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Introduction

U.S. companies lose $ billion each year due to poor customer experiences; and companies around the globe suffer similar fates. It is also well documented that it costs more to win a new customer than to keep one, so the financial impact reverberates across the organization. The good news is that, while poor customer experiences can be revenue-crushing, delivering positive customer experiences can be the #1 way to differentiate a brand—even if the brand’s competitors currently have greater market share and outspend it with massive marketing budgets. In fact, by 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as a key brand differentiator.

Given the importance of using customer experience to retain existing customers, it is counterintuitive that, in the court of business opinion, seemingly everyone wants to talk about using online and mobile to sell, but few organizations are putting the same amount of energy and focus into using these channels to keep the customers they already have. The truth is that a company’s Web site and social sites are how the world sees it; and, increasingly, those views of the company occur mainly or entirely on mobile devices. How a company handles each interaction, at each touch point, with every customer and prospect, is critical.

Similarly, it seems as if everyone wants to talk about omni-channel communications. Yet, a company’s communications through those multiple channels—its Web site, marketing and advertising messages, social media, and even product materials and product manuals—are undoubtedly generating questions that the help desk and other touch points need to answer. These external channels are likely creating confusion among customers and prospects, which the company needs to address quickly. How companies manage their customer support interactions hold the key not only to customer retention but also to the opportunity to generate new revenues.

This Stratecast report will analyze:

• The things customers want from their interactions with companies today.
• The things companies are seeking from those interactions, and the systems that enable and enhance interactions.
• The role of omni-channel communications in optimizing the customer experience.
• The role of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in creating a winning scenario for both customers and providers.
The report will then discuss a solution that uses AI and machine learning to provide better solutions for providers, and an optimized experience for customers.

Table Of Contents

Customers Want Fast Answers Online, Not Waiting on a Phone Line: Virtual Assistants are Essential
Introduction 5
Companies Want to Optimize Customer Experience, but Reality Intrudes 6
Specific Challenges by Vertical 6
Customers Want Fast Answers Online, Not Waiting on a Phone Line 7
Giving Customers What They Want: Virtual Assistants 8
VAs: The Tactical Perspective 9
VAs: Strategic Imperative 10
A Premier Provider of VA Solutions: Creative Virtual 10
V-Person Addresses Large and Growing Segment of $41.18B BDA Market 11
VAs in Action: Case Study Snapshots 12
Time Warner Cable: V-Person Powers Enhanced “Ask Amy” VA 12
E*Trade VA Reduces Live Chat Traffic, Increases Instant Answers 12
V-Person Delivers Value for Verizon 13
Autodesk Integrates its VA with its Twitter Page and Reduces Trouble Tickets 15
National Rail Enquiries Uses V-Person to Make “Ask Lisa” Available on its Facebook
Page 15
Chase Bank Provides High Level of Personalization 16
The Last Word 17

List of Exhibits

Exhibit 1: Challenges Faced by Verticals in Trying to Optimize Customer Experience 6
Exhibit 2: BDA Market by Functional Categories 11
Exhibit 3: Old Way, Link to TWC.com (on left) versus New Way, Exact Answer (on right) 12
Exhibit 4: V-Person Powers E*Trade's Virtual Assistant 13
Exhibit 5: Verizon's VA Optimizes Live Chat and Generates Unassisted Sales 13
Exhibit 6: Verizon's Virtual Assistant Provides Enhanced Support 14
Exhibit 7: Verizon's Virtual Assistant Provides Personalized Information 14
Exhibit 8: Autodesk Reduced Trouble Tickets by Making VA Available on Twitter 15
Exhibit 9: National Rail Enquiries' “Ask Lisa” Answers Customer Questions on Facebook 15
Exhibit 10: Chase Personalizes Answers to Authenticated Users 16

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