Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Behind the Scenes Interview: Virtual Agent Reporting for the top PC, Consumer Electronics and Networking Device Manufacturers

Preface: Recently, our marketing department sat down with Rachel Hernandez, noHold's very own Knowledge Platform Specialist, to ask her some questions about reporting metrics for trusted brands in multiple arenas of the electronics industry. Reporting and analyzing metrics is an important component to the success of a Virtual Agent; it's a chance to really hone in on what consumers are asking. Read more to find out what Rachel has to say.

Sarah: Today I’m here with Rachel Hernandez, Knowledge Platform Specialist at noHold. Rachel, tell me about your role at noHold and some of the clients you interface with on a daily basis.

Rachel: My client base ranges from Internet Security to Networking to PC Manufacturers. A few examples would be a leader in networking solutions and one of the top 3 PC and device manufacturers. As a Knowledge Portal Specialist,
 I build web based intelligent Virtual Agents that are designed to help answer troubleshooting issues and pre-sales questions.

Sarah: Your expertise is in understanding the goals (on a strategic level) of some of the most trusted brands and making them happen on a tactical level. What would you say is the biggest challenge?

Rachel: Wow, great question. A few things come to mind…
One challenge I see is analyzing the voice of the end user and creating the right kind of content. Sometimes you really have to drill down to find out what the consumer really needs and wants based on short phrases or sometimes lengthy explanations. Another challenge is helping my clients realize that their consumers are sometimes looking for more of a personalized customer service experience, like that of a call center agent, and we can fully provide that. For example, a consumer may be looking to buy an antivirus product, but are not sure which product is right for them. Based on specific, personalized questions, the Virtual Agent can ‘listen’ to responses and recommend the best product.

A third challenge is helping my clients to grasp the “best practices” as seen throughout our diverse clientele. We are interaction experts and have a wide range of experience on what may or may not work; however, every customer is different and has different needs, so it does make for quite a challenge.

Sarah: Consumer Electronics, PC and Device manufacturers are tasked with constant innovation. How can a Virtual Agent keep up with the frequent release of new products while continuing to support older models?

Rachel: There are a few key ways to accomplish this. One, it’s important for the Virtual Agent to provide the most recent updates for any product or feature as they are released. Let’s face it; consumers always want the latest and greatest version of anything, right? We keep these new and hot products at the forefront of our VA with what we call a “HotList”. This is a great way to engage consumers with the Virtual Agent.  Also, it’s vital to offer information for those older models that some consumers still have. You don’t want your consumer feeling left out, and possibly lose their loyalty by leaving them hanging. Providing consumers with “end of life” information is a great way to answer their questions, as well as, nudge them into an upgrade. 

Sarah: Part of your role is to look at the Virtual Agent reporting for your customers, and provide recommendations. What would you say is the most important metric to a leader in the PC/ Consumer Electronics industry?

Rachel: I believe there are two really important metrics for my PC clients to look at. The first metric would be completion. Completion is a word we use to describe a completed conversation with the Virtual Agent. It’s really important to see that consumers are actually getting to an answer. This type of interaction would be counted as a completed session. The second metric would be effectiveness. Effectiveness is essentially when a user votes “yes, this solution was helpful” after being provided with an answer. The Virtual Agent can quickly tell if content is working or not based on the effectiveness vote. The effectiveness also helps to determine if content needs updating or needs to be developed further. 

Sarah: Similarly, what metric is the most meaningful to security software providers?

Rachel: Things move pretty fast in the Security Software world, with  new viruses, spyware, and malicious attacks daily. So, I would have to say the most important metric for them is also effectiveness. Abandonment is another important metric, as it monitors when a conversation with the Virtual Agent is abandoned. Some users will close the session before being provided with an answer; this is one of the top metrics we report on. Analyzing and understanding when a conversation is abandoned quickly helps us to see what’s a hot topic – An example might be hacking scams, infections, and so forth.

Sarah: The ability to integrate a Virtual Agent (or any self-service application) into an existing ecosystem is imperative. If you think about your clients, what has been the most popular integration? What about the most popular metric that measures the success of that integration?

Rachel: Luckily my clients are very open to trying new things and making enhancements to the customer experience. The mobile integration has been pretty exciting because now consumers can get the VA on any device they have. I think that’s really a key component to showcasing my clients’ commitment to their consumers’ needs – If we see that the majority of end users are coming from a mobile browser, there’s proof that the end customer wants that type of support. With any new integration, whether it is with a new or existing client, the most popular metric to measure the success is the effectiveness. Again, the effectiveness metric will pretty much always tells us what needs to be improved and what is working.

Sarah: I've listened in on a few client conversations, and one of the questions I hear often is about sharing best practices. How does noHold share best practices and tips and tricks with its clients? For example: If you implement a feature/practice that is beneficial to one client, how do you share the idea with other clients?

Rachel: I am finding more and more that clients want suggestions on best practices, which is a great. I also do my best to suggest certain features that I see working in other environments. One of the great things about Virtual Agents is that we can quickly plan, implement,  test, and then analyze the results. However, the same practices don’t always work for every client.

Sarah: Virtual Agents can help increase revenue for customer service and support organizations. Can you tell me about a scenario where one of your customers has been able to accomplish this? What metric do you use to report back to the customer?

Rachel: All of my PC and Security Software clients have been really successful with up-selling. A few examples would be solutions that address areas such as “I want to replace my battery” or “I want to renew my antivirus subscription.” In these cases, not only are we able to generate sales, but we can place the product of interest in their shopping cart. We use a tool called a ‘route’ to track how visitors use these features. It helps the client see just how many people are coming to the VA specifically to upgrade or sometimes purchase for the first time.

Sarah: Rachel, thanks so much for your time today. I want to finish off by asking you one final question: Working with trusted brands is a demanding, yet rewarding role. What is the most rewarding part of your relationship with your clients?

Rachel: Trust. Once I gain my clients trust, I know that we can succeed at making the Virtual Agent meet their goals and meet the needs of their consumer. Plus it makes for a long-lasting, great partnership.