Emotional Connections in Online Customer Interaction

Forming emotional connections with customers and employees is an important part of building and maintaining customer and employee loyalty. This loyalty is a key factor in lowering pricing pressure and providing a significant competitive advantage.

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For organizations who are actively engaged in efforts to improve their Customer Experience, one of the challenges is how to introduce empathy and emotion into Customer interactions. This challenge is heightened in automated interactions. An early attempt to introduce a “calming emotional effect” was the introduction of music when customers were put on hold. This was largely successful when the primary method for customer contact, especially in support interactions, was a straightforward phone call. However, this approach to introducing a calming connection was somewhat diluted with the introduction of interactive voice response (IVR)—often characterized by customer navigation through a menu of choices (sometimes successfully, many times not). As interactions have become more automated and complex coupled with shorter attention spans on the part of the customer, the need for introducing emotion in online interactions is increasingly important.

Avatar Suggest
An approach to introducing emotion in automated interactions is the deployment of automated, interactive and animated avatars. The introduction of an avatar as part of the customer experience strategy can enhance the interaction allowing the user to quickly find desired information and to efficiently accomplish an intended task. Automated, interactive Virtual Assistants represent an often overlooked channel for reducing costs, lowering user effort and introducing empathy in the online interaction.The newest generations of avatar solutions take advantage of standard HTML5 code. A major benefit is the automation of avatar gesture and lip synchronization with text, eliminating the need for vendor or technical staff involvement in gesture and speech maintenance.

Major organizations in Europe and the Americas with significant volumes of both external and internal support interactions have achieved measurable success with animated avatar-based solutions.

For example, Toshiba has deployed Intelligent Avatar based Assistants in 22 countries and has seen a 30-50% reduction in customer interactions requiring human intervention (Toshiba blog post). Natixis, a leading French Financial Services Company has seen an increase in customer loyalty after deploying an award winning Virtual Advisor (Natixis blog post). Millennium BCP, a major bank in Portugal deployed a Virtual Support Assistant internally, and has seen a reduction of 30%+ in help desk calls, along with an increase in the measured quality of service from 70% to 80% (Millenium BCP blog post). A leading US based ISP and wireless company deployed a Virtual Collection Assistant, available on mobile and desktop devices, and has also seen a significant improvement in first contact payment of overdue bills.

Living Actor™, based in Paris, France and in Orlando, Florida is a leading provider of Intelligent Virtual Assistants and has successfully deployed over 300 avatar-based solutions.

This post is also available in: French