I pulled this together a few weeks ago for someone and thought it may be useful to a wider readership, so posting it here. I don’t claim any analysis here but get in touch if you want to talk about implementing these tools
Links to the various vendors here (some are sales oriented, some service, some social):
I have a copy of a 2012 report on the market if you want but the main points are:
a) fast moving, lots of acquisitions
b) divergence between pure play chat and multichannel plays
c) width of functionality varies considerably but all dependent on understanding customer demands and being able to provide relevant data
d) artificial intelligence (understanding context and phrases) is still in early days but advancing
Ikea’s is the classic ( as in “been around a while”) retail FAQ avatar with push pages which really speeds things up – It’s “ask Anna” in the top bar. This one was provided by Artificial Solutions. A good site for briefings on the various aspects of AI and natural language. They also do combined chat and avatar. Another is Creativevirtual who do O2, Virgin Mobile, Asda etc avatars – you can click into the various clients avatars and check them out.
An example of personal avatars on phones – Intel are pushing it.
The avatars can seem pretty rough still at first sight e.g. asked O2’s Lucy “supply iphone5?”, it gives “help with iPhones” link. It looks irrelevant and clicks through to a help page – but the first question there is “can I get the iPhone 5 with O2?”. And a window popped immediately offering web chat with an O2 Guru. And the link led to relevant FAQ with strong very simple, very clear pages to go thro questions and evident links into forums to get self help ( powered by Lithium one of the leaders in community mgmt – integrates different social media and other channels so get one picture of customer, one set of MI etc) )
There are good ideas here re sales or assistance and applicable more widely. Do get in touch if you want to talk about implementing these tools