The Rise of Virtual Personal Assistants with Asynchronous Messaging

When the internet became mainstream, how great was it to be able to go online, search for what you wanted, click a few buttons, and buy something without having to get up or move? How great was it to book travel using online aggregator sites rather than having to call travel agents or doing hours of research to find the best deal? Now what if I told you that there were apps today that make these quick and easy process even quicker and easier?

For lack of a better term, virtual personal assistant messaging apps have begun popping up in a variety of sectors. In today's technology-driven world of faster, better, smarter, it's no surprise that the way we do almost everything is quickly evolving to match the latest trends. Because messaging now comprises such a large portion of our everyday lives, what better way for a company to provide a service than through a channel that their consumers are already fond of? This is where asynchronous messaging can come into play. Asynchronous messaging is a communication method where messages are sent back and forth on a SMS simulated platform. Messages are sent through and held in a message queue and are available whenever the receiver is ready to open it. In many situations asynchronous messaging, in this case texting, is just simply more convenient - and much of the millennial population, whose buying power increases daily, has grown up with messaging as a main form of communication.

Hyper, created to make booking corporate travel even easier, is one example of this type of service. Hyper does everything a traditional travel agent would do by helping you find the right hotel, flight, car - whatever you need for your trip. The difference is, all you have to do is type/text/iMessage your request. Hyper uses human assistants to carry out your requests, but through asynchronous messaging which eliminates the frustrations with being put on hold or trying to reach an agent at a convenient time for both people. The entire booking process from initial request all the way through final booking is done through messaging.

Along similar lines, Operator is another example of a virtual personal assistant. It was created around three ideas: messaging as a convenient platform for buying things, a logistics layer for moving goods, and the fact that everyone has a smartphone. WIth no one else but the consumer in mind, Operator helps make shopping experiences even easier. Text your request and someone will answer with quality recommendations tailored to your taste. Whatever you may be looking for, Operator can help you find it. Once you text a request, a human assistant will do all the legwork in searching for the item that best meets your needs. Just like Hyper, Operator utilizes asynchronous messaging to provide an even better, easier and consumer-centric way of doing things.

These apps are a great example of how customer service and customer experience can be enhanced with technology. Not only do these apps allow consumers to communicate and solve their needs through a channel they already use everyday, they also show how technology can be used in parallel with human power to enhance the overall service and experience. Something to note when thinking of how to improve your own business to stay relevant to the technology and trends of today: 64% of millennial consumers prefer texting a company for information versus calling them and 77% of them have a more positive perception of a company they can reach via mobile messaging. Additionally, Helpshift - an in-app customer support platform that enables mobile apps to improve customer experience, drive higher ratings and increase retention - found that 1 in 5 mobile users actively seek in-app support. Now how you take that and apply it to your business, industry, vertical or sector is up to you.

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Valerie Access

February 09, 2016