Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Navigating the implementation of AI virtual assistants for your brand: a comprehensive guide

By Gary Knight, CEO, WOLF Qanawat

Is it time for your brand to embrace the world of AI virtual assistants? If the prospect intrigues you, questions about the benefits and the level of commitment required likely loom large. 

Our commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technologies for tangible consumer benefits led us to introduce an AI Virtual Assistant, a logical step following the successful launch of our new VR feature. Based on this experience, I’m here to share insights and advice on the journey.

At WOLF Qanawat, a British-developed audio entertainment communities app developed specifically for the Arabic speaking MENA market, we recently introduced our AI virtual assistant, Yasmine. 

The premise of our app is to provide online community engagement and entertainment for audiences who can’t do socialising in the real world as easily as in other parts of the globe. Yasmine adds to our app’s user experience by providing a smooth and user-friendly method of communication between us and our users in Arabic.

She offers information and entertainment while assisting users in discovering content, connecting with others, and navigating the platform. However, introducing Yasmine to WOLF demanded meticulous planning and preparation.

Understanding the need for an AI virtual assistant

AI has become pervasive across various industries, thanks to Large Language Models (LLMs) like OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Gemini, and visual tools such as Midjourney and an ever-expanding array that produce other content formats. The benefits are diverse, ranging from visually depicting customers in entertaining scenarios, to creating unique music tracks and enhancing customer interactions with natural language processing.

Moreover, AI contributes to increased productivity, operational efficiency, error avoidance, and personalised customer experiences. Brands can utilise AI to tailor content and recommendations, with virtual assistants offering a tireless support system that provides exceptional customer service while controlling human resource costs.

For instance, in WOLF Qanawat, Yasmine engages new users in their natural language, answering queries about app usage; creating a more personalised onboarding experience.

Is an AI experience right for your brand?

If your brand caters to younger audiences who are comfortable with synthetic customer service representatives, an AI virtual assistant is likely to be a great fit. AI virtual assistants offer quick, high-quality information delivery – something Gen Z has come to expect. This approach is particularly beneficial for brands dealing with customers who frequently seek information, providing instant and cost-effective solutions.

Even traditionally conservative sectors, such as banking, are adopting AI virtual assistants. NatWest’s ‘digital human’, Cora+, combines basic information dissemination with generative AI, engaging in natural conversations with customers to enhance their customer experience, alongside the bank’s traditional in-branch, telephone and online services. It’s useful to think of an AI virtual assistant as being like a concierge or personal assistant for your customers, or in our case, users. As it gradually gets to know that user or customer, and their preferences, it can make suggestions, or even bookings, based on what it learns as time goes by.

Embarking on the AI Journey

At the outset, evaluate how customers currently access information about your brand. Consider the ease, cost, and efficiency of information delivery. If improvements are needed, an AI virtual assistant could be the ideal solution.

Choose between growing an in-house software engineering team with AI expertise or an external partner. Your IT department must provide data feeds, and your marketing team should decide on the information and tone of voice, languages and dialect, to customise the virtual assistant to represent your brand values.

Your considerations should include how much this will cost and what effort is required to feed the AI with all the data it will need to comprehensively service the needs of your customers.

Implementation timeline and ongoing maintenance

The timeline to move from idea to a fully functioning AI virtual assistant is typically around two months. However, ongoing maintenance and iterations are crucial for continuous improvement. AI evolves rapidly, introducing new possibilities, so staying abreast of developments is vital to remain competitive and strengthen your market position.

In conclusion, while an AI virtual assistant might not be suitable for every brand, it’s worth considering, especially if your target audience is younger and expects to obtain quick access to information. Embracing AI can not only enhance customer experiences but also contribute to controlling service costs and future-proofing your brand.