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Nuance's virtual customer assistant Nina hits the web

Nuance Communications has beaten Apple to the punch, announcing that its Nina customer service app is available on the web.

Don't expect to be able to verbally communicate commands to your computer, though. While Nina Web does support text-to-speech output, so she can speak answers to customers, the text-based virtual assistant simply presents a human-like virtual agent with which users can interact via text-chat.

Nuance considers itself well-positioned to add two-way spoken interactions on the web in the future, allowing for actual verbal discussions with the virtual assistant.

"Nina is driving a new generation for customer service, where customers finally get the experience they've been demanding at a scale that the world's largest brands can support," Robert Weideman, general manager of the Nuance Enterprise Division, said in a statement.

The service debuted in August and allowed companies to add Nina's digital assistant capabilities to their iOS or Android apps. Nuance updated Nina's language capacity last month, adding support for 38 languages, including those spoken in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Now that Nina is a full-service assistant, Nuance envisions Nina Web to be helpful in situations like banking, where a traditional search would yield hundreds of potential FAQ results, often none of which answer the customer's question. Instead, Nina Web can directly answer queries like "What is the daily ATM withdrawal limit?" without jumping through any hoops.

Companies can also take advantage of the new service by having Nina Web recommend a specific product to customers based on unique preferences, as well as complete purchase transactions.

If all else fails, the virtual assistant can connect users to a living, breathing human; she understands customer sentiment like frustration, or knows when a request requires intervention, and delivers requests with full context, so users don't need to repeat their issue.

"Leveraging our innovations in language, understanding and expression, Nuance is unique in our ability to securely deliver intelligent virtual assistants, in a wide number of languages, recognizing speech and text, across many channels," Weideman said. "Add this to our 650-strong global services organization, and this truly is a game-changer for brands around the world."