When VixenLove was younger, she would stay up late surfing chat rooms, trying to meet as many men as she could. With each conversation, she improved her ability to understand, interpret and respond to each guy’s comments.
Vixen was a virtual agent developed by Chris Wampler (CTO and co-founder of UpSellit) and the conversations were his way of testing and tweaking his program. Men asked her out, and then some, so she must have been pretty believable. Though getting horned-up college kids to proposition anything they suspect is female may not be the best test.
Since then, Vixen’s cleaned up, lost the stripper name (she now goes by demure names like Julie, Sally and Jenny), and works as a SmartAgent for UpSellit. She helps close sales and reduces shopping cart abandonment with hundreds of customers at a time at dozens of sites. Unlike other virtual agents she goes beyond keyword recognition and uses natural language parsing to glean the meaning of sentences, build a knowledgebase and have logical conversations.
At gourmetstation.com, where shopping cart abandonment was as high as 50 percent, agent chat logs showed paying for shipping as the biggest customer pain point. Virtual chat agent Jenny now offers a discount on shipping and is responsible for a 10 percent lift in sales in just five months, according to president and co-founder Donna Lynes-Miller.
“When a visitor abandons the cart, SmartAgent launches and says ‘Hey, where are you going? If you come back today and buy this from us, we’ll give you free shipping or 10 percent off or something,’” explains UpSellit’s president and co-founder Glenn Russell. He estimates that the prodding has saved “Over 500,000 sales with a cumulative value of $38 million.”