Before we begin working with a new customer, we’re often asked how an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) can convey a company’s brand. Too often we see IVAs being considered as just a tool of the contact center, and brand is simply thought of as a color scheme and a logo. In reality, the goal of an IVA is to drive value for both the user and the business, so an IVA should be considered a powerful brand element that scales engagement and loyalty. Based on our experience of working with some of the largest brands in the world to deliver highly engaging and valuable IVAs, we thought it would be helpful to spend some time talking about how brand values are best conveyed through an IVA.
As you might imagine, uncovering your brand values – by engaging in a brainstorm or discovery process – is almost always our first step. Only after we fully understand your brand, do we begin mapping your brand values onto your IVA. In doing this work, we focus on three key elements of every interaction between customer and brand: experience, visuals, and engagement
Simply put, our primary goal is to build an IVA that delivers a consistently positive experience for users that fosters and enhances their relationships to your brand. In the second installment of this series we’ll drill down into the key components of the IVA-user experience, including persona, preferences, tone, name, and voice. After defining our terms, we’ll highlight which factors we consider when leveraging each of these components to most effectively convey your brand’s values.
Visuals often get most of the attention when we talk about branding, but in the context of conversational interfaces, it’s important that you don’t over-index on visuals or any other single facet of branding your IVA. As non-visual interfaces like Amazon Echo and Google Home gain adoption, it’s reasonable to expect that visual considerations will be less important for certain implementations; nonetheless, today’s users still expect to see some sort of visual interface, and every brand should think through this carefully.
The third installment of this series will focus on the use of avatars, iconography, and text-based interfaces, the most important visual elements to consider when creating an IVA that reinforces your brand.
Being deliberate about how you initiate user-IVA interactions is critical to managing a user’s first impression of your IVA and, by extension, the way they engage with your brand. A proper engagement strategy is paramount to the success of your IVA: even if your IVA has amazing capabilities, you won’t realize its full potential and impact if users don’t feel a tight connection between your IVA and your brand.
In the concluding post of this series, we’ll talk about how to build an engagement strategy that works for you: how to market and promote your IVA, where to locate IVA launch points, and whether to include automatic IVA launch strategies that proactively respond to user behavior.
The future of brand experience is a conversation with a machine that earns your trust.
What your customers think about your IVA’s personality and character and the ways in which they are engaged in interactions are synonymous with the way they think about, experience, and engage with your brand.
There’s simply no such thing as a value-neutral IVA: any customer touchpoint, whether an afterthought or thoughtfully constructed, inevitably functions as an expression of your values. A truly intelligent IVA is much more than a tool for automating customer experience or workforce support. If you carefully consider each element of its design, your IVA will be easily become your most potent means for expressing your brand’s core values across channels and at scale
To hear more about what Next IT has learned during 15 years of designing AI-powered, brand-integrated IVAs, please check back for future installments in this series. Or, drop us a line anytime.