Find out in this article featuring predictions by futurists. And don’t worry – we’ll tell you how the recent advancements of virtual assistants will affect you, your business, and your career. It’s time to stop thinking that virtual assistants are just resources for CEOs and tech-savvy managers – they’re much more than that. Virtual assistants are becoming as ubiquitous as traditional employees today.
- Two Definitions of ‘Virtual Assistant’
- The Types of Virtual Assistants: Smart Machines & Human Expertise
- Software Virtual Assistants Will Be Everywhere
- Occupational Virtual Assistants Are Exceedingly Common as Well
- While promising, AI doesn’t quite cut it (just yet)
- Important to a growing business: Affordable, value-oriented talent
Two Definitions of ‘Virtual Assistant’
There are two definitions of what a virtual assistant is: a type of software and a type of service. As software, it refers to a program that provides assistance with everyday tasks. The other type of assistant is a person who helps another person with their personal tasks (administrative, management, etc.).
The Types of Virtual Assistants: Smart Machines & Human Expertise
A virtual assistant serves different purposes, from routine administrative tasks to complex research. Virtual assistants can be software programs designed to make a person’s life easier. They can also be highly specialized professionals that help with a variety of different tasks, depending on the situation’s needs.
Now and in the future, both of these types will continue to grow in popularity and diversify — here’s how they’ll change:
Software Virtual Assistants Will Be Everywhere
Software virtual assistants are already becoming more common, and their use cases are expanding as well. Many companies offer virtual assistants for business use – some are even planning on releasing more affordable versions for individual consumers as well.
Statistics: There are currently 100 million virtual assistant software programs installed on mobile devices globally. More than 25% of all mobile searches are carried out via voice – Google alone has over 2 billion voice searches per month. Already, 20% of consumers believe that virtual assistants like Siri will replace all apps over the next 5 years.
Other interesting stats: Many experts believe that virtual assistance software will be a $1 trillion industry by 2025. Additionally, 67% of business owners and executives think that their companies will use virtual assistants in the next 3 years.
Alexa and Siri were the first, but many more are entering the market as well. Google has Google Assistant, Microsoft has Cortana, and Amazon has Alexa. These virtual assistants are constantly improving with each software update – and soon, they will be able to perform even more tasks that make your life easier.
Virtual assistants have many uses in the office or at home: you can use them to schedule simple appointments, track packages being delivered to you, create reminders for important dates on your calendar, and even send texts to your friends or colleagues.
Your software virtual assistant will soon be able to complete even more tasks — they’ve already been integrating with smart devices to simplify your life: Amazon’s Alexa can turn on your lights with a voice command, smart locks can let you in when you’re home and keep intruders out, and the Nest Thermostat can keep your heating and cooling bills low every season.
Occupational Virtual Assistants Are Exceedingly Common as Well
Virtual assistants (as a professional occupation) that have talent and expertise are more affordable than their colleagues who are in the office, and they also complement well with software advancements in business operations. Many companies are willing to pay for this higher level of virtual assistant service. These virtual assistants are generally trained to be faster at completing specialized tasks than in-office employees, and they are hired for their ability to learn and adapt well to new skills over time as well.
Statistics: Experts predict that in just a few years, the virtual assistant workforce will double in size. Already, 1 million people work as virtual assistants worldwide. In comparison, there were 25,000 virtual assistants worldwide in 2008. This figure will grow to 2.3 million people globally.
Popular occupational virtual assistants
There are five types of occupational virtual assistants (VAs) in 2021, according to this report: Sales VAs, Customer Service VAs, Marketing VAs, Administrative VAs, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) VAs.
- Sales assistants are real hires for sales-driven organizations who want a perfect sales assistant who can prospect, cold call, perform inside sales, and perfect calling scripts.
- Administrative assistants are real hires who help in the organization and coordination of tasks that require administrative skills.
- Customer service assistants are real hires who help companies in responding to customer inquiries and requests. They will also assist customers on issues such as payment, returns, and refunds while having them provide feedback about the service experience. A customer service virtual assistant is fully in charge of administering customer service technologies (open, manage, and close tickets) – delivering that genuine customer satisfaction that all buyers demand.
- Marketing assistants are real hires who help companies with advertising, promotions, events, campaigns, and sales through digital media channels in real-time.
- AI assistants are artificial assistants that perform tasks based on voice, touch, and text. They are designed to be proactive and context-sensitive in order to be of more use to their users.
While promising, AI doesn’t quite cut it (just yet)
There is no doubt that the presence of AI in today’s businesses has helped companies operate smoothly when teams cannot afford more customer service employees. For some, businesses are finding that their retention rates are dipping while using AI customer service software.
So what is the perfect balance in incorporating AI, yet still fostering innovative and efficient productivity?
Enhancing the Digital Learning Curve
With dozens of AI bots on the market, it’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to automate your operations. It’s natural to look for automated solutions first. After all, IT solutions are often more cost-effective than hiring team members.
Many aren’t yet aware that competitive businesses are assigning a full-time occupational virtual assistant to pair with their digital technologies. Occupational virtual assistants are providing the human touch needed for up to less than 70% of the cost of a traditional full-time employee – often in the same tier of low overhead costs as some popular digital software subscriptions.
Increasing Retention Rates + KPIs, with “hybrid” virtual solutions
Businesses find that they can finally deliver the genuine customer satisfaction that all buyers expect – when the power of virtual AI meets the power of human virtual assistance – fortunately at a lower amount of overhead costs than a full-time physical employee (allowing the best profit margins).
An experienced, qualified Virtual Assistant provider is capable of supplementing the rest of their service needs. They can handle administrative tasks, marketing, sales, customer onboarding, and training processes, along with Tier-1 support and Help Desk tasks.
There’s nothing more important to a growing business than affordable, value-oriented talent
In today’s digital & service economy, excellent service is the deciding factor for most businesses. If teams do not focus on creating a good experience across each and every interaction, you will lead to negative feedback, bad reviews, and increased churn.
Despite the hype, commercial AI is still maturing. While it can be useful for basic key-phrase recognition and providing canned responses to common questions, ultimately it’s confined to the limitations of a predefined workflow. AI cannot yet think outside the box and adapt to situations that require a degree of empathy and comprehension—and it often falls apart when asked even simple questions outside of what it is programmed to recognize.
Relying on AI as a front-line customer interaction tool alone can be dangerous. So rather than attempting to replace human assistance with AI solutions, it’s better to combine them for optimal customer service. The modern workplace is increasingly collaborative, and human assistants remain intrinsically more capable to foster relationships than AI alone.
There’s a place for automation, and there’s also a place for real, human staffing – and VA providers such as MyOutDesk virtual assistants are the top-tier solution for your high-tech help desk & customer service roles for a fraction of what business would pay locally.
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