Oracle Service Cloud Virtual Assistant is a relatively new brand (November 2013) that dates back to 2001 when it was known as Q-go, a product with the same name as its privately held, Amsterdam, NE-based and supplier. Q-go, the product, was first commercially deployed in 2001.
Neither RightNow, which acquired Q-go in 2011, nor Oracle, which acquired RightNow in 2013, has done very much to enhance the old Q-go other than to rebrand it. (RightNow branded it RightNow Intent Guide and Natural Language Search at the time of the 2011 Q-go acquisition. As we mentioned just above, Oracle branded it Virtual Assistant in November 2013.) Today, Oracle Service Cloud Virtual Assistant doesn’t support voice. It deploys on web browsers in HTML. Its deployments are language-specific and only Western European languages are supported.
However even after all this time, the product technology remains reasonably attractive and quite useful. The product’s core NLP technology, the technology developed by Q-go that analyzes customers’ questions and matches them with knowledgebase answers remains fresh and innovative. This is the technology that makes virtual assistants that are deployed on Virtual Assistant powerful and flexible.
Briefly, here’s how it (still) works. Customers enter questions as natural language sentences or phrases or as individual keywords or short “telegram-style” phrases. Virtual Assistant uses NLP technology to analyze customers’ questions and to match them with Questions in its knowledgebase.
- If Virtual Assistant finds a Question that is a best match with a customer’s question, then it presents the knowledgebase Answer that is linked to the Question.
- If Virtual Assistant cannot find a best match, it presents a short list of Questions that are likely matches to customer’s question. From this list, the customer selects the Question that best represent her/his question. Virtual Assistant delivers the Answer associated with the Question selected by the customer.
- Alternatively, the matching Question may trigger a Prompt and Response Dialog with the customer to arrive at an Answer through conditional sequence of steps.
- Virtual Assistant presents the knowledgebase Answers that are linked to the Questions that best match the customers’ questions.
Here’s an example from klm.com. KLM Royal Dutch Airlines had deployed Q-go. The Customer Support tab on klm.com continues to use the NLP technology to answer customers’ questions.
I asked the question, “golf clubs,” two keywords, certainly not a full sentence or even a good phrase. Virtual Assistant did not find a single best match. It found five likely matches and presented them as links as shown in the screen shot below.
Question 3, “Can I take a golf bag with me,” represents our question. I clicked it and klm.com presented the Answer shown in the screen shot below.
That’s exactly the information I was looking for, a “Very useful” Answer. I then clicked the “Read more about taking a golf bag” link to get additional information. See the screen shot below for that information.
Pretty good, no? Flexible and powerful. When Virtual Assistant can’t find a best match, finding and presenting a short list of likely, possible matches is very useful. It’s a reasonable and fast extra step to take to get to that best match. Note though that this example was not implemented by a completely automatic process. No surprise there. Analysts and administrators had some work to do to specify and manage the keywords that customers would likely use and to associate those keywords with knowledgebase Questions, like those in the first screen shot, to help Virtual Assistant find likely matches. They also had to specify and manage the Questions.
Oracle certainly has some work to do to bring Virtual Assistant up to its competition, but the work builds on a very good foundation. Read our Product Evaluation Report to get the details.