We’ve all heard someone ask Siri about the weather forecast or request that Alexa play their favorite tunes. However, these digital personal assistants can also be a vital component to businesses everywhere.
Here’s how a digital assistant can improve workplace productivity.
What is a digital assistant?
A digital assistant is a predictive chatbot that participates in dialogue with a user, usually over an internet connection. Using machine learning and natural language processing, the computer program adapts as people use it and can provide a personalized and friendly environment for users.
These virtual assistants can do just about anything, such as sending a text message, playing your favorite song, answering questions, telling jokes or giving you directions to the nearest grocery store. These are most popular digital assistants today:
- Siri: The iOS virtual assistant.
- Google Assistant: This assistant ppears every time someone says, “OK, Google” on the Google app.
- Cortana: This is the name for Windows’ digital assistant .
- Alexa: Alexa is Amazon’s assistant available on Amazon Echo devices and Fire TV.
These digital assistants pull data from multiple sources and combine them to form user context. Essentially, they break down what users say or type to translate what the user wants the program to do. While breaking the phrase or sentence down, these assistants are able to generate accurate responses to the users’ questions. This can help businesses with setting reminders, scheduling meetings, transferring users to the correct department, and automating responses to most commonly asked questions. [Learn how stress connects to productivity.]
Benefits of hiring a digital assistant
1. Boost collaboration and productivity.
Keeping track of your employees’ productivity can be a tedious task. Sending emails or texts to each employee to find out sales information or their progress on an assignment is time-consuming as well. Digital personal assistants have changed that for the better.
For example, Slack has a nifty feature called Howdy that will send your team those types of questions so you can focus on other projects that can grow your business. Furthermore, this keeps your entire team on the same page so everyone can keep tabs on each other and quickly share information without having to type and send out emails. [Learn how to use self-care to improve workplace productivity.]
2. Schedule reminders and meetings.
Let’s say that you need to pick up some printer paper and ink on the way home. You can add a reminder about the chore into Google Assistant. You can also use this tech whenever you have a business meeting.
Cortana takes this feature a step further: It can predict which actions you may want to take next. For example, if you and a client are planning a lunch meeting through email, Cortana will automatically ask you if you want to schedule a meeting based on the email conversations.
3. Less typing means more creativity.
The act of typing can slow down the creative process. Say you’re in the zone and have a million ideas you want to share with your colleagues. Then, you have to sit down and type these ideas out. Your train of thought has suddenly come to a screeching halt.
With digital personal assistants, you can just speak your thoughts and they’ll be converted into emails, documents or to-do lists. This not only keeps your train of thought flowing, it speeds things up so you can get back to work on other tasks.
Research what digital assistant software is right for you and your business.
4. Save money.
If you’re on a tight budget, hiring actual assistants may be a necessary yet costly expense. Thankfully, there are tools like Ooma’s Virtual Receptionist that essentially replace this full-time employee for a low monthly cost.
This tool, which is part of their Ooma Office system, allows incoming phone calls to be answered and directed to the appropriate employee in your business, creates automated messages that share vital information like your business hours and list of employees, customizes directory settings, and even checks your messages from your mobile device.
Our review of the Ooma Office business phone system found that it has a lot of tools and features that many small businesses will find valuable.
5. Automate and simplify daily tasks.
This could be the biggest advantage of digital personal assistants. Let’s say you want to call Bob Smith. You can grab your iPhone and tell Siri, “Call Bob Smith.”
Besides simplifying tasks, you can also automate tasks with a digital assistant. For example, you can set up alarms, notifications, location reminders and tasks like social media updates so you don’t have to do so manually every day. Even more interesting, you can sync your digital personal assistants with other gadgets. For example, you could start brewing coffee every morning at 9 a.m. or have Google Nest turn on the air or heat in the building at 7 a.m. so the office is comfortable.
As the Internet of Things advances, this will become a more common occurrence. And you’ll probably wonder why it took so long for this connected world to become a reality.
6. Streamline customer service.
Digital assistants can be a vital tool in assisting both customers and employees. Because customers value immediate assistance, digital assistants can be available 24/7 at times when a business would otherwise be closed. Adding a chatbot to your business’s website can be a cost-effective way to utilize customer service and sales leads. These chatbots are able to answer simple questions and refer users to other departments immediately if needed. By decreasing response times, customers are generally happier, which can lead to increased conversion.
7. Integrate with existing products and services.
With built-in integration, digital assistants like Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant have their own integration API so companies can use pre-built assistants in their business’ infrastructure. Businesses can take advantage of an existing digital assistant to start implementing personalized voice commands relating to certain products or services.
Some car companies are integrating Amazon’s Alexa into their vehicles to assist with drivers’ needs and wants.
Where to find digital assistants
While there are multiple mainstream digital assistants, building your own digital assistant can prove to be useful for companies looking to provide a quick and helpful online service for their customers. Here are a few of the best digital assistant tools you can use:
- AlphaChat: AlphaChat is a conversational AI platform that allows companies to build their own digital assistants for their websites and social channels. It features built-in natural language understanding for training AI, a dedicated widget for website chat automation with built-in live chat and can work in all languages. The interface is very simple and user-friendly, as there’s no coding required to build the assistants. You can access a 10-day free trial and sign up for a monthly plan if interested.
- Hyro: Hyro is a digital assistant software platform that breaks down conversational data in order to create a basis for conversational interfaces. This platform features a focus in healthcare, government and real estate categories, and parses existing data to formulate an accurate and personalized response based on your original statement. Paid plans are available upon request.
- Netomi: Netomi is a customer service automation platform that helps build digital assistants. Netomi has built-in automation solutions for chat and email through its intent detection and ticket clustering capabilities. Pricing is also available upon request.