Outbound IVR Robocaller Vs AI-Powered Digital Voice Agents 

One in four Americans (28 %) have at least one debt in collections. It underscores the significance of debt collection services. As more consumers depend on credit for multiple purchases from homes to vehicles, household appliances, and sometimes everyday living expenses, debt collection services are playing an even more significant role in the availability and recovery of credit.

Though use of IVR outbound Robocaller or outbound IVR is largely demotivated for debt collection through TCPA and FDCPA, we would discuss little bit about use of IVR outbound Robocaller for debt collection in this blog. 

Over the last couple of decades, it was perhaps wise to deploy Outbound IVRs, Voice Blasters, or Robocallers. The technology helped companies send pre-recorded phone messages to hundreds of consumers at once. 



In the last couple of decades, they have helped companies reduce calling errors, call costs, and improve productivity. But with rapid advancements in technology, especially Voice AI, the competitive landscape has changed rapidly in favor of intelligent voice conversations. 

In this blog, we delve into the core of the issue to explain why Intelligent Voice Agents are the way to deliver superior business performance and customer experience.

Explore how Voice AI solutions are Transforming Debt Collections

Understanding IVRs and why they fail to deliver real value

Typically, an Outbound IVR (Interactive Voice Response) is used to proactively reach out to a large number of customers in a personalized manner using different interaction channels, such as voice messages. The most common use cases are feedback, promotions, announcements, reminders, etc. 

Robocaller or outbound IVR has essentially two components in it; a dialer capability and a text-to-speech engine (Advanced Outbound IVRs) or a recorded voice message (Robocaller). Businesses can upload thousands of contacts in the dialer and configure certain parameters such as number and time of retry attempts, time of call etc. Dialer calls up these contacts and play a voice message which consumers can listen to. At the end of call, consumer can provide keypad based number input to listen to the message again and certain other things.

For 1990s this technology was a game-changer and led to huge improvement in efficiency, however, today it is ineffective and unnecessary, to say the least. 

Even the best outbound IVRs ail from persistent challenges as enumerated below:

  1. Unidirectional Communication: IVRs are capable of only unidirectional communication with a limited DTMF (Keypad-based) feedback mechanism.
  2. Low Engagement: IVRs have extremely low engagement rates owing to their non-conversational unidirectional communication.
  3. Right party contact: Inability to capture conversational inputs and run verification to check for right-party communication. Today, you cannot pass on debt related information to the wrong contact even inadvertently.
  4. Lack of ability to capture important dispositions: Robocallers or outbound IVR can’t capture meaningful dispositions that can be used downstream, such as:
    • Willingness to pay, and expected date and mode of payment
    • Refusal to pay and associated reasons
    • Debt dispute and reasons
    • Willingness to pay partially and offer payment arrangements.
    • Ability to capture call-back date and time for busy customers.
  5. Lack of insights for segmentation: inability to segment the pool of consumers based on disposition to help debt collection companies make meaningful strategic decisions.
  6. Inability to reach out to consumers on their preferred time: Since Robocaller cannot capture disposition for busy consumers, it cannot intelligently call back or arrange call back from human agents.
  7. Payment assistance and goal completion: can not help or guide the willing consumer to make the payment during the call.
  8. Human-Agent Dependence: for a large chunk of calls, the agent are needed to reach to a meaningful end result.
  9. Compliance adherance: Since every call campaign is triggered manually, compliance is left with the operator who is running the campaigns.
  10. Customer Experience: being extremely impersonal, they miserably fail at contributing to CX.

IVRs, even at their best, do not contribute to CX or major productivity gains, whereas a bad IVR experience can prove very costly. The State of IVR in 2018 noted that 83% of customers would avoid a company after a poor experience with an IVR. 

The more pressing problem still remains:

“How to automate the mundane, repetitive and non-value additive tasks human agents are doing”

For a long time, we did not have an answer, or we did not have a commercially viable technology solution, but today we have, and it is Intelligent Voice AI Agent.

Explore how AI-enabled Voice AI Agents are the Perfect Solution to Meet Compliance Requirements

Understanding Digital Voice Agents

Digital Voice agents are AI-powered virtual agents that allow customers to converse intelligently, without having to punch 1,2,3,4 on their screen to hold meaningful contextual conversation. It is able to converse with your consumers just like your human agents. It is capable of understanding, interpreting, and then analyzing conversational voice input expressed by an individual and responding to them in an everyday language.

A Virtual Voice Agent goes beyond understanding words, and determines what the consumer is saying based on underlying semantics, without relying on specific keywords. Using machine learning, a Virtual Voice Agent is continuously improving itself and the customer experience. Read more about Digital Voice AI agent here.

Unlike Siri and Alexa, which are designed to handle everyday context-less tasks such as setting up an alarm or playing the songs, AI-powered digital voice agents are trained specifically to handle complex problems, and understand what a customer may want in all probable scenarios, making them highly effective in solving customer problems and requests. 

A Comparative look: Digital Voice Agent Vs Outbound IVR

4 Core Benefits: Why Top Collection Agencies are Deploying Digital Voice Agents 

For any company, AI-enabled Digital Voice Agents are a quantum leap from aging outbound IVRs. There is no comparison. Digital Voice Agents are AI-enabled, making them improve exponentially with time. One can surmise the amount of competitive leg-up companies can create as they start early. Here are the core business benefits of deploying Digital Voice Agents over IVRs:

  1. Reducing Cost and Improving Speed of Collections: The Digital Voice Agents can make or handle hundreds of concurrent calls at scale, economically, and in just an hour. Not only that, voice agents, being a machine, are very punctual and reach out to debtors that request a callback or make reattempts right on time when the probability of connecting to contact is highest. All this is done within the prescribed compliance framework.
  2. Superior Recovery and Collection Efforts: Better collection and recovery demand persistent efforts. When nudged at the right time, a debtor who is willing but unable to pay now might pay a few months down the line. Thus, what matters is how persistently collection agencies can reach out to a certain segment of debtors, ideally disposed to pay. It’s a piece of cake for Digital Voice Agent to schedule follow-up calls, honoring the regulatory guidelines, spread over weeks/months, and ensure better recovery rates. With timely and adequate calls going out to customers, and 24*7 support, the right voice-tech solution checks all the boxes to improve collections and recovery.
  3. Minimize Errors, ensure Compliance and Security: With a myriad of ever-changing regulations, disparate for each state, it is challenging for agents to keep abreast and be flawless. Training and development are costly, but Digital Voice Agents are easy to update and ensure perfect compliance. IVRs play a limited role, as unidirectional communications have a low impact.
  4. Human-Agent Bandwidth Prioritization: The beauty of deploying an Augmented Voice Intelligence is that it can call all the customers and filter the cases of the complex cases that need human agent interference. In the present system, agents call the entire list, be it a simple case or a complex one, not creating desired value in the process. For the dispositions where human intervention is required, Voice Agent can segment the portfolio so that relevant human agents can be assigned the downstream tasks. This prioritization of bandwidth unlocks massive value for the collection companies.

For more information and free consultation, let’s connect over a quick call; Book Now!

Also, for more information visit our Collections Page.

Voice AI for Banking: Streamline Outbound Calling

The recent pandemic has reshaped consumer banking behaviours in many ways and has skyrocketed digital transformation in the banking sector. With social distancing becoming the new normal, most consumers prefer utilizing digital banking services over visiting the branch, even for important tasks. This in turn has spurred the evolution of agile business models backed by technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, Blockchain etc. These technologies are also critical for cost reduction, an increasing priority for banks due to weak investment returns and market uncertainty.

As COVID-19 accelerates digital adoption across banks, CX will act as a major differentiator to help leapfrog competition by engaging customers with tailored and intelligent value propositions based on deep customer insights. In order to do so, banks need to transform their technology capabilities across the complex landscape of their technical assets, to deliver unique and highly personalized experiences at the right time, at scale. 

With the spike in the usage of digital banking, banks have also seen an influx of inbound calls. More customers are picking up their phones to get queries resolved. A similar trend is being seen in the number of outbound calls made by the banks for repayment reminders, Know-Your-Customer(KYC), and account registration.

Streamlining Outbound Calling 

Technologies such as Voice AI are empowering banks to automate inbound contact centres. This has enabled them to reduce average call waiting times, improve customer satisfaction scores and free agent bandwidth. While streamlining inbound calls is extremely critical for CX, equal attention needs to be given to streamlining outbound calls. 

Banks make thousands of calls each day to customers for various reasons. These calls can be for welcoming new customers, reminding them about a due payment, lead qualification, and more. By engaging with customers at the right time, banks strengthen their existing relationship with the customer which directly helps them in creating trust and building loyalty.

However, since all the calls are made by agents manually, banks are unable to meet the required goals. They’re in dire need to optimize the process and make it more efficient. To provide customers with a consistent experience they need to leverage new-age technologies like Voice AI.

Voice bots that are powered using Voice AI can converse with customers in a natural and multi-turn conversational style. The experience is very human-like. Voice bots can trigger outbound calls to engage with customers 24*7 in a scalable manner. You can completely customize the calls according to different parameters like frequency, during specific events, and more.

Lead Qualification

Banks receive millions of leads every month through various sources including the website, social media, partnerships and advertisements. Usually, agents call each lead up to understand the customer’s requirements better and gauge their interest level. However, a major problem is that a huge chunk of these leads are junk and agents end up spending their important time speaking to the wrong users rather than prioritizing the interested ones. This has a major impact on the number of conversions. 

However, voice bots can greatly help solve this problem for banks. Since the problem is with the qualification process, it can be completely handled by the voice bot without any human intervention. By seamlessly integrating with the CRM, the voice bot can fetch the customer’s phone number and trigger an outbound call. During the call, the voice bot asks the user different questions required to qualify them for a product. In case the customer has any questions, voice bots can also resolve them. If interested, the voice bot can directly transfer the call to the agent or schedule a convenient time for a callback. In case the call is missed, voice bots can also make periodic follow-up calls. 

According to the data collected by the voice bot, agents can prioritize their calls. This way they end up reaching the interested users first, significantly increasing the chances of conversion.

Let’s understand with an example. Assume, a user applies for a credit card online. They enter a few basic details like name, monthly salary, age, contact details, and more. Once the details are submitted, it is transferred to the voice bot. The bot fetches the contact details and triggers an outbound call. It asks the user multiple questions including the credit limit they were looking for, whether they have an existing bank account with them and more. All this information is automatically updated on the CRM. Agents can then go through all these users and filter out the interesting ones suitable for calling. 

Customer Activation

Converting a potential lead into a customer is not enough for banks. To generate revenue out of them, they need to ensure that they’re using their different products and services. For this, they need to focus on customer activation. They need to employ different strategies to help customers move faster in their life cycle. But onboarding thousands of customers every day requires a lot of resources and time. For banks to provide their users with a personalized onboarding experience and engage with them at regular intervals affordably, they’ll need to leverage the power of technology and automation.

When a retail customer opens a savings account, s/he doesn’t only get access to the account but other services such as net banking, debit card, phone banking and more. However, most customers don’t end up using these services. This is why banks need to onboard them and send periodic reminders to nudge them to use the product. Few banks do have dedicated in-house or outsourced teams who handle this. However, the process is not scalable and is extremely difficult to follow for all the customers. 

So, how can banks solve this? 

To onboard customers and engage with them across the customer journey, banks can leverage voice bots. Firstly, the bot can call each customer and onboard them by taking them through each service, answering FAQs, and resolving questions in case any. By educating them it removes the initial friction the customer might have in trying a particular service. Further, a voice bot can call the customer after a certain period to understand their experience and suggest different services. This helps banks in delivering personalized engagement across the customer lifecycle consistently. 

To further improve customer activation, banks can – 

Map the customer journey – Banks can map out all the important stages to ensure they engage with customers at the right time. For example, for a credit card user, different stages can be –

  • Credit Card Activation
  • First transaction
  • Reward Redemption

Customer Segmentation – To deliver a personalised customer and effective communication, banks need to segment their customers. Without this banks can end up spamming users with notifications each day making for a very poor experience.

Improving Propensity 

Most banks use product propensity to increase customer’s lifetime value and reduce attrition. For example, if there’s a customer X who’s been using the bank’s credit card services for multiple years, the bank can upsell a home loan to them at a special interest rate. Hence, by leveraging rich customer insights and segmentation, banks can with minimal effort upsell and cross-sell related products. This acts as an important lever for growth by directly contributing to the total revenue.

However, we cannot ignore the fact that even with data analytics and machine learning models, the number of customers who actually end up buying a product or showing interest is substantially lower. This is a huge problem for agents who usually are the ones who end up calling these customers. They end up wasting a lot of their important time. This is also one of the reasons why banks haven’t set up dedicated teams. 

One effective way to solve this is by doing a pre-qualification through a voice bot. Voice bots can call the customer and share the offer details. The bot can collect the interest level of the customer, get additional details required to process the offer and also answer common questions. By doing this pre-qualification, agents end up only speaking to customers who’re interested in the offer.

Not only does it save agent bandwidth but also increases agent productivity and reduces operational costs.

Friendly Payment Reminders 

Banks continually invest in resources and implement strategies to improve their payment collection rate. This is because even a marginal drop has a negative impact on their business and increases collection costs.

While often underutilized, the simplest way to ensure customers pay in a timely manner is by triggering reminders a few days before the repayment (be it credit cards or loans). This can be through different channels including calls, text messages and emails. By doing this customers can make repayments on time and avoid unwanted hassle and late payment charges. 

Banks can further increase the effectiveness of their reminders by using a voice bot. Unlike playing a recorded message, voice bots can allow banks to send personalized reminders, collect information and even help them to make payments in real-time. For example, if a user wants to make a repayment, voice bots can send a payment link on Whatsapp or text message. The voice bot can also help customers enable automatic payments or change the payment type. 

By enhancing the repayment experience, banks can significantly improve the collection rate and reduce collection costs. 

What’s Next? 

Banks have taken many rapid decisions to meet the changing customer needs. Be it ramping up security, digital banking capabilities or launching products that fit customer’s needs. This is the reason why they were so quick to adapt to the changes made by the pandemic. However, they need to continually innovate and launch new initiatives that focus on customer’s needs and their banking experience.

About Skit

Skit is an Augmented Voice Intelligence Platform, helping businesses modernize their contact centers and customer experience by automating and improving voice communications at scale. By enabling preemptive, intelligent problem solving and seamless live interactions, we have automated over 15 million calls for global enterprises across industries. We help our customers streamline their contact center operations, reduce costs, and also enhance customer experience and engagement.

Connect with us if you’re interested in learning more about the platform and how it can modernize and transform your contact center.

7 Reasons Why Debt Collection Companies Are Deploying Voice AI

In the new normal, from creditors to every downstream collection company face more formidable challenges to improve Collections. This is on account of two factors. First, rapidly evolving regulatory and compliance frameworks, successful adherence to which have become critical for Collection companies. Second, the mitigation of cost has become an extremely uphill task.



Unlike the most common solution prevalent today, i.e. Robocaller or outbound IVR voice blaster (incapable of conversations, feedback, or insights), an Intelligent Voice Agent is an AI-enabled machine capable of meaningful human-like conversations. Explore more about the differences between Robocaller and AI-powered Digital Voice Agent.

Why is an Intelligent Voice Agent Perfect for Collections?

Intelligent Voice Agent, which is the blend of conversational voice AI and human intelligence, holds meaningful conversations with customers to support them throughout their entire collection journey while staying true to compliances and regulations.

Read More if you are interested to know how Intelligent Digital Voice Agent work in detail.

Research provides plenty of information to support the cause of automating collection calls. Apart from improved recovery, 1 in 4 US consumers prefers interacting with an Intelligent Voice Assistant at times of embarrassing financial situation; 2018 consumer sentiment survey.

Solving Collection Challenges with an Intelligent Voice Agent

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

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

Call center turnover has always been a challenge and has generally been twice as high as the industry average, while collection companies perform the worst, 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 what challenges collections companies are facing and how conversational AI enabled Intelligent Voice Agent meets every challenge.

7 Reasons Why Augmented Voice Intelligence Is Transforming Debt Collections

Augmented Voice Intelligence, which is the blend of Conversational AI and human intelligence, creates meaningful conversations with customers to support them throughout their entire collection journey while staying true to compliances and regulations. Let’s delve deeper into the 7 core reasons:

1. Automation And Human Bandwidth Prioritization

The beauty of deploying an Augmented Voice Intelligence is that it can call all the customers and filters out the complex cases that need human agent interference. In the present system, agents call the entire list, be it a simple case or a complex one, not creating desired value in the process.

With a virtual voice agent, all the contacts in the portfolio are called at the right time of the day and within a couple of hours. The entire portfolio is then segmented based on the disposition collected for each debtor. The dispositions captured can be Propensity to pay, refusal to pay, wrong-party contacts, disputed debt, call-back later, validation requests etc.

For willing debtors, the virtual voice agent can not only collect the payment during the call but can also negotiate and offer alternate payment options. It also reminds them of the next due date. 

Also, the Digital Voice Agent calls back all the debtors who could not be reached in the first attempt without the need for Human-agent intervention. This takes a huge burden off them.

For the dispositions where human intervention is required, Voice Agent can segment the portfolio so that relevant human agents can be assigned the downstream tasks based on importance of the disposition for the portfolio and the company.

This automation and prioritization of bandwidth unlocks massive value for the collection companies.

2. Improved Portfolio Volume and Customer Coverage

Furthermore, if, let’s say, 66% of the debtors are handled by digital voice agents end-to-end, now collection companies can take up 3X more portfolios or cover 3X more customers with the same set of human agents. This illustrates how the same support team can manage higher levels of business with even better results. 

Collection companies can take up more portfolios or take big ones, as they now have better customer coverage.

3. Lower Cost and Faster Collection Speed

Contact center automation with Conversational Voice AI assistant ensures that service quality and speed remain consistent, which otherwise will be volatile as new human agents with less experience join the team. Also, continuous hiring and training is a great operational hassle.

The Digital Voice Agents can make hundreds of concurrent calls at scale, economically, and in just an hour. Not only that, voice agents, being a machine, are very punctual and reach out to debtors that request a callback or make reattempts right on time when the probability of connecting to contact is highest. All this is done within the prescribed compliance framework. 

4. Superior Recovery and Collection Efforts 

Better collection and recovery demand persistent efforts. When nudged at the right time, a debtor who is willing but unable to pay now might pay a few months down the line. Thus, what matters is how persistently collection companies can reach out to a certain segment of debtors, ideally disposed to pay.

Understandably, a significant section of debtors will not pick up calls in the first attempt or might request a call-back at a certain time in the future. It is near impossible for human agents to follow up on every single contact, but the intelligent voice agent can do it with perfection. 

It’s a piece of cake for Digital Voice Agent to schedule follow-up calls, honoring the regulatory guidelines, spread over weeks/months, and ensure better recovery rates. With timely and adequate calls going out to customers, and 24*7 support, the right voice-tech solution checks all the boxes to improve collections and recovery. 

5. Minimize Errors, Ensure Compliance and Security 

A significant amount of agent training and monitoring can be avoided with the deployment of Voice AI agents. High employee turnover, clubbed with significant training costs makes the entire exercise of meeting compliance, extremely costly. While the possibility of potential errors as regulatory regime complications are on the rise, cannot still be eliminated. 

Conversational Voice AI Agents operate with negligible errors and can be easily updated, thus improving compliance significantly. Also, a Voice Collection Agent, well trained in regulatory framework will ensure strict adherence to consumer data security and protection (encryption and redaction) by sticking to industry best practices. 

6. Enhanced Customer Experience

A Voice AI agent can ensure a smooth, courteous, and positive debtor experience that engenders a positive attitude regarding the collections process and ultimately a positive brand image. 

7. Seamless Support Scaling for Any Call Volume

Business volatility and fluctuations put an economic strain on collection companies that need to maintain a qualified team of human agents which has to grow and shrink with demand volatility. Scaling becomes further challenging as employee turnover is the highest of industries.

With the deployment of Augmented Voice Intelligence, there is no need for maintaining a large contact center team to deal with large call volumes, as voice automation helps in handling a majority of calls. Thus the problem of team management becomes minimized.

Intelligent Voice Assistants: The Future of Agile Customer Service

At times of disruption, it’s essential to leverage technology to craft a sustainable competitive edge by addressing core business challenges.

Growing evidence hints at the power of Augmented Voice Intelligence to enable cost optimization, handle a broader customer base, while minimizing significantly the operational challenges relating to regulatory compliances, and team management. 

With a tad steep learning curve, it’s best to be an early bird. The evidence abounds, with the right tech solution partner, there is a great amount of value creation possible.

Move early, Move fast, Grow faster!

For more information and free consultation, let’s connect over a quick call – Book Now!

Also, for more information visit our Collections Page.