How Auto Finance Companies Can Improve Collections with Skit.ai’s Voicebot

The economic volatility is affecting auto financers directly, and so do the inflation and other consumer behavioral trends, making it a genuinely complex space to be in.

Inflationary pressure is mounting significantly in the US economy, and the core inflation jumping to 6.6%, a 40-year high; on the other hand, the US economy is slowing down significantly, putting significant pressure on consumers to avoid delinquencies, which are now at historic highs.

Adding on top of these macroeconomic stresses for auto financers is the acute skilled labor shortage. The cumulative effect has made auto financers scout for automation solutions that can solve their challenges on all fronts.

Before Voice AI, no tech had such a capability that could automate collections and customer support calls without the need for agent intervention. Today, we are crossing the call automation rubicon with Voice AI solutions such as that offered by Skit.ai.

How Voice AI Can Empower an Auto Financing Company with Call Automation

A voicebot is a conversational Voice AI solution that can engage in meaningful conversation with the customers and understand what they are saying, having been trained extensively for particular business support issues. The design of the entire conversation is done, keeping in mind all the possible difficulties a customer can encounter and how best the collection process can be optimized.

So for every customer query, the voicebot has a ready answer as it pulls out relevant and accurate information from the client system and informs the customer, reducing the duration of the conversation remarkably.

Before we deep dive, here are a few salient points that must be borne in mind:

  • Our voicebots, also known as Digital Voice Agents, are trained extensively for specific business problems and hence are capable of engaging in intelligent conversations.
  • Our voicebot can handle all tier-I disputes, around 70% of customer queries. 
  • The remainder of calls, nearly 30%, are escalated to the human collector after the voicebot has established and verified the person’s identity and captured disposition. Thus saving human agent time and helping them engage in high-value tasks.
  • The cost of a voicebot is less than 1/5th of the human agent cost. Thus, overall pure cost savings are humongous.
  • The voicebot can place thousands of calls concurrently, thus reducing the dependence on human agents considerably.  
  • Our voicebot can be deployed within 45 minutes, making the results tangible and fast.

The impact of our voicebot on the top and bottom lines is well-documented and clear. 

Extrapolating results from Skit.ai’s clients with similar use cases, an auto finance company can realize impressive recovery rates at a fraction of the cost.

Before we explain the nuances of our tech, you can take a minute to watch our voicebot in action.

Voice AI for Inbound/Support Calls 

Inbound calls are gold mines because of these; a fraction of customers have called to pay and perhaps need assistance in processing their payment.

Present Status Quo or Before Voicebot Deployment: Unfortunately, most auto financers cannot answer a significant portion of incoming customer calls because of a lack of skilled human agents and due to the prohibitive costs. This a considerable opportunity miss.

After Skit.ai’s Voicebot: Every call gets answered, the intent gets captured, and willing consumers are facilitated to make on-call payments. Any query or dispute gets immediately noted or resolved. Also, details of any further follow-ups are recorded, and calls are scheduled.

Voice AI’s Impact:

All the clients of Skit.ai experienced the following:

  • Better collections as willing consumers were facilitated with payment options
  • Better disposition and intent capture 
  • Improvements in their CSAT scores
  • Better customer experience as financiers can listen and record every customer query.

Voice AI for Outbound Calls 

The capability to dial prompt and perfectly timed calls to reach out to overdue and delinquent accounts is perhaps the most significant capability an auto financer can have. The reason is that almost all auto financers with diverse portfolios have faced the problem of limited scalability and portfolio penetration.

The search for automation has always been, in essence, to ease the problem of limiting the scalability of dialing outbound or consumer reach-out calls. Outbound IVRs and other telephony solutions have eased the problem in their limited way. But only with Voice AI do auto financers experience call automation or intelligent automation of consumer calls.

Present Status Quo or Before Voicebot Deployment:

At present, auto finance has a limited number of agents that can place a call for collections. The process begins with an SMS reminder for payment, followed up in due course of time with a call made by an agent, and then depending upon the significance of the account, the subsequent follow-ups. Agent attrition and compliance breach always have auto financers wary of pushing things.

The diversity of auto loans in the portfolio increases the number of calls that need to be made. This leaves a significant part of the debt portfolio unattended.

After Skit.ai Voicebot:

Before you read further, listen to our voicebot in action and how easily it can help consumers pay.

Our voicebot addresses one of the most significant pain points of auto financers—scalability. We have empowered collectors to dial millions of calls within a week if they so desire. This means that reminders for every overdue or delinquent account will be reached out by our voicebot at the right time, at the desired frequency, and even help them make a payment or reschedule their payments if the need arises.

This means that simplistic calls such as reminders and notification calls can be done by the voicebot, which can even capture intent and help agents prioritize accounts.

This seamless scalability in outbound calls empowers collectors tremendously and can take their recovery rates and portfolio coverage intensity to new heights.

Voice AI’s Impact:

  • Repayment Rate at par with an average human agent
  • Better overall collections at a fraction of the cost
  • Human-Agent Bandwidth Optimization
  • Cost of Collections slashed to less than 1/5th 
  • Portfolio Coverage of 100%
  • Seamless Scalability that leaves scope to increase portfolio with the same collections team
  • Better compliance as the voicebot sticks to the script 

Summarizing the Overall Transformation

The distinct advantages of a Voice AI solution such as that of Skit.ai are conspicuous and indubitable, as many collectors have realized tangible benefits quickly. The impact of this technology is truly transformative and has begun to disrupt many businesses function, such as collection and customer support. 

Though our solution can be incorporated in less than 45 minutes, the competitive leg up for early adopters is as significant and can impact long-term success.

If you found our technology relevant and exciting, feel free to schedule a meeting with one of our experts using the chat tool below.

Voice AI: The Answer to Every Major Auto Finance Collection Challenge

Auto finance companies dealing with collections face a pivotal moment of seemingly unprecedented activity.

Here’s what’s happening right now: car prices have hit a record high, interest rates are skyrocketing, and — as a consequence — the auto finance industry is facing a high number of delinquencies. As they find themselves with very high numbers of loans, lenders and collectors have to drastically scale up the number of outbound calls to borrowers.

While challenging times are not always fun, they also allow us to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions. In this article, we’ll go over some of the major challenges related to auto finance collections and explain how Voice AI and call automation can solve each of these problems.

A growing number of auto finance companies are starting to look to Voice AI (the use of automated voicebots) as the go-to solution to handle both outbound and inbound calls with customers and borrowers. In particular, voicebots are used for collection calls and payment reminders.

Voice AI-powered Digital Voice Agents can handle human-like conversations with users, eliminating wait times and enabling a much larger number of calls to be handled at the same time. A Voice AI technology like Skit.ai’s Augmented Voice Intelligence platform allows auto finance companies to handle collection campaigns at a fraction of the cost.

Challenge 1: Scalability

Auto loan volume varies significantly depending on the year and the season. Anyone who has been in the industry for a while can tell you that they’ve seen very busy seasons as well as quieter ones. Because of the unpredictability of these changes, it can be difficult for an auto finance company to easily adapt and scale either up or down. When facing a particularly busy period, auto finance companies need the ability to quickly scale up to handle larger volumes of loans and customers.

How Voice AI can help you solve this challenge: Voice AI enables auto finance companies to scale up and down with just a few clicks, deploying as many Digital Voice Agents as they need depending on the year and season. As soon as loan volume goes down, the company can simply scale down its use of the Voice AI solution.

Challenge 2: Cost

Collections can be an expensive process. Agents or collectors typically have very large portfolios, with many accounts to reach out to; because the process still tends to be manual for the most part, it takes time. Additionally, if your collectors take a commission, that can also reduce profits.

How Voice AI can help you solve this challenge: By automating the collection process, Voice AI can significantly augment the work of your live agents on the floor, contact many customers simultaneously, and massively reduce costs. Additionally, an AI-powered Digital Voice Agent does not take commissions!

Challenge 3: Hiring and Training

A poorly-trained team of agents and collectors can be a recipe for disaster. As new loans pile up and many become delinquent, it can be tempting to throw new employees into the midst of the action; but if the agents are not qualified and they are not familiar with the existing laws and regulations, you might find yourself in trouble in no time.

How Voice AI can help you solve this challenge: A Digital Voice Agent requires minimal training at the very beginning of the deployment process. After that, you can easily tweak its conversational flows and capabilities with just a few simple changes to the Voice AI platform, either on your own or with the help of your provider.

Challenge 4: Talent Shortage

Since the pandemic and the Great Resignation, many industries, including the auto finance and debt collection industries, have been faced with a shortage of talent. The lack of human capital poses serious challenges to auto finance companies, whose teams and management need to deal with overwhelming workloads. Attracting talent can be a costly endeavor.

How Voice AI can help you solve this challenge: Automation is the answer to the human capital shortage. Voice AI can fill the gaps created by the lack of talent and help the existing team members handle the most repetitive and mundane calls. The adoption of a debt collection software like Skit.ai’s platform can solve this problem in a very short time.

Challenge 5: Agent Attrition

While it’s hard to define the exact attrition rate in the collections space, from talking to many companies operating in both the collections and the auto finance industries, we know that attrition is a real challenge for them. In a 2016 Consumer Financial Protection Bureau survey, large debt collection agencies reported an average turnover rate of 75% to 100%.

Agents and collectors are often dissatisfied, frustrated, and understimulated, so they hop on to the next job opportunity as soon as they find one, whether it’s because the pay is better or because they think the work will be more rewarding.

Every time your company loses one team member, you’ll have to undergo the process of recruiting, hiring, and training a substitute, which can be costly and time-consuming.

How Voice AI can help you solve this challenge: A Voice AI-powered agent never gets tired of handling repetitive and mundane tasks. With the help of Voice AI, you can also focus on retaining your existing talent, as you can ensure every team member has the opportunity to focus on more rewarding and complex tasks.

Challenge 6: Compliance

The collections industry is affected by so many laws and regulations that, if you haven’t been in this space for a while, it can be overwhelming to understand what you can and cannot do. How often can you call borrowers? Are there any times of the day you can’t call them? What do you do if a borrower asks not to be contacted again? How do you handle the privacy of your customers? How should you safely process payments?

These questions are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to compliance! Think about the TCPA, the FDCPA, the SCRA, PCI standards, and so many others. Additionally, some of these regulations vary depending on the state where the borrower resides.

An auto finance company pursuing collections must be well-versed in these rules and should stay up to date, as lawsuits abound and regulations change relatively often. Better safe than sorry!

How Voice AI can help you solve this challenge: Digital Voice Agents, unlike live agents, don’t go off-script, misspeak, or get confused. When they are trained to follow a set of regulations, they just stick to it. With the help of Voice AI, you can let the solution do the work while you handle other tasks.

Challenge 7: Recordkeeping

For an auto finance company, few things can be more disastrous than poor recordkeeping! Especially when it comes to collection efforts, notes, documentation, and records are crucial. That’s why total reliance on manual recordkeeping is at best risky and at worst harmful. Collectors should keep track of each interaction with their borrowers so that they can follow up and make progress with each new conversation.

Additionally, other team members — such as fellow collectors and managers — should be able to easily access the notes and track the progress made with each account. Automated notetaking is one possible solution to tackle this challenge.

How Voice AI can help you solve this challenge: A Voice AI platform automatically keeps track of all customer interactions, taking notes of every conversation and capturing payment disposition and propensity to pay. With Voice AI, you get to automate conversations with borrowers, and you can be fully aware of the background and context of each account. Whenever a live agent wants to take over, they can easily do so by looking at the record of the relationship between the auto finance company and the borrower.


Are you curious to learn more about how Skit.ai can transform your auto finance operations, customer interactions, and collection efforts? Schedule a free demo with one of our experts using the chat tool below.

How Voice AI Helps Debt Collections Companies Improve Top and Bottom Lines

Many debt collection companies are evaluating emerging technologies and looking into digital transformation. You can’t blame them: due to a faltering economy, rising costs, and high agent attrition, new processes and solutions are needed.

As a result, within the next three years, one in every ten interactions with call center agents will be voice bots driven, according to the new Gartner report. These findings are directly attributable to the spectacular rise to the advances in conversational artificial intelligence (AI), along with the mounting challenges we detailed above.

The report also estimates that by 2026, Conversational AI could save about $80 billion in labor costs! That is a significant number, indicative of the merits that early adopters will have in terms of cost, CX, and expansion of top and bottom lines. But, starting early is key to competitive advantage.

It is an open secret that high human agent churn is due to the fact that most calls are low-value and tediously repetitive. By handling these calls, Conversational AI will make the agents’ jobs more exciting and fulfilling, allowing them to focus on high-value and complex calls.

Globally, there are approximately 17 million contact center agents, and their cost makes up 95% of contact center costs. By intelligent call automation led by voice-intelligent technology, Voice AI, a big part of unproductive calls can be taken over by Digital Voice Agents, yielding high cost and CX advantages.

The Direct Cost and Efficiency Benefits of Voice AI for Debt Collection Agencies:

The most significant takeaway for the debt collection agency is that the benefits of Voice AI implementation are tangible and quickly realizable. But before we go into stats, here is a simple explanation of what essentially happens in a debt collection agency when they deploy a voicebot.

Voicebot Functioning

A voicebot is a conversational Voice AI application that can understand what the customer is saying as it is trained for a specific customer problem. It can strike a meaningful conversation with the customer. This happens because the entire conversation design has been done keeping in mind all the possible difficulties a customer can encounter.

So for every customer query, the voicebot has a ready answer as it pulls out relevant information from the client system and informs the customer, cutting the duration of the conversation remarkably.

Digital Voice Agents (DVA) Vs. IVRs: It is worth mentioning here that DVAs are remarkably different from IVRs; in fact, there is no comparison between the two. DVAs are at the cutting edge of the technological spectrum, while IVRs are legacy technology.

IVR can not converse. It is an unintelligent technology that runs a tedious exchange of inputs and outputs. For something as sensitive as debt collections, it is remarkably unsuitable.

Digital Voice Agent is AI-powered, built on Spoken Language Understanding (SLU) and context-rich conversational designs.

Dive deeper: The difference between Digital Voice Agents and Outbound Robocallers 

For a debt collections company, the two main categories of calls are Inbound and Outbound. Here is the process of value creation:

Inbound Calls: Many agencies cannot process a significant portion of customer calls. From them, a tiny fraction of customers have called to pay and perhaps need guidance.

Answering Non-revenue Generating Calls 

The data from various sources is precise: A majority of calls are so simple that answering them by a human agent does not add any value to the company.

We’ve discussed the value of adopting a Digital Voice Agent for call automation. If you want to learn more, take a look at our Resources page, in which we regularly explore current topics related to the ARM industry.

Understanding the Top and Bottom Line Impact of a Voice AI Solution on a Debt Collection Company

The Final Word

Voice AI has proved its capability in bringing about a transformation of contact centers either with a small team or a big one. As its adoption increases, it will become a technology that can deliver sustainable cost advantages as well as a competitive advantage.

Refer to our Voice AI page for more information about its transformative potential.

Book a demo with one of our experts-www.skit.ai

Rethinking Self-service in the Age of Voice AI 

What’s common among interactive voice response (IVR) systems, ATMs, knowledge base, mobile applications, virtual assistants or chatbots? They are all self-service options that can help dispense answers and resolve queries at lightning speed! Self-service or self-help tools and options make for an empowered customer support team and a loyal customer base. 

Self-service equals simplified customer journeys! 

In a mobile-driven digital economy, a brand’s relevance and value is measured in terms of the speed, convenience and the level of autonomy offered to their customers. Digital self-service is the central objective of today’s automated customer support, but tailored for better CX and performance. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the usage of digitized self-service by customers across demographics accelerated with sudden digital transformation (DX). With newer entrants into the market— more digital native brands, always-on, smartphone users and Gen Z customers, numerous possibilities await businesses using digital self-service in their customer support. As per the recent OnePoll study involving over 10,000 respondents from 11 countries to explore humanity’s shifting relationship with digital tech and experiences:

  • Nearly 58% percent of participants said they will continue their digital brand interactions more than their pre-pandemic levels. 
  • Most study respondents felt that the digital experience was fast and convenient, making it better or on par with the real-world, face-to-face customer service interactions. 
  • Almost 66% reportedly had a ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ experience using online customer service options. 

Diving a little deeper, the research summed up the exact reasons for positive reactions:

  • Instant issue/query resolution (48%).
  • Convenience (46%).
  • Speed (45%).

These findings form the crux of self-service. In this blog we will begin our exploration on why self-service tools are truly adept in capturing customers’ interest, and meeting productivity and performance goals of brands’ customer support. 

Psychology behind Self-service

Self-service is not the same as automation. Sure, digital self-service gives automated responses to repetitive queries in blazing speed. It is not only about allowing customers to resolve things on their own but also empowering them to address them faster. The overall value of the self-service strategy is measured in terms of its impact on CX. The faster, more convenient and more cutting-edge the self-service options, the better would be the CX scores. Moreover, the intuitiveness and simplicity of self-service helps reduce customer effort while solving problems on their own. This lowers the customer effort score (CES), another key metric for frictionless CX!

An intuitive, anytime self-service strategy across the platforms or channels also helps evade a laundry list of options for customer service-related interactions and unnecessary contact with human agents.  This is integral for curbing additional contact center operations costs and allocating resources and human efforts in areas that build proactive and customer-centric impressions.  No wonder, in the U.S. 88% of customers prefer self-service for dealing with their everyday problems. The number is equal to the global average of customers that expect brands and businesses to include a self-service support portal. 

The Most Common Types of Self-service Options

Now, let’s have a look at this run-down of the widely adopted self-service support options.

  1. Knowledge Base and FAQs: Internet-savvy customers leverage business/brands’ digital presence to find their way from the search engine platform to access information in a variety of forms (videos, landing pages, texts, infographics, illustrations, audiobooks, guides, and icons) for problem-solving.   Dedicated FAQ pages that are brief and true-to-context is another form of self-service option that guides customers through specific customer service-related scenarios on the company’s website. 
  1. Integrated Contact Centers: Customer data is created across multiple channels. Integrated contact centers bind sales, contact center agents or other representatives with unified data sharing, collaboration and improved access to customer data across customer journeys and omni-channels for customer service. The intention is to boost CX and reduce the need to repeat information as customers navigate different customer service departments to solve issues on their own. 
  1.  Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Systems: IVRs have existed for more than five decades. They are customer-facing phone systems that offer (inbound and outbound) support with pre-recorded messages and self-service menu responses to customers’ text inputs. They are cost-effective, scalable, and automated alternatives to human agents. 

Move Beyond IVRs: Transform CX with Digital Voice Agents 

  1. Chatbots: Chatbots use text-based or voice interfaces that are integrated to websites or mobile apps’ chat/message window  to interact with customers. They are AI-driven and created based on the planned interaction flow chart to respond to customers in a matter of seconds. 
  1. Mobile Applications: Mobile apps with intuitive and interactive UX and UI give information to customers via dashboards, push notifications and updates in their moments of need, on their mobile devices. 

Voice AI: A Quantum Leap in Self-service 

The common forms of self-service options are the building blocks of the new age customer support. But there’s always the expectation for solutions that drive up the cost savings and operational efficiency while also helping brands’ contact centers meet their CX objectives. Imagine, if brands were able to achieve that while also offering self-service support that was voice-led, personalized, empathetic and proactively responds in real-time! For today’s automation and customer-first era, Skit.ai’s purpose-built Voice AI platform redefines self-service for optimizing customer support not only for better CX but for enhanced employee and business experience. 

Built to enable conversations that are modeled on human interactions for prompt query resolution and personalized caller experiences, Voice AI is a next level of innovation in self-service. It delivers the best of voice experiences for brands through their contact centers that go beyond the capabilities of generic voice bots. 

Voice AI is built to be domain-specific unlike generic voice-first platforms by Amazon and Google. The  spoken language understanding (SLU) layer of Voice AI helps capture short, conversational utterances and is capable of deciphering semantic details that helps identify the right intent.  

Why Every Company Must Have a Voice: Read Now 

How Voice AI Lays the Framework for Self-service 

Voice conversations are the most natural forms of human communication and still remain one of the most sought after brand-customer interactions. Live voice conversations are critical to delivering high-quality customer experience. Customers interacting with self service options such as IVRS and messaging chatbots think before inputting a text command and hit send. Voice AI is a technology built to understand the intricacies of spoken language and not limited to text. It can quickly grasp customers’ voice interactions and filter through pauses and repetitions.

The  Digital Voice Agents plug into the contact centers for automating cognitively routine work and independently resolving tier 1 customer problems. This would aid the human workforce to focus on more complex customer queries and contact centers to adopt intelligent human-machine collaboration. This way customers can stay in control and brands also get to pick the best self-service strategy for delightful CX. 

Now, let’s dig into various features of Voice AI that makes it a better alternative to conventional self-service support:

  • Natural human-like Interaction: Digital voice agents that can mimic human-like conversations and comprehend interactions at a semantic level. It doesn’t feel like interacting with IVRs. It feels like holding conversations with the brands’ contact center agent.
  • Problem Recognition: Customers navigating through the self-service option can feel like they are lost in translation because of the complex IVR loops, limited menus or options that do not cater to their requirements. Sometimes chatbots are built with an ASR layer on top of NLP. They are great for transcriptions, not conversations. They deliver the same experience as going through a rigid IVR system. Digital Voice Agents can understand the right sentiment and nuances of human conversations, allowing the customer support to accurately identify and solve customers’ problems.
  • Always-on, Human Agent-free experience: One of the core value propositions of implementing a digital voice agent is its ability to function 24/7 for the ‘always-on’ customers without the dependency on human agents. This translates to cost savings by automating high-volume, zero-value and repetitive customer queries.
  • Quick Resolution: Self-service platforms optimized by powerful AI-capabilities and strong data sets based on customers data can be used for competitive advantage. It allows fast resolution, impacting customer satisfaction and CX. 
  • Diversify Customer Service at a Lesser Cost: When more problems that are unique in nature can be handled by voice agents and automated, it helps brands’ customer service be a one-stop-shop for addressing customer queries at a fraction of a cost.
  • Smarter Human Resource Allocation: Self service options in contact centers make it easier to address trivial problems or anything that is repetitive in nature using Digital Voice Agents. Human agents can be allocated only for complex customer service issues, allowing for better resource planning and empowered customer support teams.
  • Make Self-service More human: Digital voice agents add a human touch to the overall experience without involving a human. The datasets are designed for SLU and built for domain-specific words which makes it easier to hold contextual conversation with the customers even via self-service options.
  • Hyper-personalize Customer Support: Brands can guarantee hyper personalization leveraging Voice AI’s extensive language support. It helps break spoken language barriers for enhanced query resolution and overall caller experience.

If you still have questions, refer to the infographic below for a brief comparative analysis between Voice AI and three most popular self-service tools.

FeaturesVoice AIIVR Systems Chatbots Mobile Apps 
Primarily Built for Voice Input YesNoNoNo
Analytics and insights CapabilitiesVery HighLowHighLow
Elasticity of Customer Service  HighLowModerateLow
Hyper-personalized and Contextual dialog CapabilityHighLowHighHigh
Handling time Lowest Very HighModerateLow
Quick Query Resolution Quickest Slowest Quick Quick

Our Titbits

Envisioning customer service in the age of self-service is all about setting the right priorities. With the hope of keeping up with the trends for relevancy, brands and businesses need not steer away from their cost, profits and resource management goals. That’s the core objective of reimagining customer self-service using Voice AI. Brands across industries can supercharge their CX with befitting self-service strategies to be more result-oriented and insight-driven to add a competitive edge. 

Our reflections for the future—customers never settle and self-service alone is not enough! Therefore, we believe Voice AI is the most robust and well-rounded technology to improve customer support capabilities that go beyond conventional contact centers, adding a desired level of autonomy and self-sufficiency in customer service. 

Refer to our Voice AI page for more information on actively engaging with your customers and unlocking the power of self-service.  Book a demo with one of our expertswww.skit.ai 

Understanding the Significance of ‘Platform’ in a Voice AI Solution 

We are at the initial stages of Voice AI’s evolution, in an epoch where well-functioning vertical Voice AI solutions will be instrumental in helping companies transform customer support and gain customer loyalty. But to a significant faction of CXOs, the understanding of Voice AI technology, its capabilities, and nuances remain obscure. Our earlier articles have tried to elucidate voice technology and how it can prove instrumental in transforming contact centers. In this article, we further that conversation and move on from discussing the Voice AI ‘product’ to the ‘platform’ and why companies looking to automate their contact centers must consider platform capabilities as a factor that will impact their long-term success.

The platform question holds greater gravitas when the top priorities are ROI, time-to-live, control over performance, and market leadership. In this blog, we deep dive into the core questions: what does a Voice AI platform look like, why does having a capable platform matter, and what are its far-reaching implications?

A Deep Dive: Unique Advantages of a Voice-first Voice AI Vendor 

Why Having a State-of-the-art Platform Matters

Today, voice technology has advanced sufficiently to deliver intelligent voice conversations. The wait is finally over, and companies can transform their CX with voice-first Augmented Voice Intelligence platforms.

Voice AI is the most significant automation trend of 2022.

Here are a few core considerations that CXOs must deliberate over while evaluating a Voice AI solution:

  • Intent Accuracy
  • Speed or Latency
  • Time-to-Live
  • First Call Resolution Rates
  • Integration Capabilities
  • Data Security, Privacy, and Storage

Know more about KPIs while deciding on a vendor

Even coming to the correct conclusion about a Voice AI vendor capabilities is not easy. But let’s assume the product is good, but before signing up, look into the vendor’s platform capability. It is the next big and most important task because, in the long run, the performance will depend mainly on the platform’s capabilities.

Explore More: The Ultimate Voice AI Vendor Selection Guide

Before we go deep into the topic, let us, distinguish a product from a platform. 

  • A product is essentially an application that solves a specific use case.
  • The Platform is the underlying structure that provides the core building blocks and the infrastructure for the functioning of one or many products.

In other words, a platform is an enabling environment over which many products run. The architecture of a chat-first voice-capable platform will be very different from that of a voice-first platform because the latter is built and optimized for voice, giving it a distinct performance edge. Here is a glimpse of a purpose-built Augmented Voice Intelligence Platform:

The Platform View of a Vertical Voice AI Company

From the above diagram one thing comes out clearly: that for smooth functioning of a Voice AI solution, its various constituent parts must work in perfect synchronicity. Hence, beyond the product, i.e., the voicebot, various other platform features are needed for an ideal Voice AI solution.

Let’s deep dive to answer the questions: why should companies look for platform capabilities in their potential Voice AI vendor?

At the core of this issue is the increasing realization that voice as a medium of customer support will see an irreversible rise in the coming years, led by Voice AI technology. In the long run, any company that wants a firm hold on its market share or leadership must look into the Platform capability of its Voice AI vendor to enhance the probability of sustainable success and competitive advantage. Here are the five core advantages of a robust Voice AI platform:

  1. Long-Term Success: The performance, strength, and sophistication of the Platform, not the product, determines the success of the company in the long run. Choosing the right Platform will help contact centers mitigate the risk of changing the vendor and starting from scratch mid-course.
  2. Replicating Platform Technology is Challenging: Platforms can not be built  overnight. Creating a state-of-the-art platform technology takes vision, resources, capability, and time. Over time the benefits multiply due to network effect and learning curve advantages associated with AI models. This initial advantage creates a remarkable difference as years add on.
  3. Leveraging Modularity: A robust platform always aces modularity as it provides diverse and latest technology options for contact centers to create their solution the way they want. It allows for ease and diversity of integrations. This gives the company flexibility in cherrypicking integrations.
  4. Multiplier Effect: In the extended run, contact centers, Voice AI providers, and other application providers benefit from a robust platform as it harnesses the multiplier effect by leveraging the presence of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of third-party vendors. So, any company using the platform to deploy a voicebot will have not only a multitude of choices, but they will also benefit from the innovation they bring in, as it can be easily incorporated into their voicebot. 
  5. Faster and Agile: A strong Voice AI platform will make it easy for companies to create and upgrade their voicebots. Reduction in time-to-go-live and ease of creating, maintaining, and enhancing the voicebot makes it easy to change and maximize its effectiveness. 

Here are some of the capabilities of an evolving Voice AI platform:

  • A Unified View: It should give a unified view of the entire voicebot, from stats on conversational design to integration to ASR.
  • Voicebot Creation: It must allow companies to create conversational flows and test and deploy them with minimal help from the Voice AI vendor.
  • Collaboration: It must allow the users to collaborate and comment at any point of voicebot creation.
  • Enhancements and Testing: Changes in policy, customer preferences, or offers must reflect changes in conversational design. The users must be able to easily do these upgrades and modifications and test them before deployment.
  • Campaign Management:  The effectiveness of the voicebot depends on the capability of the user to run campaigns with complete control. It must allow them to upload data, run campaigns, and modify them real-time. 
  • A Wide Range of Tools and Integrations: Creating a voicebot with autonomy requires giving a choice of a wide range of tools. A robust platform would provide that to its users along with a great variety of integrations.

A Voice AI vendor can have a great product and a short time to market. But if it is missing a great platform, then, in the long run, its clients will lose their competitive advantages. A CXO can indirectly identify the signs of a weak platform. Here are a few major red flags of a weak platform:

  1. Opaque: The creation of the voicebot will be opaque to the contact center.
  2. No Clear Visibility:  The elementary constitution of the voicebot and its functioning will have no visibility.
  3. Lack of Agility: For every minor tweak, the user must catch hold of the engineering team to code and execute the change. This is a waste of time, resources, and money.
  4. Operational Friction: Constant and copious communication between the user and the Voice AI vendor will decelerate the pace of implementation of changes. 
  5. Slower and Patchy Delivery/Updates: Delays in deployment, updates, and upgrades
  6. Absence of a Marketplace Advantage: A robust platform grows rapidly, and with its growth comes the network effect, i.e. the presence of third-party solutions that can augment performance in many dimensions.
  7. Lack of Control on Quality: Giving absolute control over the creation and deployment of the voicebot helps the users engage more deeply with their voicebot and mold it with their vision. The outcomes are much better and are sustained for a longer period.

Some great ways to identify these telltale signs is to engage in a free-of-cost pilot or to ask relevant questions during detailed demos.

The essential thing is, a Voice AI vendor must possess a great product that can converse intelligently with consumers or callers. Additionally, this product must be facilitated by a robust underlying platform that enhances its capabilities, adding to the overall experience of creating, deploying, and improving the voicebot.

To learn more about Voice AI solution and what it can do for a contact center, book a consultation now: www.skit.ai 

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. 

Banking:

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.

Healthcare

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.

Automotive:

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.ai 

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

Conclusion

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.ai 

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.   

Conclusion

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.

Are You Using Containment Rates to Measure Voicebot Performance? Think Twice!

Management guru Peter Druker’s most important quote resonates completely with voicebot performance: “If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it.”

Aren’t CXOs constantly debating the expenditure on technology and its RoI? While a razor-sharp focus on the end results is well warranted, the choice of metric is very important, too. Businesses can succeed only when technology goals are linked to the business goals, and they finally crystallize as positive outcomes.

Contact centers are one of the most dynamic types of organizations that have been on a relentless hunt for automation solutions. They measure outputs with awe-inspiring precision and optimize their process to be more effective and cost-efficient.

Often, and fallaciously so, contact centers use containment rate as the most important metric when measuring the voicebot performance. In this article, we will demystify the limitations and dangers of using containment rate as an absolute measure of voicebot performance.

What is Containment Rate?

The containment rate is the percentage of users who interact with an automated service and leave without speaking to a live human agent.

When a customer ends a customer service interaction without the need to speak to a human agent, the call is said to be contained. While that may be great news in terms of resource optimization and better usage of human agent bandwidth, what does it really reveal about the customer’s experience? The containment rate does not reveal whether the customer’s query was resolved or if the customer was satisfied. Nor does it reveal anything about the effectiveness of your voicebot or even the IVR.

Why Containment Rate Goes Against the Principle of CX

If your goal as a company is to prevent your customers from reaching a human agent for support, then the containment rate is the best metric. But is that strategy reflective of your vision?

Ideally, in a world with no resource constraints, there would be a human agent ready to answer every customer’s call. But the cost factor proves to be prohibitive, resulting in the need to find a cost-effective and scalable means to improve CX. The technology deployed may range from mundane IVR to state-of-the-art Voice AI. But if the focus is just on increasing the containment rate, it will end up damaging CX.

Every call is an opportunity to forge a long-lasting relationship that can help a company improve its top and bottom line, over time.

What are Voice AI Agents or voicebots deployed for? It is to serve the customers better, provide zero wait-time and 24/7 support, and not prevent them from reaching human agents. The general idea is to promote self-service, yes, but if a customer wants to interact with the company, closing that door is not an ideal way to achieve customer satisfaction.

Hence, the containment rate must be seen in the context of other metrics while deciding if the performance of a voicebot is improving or not. Here are the situations where containment rates can be a misguided yardstick:

  • Increasing Containment Rates: If seen in isolation, this can seem like an improvement. But customers may be ending the calls because the Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) engine is not recognizing their voice or words. It can also be that the conversation flows are not optimized, leading to customer frustration.
    There are several other situations where customer queries are not resolved and causing them to hang up. Here, the containment rate may rise, but at the cost of CX.
  • Decreasing Containment Rates – Scenario 1: Calls can be classified into two categories: Completely successful calls, or partially successful calls. Many times, a voicebot is able to answer customer queries, and collect information, but for further complex questions or disputes, customers may ask for a human agent. Containment rates may decrease in these cases, but CX will improve. This is because the voicebot eliminated any waiting time for customers, it answered basic questions. The collected data and conversation helped the human agent quickly resolve customer queries; all culminating in improved CX. If we look only at the containment rate, we might assume that the voicebot has performed poorly and can result in bad business decisions.

Decreasing Containment Rate – Scenario 2: Every Voice AI Agent is trained for certain use cases and that is what makes them more effective than any other horizontal AI solution. In a case where the Voice AI Agent is handling all the calls but is trained for limited use cases, the containment rates may vary depending upon the volume of in-scope and out-of-scope calls. Hence, the generic or overall containment rate would be a wrong measure of voicebot performance.

The 10 Most Ideal Voicebot Performance Metrics

All the discussion here surrounds inbound calls. Here are the metrics people must use to measure voicebot performance.

Yet again, it must be emphasized that no metric must be studied in a vacuum. Only when put together, the true picture will emerge. But here are some performance metrics that make the most sense:

Business-related metrics: KPIs that focus on business impact and Voice AI objectives.

  1. Service Level:

It is defined as the percentage of calls answered within a predefined amount of time. It can be measured over 30 minutes, 1 hour, 1 day, or 1 week. Also, it can be measured for each agent, team, department, or company as a whole.

A 90/30 Service Level objective means that the goal is to answer 90% of calls in 30 seconds or less.

Service Level is intimately tied to customer service quality and the overall performance of a call center. Thus, instead of containment rate, Service Level is a better measure of measuring performance and can facilitate key decisions better. Deployment of a voicebot must immediately jump up the service levels and thus create business benefits. 

  1. First Call Resolution Rate (FCRR)

A call is marked resolved when the voicebot grasps the users’ query and has done everything right to assist them, even if it means connecting them with a human agent and the issue getting resolved in the first call itself. FCRR is an important metric as it helps to understand whether the voicebot is performing correctly for the use cases it is designed for and how well it is escalating the call. 

Though a relatively marginal case for inbound calls, high FCRR will impact the cost of customer acquisition (CAC) and retention for obvious reasons. Instant call pickup, intelligent conversation, answering a customer query, and any follow-on questions can reduce the time lapse between customer query and purchase.

Also, higher FCRR goes a long way in increasing and maintaining customer retention. Higher FCRR is also necessary to navigate higher Costs per Call.

  1. In-Scope Call Success Rate 

Though contact centers can measure the overall success rate, a better metric would be the Inscope success rate. At any given moment, a voicebot may be trained for a limited set of use cases. For example, a Voice AI Agent might be equipped to handle PNR queries or schedule maintenance visits, but when a call goes beyond this scope, it should pass on the call to a human agent. Hence, true success can only be measured if only in-scope calls are considered to calculate the success rate.

  1. Average Handle Time (AHT) – In-scope Agent Transfer AHT and End-to-end Automation AHT

To understand better, let’s compare the AHT in the two scenarios where a Voicebot must create value.

  • AHT Comparison for End-to-end Automation – For a specific set of use cases the voicebot is designed to answer every query without the need for a human agent. The average call handling time AHT 1, as shown in the graph above, can be compared with a similar use case answered by a human agent. 

It must be noted here that typically the cost per call per minute of a voicebot is quite lower, 1/7th (though inherently subjective), of the same cost of engaging a human agent. Hence, even if the voicebot takes the same amount of time to resolve the query, business gains are 7 folds. 

  • AHT Comparison for Escalated Calls: Interestingly, AHT can be compared even when the call is forwarded to a human agent by the voicebot. This is because the voicebot captures essential data such as – it verifies the identity of the callers, captures their intent, and forwards the call to the human agent so that he/she can pick up the conversation from the last point. 

If the AHT of an escalated call is lower than the call answered by a human agent, then it means that even for out-of-scope calls, the voicebot is creating value. 

If the voicebot is escalating the calls for use cases it is trained for, it needs improvement. If it is escalating calls out-of-scope, then it is functioning perfectly well, and this information can still be used for broader decision-making.

Scenario: Agent Transfer After Resolution Due to Dispute or Second Query Many times atypical conditions arise when the customer just wants to speak with an agent, ex. when an insurance claim is rejected, the customer invariably wanted to speak with a human agent to vent out their agitation. Voicebot is not at all responsible when the call escalates to a live agent in such cases, and hence such situations must not be considered when assessing the performance of the voicebot, the situation warrants human agent intervention.

Such deep analysis is only possible when such metrics are considered to evaluate voicebot performance and business gains. 

User Experience Metrics: Companies must focus on CX that is useful, engaging, and enjoyable; creating a positive image that leads to product purchases, referrals, repeat purchases, and loyalty. 

5. CSAT

Finally, the moment of truth, the CSAT score. It is a result of the overall performance of the voicebot. It is a good measure because ultimately, everything is futile if the voicebot doesn’t move the needle on CSAT scores. You can have a high containment rate to boast about, but if your corresponding CSAT scores are falling, your business performance will suffer significantly.

6. Average Wait Time

A company has to take a decision, it can route every call via the Voice AI agent, and this will bring down the average wait time to zero. Wait times have a serious and direct bearing on CX. One single-shot way of engaging the customer without making them wait or having them get further frustrated with IVRs is by deploying the Digital voice agent at every call. 

7. Average Resolution Time

Once the customer is through and is speaking with the agent (human or voice AI) the time it takes to resolve the call matters a lot for consumers. This number must be looked at when CX is a priority. 

Technical Metrics: Ensure the conversational AI product works and adheres to the requirements for performance or latency.

8. Intent Recognition Rate – Most important voicebot performance metric, and refers to the accuracy with which the voicebot is able to capture the intent of the speaker. This is important because a voicebot can only troubleshoot when it is able to capture the intent accurately.

     9. Word Error Rate: The accuracy with which the ASR can recognize the words.        Lower does not mean the outcomes will be inferior if intent recognition is high. But, the higher the accuracy the better.

10. Latency: Latency is a delay in response, and unlike chatbots, voicebots need to be pretty quick and agile in their response else they risk losing the customer’s attention and being pigeonholed as ineffective. Typically a Chabot latency is the sum of latencies of = ASR + SLU + FSM + TTS

Typically the total latency of 1-2 seconds is good, though, the lower the better. 

Embrace Metrics that Truly Measure Intelligent Conversations  

Abandon call containment rate as an absolute reflection of voicebot performance. Yes, it holds value but it is not true to the purpose of creating a voicebot.

Measuring and monitoring the right metrics will help you capture precise voicebot performance and thus enable you to improve it. Only then will it result in cost and CSAT advantages that the voicebot has been deployed for.

To learn more about voice automation and how to measure and improve performance, you can book a demo using the chat tool below.