There’s seldom a day goes by when I don’t see news about artificial intelligence. And rightly so—the maturity of AI is improving rapidly and the potential for transformation is unprecedented.

Chatbots are getting a lot of attention. Some chatbots are relatively simple and limited to answering questions with pre-loaded answers, while others are intelligent and possess the ability to learn. The latter, when purpose-built to provide customer support functionality, are often referred to as virtual agents.

Virtual agents will significantly alter the way employees interact with support desks. At present, however, there is no standard method for evaluating virtual agents and several people that I’ve spoken with in recent months have told me that they are unsure how to compare one virtual agent to another.

Luma is our virtual agent. We’ve designed and evolved Luma carefully over several years. We like to think of Luma as a support agent that happens to be virtual. Its conversational interface enables users to present their issues in their words, not the language of IT. Luma guides users to provide the information required to create fully formed tickets. In many cases, such as password resets, issues can be resolved without involving human agents.

Here is some of the functionality that’s included in Luma that we believe is mandatory in every virtual agent:

  1. Offers a wide range of channels for end users to report issues – Luma enables end users to report issues conveniently by communicating using messaging apps and other tools they are already familiar with.
  2. Supports the design of conversational responses that collect all the requisite information – since users are not typically capable of describing issues using the technical terminology, required by support teams, Luma is capable of filling in the gaps to enable productive conversations with end users.
  3. Understands requests accurately and precisely – an essential requisite of any productive interaction between two people is the ability for the listener to fully understand the information they are being presented with. The same is true of a conversation between someone reporting a technical issue and the virtual agent attempting to assist in resolving the issue. Luma supports these features and enables conversations with users to be completely understood.
  4. Reduces the workload on support teams – once information has been collected, understood and digested, Luma is capable of executing actions to address the issues reported by users and does so in ways that minimize involvement by agents.
  5. Integrates seamlessly with a wide variety of support desk software – Luma is adept at exchanging information with most applications and tools used by support organizations.
  6. Includes an automation engine that implements actions in external systems –Luma is capable of autonomously implementing corrective actions in systems used by different departments across organizations.

Skimping on functionality is going to impede your virtual agent from transforming the support experiences of users and enhancing the productivity and satisfaction of your help desk team. Be sure, instead, to choose a virtual agent that provides you with everything on this list.