Oracle Service Cloud Virtual Assistant

A Good Solution for Oracle Service Cloud Subscribers

February 20, 2015

You really should consider adding a virtual assistant to your customer service application portfolio. Why? Because virtual assistant software can lower cost to serve by answering customers’ frequently asked questions and solving their frequently encountered problems faster and more consistently than your live agents and, more significantly, freeing your agents for stickier questions and more complex problems. Oracle makes it easy for its Service Cloud subscribers to add virtual assistant capabilities. Virtual Assistant is in the box with Service Cloud. And Virtual Assistant has pretty good capabilities. Read our evaluation for the details.


Oracle Service Cloud, a collection of products built on a platform of shared resources, is Oracle Corporation’s cloud-computing customer service offering. The collection is comprised of Web Customer Service, Cross Channel Contact Center, Knowledge Management, and Policy Automation products. Oracle Service Cloud Virtual Assistant, the subject of this Product Evaluation Report, is the component of Web Customer Service that provides virtual assistant/virtual agent capabilities.

Virtual Assistant uses NLP technology to analyze and match customers’ questions. Customers enter questions in text on web pages as complete sentences, phrases, or individual (key)words. Virtual Assistant delivers answers, short lists of questions from which customers can select the question that best matches their questions, or a prompt and response step in a Dialog with Virtual Assistant to converge on an answer.

Virtual Assistant is built on NLP technology that was commercially introduced in 2001. Oracle gave the technology the Virtual Assistant brand with the November 2013 release of Service Cloud. This is a relatively new offering, and very few customer organizations have deployed Virtual Assistant and its predecessor offerings.

Oracle Service Cloud Virtual Assistant earns a very good Report Card—Exceeds-Requirements Grades in Supplier Viability, Findability, and Analysis and Reporting; and Meets-Requirements grades in Customer Service Capabilities, Product Marketing, Product Management, and Customer Service Integration. It earns a Needs-Improvement grade in knowledge management because support for multiple languages and for change management is limited.

We recommend Virtual Assistant for the flexibility that it gives customers in asking questions and for its flexibility in delivering answers. Oracle Service Cloud subscribers should seriously consider extending and enhancing their customer service experience with Virtual Assistant.


Customers Have Questions and Encounter Problems

In the course of doing business with you, customers have questions and encounter problems. Those questions and problems arise during activities that customers want to or need to perform in order to do their jobs or live their daily lives.

Why do they have questions? Because they don’t know, don’t understand, can’t figure out, or can’t find the information, the service, or the procedure that they need to accomplish their goals. Customers might ask:

  • What’s the minimum age for a minor to fly unaccompanied?
  • Can I rollover a 403b retirement plan to you?
  • How do I get the upgrades to the product that I bought two years ago?

Why do they have problems? Because they can’t figure out how to install or use the products that they’ve bought, because they don’t understand or disagree with the bill that you sent them, or because the product that they purchased from you is defective or broken and they’d like it fixed or replaced. For example:

  • Why did you automatically renew my service without asking me first?
  • My monthly bill has an item that I did not purchase. I refuse to pay for it.
  • The shirt that I bought from you last month has discolored. Can I return it for a new one? If so, then how?

Customer Service

Customer Service is all about answering customers’ questions and resolving customers’ problems. Ideally, you deliver those answers and solutions quickly, accurately, and consistently. So your customers can complete their activities and continue with their tasks.

Sometimes you cannot reach this ideal. The answer or the solution is not available because it's a question that you’ve never been previously asked or it’s a new problem. When you don’t have or can’t find an answer or a solution, you create a case to represent the work that you’ll perform to find or develop one.

Touchpoints for Self-Service, Assisted-Service, Social Customer Service

Customers choose where they’d like to do business with you. These are the touchpoints on which they prefer to perform their tasks. Touchpoints comprise channels like the web, the telephone, or the physical store; devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, landline and/or mobile telephones, or physical/personal contact; and your customer-facing applications that support these channels and devices, completing the touchpoints. When questions or problems prevent customers from reaching their goals, they seek customer service in a touchpoint-dependent manner—self-service customer-facing apps when they want to help themselves to answers and solutions; assisted-service customer-facing apps when they want your agents or reps to help them get answers and solutions; and social customer-facing apps when they want other customers, their peers, to help. Customer service software supports these approaches. We classify customer service apps as self-service, assisted-service, and/or social customer service.


Oracle Service Cloud is a collection of products built on a platform of shared resources that make up Oracle Corporation’s cloud-computing customer service offering. The collection is comprised of Web Customer Service, Cross Channel Contact Center, Knowledge Management, and Policy Automation products. Each of these products, in turn, includes a collection of components. Web Customer Service offers Web Self-service, Social Self-service, E-mail Support, Live Chat, and Virtual Assistant components. Oracle Service Cloud Virtual Assistant, or simply Virtual Assistant, provides virtual agent, virtual assistant, or virtual assisted-services capabilities (we use the terms synonymously).

Virtual Assistant’s facilities and resources can answer and resolve the questions and problems that customers enter as strings of sentences, phrases, or words into text boxes on web pages or within email messages. Virtual Assistant is tightly integrated with Oracle Service Cloud Live Chat. It can automatically escalate to... (more)

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