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Virtually Speaking

Next IT delivers first virtual agent with mobile SMS capabilities

Posted by Next IT on Feb 7, 2011 1:51:09 PM

 

Enhancement puts Gonzaga University’s Bulldog on the cutting edge of customer self-service.

Spokane, Wash. - February 7, 2011: Gonzaga University and software company Next IT today announced the launch of a Virtual Agent capable of responding to questions via SMS Text, allowing students to get the answers they need anytime, anywhere.

Gonzaga University's mascot, Spike, is an online Virtual Agent that answers questions about campus life. And now, thanks to an enhancement in his core technology, he will respond to questions about the university via text message as well.

On the Web or via mobile phone, "Ask Spike" allows users to type-in any questions they have about Gonzaga, just as though they were having a chat with an actual person. Spike quickly returns the answer they're looking for, along with additional links to information that may be of use. He's knowledgeable about a wide variety of topics, easily answering questions about everything from where to find a bite to eat, how to get in-touch with a community service organization, what time different facilities such as the library open, and more.

"We're excited to extend the information Spike has to offer into a channel that's so popular with students," said Dave Sonntag, Gonzaga's Assistant Vice President of Marketing and Communications. "And it's wonderful that this is technology has been developed and deployed right here in Spokane by a company that employs many GU alumni."

Spike's accurate answers, as well his new ability to go mobile, are made possible by Gonzaga's collaboration with Spokane software company Next IT, whose flagship software ActiveAgent™ also powers conversational Virtual Agents like the U.S. Army's SGT STAR, Alaska Airlines' Jenn, and Continental Airlines' Alex. Using the same knowledge and language model for Spike on the Web, Next IT has created 'response sets' which ensures that Spike's response fits the appropriate channel. The ability to use the same knowledge and language model to deliver service across any channel provides consistency, scalability and efficiency.

"This is a big step for our company, proving we can build one language model and efficiently deliver the same highly accurate and helpful customer service experience that our technology is known for across any low-cost customer service channel," said Next IT Founder and CEO Fred Brown. "More and more people are using mobile devices to access information. Our technology presents a tremendous opportunity for delivering customer loyalty and satisfaction over mobile devices."

Want to Text with Spike? 
Text your questions from your mobile phone to 699247 (MYZAGS).

Want to check out Spike online? 
Visit www.gonzaga.edu and click "Ask Spike" in the top navigation.

About Gonzaga University
Founded in 1887, Spokane, Washington's Gonzaga University is a private, four-year institution of higher education dedicated to the Jesuit, Catholic, humanistic ideals of educating the mind, body and spirit. The University inspires and transforms people to shape a better world through education, character, service and faith. Students include both women and men, who can enroll in a multitude of undergraduate or graduate programs. Enrollment for the 2009-10 academic year was 7,682 students.

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Topics: Next IT, Press Releases