Last October, during an industry event, a speaker from one of the top video game companies in the world presented about their experience bringing artificial intelligence (AI)-powered virtual agents into the customer experience. The audience was ready to be wowed by her story and results. Instead, her tale was that of challenges, letdowns and pessimism around AI automation in general.
Looking deeper in the presentation, it became clear that the speaker hadn’t chosen the right use cases for AI-powered virtual agents. Like any technology, there are correct and incorrect ways to use it. And when it comes to contact center AI automation, it’s important to identify the top call types that can be—and should be—automated without sacrificing an ounce of customer experience.
Before reading the list, keep in mind that the promise of AI is to automate tasks and processes that humans handle. In the contact center, the same holds true. Start by using AI-powered virtual agents to automate the rudimentary and routine calls that live agents handle, rather than replacing your legacy IVR system. Once you illustrate success, you can continue to automate one call type at a time, and even scale the same solution digitally to chat for a seamless omnichannel experience.
AI-Powered Voice Automation Use Cases
- Data Collection and Entry – Live agents spend an inordinate amount of time gathering information from customers over the phone—no matter the industry. Examples include product registration, program enrollment, insurance policy verification and customer authentication.Cloud-based virtual agents integrate seamlessly with your CRM system or ERP and use Natural Language Understanding to collect any data type—from alphanumeric strings to names and places—in the same way that a live agent does. The solution also should integrate with your contact center platform easily, so that if a call needs to be transferred to a live agent, the AI technology can pass along all collected information and reasons for the transfer via CTI screen-pop.A global home appliance manufacturer implemented AI-powered virtual agents to automate customer authentication and product registration. Virtual agents capture, authenticate and enter information into the CRM system: customer names, product names, model numbers, serial numbers, dates and more. In six months, the company found that virtual agents could handle this process in the same amount of time as a live agent—or faster—at one-tenth the cost.
- Reservation and Scheduling Services – Certain aspects of scheduling, such as making recommendations for shows in Las Vegas, aren’t ready for automation yet. But you can automate certain call types—making appointments, cancellations, scheduling deliveries and outbound confirmations—without sacrificing any of the customer experience.Whether the scheduling system is a name brand or homegrown, cloud-based virtual agents seamlessly integrate, using AI to handle the nuances of scheduling and rescheduling. For example, if a customer asks, “Do you have anything next Thursday?” AI technology enables the automation to know what the customer means and then shares available appointments on the second Thursday from today.One of the largest truck rental agencies uses virtual agents to make thousands of outbound reservation confirmation calls. The virtual agent reads out the details of the reservation to customers who are scheduled to pick up in 48 hours. If a customer needs to change any piece of the reservation, he/she can do that directly with the AI-powered virtual agent on the outbound call. Customers are happy to confirm or reschedule with an automated system, and it saves millions of live agent minutes.
- Order Management – For many industries, order placement has moved online. But this broad category also includes low-hanging fruit like order status, returns, reordering and delivery reminders.With integration to the inventory management system, conversational AI voice automation can handle these calls as capably as a live agent. It can manage multi-turn conversations and use advanced speech recognition to capture unique product names and difficult alphanumeric order numbers.Dozens of organizations use virtual agents for reorder calls—inbound and outbound. For inbound, the virtual agent checks the customer record and proactively asks, “Are you calling to reorder your medical supplies?” Outbound typically is treated as a reminder, such as, “Our records show you may be running low on your medical supply, would you like to reorder?”
- Billing – Most billing processes, which generally follow the same routine and expected procedure, should be fully automated. Even more complex situations, like payment plans, have well-defined rules. Other examples include making payments, invoice requests, balance inquiries and collections.Most importantly, voice automation must be PCI-compliant to ensure customer security when sharing personal and credit card information. Often, PCI-compliant automation outperforms live agents in billing processes because AI doesn’t make mistakes or exceptions.The best example of AI-powered virtual agents for billing is an outbound collections call. When coupled with letters and email, automated outbound calls help a third-party healthcare agency collect up to three times more money.
- Accounts and Memberships – Account and membership maintenance is an important aspect of being a loyal customer. Address updates, new accounts, rewards programs and password reset requests are just some of the call types that fall under this category.Integration with the CRM system or ERP lets virtual agents read from and write to customer records, ensuring that customers don’t need to speak to agents for rudimentary requests associated with their account and membership. If a “save the member” situation comes up, the AI automation escalates to a live agent along with a screen-pop of customer info.A global cruise company chose to use a virtual agent solution to handle calls from rewards members that wanted to use their points. Using automation, members can check their point balance, find out what their status is and how to use their points, and make account updates. This removes the task from agents and enables them to focus on sales and unique customer situations that require the human touch.
As you evaluate your AI-enabled self-service options, the call types you choose to automate have an impact on your success. Use the list above as a starting point for AI-powered voice automation in your contact center.
Visit SmartAction on the AppFoundry Marketplace to see how their solution complements existing Genesys IVR solutions by automating conversations that live agents handle—one call type at a time.