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What Are the Most Important Integrations for a Voice AI Platform?

You are ready to adopt a Voice AI solution for your contact center, or you are in the process of adopting one — congratulations! Now is the time to think about integrations. In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits of integrating your Voice AI platform with various tools and applications, and we’ll offer some guidance on where to get started.

What are Voice AI integrations? They are the APIs that connect your Voice AI platform with other tools and applications you may already be using, allowing you to view and control data from multiple sources in one place. Integration augments the system’s capabilities, as it ensures a more unified view, allows you to personalize your automated calls, and helps you automate a lot of work that you would otherwise have to do manually.

Integrations are critical — but they vary significantly depending on your industry, your use case, and your specific needs. For example, voicebot integrations for a bank’s customer service will be very different from those for a debt collection agency. Additionally, integrations can be tricky from a technical standpoint sometimes, so you want to make sure that your provider has the necessary experience and tools.

Integration with internal systems is the top criterion considered when selecting a conversational AI platform provider, according to research by Gartner.

The most common types of integrations for Voice AI are with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems and ticketing platforms, payment gateways, speech analytics tools, and messaging tools. In this article, we’ll explain the role and importance of integrations and go over the most common types for various use cases.

What Are the Benefits of Integrating a Voicebot Platform with Other Tools and Applications?

For a seamless collaboration between human agents and voicebots, an Augmented Voice Intelligence solution requires various tools that perform different functions while working well together. Through integration between tools, the entire process can be as smooth and efficient as possible.

The main benefits of integrating your Voice AI platform with other tools and applications are:

  • Ensuring a better customer experience, as the Digital Voice Agent will be able to perform multiple tasks and better serve the customer
  • Maximize call personalization, as the Digital Voice Agent will be able to address customers by name, easily access their records, and base its interactions on context
  • Automating several tasks, freeing the contact center’s staff of the administrative burden
  • Generating automated metrics to track the performance of calls and maintaining records of all customer interactions

Dive deeper: The Unique Advantages of Skit.ai, a Speech-first Voice AI Platform

3 Things To Consider When Thinking about Voice AI Integrations

Stay lean at first. The number-one tip for companies adopting a Voice AI solution is to avoid focusing too much on integrations at the beginning of the adoption process. This is because when you adopt a new technology, it’s important you focus on gaining experience with it and fully understanding how it can benefit your business before you invest a lot of time and money in integrating it with several other tools and platforms. First implement the solution with the most basic and necessary integrations, and then you can start investing in the heavier ones.

Your Voice AI solution might be hybrid at first. If your contact center already has an automated response system in place, like an interactive voice response (IVR) system to take inbound calls, you might choose to have the Voice AI solution work hand-in-hand with the existing system at first. That would result in a hybrid approach—in which the first node of the call is handled by IVR, and then, depending on which option the caller selects, you may transfer them to the new Digital Voice Agent (voicebot). If this is the case, you’ll need to integrate the two systems so that they can work with each other. Once the Voice AI has been fully tested, you are likely to fully remove the IVR and let the Digital Voice Agent handle all inbound calls.

Data privacy. Data privacy and data protection are elements that you should always keep in mind when integrating different systems. You want to secure the data against unauthorized access, adopting processes like encryption, secure communications protocols, and relevant security policies.

The Most Important Integrations for a Voice AI Platform

Voice AI Integration with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems

Companies use a CRM software to gather, organize, and manage customer information. The primary benefit of integrating your Voice AI solution with your CRM system is to easily personalize all calls, whether they are outbound or inbound, and automate the calls end-to-end.

For outbound calls, for example, the Digital Voice Agent can gather the customer’s information from the CRM and address them on the call by first name: “Hi John, this is a Digital Voice Agent calling from…” The CRM also feeds the DVA more detailed information and context on the customer’s existing orders or accounts depending on the use case.

For a debt collection agency, for example, the Digital Voice Agent can gather not only the name of the customer it’s calling, but also the balance of their account.

For an ecommerce company, the Digital Voice Agent can quickly gather the information on existing orders, shipping, etc.

This integration also allows customers to open new tickets with the company’s customer service. At the end of the call, thanks to the integration in place, the Voice AI solution will feed the new information based on the interaction with the customer to the CRM system. Therefore, the new data will be stored and will be on file.

Examples of CRM systems are  HubSpot, Salesforce, Zoho, Freshdesk, and Zendesk.

Voice AI Integration with Payment Gateways

Integrating the voicebot platform with payment gateways or payment applications can make the customer experience significantly smoother and ensure the completion of various transactions during the call without the need to involve human agents. Examples of payment gateways are PayPal, Stripe, Amazon Pay, 2Checkout, Apple Pay, and Square.

Customers can easily pay a bill — for example, a telephone bill — during the call without the need to complete the transaction by opening a link or logging into an online portal.

For debt collection agencies, this integration can be very useful, as customers can make a payment during the phone call with the Digital Voice Agent, making the collection process fully automated, cheaper, and smoother.

Without this integration, in order to complete a payment, a customer needs to change the communication channel, moving to text message, email, or having to access the company’s website.

Voice AI Integration with Messaging Channels

For an omnichannel experience, it’s best to integrate the Voice AI platform with various messaging channels, at least those that your company uses the most to interact with its customers. Examples of messaging channels are email, text messaging (SMS), WhatsApp, Viber, Signal, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram.

Messaging integrations can be used both for inbound and outbound messages.

Outbound messaging:

  • Confirmations and receipts. After a customer has made a payment during a call with the Digital Voice Agent, the company can send a payment confirmation and receipt to the customer. Confirmations can also be sent for any other type of transaction or request, such as a travel reservation change.
  • Payment link. The company can send a link to an online payment portal via text message (SMS) or email during an automated call with the Digital Voice Agent.
  • User authentication. While a user can be easily authenticated on-call by the Digital Voice Agent, authentication in other instances can also take place in a chat tool before or during the call.

Inbound messaging:

  • Collection of images or other information from the customer. During a customer service call, the Digital Voice Agent might ask the customer to send an image or the photo of a receipt via SMS. This integration can be used to allow customers to send any type of information to the company during a call with a Digital Voice Agent.

Voice AI Integration with Telephony Platforms

Many companies might already have a telephony system in place when they decide to adopt a Voice AI solution. Examples of telephony and call center platforms are Genesys, RingCentral, 8×8, Five9.

Integrating the Voice AI platform with your company’s existing telephony platform will certainly make the adoption of Voice AI smoother, especially if you already have some level of call automation or IVR in place.

If the adoption of the Digital Voice Agent is gradual, and the system is hybrid at first, this integration allows your company to align both IVR and Voice AI solutions side-by-side.

Voice AI Integration with Speech Analytics Tools

Many businesses also use speech analytics solutions to analyze the phone conversations they have with their customers. These tools transcribe the text of the phone call and then analyze the voice of the customer, discern their feelings, identify emerging issues, and further your understanding of the customer experience (CX).

Examples of speech analytics solutions are CallMiner Eureka, Salesken, and Genesys.

If you have further questions on Voice AI integrations or you’re ready to start exploring how a Voice AI platform can take your contact center operations to the next level, contact our experts using the chat tool below!

A Story of Transformation: How Skit.ai is Helping ICICI Lombard Reach New CX Milestones

The age of hyper-personalization is here. For the digitized insurance sector, achieving communication-centricity along the way of personalization will be the mantra for superior customer experience (CX)!

Even though insurance policies are intangible, today’s customers look for tangible evidence in the customer service or product features that make their experience smooth and easy.

Insurance claims are moments of truth. They are sensitive moments following an ailment or an unfortunate event. Cost-effective and empathetic service holds the key!

Exploring the Need for Call Automation with Voice AI and Leapfrogging CX 

The high volume of calls in the insurance industry makes call automation imperative. For instance, insurance claims status follow-up typically involves sharing policy information and reference numbers over IVR, keying in their details in self-service dashboards, and calling customer support for status confirmation and validation. Shortening reach to that information most quickly is a definite way of improving CX.

From the providers’ standpoint, dispensing the correct information at the right time without impacting cost, productivity, and customer satisfaction could be a grandiose ambition, especially with the rising cost of human-agent interactions. Besides, the bar for CX is raised too high by thriving CX-centric companies from other industries. Nearly 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for great CX.

Here’s a snippet of industry research that we think can help insurance providers chart a realistic customer support roadmap in claims status management: 

  • People and technology combinations are the most sought-after options for insurance interactions, according to a study by Gartner.
  • Digital channels are great for securing sales but lack personalized advice capabilities, according to the Capgemini World Insurance Report 2021. 

To sum up, an ‘Always-on’, real-time and intuitive customer service is the need of the hour. Insurers need a balanced combo of human representatives and AI-powered automation for frictionless customer support.

We will discuss further in the article how Skit.ai’s Voice AI aces in enhancing both human-machine combinations for personalized claims status support for ICICI Lombard, one of India’s leading private sector general and motor insurance companies. 

Skit.ai and ICICI Lombard Partnership Upholds the Promise of Customer-centricity

ICICI Lombard has held a strong focus on being digital-led and agile. It has successfully launched an array of tech-driven initiatives that are tailored to customers’ expectations. Throughout their legacy of over two decades, ICICI Lombard is committed to customer-centricity with their brand philosophy, ‘Nibhaye Vaade’. As of March 2022, the company has issued over 23.9 million policies, settled 2.3 million claims, and has 283 branches with 11,085 employees. 

The insurer wanted to implement a revolutionary approach to help customers with ‘claims status’ updates for–better CX, contact center performance, and lower cost. The answer was Skit.ai’s Augmented Voice Intelligence platform, which helped the insurer usher in call automation in their contact centers and empowered human agents to drive better CX.

Skit.ai’s purpose-built AI-enabled Digital Voice Agents can handle tier 1 customer service calls, which are around 70% of total call volumes, and make intelligent handovers to human agents for more complex calls. It takes time and post-implementation pursuits to reach such high levels of automation, training the voicebot for all use cases and situations. 

We will discuss the positive business outcomes that Skit.ai’s Augmented Voice Intelligence platform helped ICICI Lombard achieve by automating and modernizing its legacy, checklist-driven claim status processes. Additionally, we will also be detailing the existing challenges in claims status management that prevents insurers from demonstrating speed, value, and efficiency. 

Dive deeper: What are Digital Voice Agents? 

How Skit.ai’s Digital Voice Agents are Accelerating ICICI Lombard Claims Status Support with Call Automation

Digital Voice Agents plug into contact centers and augment human agents by automating cognitively routine work. With the deployment of Skit.ai’s solution, ICICI Lombard could augment its performance in the below-mentioned areas. Other insurance companies can also transform on similar lines:

  1.  Personalization and Empathetic CX: Digital Voice Agent answered customer calls and automatically checked their history based on their registered mobile number. This knowledge helped ICICI Lombard personalize interactions with the customers. Upon request, the voice agents confirmed claim details and updated them on the claim status in less than a minute. ICICI Lombard could also leverage voice automation and personalized caller’s journey without making them wade through the IVR menus or wait to speak to an agent. No wonder they experienced a rise in CX. 
  2. Shorter Conversations: Obviating IVRs, the voice agent helped the insurer shorten the conversations by capturing all the details and transferring them to a human agent who picked up from where the voicebot concluded. This helped in improving the quality and average handling time for human agents. 
  3. Lower Contact Center Opex: Digital Voice Agents can contain a significant volume of claim status calls without needing intervention by the insurer’s customer support teams. This efficiently manages their contact center operations to handle a large number of customer queries (containing up to 30% of claims status calls), and also curbs additional expenses on training and hiring human agents to handle zero-value, repetitive tasks.
  4. Agent Productivity: The automation capabilities of Digital Voice Agents can help contact centers to use their human resources more judiciously by allowing them to only handle complex claims-related cases and escalations.
  5. Always On Support: Running contact centers 24/7 is not feasible from a cost and agent availability standpoint. An insurance policyholder can approach customer support for claim status information at any time of the day. Digital Voice Agents are capable of carrying out human-like conversations and can understand intent, sentiment, and voice tone to cater to their needs even post the working hours.

Discover the Biggest Contact Center Automation Trends of 2022

Business Outcomes of Call Automation at ICICI Lombard

With the help of Skit.ai’s Augmented Voice AI platform, ICICI Lombard achieved impressive outcomes: 

  • Contact center operational cost reduction by 28%
  • End-to-end automation for 30% of calls; no need for a human agent
  • Time to Value of fewer than 100 days 

These results represent just the beginning of possibilities for ICICI Lombard with voice automation.  Additional improvements will emerge as more use cases are added. Also, the learning curve advantages that come with time, will give the insurer a decisive competitive edge.

In the Words of ICICI Lombard Leadership 

Reflecting on their successful journey with Voice AI, the leadership team at ICICI Lombard also expressed their thoughts: 

“At ICICI Lombard, we believe that insurance is a promise that a customer pays for upfront, and the claim is the moment of truth. With our digital transformation strategy, we have set out to deliver on this promise with an intelligent digital voice agent that cuts down on customer wait time and holds empathetic conversations. It is an unconventional, modern solution that simplifies a legacy process that is quite complex,” said Girish Nayak, Chief of Service, Operations and Technology, ICICI Lombard.

“This is a watershed moment for the industry—for an insurance company to employ Voice AI to transact with customers and provide them with their claim status. One of the big CX wins is that customers don’t have to suffer DTMF anymore—no more,” ICICI Lombard mentioned in the case study.

Commenting on this revolutionary move, Vasundhara Bhonsle, Head of Customer Support at ICICI Lombard, said, “At ICICI Lombard, our digital transformation strategy focuses on deploying innovations that provide the best service and experience to our customers. Through our partnership with Skit.ai, we are creating a milestone for the Indian insurance industry. By implementing a digital voice agent to manage inbound queries for claim status, we are modernizing a legacy, complex process to make customer interaction a lot more personalized and empathetic. We look forward to bringing the benefits of the digital voice agent to millions of customers in India.”

Reimagining Insurance Customer Support with Voice AI 

ICICI Lombard began the deployment of Skit.ai’s Digital Voice Agents with one of the most challenging use cases i.e. Claim Status Support. Generally, dispensing claims status information on the go requires a good deal of time and resources. Sometimes, insurers are also dependent on other external stakeholders like hospitals and care providers using time-consuming, manual procedures for patient data and claims status-related updates. To ensure these hurdles do not affect customer support, insurance companies need to remain a step ahead leveraging Digital Voice Agents in the claims status area. 

Below are 6 reasons why insurance companies should up their game with intelligent Voice AI-led workflows in customer support to lead customers in their insurance and claims-related decision-making:

  • Much Newer and Tech-savvier Competition: With the arrival of smarter and innovative entrants in the market, it gets tough for insurers practicing legacy approaches in the claims process to remain relevant and win over customers. CX is crucial for survival and customer loyalty. So, it makes sense to integrate novel CX enhancing technologies and contact center automation to make claims status processing quick.  
  • Delays Cause Frustrations: Delays and long wait times for updates on the status of the claim frustrate customers. The claims process typically has limited human touch points. The absence of timely updates can gravely lower CX and customer satisfaction. 
  • Mounting Opex of Contact Centers: The time and cost factor for outbound efforts, confirmatory calls, and resources used as per policy with the available support team makes it difficult to reach all policyholders on time. This is yet  another driving factor to consider innovation in claims status and leverage Digital Voice Agents for 24/7 service.  
  • Automation Must Follow Digitization:  If approached in layman’s terms, there is too much information like claims reference number, policy number, name, address, and more that a policyholder must manually read out to a contact center agent along with call authentication conversations. This is not only time-consuming but also would be best if the information can be input and confirmed on self-service dashboards rather than over phone calls. 
  • No Room for Errors. Follow-up, changes, and corrections with the human agents when a slew of information (mostly when they are numbers and characters) is exchanged and input manually, has high scope for errors. Inaccuracies and mistakes can be costly for the insurer’s brand reputation and bring down customers’ confidence.  Automation with Voice AI allows for perfection by taking over repetitive, mundane processes. 
  • Self-service and DIY Option Comes with Privacy Factor: Offering intuitive self-service options and Digital Voice Agents that hold human-like conversations with customers can guide them through the claims process and can allow them a degree of autonomy. Since customers are independently accessing the claims process and status, it creates a strong sense of privacy which is integral for customer satisfaction and CX. 

How Voice AI Helps Insurance Companies Streamline Inbound Support

Looking Ahead: 

The future of customer support is voice. Rising costs and human agent attrition make delivering quality support prohibitive. But with evidence abound, Voice AI is fast emerging as a technology to leverage, and leapfrog CX. Voice AI was an option, but it is fast becoming an imperative, watch out!

The journey of transformation has just begun. As we constantly evolve and experiment with our technology across use cases in the insurance domain, there’s clear certainty for better numbers and more success stories in our pipeline.  

Are you interested in exploring automation possibilities with Digital Voice Agent to elevate your customer experience with better customer support? Use the chat tool below to book a demo with one of our experts

Move Beyond IVRs: Transform CX with Digital Voice Agents!

For contact centers, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems were a turning point a few decades ago, but now have become a customer experience turn-off. IVR systems have helped companies manage call volumes as well as create value with self-service options, information gathering, and call routing.  But a recent study found that, on average, IVRs cost businesses $256 per customer each year! Additionally, a whopping 61% of these customers are unhappy with IVR systems and believe they contribute to a poor customer experience.

“About 83% of the customers abandon the call and company after their IVRs encounters.”- Vonage report.

Why IVR Systems a Customer Service Turn off 

Historically, IVRs have failed to delight callers due to the poorly designed phone menu and the inability to dispense an answer or connect an agent on the go. Companies and businesses receive a lot of flak due to the general notion of associating IVRs as cost-effective replacements for contact center agents. It is paradoxical that customers warmly accept other forms of automated, self-service options for an instant response like ATMs and a variety of mobile applications but not IVRs!

The reasons for it are pretty simple. Since their introduction into the contact center market, IVR systems have undergone few iterations, and their main features haven’t changed much. The hold time, lengthy pre-recorded menus, and the need to repeat query information, especially during an emergency, continue to be a liability for businesses.  More importantly, customers have a strong affinity for resolving queries with a human representative than with restrictive, pre-recorded systems that only leave them with unsavory emotions towards the brand.

Nearly 47% of callers reportedly experience frustrations with IVRs. A significant number of them admitted feeling angered and stressed, according to the Vonage report.  

The same report also revealed that instead of IVRs, if the customers were able to get a hold of a live agent, they experienced relief (27%), less frustration (26%), and less anger (24%).  However, call center agents often end up at the receiving end of customer frustrations from navigating a labyrinth of IVR menus. Therefore the onus is on brands to elevate customer experiences without negatively impacting agents’ morale and productivity.

In this article, we share our insights on overcoming common contact center and customer experience challenges associated with traditional IVRs by diving into the capabilities of Voice AI. We will explore how brands can elevate their customer support with intelligent voice automation of nearly 70% of calls and human-like conversations.

Explore Now: AI-powered Digital Voice Agents vs Outbound IVRs 

Understanding Digital Voice Agents: DVA vs. IVRs 

Imagine a scenario—a customer calls a banking company’s contact center to block their stolen debit card. In lieu of pre-recorded messages and caller authentication protocols, the call is handled by a voice agent that is capable of contextually comprehending the caller’s urgency and making appropriate suggestions. The overall call experience is different! Why?

  • Zero waiting time
  • The instant response instead of punching numbers, a refreshing change from the lengthy IVRs menu options, annoying IVR theme music, and even from the exasperating experience of going down the rabbit hole of the menu by accidentally pressing a wrong button. 
  • For simple queries, no need for human agents

That’s our Digital Voice Agent (DVA) at work. Skit.ai’s DVA, for instance, is an AI-enabled virtual agent built from the ground up to understand human conversations. It can be plugged into contact centers to resolve tier 1 customer problems and automate cognitively routine work.

Digital Voice Agents vs. IVRs

  1. Built for Voice: Unlike conventional IVRs and chatbots that are capable of understanding only transcriptions, Digital Voice Agents are crafted specifically for voice conversations. Whenever a customer calls the contact center, they can interact with the voice agents in the same way as they converse with human agents.  
  2. Built for Personalization: With DVAs, there wouldn’t be any psychological barriers that callers experience when they are forced to interact with IVRs or chatbots. Besides, an intelligent voice agent that can sound like a human, picks up on the immediacy of the issue, giving callers a sense of relief and comfort in their critical moments, adding a more personal touch to customer service. Besides, they can even interact in the caller’s preferred choice of language.
  3. Built for Accuracy: Another issue when dealing with IVRs is that they work well only when there are no external disturbances like background noise or music. They can sometimes not recognize text inputs and end up redirecting the caller to the undesired part of the IVR menu. But DVAs can take in both voice and text inputs, and even filter out the ambient noise to capture the accurate voice response by the customer. 
  4. Built for Capturing Intent: Voice agents are based on powerful spoken language understanding (SLU) algorithms and can identify the semantics of the conversation. They can accurately capture the caller’s sentiment, tone of voice, and speed of the conversation to identify intent. 
  5. Built for Resolution: In emergency situations that require a quick response from customer support, a call hold would reflect poorly on the company’s services. It can even make them lose customers to their competitors. Most IVRs cannot pick up on non-linguistic cues like pauses, gasps, and utterances in between sentences. It is purely designed for text inputs. DVAs are capable of having contextually accurate interactions without relying on a limited stack of keywords, enabling quick query resolution. 
  6. Built for Intelligent Human and Machine Collaboration: IVRs are automated and function independent of human agents. DVAs are capable of end-to-end automation of simplistic calls and pass on complex ones to human agents, involving them only in complex use cases.

 A Deep Dive: AI-powered Digital Voice Agents vs IVRs

Now, let’s look into 7 specific angles where Skit.ai’s purpose-built, industry-specific voice-first technology, Voice AI, makes a tremendous difference to contact centers.  Skit.ai’s voice agents are a better fit than traditional IVRs in enhancing the quality of customer service.

  1. Speed and  Simplicity: Simple and easy-to-understand customer support is a formula for delighting a captive audience. There’s a good chance that the majority of callers may not get past the common obstacles in IVR menus, complex navigation, and confusing terminologies. IVRs can best offer five top-level and three sub-level menu options whereas DVAs immediately attend to calls, keeping it short and simple. 
  2. Quick Resolution with Cost Efficiency:  Apart from resolving customers’ problems, customer service organizations look at cost and call time spent as success metrics. Instead of wasting time, waiting for the right menu option on IVRs, customers’ queries with DVAs are addressed instantly and at a fraction of the cost while also engaging with the callers over voice conversations at scale. 
  3. For Intelligent Customer Service: Today’s customer service is expected to be built intuitively to absolve current issues and anticipate the next course of action. DVAs help make the most of the voice conversations with customers by mimicking human-like conversations and leveraging customer data to make appropriate recommendations, suggest steps or make intelligent call transfers to human agents.
  1. Quick Agent Reach during Emergency: Even the most loyal customers lose patience and abandon calls midway when forced to repeatedly go over the IVR system. For critical use cases that require timely resolution, DVAs work best. They not only hold an immediate voice interaction with the callers but also identify short, conversational utterances, pick up on callers’ intent, and capture customer details for quick call transfers to human agents. 
  1. Making Query Resolution Interactive: Speaking to a live agent immediately is not the magic bullet for customer support success. Augmenting IVR systems or replacing them with Voice AI-driven automation for call back features at customers’ preferred time helps personalize and enhance the call experience making the conversations more empathetic. The rapid scalability and robust integrations of the DVAs help include options to reach customers with interactive emails and voicemails along with call-back options. 
  1. Easy Integration with Customer Experience Systems: Customer service calls can be more proactive and intuitive when integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and automated call distribution (ACD)  systems. Voice agents have access to caller history, previous purchases, and other customer data based on the caller ID number. It provides enough pre-context to authenticate calls before call handovers to human representatives.

Read in Detail About–Digital Voice Agents: What, Why, and How 

  1. Timely, Useful Insights for Enhanced CX:  DVAs help brands adopt advanced analytics-driven approaches to unlock a treasure trove of insights on call performance as well as define relevant KPIs and areas for improvements in the customer’s journey for cost savings and better CX. IVRs need optimizations to deliver this capability. While DVAs work as productivity enhancers with timely insights that help add incremental value to the brand or business’ customer experience. 

Despite several detractors that customers unanimously agree on, IVR systems remain a staple in customer support. The worldwide growth rate of the IVR market is expected to reach $6.7 billion by 2026.  This growth trajectory can be a blessing to CTOs who chose IVRs for long-term customer service investments, but certainly a nightmare for CMOs against the backdrop of increasing customer calls. Technological innovation and AI-driven upgrades are needed to drive the progression of IVR systems. Until then, Voice AI helps empower businesses to elevate inbound and outbound initiatives for better CX in ways that IVR systems fail to live up to. 

Are you interested in contact center automation with our Digital Voice Agent to elevate customer experience?  Book a demo with one of our experts: www.skit.wpenginepowered.com   

How Debt Collection Agencies Can Rely on Voice AI To Prepare for a Recession

A version of this article was first published on the website of RMAi (Receivables Management Association International).

The U.S. economy has been shrinking, with many experts already pointing out that technically we have already entered a recession, as the economy has now contracted for two consecutive quarters. Fears of a recession have dominated most sectors of the economy over the last few months, and the ARM (Accounts Receivable Management) industry is no different.

The economy is slowing, inflation is high, and the Federal Reserve has been increasing its interest rates, and yet the data suggest that we find ourselves in a more complex and nuanced situation. Unemployment is still very low and the economy has been adding hundreds of thousands of new jobs each month, suggesting that it’s not all doom and gloom.

The latest reports, however, predict there will be a “mild recession” between 2022 and early 2023, with inflation being a major indicator of the direction the economy is headed towards, according to authoritative institutions such as Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

How can debt collection agencies prepare for a recession, and what do we know from previous economic crises that can guide us through the uncertain period ahead of us?

What Happens to Collection Agencies During a Recession?

Times of economic uncertainty are a mixed bag for collection agencies.

During a recession, the consumers who have the ability to be more conservative with their spending habits may choose to be more careful than usual. This might result in less borrowing. However, accounts might start increasing significantly as soon as the economy recovers.

On the other hand, for the people who already owe money, it might be more difficult to pay off their balances with jobs and income in jeopardy—leading to more defaults.

Additionally, the agency itself might need to take measures to cut down on costs. This may result in a reduction in staff, which will directly affect collection rates.

How Did the ARM Industry Fare in Previous Recessions?

Data gathered by the advisory firm Kaulkin Ginsberg shows how the ARM industry reacted to the last two major economic crises in the United States.

During the Internet bubble bursting — also known as the Dotcom crash — the ARM industry experienced a boom, with its revenue increasing from $8.2 billion in 2000 to $9.3 billion in 2001—a 13.4% increase. Between 2002 and 2005, the industry experienced continued growth at a similar rate.

The Great Recession of 2008, however, put the ARM industry to the test. The revenue fell by 14.4% from 2007 to 2009. Debt collection agencies struggled to collect payments, as consumers did not have the ability to pay off their debts. Many lenders scaled back their operations, leading to less accounts for collectors to manage.

And yet, just like in the previous crash, the years following the Great Recession were pretty good for the industry. While growth rates did not resemble the pre-recession boom, the industry still grew at an average rate of 4.16% per year.

5 Steps Collections Agencies Can Take To Prepare for a Recession

Optimize All Processes

To make your organization recession-proof, the first step is to optimize all of your internal processes and workflows. Analyze the existing processes and the customer journey and ask yourself: Can you identify any pain points? Where are resources missing and where are they abounding? Are there any workflows that can be shortened or reshuffled? Are there any tech tools to add to your stack that can help with any of the issues you’ve identified?

Invest in Agent Retention

Agent attrition in collection agencies is very high, and this creates additional expenses, as agencies need to cover recruiting, hiring, and training costs each time an agent leaves their job. Investing in agent retention is a must for agencies preparing for a recession. You want to keep your agents happy and make sure they don’t feel overly stressed or overwhelmed with calls. Consider adopting tech solutions that could take over some of the most repetitive and tedious agent workload.

Prepare for Account Volume Fluctuations

As account volume gets more volatile, agencies may experience more fluctuations in volume of outbound calls, needing more or less resources depending on the time. Agencies should develop a strong plan to address these scenarios; plan ahead even if you might not be experiencing this issue yet.

Offer Plenty of Payment Options

Once a customer is ready to pay, you should make it as easy as possible for them to pay using the method they prefer, including mobile payment apps. Collection agencies have started adopting PayPal and Venmo as payment methods, and the first data suggests that adoption is very successful.

The majority of Americans (79%) use mobile payment apps, according to a survey by NerdWallet. When looking specifically at the younger generations, the numbers go up: 94% of millennials use mobile payment apps.

Invest in Customer Self-Service

The existing data on customer service and customer experience indicates that customers expect companies to offer self-service customer care options. 39% of U.S. consumers find it very important to have access to a fully self-serve customer care option available to resolve their issues, according to a report by Emplify.

Self-service for a collection agency includes the ability to easily make payments and solve smaller issues by using the agency’s website, a mobile application, or an AI-powered Digital Voice Agent. More on that in the next section!

How Debt Collection Agencies Can Rely on Voice AI To Prepare for a Recession

Looking ahead and adopting technological solutions that can help you automate processes and improve the customer and employee experiences is one of the best ways to future-proof your collection agency, especially as we prepare for a likely recession.

Voice AI — AI-powered Digital Voice Agents to perform your outbound calls and collect payments from your customers — is becoming more and more popular and common among collection agencies in the United States.

In a recession, you not only want to save money, but you also want to ensure you maintain a competitive edge over your competitors. Looking into the adoption of artificial intelligence technologies that can automate your operations is key to securing a competitive advantage.

The benefits of Voice AI for collections include:

  • Automation: The Digital Voice Agent calls all of the customers on your portfolio and it then filters out the complex cases that need human agent intervention.
  • Coverage: The Digital Voice Agent can be scaled up according to the agency’s needs, so you can have optimal coverage of your accounts.
  • Recovery: The Digital Voice Agent can easily schedule follow-up calls, honoring the regulatory guidelines, spread over weeks/months, and ensure better recovery rates.
  • Compliance: Minimize errors and abide by existing laws and regulations by adopting a fully-compliant technology.
  • Cost and speed: Digital Voice Agents are efficient, effective, and cost significantly less than human collectors.
  • Customer experience: Offer a smooth and pleasant experience to your customers.
  • Scaling: Scale up and down as needed with just one click.

For more information and a free demo, you can schedule a call with one of our collections experts. We’ll be happy to help!

Contact Center Automation Trends: Don’t Overlook Call Automation

Running a contact center has become an increasingly expensive and challenging operation. Costs are up, agent attrition rates are high, and hiring new agents has been difficult; all of this has resulted in longer wait times and a decline in resolution rates, which ultimately lead to a poor customer experience. 

Whether their customer interactions are mostly inbound or outbound, more and more contact centers are looking into digital transformation and automation as the ingredients for a winning strategy to overcome the ongoing crisis. These technologies and solutions may look “new” today, but they are set to become the industry standard within a few years. Early adopters are certainly going to reap the benefits and be ahead of the learning curve.

As you map out a strategy to automate your contact center channels, you might face the question of which channels are worth investing in the most. Which channels should you be focusing on as you plan a digital-first approach to customer interactions?

In this article, we’ll explore the ramifications of contact center automation and explain why you should not overlook voice-first channels and call automation as you plan the future of your contact center.

Which Contact Center Channels Can Be Automated?

Contact center automation is the process of adopting technological solutions that process and respond to customer service queries automatically. Of course, many internal workflows within the contact center can be automated; but, most importantly, the channels that customers use to interact with the contact center can be automated using artificial intelligence.

Learn more: Contact Center Outsourcing vs. Contact Center Automation

Automation of chat contact channels: Chatbots are available to customers 24/7 and can easily source the answers to frequently asked questions. A chatbot is usually available on the company’s website, but they can also be integrated with popular social media and messaging platforms such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

Automation of voice contact channels: Call automation for call centers is not an entirely new concept. It became popular in the 1980s with IVR (interactive voice response) technology and the use of DTMF responses (dual tone multi frequency). In recent years, voice automation has significantly evolved, with the emergence of conversational voice AI (artificial intelligence), which is a more sophisticated technology than IVR.

Conversational AI Is Booming Right Now

Conversational AI is one of the biggest trends to monitor right now. A new report published by Research and Markets estimates that the conversational AI platform market will reach $13.2 billion by 2027, with North America leading the market, followed by Europe and the Asia Pacific region.

The report suggests that 36% of enterprises will shift their customer support function entirely to virtual assistants—such as voicebots and chatbots—within the next decade. AI-enabled interactions allow for hyper-personalized experiences across multiple channels and platforms, while servicing customers around the clock.

Voice-led tools and technologies are booming—also thanks to the prevalence of voice assistants and smart speakers like Apple’s Siri and Amazon Echo. Deloitte estimates that, by 2030, there will be a proliferation of voice-led technologies all over the world.

In customer service, voicebots like Skit.ai’s Digital Voice Agents can handle conversations with multiple back-and-forth, contextual interactions, which have a much more natural feel and can actually lead to a problem resolution.

The Benefits of Voice Calls as a Contact Channel

Text-based contact channels — such as live web chat, chatbots, and social media apps — are particularly popular among younger users, such as millennials and Gen Z customers. Many people are used to both texting and speaking on the phone, but younger people generally prefer texting, while adult and older people prefer voice calls.

One possible limitation of chat-based tools for customer service and customer interactions in general is that they require some degree of familiarity with the chat tools themselves. Users who are not tech-savvy and are not familiar with these tools — such as older users — may find these channels more difficult to use.

Additionally, some users prefer the immediacy of phone calls, which can feel more personal and more suitable to discuss complex issues.

The Voice Automation & Customer Experience Metrics You Should Know

If you think your company might be overlooking voice calls as a contact channel, you should take a look at these statistics about voice-based communications:

  1. A report on contact centers and customer experience published by CFI Group in 2020 showed that phone calls are still the preferred customer service channel, with 76% of respondents saying that they seek customer service over the phone.
  2. A Stanford Study conducted in 2016 revealed that speech recognition software writes text messages more quickly than thumbs. According to the study, dictating a text in English is 3 times faster than typing; speech-to-text (STT) also has an error rate 20.4% lower than typing. The researchers got similar results when they conducted the experiment with Mandarin Chinese: dictation was 2.8 times faster than typing.
  3. Another study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology indicated that talking by phone or over a computer creates a stronger social bond than communicating by text or email.
  4. Smoother interactions with a company’s contact center and a faster resolution contribute to a positive customer experience; we know that customer experience contributes to fostering a customer’s brand loyalty and willingness to spend more.
  5. A study by Gartner indicated that artificial intelligence was the most prevalent technology for investment to improve customer experience in 2021. Among the most common uses of AI to improve CX, the study highlighted:

Learn more: The Unique Advantages of Skit.ai, a Speech-first Voice AI Platform

The existing data indicates that, despite the emergence of new technologies over the past decades, voice is still a winning channel. That’s why companies should not overlook voice calls, as they are still a powerful and popular channel to interact with customers.

Call automation enables a call center to take and initiate an unlimited number of calls at the same time, assisting customers in need with inbound calls and reaching consumers with outbound calls, and escalating the more complex calls to human agents. As you prioritize voice, investing in call automation is key.

Do you want to learn more about how you can adopt Voice AI? Use the chat tool below to book a demo with one of our experts!

Why Every Company Must Have a Voice

Voice AI is one of the most transformative and consequential technologies for Generation Alpha—the first generation raised with voice assistants and unaccustomed to life without them.

The Internet is dazzling with data and stories on how businesses and consumers 

are embracing voice technology; no wonder smart speakers are the fastest-growing consumer technology since smartphones. We are witnessing a voice revolution, as the cutting-edge Voice AI is reinventing the way we shop, and seek customer support. Voice AI will also fuel our undisputed robot-centric future in which the younger generation will converse with smart devices to learn, the elderly will voice-command diagnostic devices, and enterprises will deploy Voice AI agents to answer every customer call.

The Potential Impact: 

A Forbes report revealed that major publishers lost as much as $46,000 a day — for a total of $17 million in 2019 due to the failure of common voice assistants to identify the books consumers intended to purchase. The report makes three things very evident:

  • The voice support stakes are high
  • Disruption is evident
  • Voice-first solutions with cutting-edge capabilities are becoming the need of the hour

With the rapid penetration of edge computing, voice will be used to communicate with IoT, smart devices, and other innovative applications. Business leaders must consider – how the voice movement will affect customers’ support expectations, and the way they interact and shop. And how should their businesses, in turn, reinvent themselves?

Voice truly offers a blue ocean of possibilities!

The Rise of Vertical Voice AI Support and Troubleshooting

A significant transformation is currently taking place on the business side. Every customer call is a chance to either strengthen the relationship with the brand or repair it; Voice AI is empowering companies to answer and resolve every query and develop that much-needed bond with consumers.

Voice AI is enabling call center voice automation – that means answering customer queries in a multi-turn, intelligent conversation without human agent intervention.

The impact is significant in terms of cost, productivity, performance, agility, and top and bottom lines. There is an incredible potential for Voice AI support. Here are a few prominent examples of outcomes contact centers have been able to achieve:

  • 70% automation of customer support efforts
  • 40% reduction in average handling time
  • CSAT scores of over 4.0
  • 50% reduction in operational cost
  • Better CX with 24/7 intelligent support
  • Better customer loyalty due to proper support throughout the customer life cycle 

Organizations can also analyze call center recordings to look for sentiment and tone, deploy voice-enabled surveys, and more. Voice is therefore a treasure trove of value and competitive advantage. 

Voice-First Technology and its Cross-Industry Ripples 

By 2023, nearly 80% of consumer apps will be developed with a “voice-first” philosophy, according to Gartner’s AI and ML Development Strategies Study. This marks a significant shift towards placing voice capabilities at the center of every customer interaction.

Every industry, from gaming to tourism has seen the adoption of  Voice AI. 


Several banks are shifting to Voice AI-powered automation for 24/7 intelligent customer support at a fraction of the cost. Even the debt collection space is seeing a rapid uptick in adoption. Big names such as Capital One, Barkleys, and others have been using Voice AI for support. Various large Indian banks in NBFCs are also leveraging the technology for cost-effective and 24/7 customer support. Many smaller players are also adopting Voice AI and have seen remarkable business outcomes.

Consumer Durables: 

CX rules this industry. Millions of customer support calls are made every day. The cost of the support has constantly been rising and consumer durable companies have been scouting for an ideal solution. Many voice AI companies have adopted Voice AI, with huge success. Voice AI has delivered true 24/7 support through intelligent conversations that are cost-effective. With rising use cases such as – inbound call support, feedback and reminder calls, product update calls, and more; Voice AI will see a substantial increase in adoption.


Today, Voice AI is helping adults–in nursing homes and senior living facilities–manage loneliness, isolation, and depression. It is helping patients with Parkinson’s with exercise regimes (Triad Health AI); even ambulances in New England have gone voice-first, eliminating paperwork during emergencies.


The automotive industry is much more voice-first, with all major players from Ford, and BMW to Tesla offering voice assistance. 77 million adults in the U.S. use voice assistants in the car, compared to 45 million adults using in-home smart speakers. With cars increasingly becoming tech-driven, automotive companies will use voice AI more aggressively as the preferred modality of choice.

This is essentially a laundry list; from hospitality to space, voice is all the rage.

The Rise of Smaller, Secure, and Specialized Vertical Voice AI Companies

Google Assistant or Alexa are not the only choices; companies, in addition, prefer small companies with voice tech that supports multi-turn conversations along with a tighter security architecture. Also, when it comes to effectiveness, many Vertical Voice AI vendors specializing in niche use cases outperform tech giants. Debt collection, feedback, rescheduling flights, answering customer FAQs, or sending reminders, new voice AI startups are moving the needle in a big way.

What makes voice appealing: 

  • User Experience and Satisfaction: Nothing comes close to an intelligent and quick conversation that sorts out problems. If a Voice AI-powered agent can work with subtle nuances, and behavior modification to match customer personality, well, customer delight is unparalleled. 
  • It is Faster and Natural:  Not only is speaking natural, it is 3-times faster than typing. Many companies, across industries, have been able to reduce the average handling time of support calls by 40%. Virgin Trains, UK, for instance, reduced their average booking time to 2 minutes from 7 minutes with Voice AI.  
  • It’s frictionless: Instead of opening different apps for different needs; with voice, everything is just an utterance away.
  • It is Your Intelligent and Always-on Mate: New innovations are changing the way products are sold. Talk to a virtual assistant/agent when you drop by your liquor store and Voice AI will help you select wine. British alcohol beverage company, Diageo innovated by investing in voice-led applications and Alexa skills, The Bar. It is created to serve as a user’s personal bartender by recommending cocktail recipes and teaching mixologist techniques. Reimagination is already making its way.
  • Multi-modal Voice Experience: With voice at its center, the future is multimodal. Consumers can use voice commands while they are shopping via TVs or an Alexa device with a screen.

Here are some big challenges retailers and customers will face with voice:

  • Data Privacy. When businesses use Alexa or Google Assistant, in essence, they are giving them access to their offering and that is compelling competitive intelligence. Other challenges such as cloning and data can be mitigated with proper regulations in place.

  • Browsing Difficulty. It is easier to go through a list of search results on a screen, making common product research challenging with voice. But hybrid devices such as smart devices with screens, or navigating shopping with voice on TV can notch up the CX further. 
  • Information Availability: To shop or engage with a brand it is essential to know if it is available in the 3rd party ecosystem. The lack of options/info is a challenge. 
  • Technological Capabilities: Tech is still evolving, and quite a few challenges hamper the experience. Noisy environments, varied accents, pronunciation, languages, and dialects are common challenges that impact conversation quality. On the tech front – barge-in capability, advanced paralinguistic capabilities, processing speeds, and a lot more are required to have enjoyable, human-like conversations.

But even with these given challenges, the strides of voice tech are giant and brisk.

Looking Ahead

Given the ubiquitous nature of voice tech applications, organizations must think of creating a voice interface to cover all of their customer touchpoints. Be voice-ready on smart speakers, voice assistants, websites, apps, customer support, and even in-store experiences. Create a voice that is always present to help your customer; it will help your company be present in new avenues to serve, personalize, and leverage data.

Every company must have a voice!

To learn more about Voice AI and the significance of Voice in coming years book a consultation: www.skit.wpenginepowered.com 

The Impact of Conversation Design When Crafting a Voice AI Solution

For the first article of our “Meet the Team” series, we sat down with a member of our CUX team, Ahana Sarkar, to chat about conversation design for Digital Voice Agents.

Hi, Ahana. Tell me about your professional background.

As a hospitality management graduate with a specialization in marketing, I developed a strong interest in marketing. After graduating, I interned at American Air Filters, where I honed my skills in content writing, blogging, strategic communications, and public relations, focusing on how to grow and engage the customer base. Thanks to my experience in technical writing and customer experience, I joined Skit.ai to be a part of the virtual customer experience journey. It feels like a natural evolution for me.

When did you join Skit.ai and what is your role?

I joined in September 2021, one year ago. I’m a Conversation Designer, working with the Conversational User Experience Team and designing the user experience provided by our Digital Voice Assistants. I ensure that the assistants are conversationally engaging and impactful for the end-users, and that they resonate with the voice of the brand.

Explain more in-depth how conversation design works. What are some of the most critical aspects of your job?

In a nutshell, conversation design allows computers to converse and hold casual conversations by using artificial intelligence (AI), almost like a human would. It’s a synthesis of several design disciplines, including voice user interface design, interaction design, visual design, motion design, audio design, and UX writing.

A conversation designer’s role is like the role of an architect—we map out what users can do in the virtual contact center realm, keeping in mind both the user’s needs and the technological constraints while curating human-like conversations.

The most important aspect of the job is to identify and understand the exact problem the client is facing and meet their expectations when working on the solution. We do user research and user education to get clarity on the do’s and don’ts for the Digital Voice Assistant.

I imagine you have to work closely with our customers to match the voice of the brand.

Yes, absolutely. The Digital Voice Agent’s persona depends a lot on the brand.

The designer must identify the words that the company uses while communicating with its target audience. Then, we shape the agent’s personality to align with the brand’s language and style. For example, a Digital Voice Agent for a restaurant is going to be friendlier than the one for an insurance company or a bank.

Here are the five elements designers should consider when creating a new Digital Voice Agent:

  • Name: Give the agent an interesting name.
  • Description: Define the background of the agent, including job, interests, features, to identify the tone and style of its voice.
  • Photo: The agent should have an image that showcases the personality of the bot.
  • Limitation: Defining the limitations the bot has to the client. For eg – language barrier. 
  • Goals: What are the goals that the client wants to achieve when the bot assists their customers?

How can companies use conversation design as a branding tool?

Conversation design helps simplify the overall user experience (UX) and customer journey. It works as a branding tool for many reasons such as:

Voice AI can help customers get their questions answered quickly and accurately. Nailing the user experience while handling numerous users at the same time can be a big challenge for companies in any industry. Conversation design can solve this problem efficiently. Contact centers that receive 1,000 calls a day are now able to easily process 6,000 calls and manage them efficiently and effectively.

Voice AI is designed according to the target audience. Conversation design allows for richer conversations, targeted advertising, and a much greater degree of personalization.

Voice AI drives conversations. Voice AI enhances the way the company interacts with its audience and helps build a relationship between the brand and consumers.

Voice AI builds loyalty. Voice AI keeps the customers engaged and motivated to come back for more.

What does a day in the life of a conversation designer look like?

My day starts by learning about the next Digital Voice Agent I’ll be designing. The first task involves learning about the customer’s requirements for the agent. I gather the requirements, work the project manager and the engineer to draft an initial conversation design flow. Then I get the customer’s feedback and send it for peer review. After a few iterations, I design the final flow that the engineer can use for the voicebot. The team then uses Skit’s bot-making platform to create and ship the new bot.

What do you love the most about working for Skit.ai?

At Skit.ai, I work with many young and innovative teammates. Working for a start-up gives you a unique sense of responsibility and the urge to contribute new ideas and make things happen. We have fun at work, while learning from each other’s projects or while recording voice prompts.

The team is very friendly and supportive. Team leads like Tiyas inspire us and pave the way leading by example. By the end of the week, we have fun at informal TGIF meetings. We bond beyond our working hours, with weekend catch-ups, hiking trips, or exploring the city trying new dishes.

Tell me a fun fact about yourself.

My dream vacation is to go to Cappadocia in Turkey and take a ride in a hot air balloon.

Are you interested in joining the team at Skit.ai? We are Great Place to Work Certified in India and we’re hiring both in the United States and India. Visit our Careers page to learn more.

Crafting a Digital-First Debt Collection Company by Becoming Voice-first

The need for digital transformation (DX) can hardly be overemphasized. The need for DX and automation is becoming more conspicuous in the debt collection space. Globally, companies are expected to spend a whopping $1.8 trillion on DX technologies, and what’s more incredible is that DX spending will sustain the momentum and grow at a whooping CAGR of 16.6% between 2021-2025 (IDC DX spending guide).

While the investment and gung ho surrounding DX are real, typically, companies find it hard to succeed at DX, and further challenging is to sustain that success. Only of companies succeed at DX, and a much smaller fraction has been able to sustain that success. This blog focuses on one technology that has proven to have a high business impact, and success rates, while being easy and quick to deploy, i.e., Voice AI.

Debt collection space has not remained insulated from the recent tumultuous years. The industry is amidst epochal changes as challenges mount in 2022. The overall grim economic forecast, inflation, and frequent regulatory changes make it imperative for debt collection companies to transform. In 2010, U.S. businesses placed $150 billion in debt with collection agencies, who could collect just $40 billion of that total. On delinquent debt, the industry averages a 20% collection rate, a decrease from 30% a few decades ago.

Technology is the only potent tool capable of overcoming core challenges and transforming debt collection companies. 

Ironically, 7 in 10 U.S. small businesses put off technology decisions and are invested deeply in day-to-day tasks, according to a 2021 study from Xero, a global small business platform. The implications of this are clear–companies will not be able to incorporate technology that is vital to their long-term survival. No wonder the majority of DX efforts result in digital grief. Hence the discussion on a technology that brings about quick and easy transformation is vital. But first, let’s deep-dive into the challenges that are crippling collection agencies.

As CXOs look forward to improving the performance of debt collection agencies, here are the core problems they are trying to solve:

Efforts have been made to solve these problems, emanating out of 8 core challenges:

What Digital Transformation (DX) or Being Digital-first will do?

DX is essential if a company wants to thrive in the long run. But it is a precarious journey, and only when prudent technology incorporation is done, it brings about positive outcomes.

For the same purpose, we delve into the nuances of technology that a debt collections agency can incorporate. Post transformation, debt collection agencies can leverage technology to be more agile, more efficient, and automate most of their processes.

Technologies Enabling Debt Collection Companies

We have classified the technology into two parts – Those that help in communication and customer support. and those that support the business function.

A. Customer Support Technologies

i. Voice-Based Conversation Technologies

We can look at voice-based technologies from a standpoint of their newness. This is important because most debt collection companies have to decide what to upgrade, integrate and replace.

  1. Dialers and Telephony
  2. IVRs
  3. Voice AI or Voicebots
  4. Voicemails
  5. Voice Analytics

The larger discussion here would be about legacy systems. Dialer and telephone are very important and can be of great value if they are on the cloud. IVRs are still useful, but are equally frustrating, so a decision to either replace them or upgrade them is a big one. Voice analytics is a new and emerging tech, and debt collections companies will benefit if they leverage it. We will discuss Voice AI in detail, as the potential for value creation is incredible.

ii. Text-Based Conversation Technologies

They have been the oldest ones and have also been a part of legal mandates. These technologies are a significant part of interactions with customers, notifying them at the right time.

  1. Chatbots and Text Messages
  2. Using Email in Debt Collection

Text messages have been a vital part of debt collection as they are mandated by regulations. Chatbots are new and are improving rapidly, but since debt issues are complicated, it is not the favored go-to modality for problem resolution. 

B. Technologies Supporting Business Function

These technologies power the business function of debt collection agencies and help them operate at better operational efficiency and agility.

  1. Collections CRM for Debt Recovery
  2. Debt Collection Compliance Software
  3. Payment Gateways

They are very essential and can help debt collection agencies perform operationally better.

Analysis of Cost Structure

To assess the impact of technology, it will be necessary to analyze its impact on cost and revenue. Typically the cost structure of a debt collections agency is like this:

Even a cursory look at the graph makes it abundantly clear that wages are the most significant element of the cost structure, ranging near 42%. Hence a technology that helps debt collection agencies minimize this cost via automation will have a significant impact on the structure of collections agencies.

Call Automation via Voice AI

Voice AI is the most disruptive technology of our times since it automates the most expensive part of contact center operations – calls and conversations.

It is one-of-its-kind technology that can enable debt collection companies to make complete calls without requiring a human agent. Lately the Voice AI technology-based SaaS platforms have become quite affordable and quick to deploy. Hence are creating large competitive advantages for early adopters. 

AI-enabled Voice Agents have been optimized to understand spoken language and strike intelligent conversations. The voice engine picks up not only what the customer is saying but also the semantics of the conversation.

Perhaps it is the most disruptive of all the present technologies as it is empowered to answer customer calls, and can reach them out independent of human agents. They are also excellent at updating customers and adhering to compliance requirements. They are proven to cut costs and improve agent productivity and collections rate. 

Read more about How – The Magic Pill of Voice AI can  solve Debt Collections Challenges 

Solving the Biggest Challenge – Automating Voice Conversations

A major chunk of the cost of a debt collection agency involves human agents’ salaries and similar expenses towards that end. Today, for the first time, companies have the technology to automate voice conversation and make calls possible without the need for human agents for as much as 70% of call volume.

We are in this section to delve deep into this new era of technology that will help companies transform truly.

Listen to Skit.ai’s Voicebot in Action 

Voice AI Software for Debt Collections Industry | Skit.ai

The rapid rise in call volumes, defaults, demand for remote resolution of disputes, and diminishing CX have resulted in collection agencies scrambling to catch up.

The need for better outbound collections efforts—along with managing increasing volumes of inbound inquiries from customers—is putting pressure to scale contact center teams, an undesirable and herculean task.

Call center turnover (30 – 45%) has always been a challenge and has generally been twice as high as the industry average (13.5 – 18.5%), while collection agencies perform worse, with some reporting as high as 100% employee turnover. The concatenation of these factors—higher call volumes, regulations, and agent turnover—has made companies lookout for technology solutions such as Voice AI-enabled contact center automation.

Let’s compare the challenges collections agencies are facing to how a conversational AI-enabled Intelligent Voice Agent meets every challenge.

Beginning the DX Journey With Voice AI

Of all the technologies, the deepest impact has been seen with the deployment of Voice AI. This is because a major part of what a debt collections company does is conversations and automating them is going to create an unprecedented amount of value. 

Once a voicebot or Voice AI agent is deployed, here is what that happens:

  • Automated campaigns with clear data documentation
  • Clear capture and documentation of the disposition/intent
  • No breach of compliance as the virtual agent stays true to script 
  • Handing the same volume of calls with a much smaller human agent team
  • Improve compliance adherence by Voice AI strict adherence to scripts, timings, and regulatory changes
  • Immediate cost savings and revenue expansion 

7 Reasons to Adopt Voice AI For Debt Collection

Augmented Voice Intelligence or AVI is the blend of Conversational AI and human intelligence. It creates meaningful conversations with customers to support them throughout their entire collection journey while adhering to compliance and regulations. Let’s delve deeper into the 7 core reasons:

Read in detail about these reasons in this Article

Here are a few outcomes contact centers have been able to achieve and are equally applicable to debt collection agencies: 

  • Near 50% reduction in contact center operational cost:
    • Debt collection companies can work with a small team of human agents and handle the same amount of accounts. This is due to the automation as a majority of calls by Voice AI Agents.
    • The debt collection companies save on the hassle of recruitment and large wages. 
    • The voicebot would also help companies cut down on agent commissions that typically range between 20-25% of the agent’s fixed compensation and is paid over and above the fixed component. This happens because the voicebot can enable payments without the need for human agents or does end-to-end automation. The higher the proportion of the payments the voicebot enables, the higher will be the saving on agent commissions. 
  • Over 35% automation of customer support efforts: 

For a debt collections company, the split–80% (Outbound) and 20% (Inbound) holds true. Let’s look into the proportion of call automation: 

  • Inbound: Though it depends upon the number of uses the voicebot is trained for, at an evolved stage, it can handle as much as 70% of total inbound calls. Escalating only the complex cases to human agents. Also, even if the call is escalated, the voicebot will capture the intent and establish the right party contact before transferring the call to a human agent. This adds value and saves agent time, and this reduces the cost.
  • Outbound: Typically a voicebot will make multiple rounds of calls for the entire database before it can capture the soft PTP (propensity to pay). Only on the select accounts, the human agent will make the call. In many instances the voicebot does the job, in the same manner, a human agent would and thus creates value by replacing his effort. For instance, it can successfully establish:
    • Wrong party contact 
    • Call back 
    • Debt dispute
    • Reminder calls 
    • Capturing disposition to pay
    • And more.
  • About 40% reduction in Average Handling Time 

Overall companies across industries have observed a drop in average handling times. This is because even in most simplistic use cases the voicebot will verify the consumer, identify his/her intent, and summarize the interaction. This helps the human agent close the query faster. 

  • Smoother Recovery with Better CX

Making the right call, to the right person at the right time makes a world of difference in collections space. Voicebot with its meticulous follow-ups, with the right message, can help customers make payments more conveniently. Hence companies see better recovery with better CX.

The Most Comprehensive Guide on Selecting a Voice AI Vendor


When going for DX, a piecemeal approach is the best. It is most prudent to start with technology with the biggest impact on the performance of the company and has the highest ROIs. But concurrently it must be easily accommodated into the current process with slight modifications. Voice AI possesses all the qualities, making it an ideal point to begin the DX journey. 

AI-enabled Voicebots such as Skit.ai’s Digital Voice Agent thus has helped companies transform their contact centers with positive business outcomes. 

For any questions on selecting the right Voice AI vendor and the technology, please schedule a meeting on www.skit.wpenginepowered.com 

CX Holds the Key to Bring Back the Magic of Travel 

Travel bans, tight restrictions, and mass cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic are starting to seem like a thing of a distant past as a “revenge travel” trend surges globally! 

Data from over 40,000 trip itineraries show that planned American travel to Europe records a whopping 600 percent increase in booking rates compared to 2021. Findings from data estimates by Mastercard show that an uptick in world travelers accounts for 1.5 billion more than last year. Additionally, short and medium-distance travel has gone up from the pre-pandemic level by more than a quarter. While tourism is globally headed to a gradual recovery throughout 2022, travel brands need to up their game to keep up with the evolved customer expectations.

As per recent stats, nearly 96% of customers agree that customer service is a deciding factor for their loyalty, and 86% are willing to pay more for brands that provide superior CX. Thus, it is existentially vital for travel companies to revamp their CX capabilities and look out for technologies that can help them achieve it. 

Enter Digital, a Challenge, and an Opportunity!

Digital acceleration is undoubtedly one of the salient impacts of the pandemic. In the travel sector especially, consumers are now demanding more personalized products, greater digital services, or faster turnaround right from no-contact booking for accommodation, scheduling cabs, and travel tickets, to other services like 24/7 support for seamless cancellation, instant refunds, and receiving status updates on the go. 

Recently, sentiment analysis of Tripadvisor reviews from the U.S., Europe, and Asia suggested that the emotional intensity of customer reviews increased considerably from 2019 to 2021. This signifies customers’ lack of willingness to settle for substandard experiences and growing expectations around cleanliness, food standards, and customer service.

The consumer demographic has also broadened with older, Gen Z (first-gen digital natives) travelers joining the market. These factors are not only accelerating the need for more digital-first strategies for customer engagement but also boosting customer experience (CX) to earn loyalty, resilience, and future-proof businesses.

What’s Missing in Customer Service and Why Has CX Plummeted?

Here’s a quick recap from the initial stages of the pandemic, travel companies’ customer support teams were confronted with unprecedented cancellation rates. 

  • By the third week of March 2020, the average wait time for customers was reported to be two hours and nearly 50 percent of customer calls were unanswered, as per Publicis Sapient research.
  • Most travel companies with outdated customer service weren’t able to predict and keep up with the customer call volumes and saw human resource burnouts and additional opex from recruitment and training.

These findings provided unanimous evidence to digitally revamp customer service operations to allow seamless booking or cancellation as per their convenience. Only leading travel brands seized the opportunity,  leveraging a digital-first approach to upgrade their contact centers, automate NLP tools for call analysis, and optimize customer demands across channels.

Bottom line, digital innovation is meant to stay, and it pervades every aspect of the travel industry including customer service.

To sum up, the revival of the travel and tourism business is only possible when the businesses are built on a strong foundation of customer experience

The Customer Service “Crisis” Areas and the Way Out for Travel Companies 

The competitive landscape shows a serious gap in CX levels that only brands like AirBnB have championed by streamlining customer service teams with contact center technologies to get the right message to the customers, at the right time and at the right touchpoint!

McKinsey and Skift in their joint research have very intriguing insights. One, there is still room for improvement of service although companies may think otherwise. Here are the most critical pieces of the travel puzzle: 

  • Inconsistency in CX across products and services 

Inconsistent and broken omnichannel can do more harm than improve customer experience. Travel companies must deliver at par with customer expectations, in the modality of their choice, be it voice or text.

  • Inability to Predict Customers’ Sentiments

There is no precedent to the epochal change we have undergone. Still, travel companies must have the capability to understand customer sentiment and personalize their offerings.

  • Time Lags in Responding and Pivoting

With every precedent thrown out of the window, travel companies have the room to be innovative and offer flexibility and value. It is not easy. They have to personalize on the fly and speed up the response time on the deal to avoid losing customers or becoming irrelevant.

  • Customer Loyalty is Up for Grabs

No one can rest on their laurels and must deliver quality service every day. Customers are going to switch. This environment of uncertainty is creating a crisis and an opportunity for companies to grab market leadership.

Invest in Voice AI to Augment Customer Experience (CX) Capabilities 

This year, global spending on CX technologies has hit $641 billion. Travel companies that are still reeling from the financial shock of the pandemic need to invest in technology to ramp up CX as a key to survival and growth in a continuum. Technologies that allow customers to avail contactless, self-service options, automated assistance, and AI-enabled interactions via a virtual assistant, bots, and apps largely resonate with the CX expectations of today’s customers. However, brands need to think outside the box, exploring innovation potential in every touchpoint: chats, emails, messages, and voice-based interactions.

Voice-first technologies like the Voice AI platform help take customer service up by a notch by unlocking the power of customer conversation. Using Digital Voice Agents that automate cognitively repetitive tasks, helps handle tier 1 customer interactions end-to-end and route calls to specialized agents. The automation frees human agents to focus on more complex calls and layered problems. 

Dive deeper: How to Transform Customer Experience

Voice Matters in Travel and Hospitality

Voice conversations constitute a significant part of the customer’s preferred mode of interaction with the brands’ customer support teams. It is a critical element in building CX.  Any customer service platform without the semantic understanding of the voice interactions and nuances like tone, speed of conversation, and sentiment will not be able to capture the right intent to deliver accordingly. Voice Intelligence platforms built from the ground up and tailored for the travel industry can make sure the conversations are more context-driven and relevant. 

Further, the Voice Agents’ datasets designed for spoken language understanding can provide service-right options to customers even in the absence of a customer support agent.

Let’s dive into innovations in customer service areas for better CX:

  • Automation is a Strategic Priority

With over two-thirds of companies piloting automation in one or more business units, customer service in travel firms must not be an exception. Automation of repetitive mundane tasks helps avert human errors, costs, and time-consuming zero-value activities.  

Voice AI is a perfect tool to help travel companies deliver scalable, cost-effective, and intelligent support. The technology helps contact centers operate with lean teams while extending support capabilities in diverse languages and time zones.

  • Contactless Payments

Contactless payments across modalities, and the more convenient the better. Voice AI agents, such as the Digital Voice Agent of one of the leading Voice AI solution providers, Skit.ai, facilitate travelers with an on-call payment option. 

  • Intelligent Support: Customers prefer proactive updates on the changes in regulations or travel plans due to weather scenarios. Providing additional guidance via notifications, automated reminders or even personalized voice calls for precautions or alternatives helps differentiate customer service. Voice AI is the most potent tool for engaging and serving customers. 
  • 24/7 Support: Providing round-the-clock assistance and a way to reach key information even when human support agents might not be available for international or domestic travelers is a plus point. AI-enabled Digital Voice Agents can guarantee that. Combining it with effective multilingual support and voice calls in the preferred language make for smoother, worry-free travel experiences.
  • Customer Intelligence for Hyper-personalized Experiences

Right from evaluating travel options and packages to post-travel feedback, understanding customers’ tastes helps deliver truly personalized travel experiences. Leveraging the powerful data capabilities of conversational AI helps keep tabs of travel history, search data, and travel preferences. This offers enough context to gain deep customer intelligence and insights to deliver as per customer expectations and offer top-notch experiences.

  • Transparency in Pricing and Operations: Customers prefer a clear window into pricing, offers, discounts, cancellations, and other policies. Quite often travelers feel cheated as hidden costs escalate their travel bills. Companies providing a constant feedback loop combing tech-enabled, unambiguous pricing dashboards is integral for building customer trust towards the brand. 
  • Leverage Voice Search & Voice Control

Travelers usually search, book, and organize their plans on mobile devices. By leveraging the ubiquity of mobile phones and the latest features, voice search has replaced conventional typing. Integrating voice search and control features in travel companies’ sites can be of great convenience to busy travelers that are looking for information on the go.   


Customer expectations have leaped to new levels of sophistication and this change will only be constant. After sampling the superior CX offered on platforms and apps of brands in retail and e-Commerce in the new normal, customers expect to be wowed with endless innovation throughout the journey.

With voice being an instinctive way of communication, it can be a golden avenue for travel companies to reshape customer service and CX, combining the best of Voice AI and human agents for a significant competitive leg-up. 

What is travel, if not an experience that must be made memorable! For more information and free consultation, let’s connect over a quick call; Book Now!

How Voice AI is Helping Consumer Durables Brands Perfect the Art of CX

After enduring the pandemic lull, semiconductor shortage, and the rising cost of raw materials, India is again a hot market for consumer appliances and electronics. 

In 2021 the Indian consumer durables industry stood at $9.84 billion and is likely to reach $21.18 billion by 2025. This double-digit market growth is driven by the brands’ omnichannel reach and a massive shift in consumers’ thought process—from price consciousness to a preference for technologically advanced, premium products that promise higher quality, safety, and value.  While this is great news in terms of sales and profitability, it signifies the end of mass marketing and traditional customer engagement strategies.

Today’s consumer wants to feel special and expects a meaningful connection with the brands. Customer experience (CX) is important for long-term customer relationships and sustained value-creation.

The State of CX in the Consumer Durables Industry 

Unlike other industries, sales is the starting point for brand-customer relationship in the consumer durables business. Since today’s customers expect more, brands are bombarded with countless opportunities on the digital front to offer and improve their post-sales, product, and user-oriented services; understand audience demographics, product usage, and collect feedback. To navigate the challenge of delivering modern CX with the conviction to delight customers, the worldwide spending by companies on CX technologies is expected to touch $654 billion this year. 

To make investments worthwhile and master the art of customer centricity in the consumer durables industry, let’s first understand the common barriers to great CX:

  • Too Many Touch Points: Many brands these days have multiple touch points (online and offline forums) for customer interactions. This means too many, complex customer journeys where data remains fragmented and departments operating in silos are unable to collate customer insights and behaviors to analyze and personalize experiences. 
  • Customers’ Propensity towards Brands with Solid Digital Presence: Millennials and Gen Z consumers prefer brands with a strong online presence like social media, website UX, pricing, and product information and reviews before making purchases. These consumers relate brands’ digital savviness as an important factor for building trust and establishing personal connections. This expectation creates a myriad of variables for consumer durables brands to consider while providing consistent CX across the journey including post-sales support. 
  • Shifting Loyalties and Micro-moments: Consumer electronics and appliance companies suffer from poor customer loyalty due to countless competitors, promising similar products at better rates and features. McKinsey’s study found the average loyalty scores are below 20 percent in the consumer durables industry. 

Besides, brands are not evolved enough to leverage ‘micro moments’ or the few seconds when a customer online browses with the intent of buying a product or service. It takes cutting-edge expertise to encash on a limited window of opportunity to identify a potential customer, and provide them with the right information, at the right time, and right medium! 

  • The advent of Circular Economy and Sustainability: The consumer appliances and electronic industry have globally turned towards sustainability, driving their brands and manufacturers to practice circular economy models like recycling and reuse to avoid wastage. Customers these days are also more informed and favor brands that uphold their sustainability promises. 

This could be a Catch-22 situation for consumer durable companies as on one hand, their customer service will be flooded with queries and inbound calls regarding the maintenance, repairs, and responsible end-of-life actions for products that cannot be addressed by generic IVRs or FAQs. On the other hand, there is a lack of evidence-based data on mapping and driving customer experience which is crucial to the adoption of circular practices.

  • Delayed Product Servicing: Conventionally, the product repairs and servicing processes take up to days. Reaching contact centers for customer support, scheduling service and maintenance requests, follow-up and actual physical repairs involve a lot of waiting and frustrations. Sometimes, brands outsource repairs to third-party service providers which can further impact customers’ brand perceptions and experience. 

Explore how to Transform CX with Voice Automation 

The Rise of Voice AI in Customer Support

Top-performing brands can build long-lasting customer relationships by leveraging bespoke technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) which have a demonstrable impact on areas like product design, marketing, sales, and customer service. When it comes to elevating CX, consumer durables companies must seize the moment by automating customer service and augmenting their contact centers with AI-powered, industry-specific platforms. Voice-first technology solutions like Voice AI help reshift the gears of customer service in the consumer durables industry.

Users of consumer durable products approach contact centers for a slew of reasons and prefer voice interactions with human agents over texts and IVRs. Besides, voice is the most instinctive and easy form of communication. Voice AI helps tap into customers’ voice conversations to improve contact center performance and guarantee personalization.

Customer support platforms built for typing and texts would be insufficient to articulate customers’ urgency, queries, complaints, and issues. Voice AI platform is built, designed, and optimized for voice conversations at scale for prompt query resolution and better personalization to callers. 

Explore how Voice AI can help you transform Travel and Tourism Companies 

The Digital Voice Agents automate multimodal interactions and take over cognitively repetitive tasks so that human agents can vest attention to addressing complex customer problems. 

9 Benefits of Voice AI for Contact Centers in the Consumer Durables Industry 


9 Benefits of Voice AI for Contact Center in Consumer Durable Industry

  1. Automation of Contact Center Operations: The Digital Voice Agent answers tier-1 calls, without the need for a human agent.  The tech stack in Voice AI can enable conversations that are modeled on human interaction. Every time when a Voice AI agent calls customers, it can be optimized to answer all basic questions and handle tier-1 queries. Besides, it can automate repetitive, zero-value tasks like call scheduling, reminders, post-service feedback, and more. 
  2. Round the Clock Support: Traditional 9-5 functioning contact centers don’t fit well with today’s customers’ lifestyles and schedules. Digital Agents are meant to provide 24/7 support and manage customer calls through the unavailability of human agents beyond business hours.  
  3. Call Containment:  Automate calls and improve your self-service function as well as answer tier-I questions without the need of a human agent. The higher the contained calls, the higher the cost savings. 
  4. Scale Up Sales Outreach and Inbound Calls: Voice AI helps take over high-volume tasks that are performed by human agents at less cost and in shorter timelines. The automation helps consumer durables brands cover millions of customers for sales outreach in a matter of few days using fewer agents. Additionally, the platform’s Speech Recognition algorithms and data help autonomously attend to inbound queries, understand customer pain points, and help them feel connected to the brand. 
  5. Personalized Empathetic Conversations: Voice AI’s tech stack allows contact centers to tailor conversations and responses in multiple languages. The semantic understanding of the spoken words, tone of voice, speed, and emotions help capture the intent of the customers to proactively respond with relevant options. Also, Voice AI’s intelligent and instant troubleshooting options for service requests reduce wait time when customers are on hold. 
  6. Reduced AHT: The agents’ tasks can be augmented by Digital Voice Agents that seamlessly plug into contact centers to solve queries with relevant insights and automated options like reminders, notifications, and call authentication, reducing average handling time (AHT) by 30 to 40 percent. This helps agents balance work and avoid burnout during inbound call surges.
  7. Cost Savings:  Contact centers of consumer durables brands can incur operational cost savings up to 35 percent with Voice AI by avoiding additional expenditure for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance and staff training and recruitment. The platform saves resources and time by executing outbound campaigns at scale and accuracy.
  8. Brand Consistency: Brands with a hyperlocal and global presence can streamline contact center operations and standardize their interactions based on their needs. They can customize the Digital Voice Agent to proffer consistent customer experience and service quality. 
  9. CSAT Levels: Brands can tap into the new era of self-service experience and guarantee constant engagement with reminders and notifications. By powering voice-centric interactions that customers cherish and largely resonate with, Voice AI helps consumer durables’ contact centers achieve customer loyalty and satisfaction scores of 4.0+. 

Digital Voice Agents – their Functioning and Benefits 

The Road Ahead 

Expert evidence points that we are in the ‘platinum era of CX’ and headed to a future of more emotionally and personally immersive CX. 

After braving a tumultuous ride of economic slowdown and digital acceleration, the global consumer durables industry is at an inflection point.  This is where technology and thought leadership come together to acknowledge the ‘voice’ of today’s customers through Voice AI.

For more information and free consultation, let’s connect over a quick call, use the chat tool below to schedule an appointment with one of our experts.