As many organisations across the world look to digital tools to help address surges in customer inquiries due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a new IBM study reveals that 99% of respondents report an increase in customer satisfaction as a result of using AI-driven virtual agent technology.

The research showed organisations that are early adopters of AI and cloud technology are reaping significant benefits from AI-driven virtual agents.

Ninety-four percent of respondents defined as “leaders” – those who implemented AI-driven virtual agents early, integrated them with backend systems and trained them with many contacts – have already achieved or exceeded their expected return on investment, compared to 49% of others.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, organizations are balancing the need to rapidly scale customer service to manage surges in inquiries, while still delivering a delightful customer experience – and doing it all for less,” says Glenn Finch, global managing partner, cognitive business decision support at IBM Services.

“The study validates what we’re seeing from clients around the world: those who have adopted virtual agent technology are seeing both bottom-line and top-line results including reduced costs, higher customer and human agent satisfaction, and increased revenue as a result.”

The IBM Institute for Business Value study, titled “The value of virtual agent technology”, surveyed more than 1 000 companies, spanning 12 industries and 33 countries, that have used virtual agents for just six months to over four years.

Additional study findings include:

* 44% of “leaders” reported having fully integrated cloud strategies for their service desk systems, compared to 19% of others.

* 20% is the average contribution to human agent satisfaction attributed to virtual agent technology by responding organisations.

* Organisations using virtual agents reported a 64% average containment rate – the portion of total contacts the virtual agent technology has been trained to handle that it resolves without human agent involvement.

* For 46% of “leaders” in virtual agent technology, and 33% of other respondents, customer experience is the most important driver of virtual agent use.

* Every respondent reported that virtual agent technology has contributed to an increase in organisation revenue, the average increase being 3%.