LOL, why does speaking to a virtual agent sound like talking to Eliza the Bot? Some questions are very basic, but its not like these companies have thrown a lot of R&D into artificial intelligence. The only company I’ve give some credibility to would be Google that can set up a programmable way to answer questions. After all, Google has been providing results to queries as one of the main services. Earthquakes, news, suicides, etc. Google has pretty good at guessing when an Apple is not an apple.
The virtual agent could even look up specific information if you are logged in to eBay, or show you images or direct you to the correct page for resolution. When necessary, the virtual agent could even pass you on to a live customer service representative.
According to Gaydos, the virtual agents work well on Web sites because they can jump to a number of topics in less than a second and ultimately identify the real problem.