Next IT ActiveAgent

Virtual Agents that Deliver Sophisticated Answers to Complex Questions

November 29, 2012

Next IT ActiveAgent’s virtual agents can deliver sophisticated answers to complex questions on web, mobile, and social channels. We recommend that large B2C organizations consider ActiveAgent to add cross-channel virtual assisted-service to their customer service application portfolio. Answers and Question Analysis and Matching are the key strengths of the offering.


ActiveAgent is the virtual assisted-service offering from Next IT, a privately held supplier founded in 2002 and based in Spokane, WA, USA.

Organizations purchase subscription licenses for cloud deployment or perpetual licenses for on-premise deployment of ActiveAgent. To date, Next IT claims that approximately 17 customer organizations have licensed it.

ActiveAgent earns very good grades on our Customer Service Report Card for Virtual Assisted-Service—it exceeds requirements for answers, for question analysis and matching, and for analytic functionality, and it meets requirements for customer service integration, product viability, and company viability.

Use ActiveAgent to deploy virtual agents on web and mobile channels to answer customers’ questions directly or through directed conversations. Customers can ask questions in any language. Virtual agents can deliver answers in any language and can integrate data from external applications into their answers.

We recommend that large B2C organizations consider ActiveAgent to add cross-channel virtual assisted-service to their customer service application portfolio. Its virtual agents can deliver complete and sophisticated answers to any customers’ questions, lowering cost to serve and improving customer satisfaction.

Jenn, Alaska Airlines’ Virtual Agent

Jenn, Alaska Airlines’ Virtual Agent
(Click on image to enlarge.)

© 2011 Alaska Air Group, Inc.

1. This illustration shows Jenn, Alaska Airlines’ virtual agent, providing a single answer to a complex question: “what are the available flights from Boston to Seattle, leaving Boston on December 24th and returning January 1s?”


Answer Customers’ Questions and Solve Customers’ Problems

Customer service products help organizations deliver answers to their customers’ questions and solutions to their problems through their case management, knowledge management, search, account management, and social network management capabilities, capabilities that support self-service, assisted-service, and social-service channels. These products help answer and solve customers’ questions and problems about products and services, about business policies, processes, and practices, or about the elements of their customer relationships such as accounts, bills, orders, and contracts.

Virtual Assisted-Service

Virtual assisted-service products and services use software to:

  • Solicit and receive customers’ questions, typically within a box on a web page, similar to the box for a chat session. Within the box are a text box into which customers enter their questions and an image of a person, a virtual agent.
  • Analyze customers’ questions to determine the meaning and the intent. Analyses are typically natural language processing (NLP) and linguistic analytics.
  • Match a customer’s question to the answer within a collection of predefined answers that best matches it. Matching also uses linguistic analytics. The collection of predefined answers is a knowledgebase.
  • Deliver the best answers to customers within the box on the web page.

Virtual assisted-service is virtual because it uses software to determine and to deliver answers to customers’ questions. It’s assisted-service because it solicits questions and delivers answers in the style that live agents/customer service reps deliver answers on assisted-service channels. Customers escalate to virtual assisted-service from self-service activities when they have difficulty getting answers to their questions. Virtual agents are the faces of virtual assisted-service technology.

Virtual Assisted-Service Can Be a Low(er)-Cost Customer Service Channel

Virtual assisted can be a low(er)-cost customer service channel. It’s customer service software, not customer service staff. It can lower cost-to-serve by avoiding or deflecting assisted-service chat sessions and/or contact center calls. It can also prevent or delay abandonment and improve customer satisfaction, delivering answers to customers who might otherwise leave rather than call.

The Best Virtual Assisted-Service—Fast and Accurate

As it is for all customer service, the best virtual assisted-service is fast and accurate. Customers won’t wait very long. They access your sites on fast devices using fast connections on fast networks. Your processing of their questions should never be the bottleneck to their completing their activities in doing business with you.

Accuracy is the key. Customers want the right answer. They’d prefer not to read a list of FAQs to match their questions with yours. (That’s what they expect a virtual agent to do for them.) They don’t want to wade through pages of possible answers like they’re forced to do when they use Internet search.


ActiveAgent is the virtual assisted-service offering from Next IT. It deploys on web pages and mobile devices, presenting a software avatar and a text box that invites customers and/or users to “ask” it a question by entering a text string and delivering a “best match” answer comprising text, links, and/or web pages in response.

ActiveAgent deploys in the cloud or on-premise, and Next IT offers professional services to help ensure successful deployments and to help in their ongoing refinement and management.

ActiveAgent’s key strength and most significant differentiator is its capability to...

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