May 23, 2024

How to create a virtual assistant: critical questions to ask yourself

From understanding your users to defining the right performance indicators for your virtual assistant

Businesses increasingly utilize AI solutions to accelerate business processes and improve customer engagement. Developing a virtual assistant powered by advanced AI has become essential for companies operating online. These virtual assistants can manage various tasks, from handling customer service inquiries to providing sales support. Creating a practical virtual assistant requires a deep understanding of the client's needs and the end-user's expectations. At, we offer the tools and expertise needed to assist businesses in building next-generation AI virtual assistants

This article explores the essential questions to consider when developing a virtual assistant to ensure optimal performance and user satisfaction.

Setting the scene

Understanding the user

1. Who are your users?

Identify your users' demographic and psychographic characteristics. Are they tech-savvy millennials, busy professionals, or elderly individuals seeking support? Use tools like surveys, user interviews, and analytics platforms to gather detailed user insights.

2. Where are your users normally when they interact with the virtual assistant?

Understanding the typical environment helps tailor the virtual assistant's responses to be more contextually appropriate, whether at home using a smartphone, in the office on a PC, or in the car.

3. With whom are they usually interacting with the virtual assistant?

Are users typically alone, or are they with children, partners, or colleagues? The environment can influence the complexity and tone of the virtual assistant's interactions.

4. Is the user writing to you in a hurry?

Users may require quick answers, especially when multitasking. Recognizing their urgency can help create concise and effective conversational flows.

Defining the virtual assistant

1. Who is your virtual assistant?

Imagine the virtual assistant as a new colleague joining your team. Which department would you assign them to? This decision will help define the virtual assistant's role, whether it's in customer service, sales, marketing, or another area. For instance, our conversational AI solution offers the tools to develop specialized AI agents tailored to the unique needs of various departments, ensuring each team benefits from a dedicated virtual assistant designed to enhance their specific functions.

2. Where is the virtual assistant located?

Identify the primary channel for the virtual assistant's deployment. Is it a website, WhatsApp, telephone, Facebook, an app, or another platform? Each channel has its interaction norms and technical requirements, so selecting the right one is crucial for effective user engagement and seamless functionality.

3. How does the virtual assistant fit into the current ways of communicating with you for the same purpose?

Describe the current user journey and how the introduction of the virtual assistant will change it. Will the virtual assistant complement existing channels or replace certain aspects of customer interaction?

4. Expected volume of interactions

Estimate the expected number of interactions the virtual assistant will handle. This information is crucial for designing the virtual assistant's capacity and scalability and choosing the right solution for its construction.

Addressing users needs

What is the need of the customers who contact you?

Clearly define the primary issues users face that the virtual assistant will resolve. Clear goals ensure that the virtual assistant is purpose-built to provide effective solutions.

What information do they require to solve their need?

Identify the essential information users require concerning product details, troubleshooting steps, or booking information. Understanding this is crucial for structuring the virtual assistant's responses.

Can you give examples of the most frequent user questions?

Collecting examples of common queries can help train the virtual assistant to handle them efficiently and improve user satisfaction. Mastering the customer service language the virtual assistant will use is part of this process.

What is your customer motivated by?

Users may have different motivations, such as curiosity, cost-efficiency, work-related needs, health improvement, or earning money. Tailor the virtual assistant's interactions to resonate with these motivations.

What do your users worry about?

Addressing user concerns like solving their problems quickly, not waiting too long, receiving clear and sufficient information, avoiding wrong choices, and privacy issues is crucial for trust and satisfaction.

How do your customers feel when they contact the virtual assistant?

Users may feel confused, overloaded with information, annoyed, happy, relaxed, or neutral. Understanding their emotional state helps in designing empathetic and effective interactions.

What do your customers expect from the virtual assistant?

Users may expect reassurance, clear and comprehensive information, problem-solving, or advice on the best products. Define the virtual assistant’s personality and capabilities to meet these expectations.

Do you have other important information about your customers?

Any additional insights about users’ preferences, behaviors, or feedback can be valuable in fine-tuning the virtual assistant's design.

Defining virtual assistant needs

What tasks does the virtual assistant need to perform? 

Identify critical tasks such as providing product information, booking tickets, answering documentation questions or FAQs, promoting offers, etc. For example, if you have an e-commerce business, the virtual assistant could suggest products, respond to product-specific concerns, or assist in returns or shipping. 

Is there any information about the end user that you can retrieve automatically?

Information such as user name, subscribed plan, products in the cart, user ID, birth date, etc., can be retrieved to personalize interactions and improve user experience.

What are the limitations of the virtual assistant?

It's essential to clearly define what the virtual assistant cannot do to set realistic user expectations and guide the design of fallback mechanisms. If your virtual assistant is powered by Generative AI, you must ensure it writes correctly and provides contextual information.

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Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

What aspects are most vital for you to track? Do you already have KPIs in mind?

Tracking the performance of your virtual assistant is critical to ensure it meets its objectives and continues to improve. Some common KPIs include:

User satisfaction

Measure how satisfied users are with their interactions with the virtual assistant through post-interaction surveys or feedback mechanisms. For example, our collaboration with Lavazza showed an 85% user satisfaction rate, significantly improving their customer experience by assisting users in the subscription process.

Automation rate

Track the percentage of user queries resolved by the virtual assistant without human intervention. Our project with ITAS led to 91% of customer requests being managed autonomously by the virtual assistant, allowing human agents to focus on more complex queries.

Average handling time

Monitor the time to resolve user queries to ensure the virtual assistant is efficient and users do not wait.

Engagement rate

Measure how often users engage with the virtual assistant and the average duration of these interactions.

Human takeover rate

Measure how often the virtual assistant needs to escalate queries to human agents, indicating areas where the virtual assistant's capabilities might need enhancement.

User retention

Track users' repeat usage of the virtual assistant, indicating their satisfaction and trust in the virtual assistant.

Conversion rate

For virtual assistants involved in sales or marketing, tracking the conversion rate of interactions to actual sales or sign-ups is essential. For example, Telepass's use of our solution resulted in a 13% increase in conversion rate within the first six months. This growth demonstrates the effectiveness of the virtual assistant in guiding users through the sales process.

In conclusion, creating a virtual assistant that meets the needs of both the business and the users involves asking the right questions and gathering detailed insights. By understanding the user environment, defining the assistant's role, addressing human needs, and setting clear KPIs, businesses can design a virtual assistant that enhances user experience and drives operational efficiency. Using a conversation AI platform tailored to your business's specific needs leads to a successful and impactful implementation and incredible results.


What are the technical requirements for integrating a virtual assistant into existing systems?

The technical requirements for integrating a virtual assistant into existing systems can vary depending on the conversational AI platform you choose. For example, our solution is designed to be easily integrated with various systems and CRMs without requiring specific technical skills or the involvement of data scientists. This platform can be utilized effectively by marketing and customer service operators, making it accessible and straightforward.

How do you ensure data privacy and security when using a virtual assistant?

Ensuring data privacy and security when using a virtual assistant also depends on the platform you select. Our platform, for instance, is highly compliant with GDPR, providing robust measures to protect user data. For more detailed information on privacy and AI, refer to this article.

What are the steps involved in effectively training a virtual assistant?

Training a virtual assistant involves several key steps. Initially, it's essential to gather detailed insights about your users and define the tasks the assistant needs to perform. The process includes creating a conversational flow, training the AI with relevant data, and continuously refining its responses based on user interactions using the right conversational AI solution for building a virtual assistant.

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