Magazine article CRM Magazine

Virtual Assistance and Self Service: Are Animated Digital Characters for Real?

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Virtual Assistance and Self Service: Are Animated Digital Characters for Real?

Article excerpt

Virtual assistants, or VAs, are not a new concept, originating in the mid 1960's (without digital representation of course) and making a brief resurgence in the early 2000's before quickly fading out again. Over the past 2 years, however, interest in virtual assistants (generally in the form of animated digital characters) and their use in the online self-service and sales ecosystem has returned.

If you are curious about the potential benefits of VA technology for your organization, there are a number of key considerations that should be explored in order to ensure that any future implementation of a digital character for self-service is successful:


1. It's all about the Answers: combining the ability to deliver one right answer based on the nature of a customer question with proper use of facial coding and body language is absolutely essential. After all, if you are not able to provide answers to incoming questions, why is your Virtual Assistant there in the first place?

2. Avoid the Talking Head: create an experience where the digital character is a guide to the user experience, not a "talking head" that recites answers.

3. Ensure Brand Alignment: make sure that if you are deploying a specific brand icon or identity that it is in line with your organization's brand promise and identity. The last thing you want to do is alienate or confuse your customers.

4. Ask Yourself Why: look beyond the sheer novelty of using a digital character when determining if and how your organization might benefit from the technology.

An improperly executed VA strategy will only serve to increase customer frustration with self-serve initiatives and cause the customer to associate their poor experience with the digital character and its organization. When implemented correctly, the use of VAs helps customers build an affinity with an organization via a helpful digital character that will assist them in achieving the best customer experience.


A fundamental problem faced by modern customers who are interacting with organizations online is the inability to find the answer to key questions. The opportunity for the organizations serving these customers is to use next generation self-service technology to improve upon these rather dreadful shortcomings by effectively resolving their service issues online.


When examining the application of digital characters in a self-service environment, there are many factors to consider. …

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