During the panel discussion, Diego will join on stage a few select experts in the industry to discuss the importance and advantages of APIs for the financial industry.

For more information about Finastra Business Forum, you can follow this link: https://www.finastra.com/news-events/events/finastra-business-forums-fall-2018-wi 

Friday, September 14, 2018

One year ago today: Forbes Article Published on Albert in the House

In light of it being Flashback Friday,  I wanted to share a blogpost noHold wrote a year from today on how Artificial Intelligence is being used to help citizen around the US gain clarity on Presidential Executive Orders. Because, let's face it, some of those documents are rather lengthy and can be confusing to non-politicians. noHold wanted to give individuals a way to receive non-biased answers to their questions about these policies. 

noHold accomplished this by create Virtual Assistants (Albert) for a handful of Executive Orders signed by various Presidents. Citizens curious about these Executives Orders are able to ask questions to the Virtual Assistant such as "What is this about?" or "Who does this effect?"

When noHold was creating these Presidential Virtual Assistants, publications such as Forbes and The Next Web contacted noHolds's CEO, Diego Ventura, to write articles on the idea. 

Josiah Motley from The Next Web wrote, "Now there’s an AI available to everyone that can answer these questions for you. And while anything can have bias, even an AI with bad programming, using this new service from noHold is a great way to get straight-to-the-point answers and facts without having to sacrifice hours of your day digging through articles and government PDFs."

It was a great moment for noHold to be able to contribute to the community. I will end it with a quote from Diego, "We felt it was our civic duty to take our expertise in Artificial Intelligence and use it to empower people with uncensored knowledge that can be used to benefit the country."

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

What Changes Have Happened To noHold.com?

I wanted to do a quick share about the redesign we have done to the noHold website. Our talented Web Master has now created a website that is easy to navigate. To most, Artificial Intelligence can be an intimidating topic because of its complexity and broadness. noHold.com explains how our AI platform works, and demonstrates the necessity of AI for any type of business! 

On the website you can find information on our patented technology (outlined above), view case studies and statistics we have gathered from being a part of the industry for two decades, customer testimonials, press releases, and articles written by publications such as Forbes, Business Insider, Popular Science, etc. 

To check out the latest on our website visit www.nohold.com. Feel free to check out our social media and leave us a comment on there as well. 
Twitter- @noholdai

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

7,500 Educational Institutions use noHold's AI-based Virtual Assistant to Help Students and Teachers

August 28, 2018, MILPITAS, CA – noHold, Inc. has partnered with leaders in the training space to create a Virtual Assistant now used by more than 7,500 educational institutions.

The Virtual Assistant specializes in supporting teachers to create and administer classes, as well as answer student questions like “How do I sign up for the class?”, “Where can I find the syllabus?”, and “What are the pre-requisites for this class?”

The Virtual Assistant is able to answer these types of questions because:
·        It is built to understand plain English through a powerful Natural Language Processing (NLP) engine.
·        It is able to conduct a dialog with end users to confirm uncertain intents through an Inference Engine that serves as a Dialog Manager.
·        It is able to tap into its own repository of information that has grown organically based on the audience’s interests.

It took about six calendar weeks to build the Virtual Assistant, four for implementation and two for testing. The team included a Subject Matter Expert, a Knowledge Base Specialist and a part-time Manager for a total of 200 hours.

Three weeks after deployment, the Virtual Assistant is consistently helping thousands of students and teachers a month, and has an answer rate of 87%. Questions that cannot be handled automatically by the Virtual Assistant are promptly escalated to call center agents. The content of the exchange is also passed along, so that agents don’t have to ask the same questions and users don't have to repeat themselves.

The next version of the Virtual Assistant will be trained to answer IT type questions which will help faculty and students with computer, security and networking issues.

“There are several advantages related to deploying a Virtual Assistant. It can help the school reduce support costs, it is available 24/7, it can help new agents at the call center, and it can diligently capture the voice of the customer. More than 7,500 schools can now enjoy these benefits," said Diego Ventura, CEO and Founder of noHold, Inc.

Monday, August 20, 2018

2019 Conferences To Be On the Look Out For

Recently, noHold announced its sponsorship involvement with AVIOS' 2019 Conversational Interactions Conference. noHold's CEO, Diego Ventura, will be presenting for the third time at this conference. His talk will include information on how companies will be able to take large databases of information, and through Artificial Intelligence, add a conversational interface to any repository of information. http://www.conversationalinteraction.com/

We are excited to share another conference noHold has been following called SpeechTEK 2019, the smart customer interactions event. This conference is being held in Washington D.C. and is consider the World's leading speech technology and AI conference. http://www.speechtek.com/

Both of these conferences have speakers and attendees from major brands from all around the world that come together to discuss the impact that technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence, are having on business. noHold is honored to be part of that conversation.