Virtual Customer Assistants (VCAs): What are they and what do customers want

What are Virtual Customer Assistants (VCA)?

Virtual customer assistants are automated customer service assistants that businesses deploy to engage customers, answer questions, push web pages, and act as a concierge to initially field and handle requests. They are sometimes used synonymously with terms like chatbots, avatars, concierge, and virtual agents.

What do consumers want from virtual customer assistants?

Chatbots.org surveyed 3,000 consumers about what they want from virtual customer assistants. This is what they said:

59% of respondents (62% in the US and 55% in the UK) found that having to repeat information to a human agent in the event of escalation from VCAs was the biggest hurdle to using them.

  • Not surprisingly, this is a result of chatbot deployments that are completely disconnected from agent-assisted touchpoints.

The second biggest pain point at 32% (29% US and 37% UK) was virtual customer assistants “getting stuck and not knowing what to do next.”

  • This is a common problem that arises from a lack of focus on knowledge management to empower chatbots.

53% of the consumers surveyed (54% US and 52% UK) found chatbots to be “not effective” or only “somewhat effective.” US consumers were harsher in their assessment of chatbots with 14% rating them as not effective versus only 5% of UK consumers.

  • This is perhaps an indication that US consumers are challenging chatbots with more complex questions than UK consumers.


Virtual Customer Assistants Best Practices

Done right, VCAs not only help contain customer service costs but also enhance brand equity. We have compiled some best practices for successful virtual assistant implementations learned from over 15 years of experience in this space.

Case Studies

H&R Block selects eGain for AI-powered customer engagement
The tax preparation giant uses eGain’s real-time interaction solutions like virtual assistant, chat, and cobrowse to automate service and sales interactions for taxpayers at scale.
Read about eGain and H&R Block

European tax agency goes digital with eGain
The government organization uses eGain’s virtual assistant, chat, and offers to make it easy for citizens to use government services.

  • 257,000 interactions were handled using the Virtual Assistant
  • Volume of tax returns being completed online increased to 89%