Impacts to Brand Perception of a Human-like Self-service Experience

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1 Customer Service Solutions white paper 1 Impacts to Brand Perception of a Human-like Self-service Experience Review of qualitative consumer research on Web virtual assistants.

2 Customer Service Solutions white paper 2 Nina Virtual Assistant Hi, I m Nina, Sphere Bank s Intelligent Virtual Assistant. How can I help you? I m buying a new house, I need help choosing the best mortgage. Can you help? Abstract Nuance commissioned third party research firm Interaction Experience to help uncover the reasons why consumers prefer a Web virtual assistant experience over static Web pages. The results of the research uncovered that consumers value the human-like conversational experience delivered by a virtual assistant and that this interaction had a profound impact on brand perception. This white paper provides an overview of the research results and examines its implications on Web customer care. 71 % of consumers prefer a Web virtual assistant over a static Web site experience. Overview Virtual assistants on the Web have consistently delivered impressive results in cost containment by reducing the amount of Web visitors (over 40% in some cases) that reach out to agents through live chat, or phone. Virtual assistants can also improve e-commerce conversion rates and increase the value of sales by as much as 25%. However, beyond these easily quantifiable benefits to the enterprise s top and bottom line, there is another benefit to the enterprise that has not been as thoroughly explored until now, yet its potential impact to an organization can be far more meaningful. Nuance commissioned a survey that uncovered that 71% of consumers prefer a Web virtual assistant over a static Web site experience. 1 To better understand the reasons for this preference, Nuance commissioned third party research firm Interaction Experience to conduct qualitative consumer research on this topic. The results of this study revealed that beyond consumer appreciation for the virtual assistant s ability to provide answers to questions and deliver support for issues in a more effective manner than traditional static Web pages, consumers attributed human characteristics to the Web virtual assistant and expressed a clear preference for a more humanlike interaction. 2 This personified interaction had an impact on brand perception, uncovering an opportunity for organizations to leverage their Web assets more effectively in order to impact customer loyalty and customer acquisition. 1 Research Now, November Interaction Experience, October 2013

3 Customer Service Solutions white paper 3 Study Details The research was conducted with an in-person, one-on-one interview format, where the third party researcher asked participants to perform support seeking tasks on two separate Web sites that each had a virtual assistant, as well as traditional Web content such as FAQs, product information pages, contact-us page, etc. Eleven participants were observed during one hour sessions. Following task completion, the researcher monitored emotional reactions, assessed verbal rationalization during a post-experience interview and collected satisfaction and easeof-use measurements by administering a system usability score survey. Participants were selected based on age, education, income level and cultural background to ensure results were not skewed by demographic factors. (To request a copy of the participant profile chart please and reference the Nina Web Customer Experience white paper.) Satisfaction and Ease-of-Use Results The surveys revealed that the Web virtual assistant experience delivers a much better user experience and is perceived to be easier to use than a standard Web site, and even more so when compared to self-service customer care tools such as Web FAQs and knowledge bases. In fact, one of the virtual assistants achieved a System Usability Score (SUS) of 90.8, whereas the average score for a Web site is 64, 3 and the Web FAQ capability scored a low 53. These data points concur with the quantitative survey conducted by Research Now that revealed consumer preference for Web virtual assistants over static Web content. Standard Usability Survey Scores Web Virtual Assistant Overall Web Site Web FAQ 3 A Practical Guide to the System Usability Scale (SUS), Jeff Sauro

4 Customer Service Solutions white paper 4 A quote from one of the participants highlights the typical responses given during the interview to understand why the experience was rated as easy: This system actually helps me find the information faster than if I would do it myself. It is a really good option. This theme of efficiency was also articulated not only in comparison to self-service, but also to agent-assisted service: I hate waiting on the phone. If you can get your answer very quickly, I m gonna do that first. These reactions are concurrent with data uncovered from an earlier survey that was conducted by Research Now on consumer perceptions of virtual assistants, where participants overwhelmingly selected greater efficiency as the primary benefit that a virtual assistant delivers. 4 Virtual Assistant Experience Rating 72% 20% 4% 4% Convenient/ Efficient Available/ Reliable Personality Don t Like It Following their experiences with the Web virtual assistants, participants were asked to rate on a scale of one to 10 the likelihood that they would use a Web virtual assistant the next time they experienced a customer care issue. The results were a solid seven out of 10, where 1 is a low likelihood, and 10 is a high likelihood of usage. This strong indication of future use showcases that consumers perceive real value in the use of virtual assistants. However, beyond confirming that the Web virtual assistant delivers a valuable, easy and efficient experience, the most interesting results are uncovered in the section regarding consumer perceptions of the Web virtual assistant itself. 4 Research Now, 2013 Conversational Interfaces Survey

5 Customer Service Solutions white paper 5 83 % of consumers responded that they prefer a two-way conversational interaction over a one-way interaction with technology. 5 The Virtual Assistant as a Proxy for Human Conversation When the Interaction Experience researcher asked participants to describe the Web virtual experience itself, participants attributed human characteristics to the virtual assistant that they perceived positively. Quotes from participants highlighted this sentiment: Because it makes you feel like you re not alone. Maybe that s just me, but I like that, to know there s somebody there. Even though I know it s a computer. I know it s crazy. You have a human connection. You feel like your concerns are important. It s like oh good, someone s there to help me, you re not alone. Makes it more personal. The paradox uncovered by this research is a desire by consumers to perform tasks on their own via digital self-service channels, yet they also highly value a conversational, human-like interaction. This preference was confirmed in the qualitative survey conducted by Research Now, where 83% of consumers responded that they prefer a two-way conversational interaction over a one-way interaction with technology. 5 Web Virtual Assistants as Good as Humans - Sometimes The Web virtual assistant s ability to deliver on the preference for humanlike interaction was highlighted by the inability of 55% of the research participants to correctly identify if the experience they had was with a human agent or a virtual assistant. Believed the interaction was with a human agent 3 out of 11 Unsure if the interaction was with a human or virtual 3 out of 11 assistant Correctly identified interaction as virtual 5 out of 11 Since the consumer interacts with the Web virtual assistant in the same way that they would with a live agent through Web chat, the ability to distinguish a human or a virtual interaction depends on the intelligence of the virtual assistant in understanding natural language input from the user and the appropriateness of the response provided to the user. The greater the intelligence, the closer the virtual agent interaction becomes to an interaction with a human agent. Examples of quotes from participants that believed they were interacting with a human agent: You are speaking to a person and it s like: this is exactly what your problem is. More effective. Why is it more effective? You are getting your problem heard right away. You are getting guidance from a tech person. 5 Research Now, 2013 Conversational Interfaces Survey

6 Customer Service Solutions white paper 6 Can I go back? I swear I saw something that was live... She seems friendly. It must be a person you are speaking to. If I told you it was an automated agent? Oh really? I thought it was live. Web Virtual Assistant s Impact on Brand Several of the research participants voiced positive inferences to the brand following their interaction with the virtual assistant, indicating that the experience with the virtual assistant can impact brand perception and loyalty more profoundly than a static Web page. Examples of what participants responded when asked how the virtual assistant experience changed the image they had of the company follow: Young, hip company. This company is there to help Image of we are here to help you Gonna make people feel more connected. You feel you are interacting with the company, feels more personal. Interpretation of Results One can think of a Web virtual assistant as hiring a dedicated employee for each and every one of your customers, a personal round the clock assistant to address all of your customers questions and requests instantaneously, without delay. The efficiency of delivering customer care through a virtual assistant is a clear benefit, but the research data suggests that a much greater impact may be the virtual assistant s ability to establish a relationship with the consumer, where static Web pages simply cannot. In a world that is increasingly digital, where consumers can interact with enterprises without ever dealing with one of the enterprise s employees, the virtual assistant plays an important role in shaping brand perception. Most Web sites today deliver a static one-way interaction. Web sites have effectively replaced marketing brochures, ATMs and the cash register. However, they have not replaced the human interaction that consumers value. A virtual assistant delivers that opportunity to establish loyalty, to express the brand s attributes through persona and differentiate the enterprise from competitors, by delivering that missing attribute in self-service the human touch.

7 Customer Service Solutions white paper billion virtual assistant interactions processed by Nuance in the past three years. How to Take the Next Step As a leader in the virtual assistant marketplace, Nuance is uniquely positioned to guide you on the path of adding this transformational solution to your Web site. Nuance has a proven track record of successfully deploying virtual assistants with customer experience leaders such as CocaCola, Windstream, Jetstar, USAA and Geico. In addition to this unparalleled experience, Nuance also sets the standard in natural language technology. Nuance s Nina Web virtual assistant solution has processed over 1.7 billion interactions over the past three years, in addition to the billions of interactions processed annually through Nuance s other natural language solutions. The outcome is a more human-like experience for your customers and more compelling results for the enterprise.

8 Customer Service Solutions white paper 8 About Nuance Communications Nuance Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ: NUAN) is a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Its technologies, applications and services make the user experience more compelling by transforming the way people interact with devices and systems. Every day, millions of users and thousands of businesses experience Nuance s proven applications. For more information, please visit Nuance Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. Nuance, the Nuance logo, Nina and Prodigy are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Nuance Communications, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries in the United States and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the properties of their respective owners. WP NUCC2158

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