Real help from a Virtual Assistant

Today, my team launched a virtual chat assistant on Think of it as Siri but for your web site. Just ask it questions that you would do if there were a real human on the other side. If your conversation is about up2drive, it should do a decent job answering you in an intelligible way. It also knows the time of day and changes prompts like “Good Morning” to “Good Afternoon” accordingly.

What I really like is it gives short answers just like a normal chat or IM conversation. Instead of an FAQ where you’d have to read a lengthy answer to pick out what applies to you, up2drive Assist starts asking clarifying questions. Ask it “I’m having trouble logging in,” and it will ask you if you have an existing loan with up2drive or have recently applied. It will then ask where you applied to give you the most direct and brief answer.

For the next few months, the conversations may seem a bit rusty – but we’ll be watching it daily to update the language database. Everyday we’ll improve upon the responses. Hopefully by February or March of 2015, it will be 99% there. Try it for yourself at

“Your company sucks!” How to turn negative customer comments into something positive.

One angry customer.

Image courtesy of
Flickr user GregPC

Merely acknowledging negative customer comments about your company on social media can do just as much good as resolving their issue – and far greater good than doing nothing at all.

We’re seeing more companies become comfortable in utilizing social media as a too for customer service. Some simply use their company’s Facebook Wall to respond to posts. Others use third party apps like Get Satisfaction or UserVoice to manage the conversation. It certainly takes guts to add this level of transparency to your company’s operations, which is why I feel more (if not every) company who holds customer service in high regard should have some modest level of social media presence. But many don’t, and the #1 reason from management seems to be “I don’t want customers to write nasty things about us.” Or taken another way, “I’m not going to launch a tool just so everyone can bitch about us.”

I’ll admit that there is a subset of your customer base that will never be happy, regardless how much you try. However, I’ve experienced that most customers are surprised, maybe even delighted, that they simply received a prompt yet brief personalized message from a company saying, “I’m sorry.” This does wonders to a company’s social image and brand. But why?

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