Xerox’s New Virtual Customer Care Agent Uses AI to Understand Context

Xerox subsidiary WDS, a provider of customer care technology, has introduced an intelligent virtual customer care agent that can understand, diagnose and solve customer queries in the same way a human agent would. The new WDS virtual agent manages customer care interactions by analyzing data and learning from its human colleagues and can detects how human agents diagnose customer problems and offer solutions. In doing this it quickly develops the intelligence it needs to understand and solve customer queries itself, without having to be programmed.

Drawing on artificial intelligence research from PARC, another Xerox company, and the Xerox Research Centre Europe (XRCE), the virtual agent technology represents what the company said is a leap forward in how machines learn and how they understand and react to natural language. The WDS virtual agent provides a way for organizations to tap into the terabytes of data that exist in contact centers. Customer sentiment, described symptoms, problem types, root causes and the techniques agents use to resolve customer problems---it’s all data that has long been waiting to be put to use.

“Because many first-generation virtual agents rely on basic keyword searches, they aren’t able to understand the context of a customer’s question like a human agent can,” said WDS CTO Nick Gyles, in a statement. “The WDS virtual agent has the confidence to solve problems itself because it learns just like we do, through experience. The more care data it’s exposed to, the more effective it becomes in delivering relevant and proven responses.”

“We’ve found a way for organizations to unlock that data potential to deliver benefit across their wider care channels,” Gyles said. “No other virtual agent technology is able to deliver this consistency and connect intelligence from multiple sources to ensure that the digital experience is as reliable and authentic as a human one.”

Xerox said that with its expertise in outsourced customer care solutions---which comprise more than 160 global sites and over 50,000 agents---the launch of WDS virtual agent positions the company at the forefront of customer care innovation with an ability to help its clients manage the increasing flow of customer care traffic and data across multiple channels.

“Our technology helps overcome one of the key barriers brands face in trying to deliver a truly omnichannel care experience---the ability to be consistent,” said Jean-Michel Renders, senior scientist, XRCE, in a statement. “Digital care tools often lag behind the intelligence that resides in the contact center, with outdated content or no awareness of new problems. Our research in artificial intelligence is changing this. With our machine learning technology, the WDS virtual agent has the ability to learn how to solve new problems as they arise across a company’s wider care channels.”

Delivered as a cloud-based solution, WDS Virtual Agent can be adapted to suit a brand by adjusting not only the avatar but also the response tone and manner. This gives an automated machine a personality that an organization’s customers can recognize and trust. The WDS virtual agent will be available in the fourth quarter of 2014.