The WDS Virtual Agent taps into intelligence gleaned from terabytes of data that the company keeps about real customer interactions. Armed with this info, the virtual agent can more reliably solve problems itself, as it learns through experience. The more customer care data it is exposed to, the more effective it becomes in delivering relevant responses to real customer questions.

Of course, AI proponents have been saying this for decades, so the proof will be in how well it works.

It may be a long time before we get virtual AI companions like in the movie Her, where actor Joaquin Phoenix’s character falls in love with Siri-like AI. But virtual assistants are becoming popular because, Xerox says, they cost about a fiftieth of what a human being costs.

Xerox has applied its research from its PARC (formerly Palo Alto Research Center) and Xerox Research Centre Europe in AI, machine learning, and natural language processing. The AI can understand, diagnose, and solve customer problems — without being specifically programmed to give rote responses. It analyzes and learns from human agents

Because many first-generation virtual agents rely on basic keyword searches, they aren’t able to understand the context of a customer’s question like a human agent can,” said WDS’ Nick Gyles, chief technology officer, in a statement. “The WDS Virtual Agent has the confidence to solve problems itself because it learns just like we do, through experience. The more care data it’s exposed to, the more effective it becomes in delivering relevant and proven responses.

Xerox captures data like customer sentiment, described symptoms, problem types, root causes and the techniques agents use to resolve customer problems. The data have been there for a while; it just needs AI that is smart enough to absorb it all.

We’ve found a way for organizations to unlock that data potential to deliver benefit across their wider care channels,” Gyles said. “No other virtual agent technology is able to deliver this consistency and connect intelligence from multiple sources to ensure that the digital experience is as reliable and authentic as a human one.

Xerox is delivering the WDS Virtual Agent as a cloud-based solution. It will be available in the fourth quarter.

Our technology helps overcome one of the key barriers brands face in trying to deliver a truly omni-channel care experience; the ability to be consistent. Digital care tools often lag behind the intelligence that resides in the contact center, with outdated content or no awareness of new problems. Our research in artificial intelligence is changing this,” said Jean-Michel Renders, senior scientist at XRCE in a statement. “With our machine learning technology, the WDS Virtual Agent has the ability to learn how to solve new problems as they arise across a company’s wider care channels.