January 26, 2012, 10:49 AM

A virtual agent adds online sales support to her resume

Kaspersky Lab originally used “Lena” to resolve service issues; now she’s generating sales.

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Kaspersky Lab, which sells antivirus and computer security software online to consumers globally, added a virtual customer service agent named Lena to its online store in Germany in July 2010 to help resolve customers’ support issues. Based on her success, the vendor recently added online sales to her list of responsibilities.

Lena is a creation of VirtuOz Inc., which develops what it calls “intelligent virtual agents” for use on web sites. Lena’s digital character looks a lot like a person in a video game, and she appears to consumers visiting Kaspersky.com’s German site when they’re looking for help. She introduces herself via a text chat window and asks if she can be of assistance. Consumers can type in a question and Lena answers it.

In her first year of service as a customer service agent for Kaspersky Lab, Lena had more than 150,000 conversations with consumers. She was able to resolve consumers’ inquiries 85% of the time, which helped decrease call center and e-mail inquiries 22%, VirtuOz says.

“With Lena, we are delivering rapid, personalized assistance in an automated way and allowing our human advisors to concentrate on more important missions,” says Jens Voigt, head of customer support and services at Kaspersky Lab Europe.

Her success in support led to Lena showing up to help consumers make product selections in Kaspersky’s online store. For repeat customers, Lena can access their previous purchase information and make recommendations for new or complementary products and services. She also helps walk customers through the checkout process. “In just a few months, Lena has exceeded our sales support expectations,” says Michael Neumeyer, director of online operations at Kaspersky Lab Europe. He says Lena is able to resolve 80% of the sales inquiries without having to refer the consumer to a human sales agent.

Lena may soon be up for another promotion, too, Neumeyer says. Kaspersky Lab may soon put Lena to work in its upgrade center to help consumers upgrade their subscriptions and generate renewals.

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