Sep 2021

How Intelligent virtual agents (IVA’s) can save money and improve the customer experience

Kobe Knightingale 4 min read

This blog details how using cloud-based IVA’s can quickly achieve the following benefits:

  • Much faster responses to customer queries leading to better customer satisfaction
  • Reduction in Contact centre costs through automation
  • Improvement in staff morale as there is reduced workload
  • Improvement in customer survey feedback
  • Better customer retention leading to improved revenues and profitability

When a customer reaches out to a business, they usually have an idea of the severity of the problem which they want solving or if they need further information. These can be broken down into two types: transactional and relational interactions. Each can serve as a guidepost to businesses as they map out their need for automation vs. human interactions.

Transactional situations include questions or simple fixes, such as:

  • Is your store open?
  • How can I order goods?
  • What is the status of my order?
  • I need to change my address

Relational situations include questions with more complicated fixes that require human judgement or that put the relationship with the business at risk, such as:

  • Can I get a refund on my travel that is being curtailed by local government mandates?
  • Do you have special programs to reduce the hardship from my job loss?
  • I ordered the piano bench 20 weeks ago and it has been expected in two weeks for

that entire time. Is it ever going to arrive or not?

Transactional problems just need an answer or a simple exchange of information, and automation is acceptable for both the consumer and the business. Relational problems represent a pivot point that has the potential to end the customer’s relationship with the business. Relational problems represent a pivot point that has the potential to end the customer’s relationship with the business. This kind of interaction needs a human to be involved.

From the customer’s perspective, they probably know when their issue can’t be easily resolved, so therefore being forced to navigate complicated menus searching a website for a phone number or a path to a human agent can be hugely frustrating. This results in poor customer service scores and most importantly is detrimental to the relationship.

IVAs can help hereby enhancing the interaction with the customer: a simple statement allows an IVA agent to determine whether the call is transactional or relational in nature and can get the call resolved efficiently. Prompts like “using simple language, please explain the nature of your call” can be helpful here and this is where the real magic of IVAs comes into play.

Previous generations of “natural language” IVRs could be created to allow this kind of open dialogue, but they were too expensive and time consuming for all but the largest organizations. The new generation of IVAs using AI-based speech recognition is exponentially easier to install and maintain. They also result in a user experience that satisfies customers and opens up new automation possibilities for the business. Intelligent virtual agents can automate common work that agents are doing today, including:

  • Appointment scheduling: Appointment status and changes can help remove workload from your agents for straightforward status checks and setup of new dates. This is recommended for ongoing relationships with customers, clients, or patients. It is not ideal for onboarding in which callers typically have a number of questions masking an underlying discovery of whether the relationship is going to work with your organization.
  • Shipment notifications: Many modern commerce systems include basic shipment notifications. In cases when this functionality isn’t included or for businesses with specific coordination requirements such as shipments that require an adult signature or include some form of setup or installation, the system can gather custom information specific to the delivery.
  • Customer surveys: Studies show that people will be more honest in their answers when they aren’t talking to a human. IVA provides a great way to communicate with your customers and gather both quantitative and qualitative data to help your business stay in touch and respond to your customers’ experience with your business.
  • PCI compliant payment collection: Dealing with credit card number collection and other payment data requires strict rules and policies. Many Five9 customers have resolved the complexity by implementing PCI compliance applications that are usable in a self-service environment and via agents who pass consumers into the application to collect payment information.
  • Password resets: Password resets universally generate the highest volume of calls for businesses that require them. With the increased online presence of customers, it’s something that more and more businesses encounter. IVAs make quick work of this functionality and can get the customer on her way quickly without involving an agent.
  • Location and hours: In 2020, many businesses found their store hours frequently changing. Offering the ability to help customers find and interact with your business is a great example of a transactional problem that requires an answer but doesn’t require an agent.
  • Outage notifications: When the unthinkable happens for businesses providing a service or utility, informing customers about the details can mean the difference between keeping them as a customer or losing them to the competition. SMS and email work for some customers, but not everybody has a mobile phone and email may not be timely. IVA makes it easy to reach out to customers, give them details, and provide an escalation path to an agent if the interaction turns into one that could impact the relationship.

Find out how much IVA technology could save you by visiting this page.

Summary

AI has arrived for businesses in a practical way: There are a host of benefits that you can introduce seamlessly to improve customer satisfaction and drive more revenue growth and profitability for your organisation: Learn more and see how you can get started with Five9 Intelligent Virtual Agent to increase automation and improve your customer by calling 0845 226 4167 or email contact@intergence.com.

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Written By
Kobe Knightingale

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