Importance of Intelligent Virtual Agents in Contact Centers

By Cynthia Meinke, Senior Account Executive - 27 Jan, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced changes in the way organizations do business. The remote experience most companies have adapted to have stretched Contact Centers to the limit through:

Increase in Call Volumes: At times, those call volumes were dramatic and sporadic. Examples include stimulus check disbursements for financial institutions or pharmacies scheduling COVID-19 tests.

Increase in Omnichannel Interactions: Due to the increase in call volumes (which Contact Centers were not equipped to handle), customers naturally resorted to all other available channels. If other self-service avenues were not available and agents were not reachable, the result was lost business.

As vaccinations roll out, there is light at the end of the tunnel. However, it would be a missed opportunity not to incorporate lessons learned from the past year into businesses in the future.

Lesson Include the Need to:

  • Be agile and quickly pivot to new communication intents
  • Quickly adjust to volumes for organizations not staffed appropriately to handle
  • Be open to new ways of self-service to address customer’s needs

Adding more agents isn’t the answer. In the US, the average annual Contact Center agent attrition rate is 30-45%.  The solution that has proven effective on every front is the Intelligent Virtual Agent.

What is an IVA?

An Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA) is precisely that. IVA’s are powered by artificial intelligence, automating the routine and repetitive conversations handled by live agents. IVA’s free an organization’s live agents to provide value where it’s needed the most. The benefits of adding IVA’s to your Contact Center include:

  • Ability to quickly scale up or down based on current need
  • Ability to quickly add call flow intents for new business needs as they arise
  • IVA’s are Intelligent—In fact, the longer it is in use, the smarter the IVA gets
  • IVA’s are available to work around the clock. With an IVA, you can provide a pleasant, conversational, natural language experience to a customer, even outside of business hours
  • When an IVA is not answering calls during business hours, it can be directed to make outbound calls, thus leveraging your investment

The Bottom Line:

IVA’s provide a triple win:

  • CX – Customer Experience scores improve because of lower hold times and improved first call resolution and self-service functions
  • AX – Redundant and repetitive tasks handled by live agents add to burnout. Lift that burden off your agents and keep them fresh by allowing them to engage in more fulfilling work, thereby significantly reducing attrition
  • BX – The business is the greatest benefactor with the addition of IVA’s. In addition to improved Customer and Agent Experience, there is proven ROI within 90 days of putting your first IVA to work

Where to Start?

An organization could look at the big picture (call flows and intents, call volumes, and hold time) and determine the number of IVA’s needed. Using this number, they could compare the agents replaced and the reduction of hold times to extrapolate the overall ROI, which could be realized in only 90 days. With this proven ROI, plus the CX and AX benefits, it’s usually a quick decision want to get started.

However, it’s hard to know where to start.

Starting with a small yet impactful use case allows an organization to experience an immediate benefit and gauge customer feedback. From there, each use case can be analyzed. Use case examples can include:

  • Where are there long hold times that could be eliminated?
  • Is the overall phone tree cumbersome and hard to navigate? If so, let’s start with initial call screening and a simple “How can I help you today?” experience.
  • Is there a large volume of calls that are too repetitive in nature that can be handled with artificial intelligence?
  • What self service offerings are available to me? Can I change my password, check a balance, order a refill quickly and without having to speak to an agent? If not, this may be the best place to start.

New Era Technology can help you navigate this project into manageable pieces that will culminate into immediate benefits to your customers, agents, and the business overall. To learn more about this service, please email solutions@neweratech.com.

Author: Cynthia Meinke, Senior Account Executive