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. 

https://skit.wistia.com/medias/c4n8egapqh

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.

Voice AI: The Magic Pill for All Major Debt Collection Challenges

Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room—the collection rates have dramatically fallen in the last decade. The State of Debt Collection 2020 Report reveals that in 2010, U.S. businesses placed $150 billion in debt with collection agencies, of which they could collect just USD 40 billion. On delinquent debt, the collection rates have declined to 20% (industry average), a decrease from 30% as recorded a few decades ago. 

Anyone from the debt collection space would be cognizant that the industry has been under pressure from all fronts—inflationary pressures, agent attrition further fuelled by the great resignation and increasingly stringent regulations after Reg. F, and economic downturn.

Never before was the need for automation direr than it is in 2022!

What is Voice Automation for Debt Collection Companies?  

Before we go into the transformative role Voice AI can play in the debt collection industry, let’s understand voice automation. 

Voice Automation Refers to the automation of voice calls, decoupled from the assistance of a human agent. This means the capability to answer customer queries with the machine, striking intelligent, multi-turn conversations. 

Consider this scenario where an AI-enabled Digital Voice Agent interacts with a customer and facilitates an on-call payment. 

The demo is a perfect example of how an intelligent Voice Agent can help consumers willing to pay and facilitate a quick payment with remarkable ease.

  • Outbound Call Automation: A Digital Voice Agent can call consumers and establish the right party contact, remind them about the due date, capture their dispositions, raise dispute requests, accept and schedule a payment on call, or help them negotiate, and arrange a payment plan for a better recovery.
  • Automating Tier-1 Inbound Consumer Queries: The Voice AI agent can answer tier-1 calls, which are as much as 70% of total inbound calls, without the need for a human agent. Also, even when a Voice AI agent calls customers, it can answer all basic questions and handle tier-1 queries discussed in the outbound section above.

Hitherto, only IVRs have played a limited role in increasing the containment rate with the self-service option. IVR’s effectiveness can be debated, especially when reports have revealed that it plays a role in decreasing customer experience. The problem with IVR technology is that they have reached the culmination of what it can do for debt collection agencies. It is time to move beyond IVRs, especially when tech advancements have brought us to the sweet spot of cost-effective incorporation of AI-enabled solutions such as Voice AI.

Want more clarity; read this interesting piece – Voice AI Vs Robocallers 

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: Core Debt Collection Challenges

Debt collection companies face these core problems:

  • Dormant Files: Every debt collection agency sits on a pile of inactive accounts, as high as two-thirds of their portfolio, that they can not process because of its economic infeasibility. This is a sour point, and they are looking for tech solutions that can help them address this pain point. 
  • Non-Revenue Generating Calls:
    • Wrong Party: Proportions of wrong party contacts vary depending upon many factors, such as the age of debt, but it can be as high as 70-80%. All the calls made by human agents that turn out to be wrong contact numbers are pure costs with no return.  
    • Dispute: The next big chunk of the volume of calls is usually when a consumer fails to recognize the debt or disagrees with the outstanding amount. The regulations require debt collectors to raise the dispute request to investigate the debt further and provide relevant information to the consumers before any collection activities. Those calls where debt is disputed by the consumer or asked for more details of the debt eventually turn out to be a pure cost activity.
    • Cease-and-Desist: Be it inbound or outbound, there is always a set of consumers who ask agencies to stop all collection communication with or without any good reason. There is no real scope of value creation by a human agent in this case as well.
    • Attorney Representation: Often, the consumers ask to contact their attorney and not to approach them directly. All agents do in this case is update the system to not reach out to these sets of consumers as required by regulations.
    • Call Back Requests: More often than not, the consumers ask the agent to call some other time, in some cases beyond the working hours of the agency.

  • Right-Party Contact (RPC) Cycle: Traditionally, a human agent will call consumers to establish if the contact number is correct. Any debt collection agency has so many files to process that they can only call a fraction of them within a time frame, and take long to cover all consumers, if at all. The shorter the cycle, the larger would be the scope to improve recovery.
  • Propensity Based File Segmentation: Ideally, a debt collection agency would like to segment their portfolio into different buckets based on the consumer propensity to pay. But sadly, with a large number of files, it is challenging to do this within a limited time frame, if at all.
  • Agent Bandwidth Optimization: Agents are the most precious organizational resource and their time/bandwidth optimization is an utmost priority for them. But in absence of RPC and disposition capture, it is near impossible to optimize their time and effort.
  • Service Level Maximization: The number of calls a debt collector addresses per agent per hour is vital for enhancing operational performance. 
  • Compliance: The regulations have become increasingly stringent; this has two implications:
    • The penalties and fines are levied at instances of breach of regulations. They are typically bearable expenses, though they affect profitability.
    • Lawsuits filed by consumers: They do real damage as they consume time as well as cost, and are typically much higher than government fines and penalties.

Read more about how Voice AI can help debt collectors augment bottom lines

Leapfrogging Value Creation with Voice AI

With the coming of Reg. F, a new conversation has begun on the compliance of new-age technologies. Being AI-enabled and capable of striking an intelligent multi-turn conversation, Voice AI finds itself better placed to meet compliance. (read more about it in this Voice AI compliance white paper by Mike Frost and Skit.ai).

Voice AI is based on AI/ML, Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Spoken Language Understanding (SLU), Text-to-Speech (TTS) technologies, and more. A confluence of such great technologies enables Voice AI to understand the spoken word and respond to it most intelligently. Here is the gist of how a Voice AI Agent can create value for debt collection agencies:

  • Segregating Right and Wrong Party Contacts: 

With the great capability for executing thousands of concurrent calls, Voice AI can call and establish the right or wrong parties in a matter of minutes, for a significant portion of files. No technology has been able to accomplish this except Voice AI. 

Value Creation: At a fraction of the cost, a debt collection company can identify if the contact is right or wrong without involving their human agents. Time and cost advantages can help them improve performance in a big way.

  • Enabling File Segmentation by Capturing Disposition: 

Classifying customers into 4-5 different segments solves a lot of problems for the collection agency. A Voice AI agent can call thousands of customers and, based on dispositions, can segment millions of accounts into various buckets such as consumers who disputed the debt, consumers with cease-and-desist requests, consumers with attorney representation, consumers who agreed to a payment plan, etc.

Based on this segmentation, accounts can be allocated to respective specialists and departments for further processing.

Value Creation: Only after capturing the disposition for the entire portfolio, the company will be able to draft an optimal strategy and optimize the time spent by their agents.

  • Compliance Adherence: 

Since the coming of Reg. F, the compliance has become difficult to keep and the corresponding implication of its breach is getting higher. With large portfolios, it is difficult for agents to execute their follow-ups with perfection. 

Mandatory rules such as the 7/7/7 rule, along with Mini Miranda, use of decorous language, and more, make it difficult for the human agent to always stick to the script especially when a majority of calls are repetitive and low-value. 

Value Creation: Voice AI agent, once trained for compliance will always stick to the script, and use the right language. It will also stick to the schedules of follow-ups increasing the probability of conversion as well as saving the company thousands of dollars in fines and lawsuits. This also increases the speed of the company processing its portfolios.

  • Value Out of Non-Revenue Generating Calls:

Voice AI, at a fraction of the cost – 1/6th, can process these calls (mentioned in the above section) and help human agents avoid these and focus on value-creating calls.

Voice AI: Helping Debt Companies Strategize Better

Voice AI, with its consummate coverage of debt portfolio, can help debt collection companies have a more precise understanding of their consumers and devise better strategies. Below is a graph that depicts VaR and the ideal file segmentation and corresponding strategy.

Strategizing with Voice AI

Age of Debt and Voice AI: A debt collector will typically have a mixed portfolio with debt lying in various age brackets. Typically the older the debt, the lower the probability of recovery, and hence Voice AI is more suited to engage with these accounts.

It must be noted here that the segmentation is only possible after the Voice AI Agent covers the entire portfolio to uncover consumers’ propensity to pay.

  • Capturing Propensity to Pay: Once the Voice AI Agent has captured the disposition of the consumer, a debt collector can then segment or classify it and assign it according to the disposition.
  •  Strategizing for Value at Risk: Since Voice AI costs one-sixth of a human agent, and is as effective for simpler conversations, it is ideal for Voice AI agents to address these accounts and follow up meticulously.

High Willingness to Pay (WTP) – High Value: When the willingness to pay is high, the voice AI agent can call promptly and facilitate on-call payments or remind them to pay. Debt collectors have been able to achieve a high degree of success in this category. 

High and Low Willingness to Pay (WTP) – Low Value: This segment of the portfolio is prohibitively costly for human agents to process because of its low value, making it ideal for the voice AI agent to process it and help prop up recovery rates.

Low Willingness to Pay (WTP) – High Value: High value and low willingness to pay makes this segment of consumers ideal for human expertise. Human agents can deploy their cognitive skills to convince and help them pay.

  • Optimizing Campaigns: Armed with new insights on consumer behavior, debt collectors can refine and optimize their campaign strategy. An ideal mix of Voice AI, human agents, and SMS/emails, can make a difference.

Impressive Contact Center Outcomes with Voice AI

No, the capability of Voice AI is not just based on conviction and hope, there are solid stats to second every value proposition. 

It must be noted that the higher volume that Voice AI Agent handles, the greater the scope of value creation. This is necessary if a debt collector wants to strategize based on consumer disposition. 

Here are a few outcomes that the debt collectors as well as other contact centers have achieved with Voice AI: 

  • Up to 38% improvement in service levels
  • Nearly 50% decrease in operational costs
  • Up to 70% automation of your consumer support efforts
  • Reduction of 40% in average handle time

Conclusion 

There are multiple challenges from diverse fronts plaguing the debt collection companies. They can break the status quo and make the necessary changes on many fronts such as cost, performance, recovery rates, compliance, and speed.  

Voice AI technology has been successful in value creation for debt collection companies. However, it takes an expert vendor and meticulous execution to achieve desired results.

To further understand the nuance of Voice AI and the scope of transformative value it can create for your business please – Book a Quick Appointment.

Transforming Debt Collections with Voice AI: 9 Reasons Why NBFCs Should Watch Out!

The world and Indian economic growth find themselves precariously placed in 2022, with bleak economic data raising concerns. People are reeling under the increasing cost of living, and rising defaults on loans are beginning to be a worrying trend. The rise in default rates was seen in every segment, without exception, with Loan Against Property (LAP) having the highest default rate at 4.14% in November 2021; loans due past 90 days in the two-wheeler segment are also high at 3.64%, up 140 basis points, while consumer durable loan delinquencies are the third highest. Delinquencies in the credit card segment have eased sharply by 77 basis points to 2.22% (data from credit monitoring agency Transunion Cibil). Also, the spike in fund disbursement will increase the asset size of NBFCs, while the GNPA rate will also increase significantly to 6-8%.

On account of inflationary pressures, and a slowdown in the growth of fresh credit, the situation is becoming challenging for companies in the debt collection space. To maintain profitability, NBFCs are faced with the dual challenge of improving their performance, while improving cost-efficiency at the same time. This calls for a different approach, leveraging technology such as Voice AI to automate a significant portion of their outbound customer reach outs.

In this blog, we shall explore the role of Voice AI as the ‘agent of change’ in the growing debt collection space, and why the shift to Voice AI is one of the most profitable moves NBFCs and debt collection agencies can make in 2022.

Voice AI Is Redefining the Future of Debt Collection

Customer experiences are critical to the brand and business performance agree 73 percent of the business leaders, suggests a study by the Harvard Business Review. The global proliferation of voice-led technologies and voice-assisted interfaces built on AI-based NLP across industries have set massive expectations in the way customers prefer digital interactions and engagements. IVRs have proven to decrease CX, and bulk robocalls have proved ineffective. This is of significance in debt recovery, because as companies lose time, the probability of recovery dwindles.

On the other hand, AI-enabled voice agents are capable of engaging in meaningful conversation that runs beyond generic reminders by gathering insights and feedback that may facilitate on-call payment, rescheduling, and dispute resolution.

Money talks are uncomfortable, Voice AI exactly helps debt collection agencies achieve that, allowing human/machine partnership, the future of intelligent work. 

Human-Machine Partnership: Voice AI platform built specifically for the debt collections industry also helps automate voice conversations while enabling context transfer capabilities from across modalities (text, chat, email, and speech), empowering the agents to operate without burnouts whenever call volumes peak. Automation of cognitively routine work also allows more time for contact center agents to prioritize their bandwidth and use it for solving complex challenges without the need to upscale the team.

Learn more: Explore 7 Reasons Why NBFCs Must Not Miss Out on Voice AI

All in all, integrating Voice AI can help create three ideal scenarios—NBFCs can improve their Collection Efficiency Ratio while reducing the cost and even improving customer experience!

Skit.ai’s Augmented Voice Intelligence in Action

Challenges Facing Indian Debt Collections Companies (NBFCs)

These are challenging times for NBFCs trying to improve their recovery rate. As CXOs look forward to improving the performance of the debt collection agencies here are the core problems they are trying to solve: 

  • Intensifying competition is putting pressure on profitability
  • Low Collection Efficiency Ratio
  • High Cost of Collections 
  • Slower campaigns and limited customer coverage

Before we deep dive into how Voice AI can solve all the major challenges, let’s first look at the definition of  Collection Efficiency Ratio.

Understanding the Performance of a Debt Collection Agency or an NBFC

The entire performance of a collection agency can be expressed to a large extent by these metrics:

  • Collection Efficiency Ratio

The collection efficiency ratio is a measure of how well the collection department collects debt. It’s essentially a way to determine the effectiveness of the collections team.

The collection efficiency ratio is calculated as a percentage that depicts the proportion of debt collection achieved out of the total portfolio. The higher the percentage, the better the debt collection performance of the company.

How to Calculate the Collection Efficiency Ratio

The total collectible amount for month X – This includes the overdue at the start of the month as well as all the due dates throughout the remainder of the month.

Remaining recovery amount for month X – This is the amount remaining on a specific day that the team failed to collect.

Formula: (Total Collectible Amount – Remaining Recovery Amount) / Total Collectible Amount

A higher percentage depicts greater success in the collection of debt, ie., better debt recovery. 

How Important is Collections Efficiency Ratio for NBFCs?

The collection efficiency ratio gives an overall monetary recovery status. Irrespective of the number of accounts recovered, at the end of the day, the Rupee value counts. 

It is also a good measure because it gives a clear picture of value at risk (VaR) which is the most important thing to monitor for a debt collection agency.

  • Age at List (AAL)

Time is important when it comes to debt collection. If your account is 7 months old, its recovery rate drops to 50%. After 12 months, it drops to only 25%. 

Therefore, Age-at-List is one of the most important KPIs in the collection. This is the average number of days your account has been in expired status. AAL provides a general overview of the collection cycle. This is an excellent comparison indicator between collection agencies and the industry. 

Successful agencies are aiming for a low AAL. A high AAL indicates that the agency needs to be more effective in debt collection. However, AAL tends to fluctuate. Therefore, you need to review the data for about a year to gain valuable insights.

The Digital Voice Agent can be trained to pursue B0 and B1 buckets and will be very effective with its precise regime to convert the default accounts. This will lower the age of debt and improve the performance of the company.

  • RPC rate (Right Party Contacts)

The RPC rate is the first of the more specific metrics in this list.

 This KPI measures the ratio of all outgoing calls to a valid phone number for the person (or “right person”) for whom the collection was requested. For collectors, the higher the score, the better the success rate of finding the debtor.

 Of course, the first step in collecting claims is to find and contact the right person. If your company has a lower RPC rate than its competitors in other industries, you need to think carefully about what’s wrong and how to improve them.

  • Percentage of Outbound Calls Resulting in Promise to Pay (PTP)

The PTP rate is just as important as the RPC rate when measuring efficiency and is the next logical step to a successful collection. It measures the percentage of all calls that end with the debtor’s promise of payment.  That is if the RPC rate measures the success rate of dialing the appropriate person, this metric measures the success rate of those RPC calls. This is another percentage that you want to get as close to 100 as possible.

Voice AI agents can help companies with lower PTP figures buy prompt calls for which the best agents can train the voicebot whose perfect timing and schedules will help improve the PTP stats. 

  • Profit per Account (PPA) 

Finally, PPA measures how much profit each account in your collection makes on average. In short, this KPI measures the impact each account has on revenue. 

This metric is calculated by dividing the company’s gross profit (calculated by subtracting total operating expenses from total revenue) for a particular period by the total number of overdue accounts managed for that period. 

A Voice AI Agent can help reduce the operational cost to the tune of 50%, along with a faster sales cycle, improving this performance metric.

Improving these numbers is a big challenge and we will now go into detail about how Voice AI can help debt collection agencies and NBFCs transform their performance. 

Transform Your Collections Efficiency Ratio with Conversational Voice AI

The effort of a collection agency is to collect as much as possible and as fast as possible from every account, i.e. a higher recovery amount with a shorter collection cycle will improve the majority of performance indicators mentioned above. 

Voice AI Core Benefits for Debt Collection Agencies and NBFCs: 

  • Voice Automation: Voice AI will help your company by automating 70% of the calls, primarily tier-I calls, and by automating payment reminders and collection calls at B0 & B1 buckets. This would cut down the time & effort of human agents and they can focus on RTP cases. This would reduce the burden on human agents and improve the use of their time on meaningful and complex problems. 
  • Augmenting Agent Productivity: Since the human agents focus just on RTP cases that require more empathy and intelligence, their efficiency and productivity take a big leap. This has an impact on CX as well as recovery rates as agents are not wasting their time on trivial tasks.
  • Cost-Efficiency: Be it collection calls or running outbound campaigns for reminders or notifications, etc., the Voice AI Agent can do everything at a fraction of the cost. This has long-term and big benefits for the company. 

Quality and Compliance: The Voice AI Agent never fails to follow proper protocols and thus, avoids any potential legal challenges. Also, its delivery is always the same and hence its service quality does not deviate with mood, as with human agents.

9 reasons why NBFCs and Debt Collections Agencies Should Not Miss Out on Voice AI

  1. Allowing human agents to focus on RTP (Refuse to pay) accounts. Thus increasing the profitability by converting high-risk accounts. 
  2. Automate simpler calls like reminders & FAQ – Proactively reminding debtors at the right time and helping them with FAQ related to their loan/upcoming payment. plays a far bigger role in collections and Voice AI does it perfectly. 
  3. Improve contact-ability & customer coverage – Voice AI is capable of contacting millions of customers in a matter of weeks. Thus the company can reach out to every customer for payment reminders, follow-up on DPD cases, and assist with queries related to the loan.
  4. Shorten collection cycle – Faster reach outs and quicker conversion with Voice AI Agent helps shorten the collection process. 
  5. Persistency in follow-ups and call-back requests – Human agent may err in follow-ups but the Voice AI agent follows up as well as calls back at the requested time without fail. This is a big help and improves collections. 
  6. Capability to handle spikes in volume – Traditionally the call center teams are unscalable over short periods, but with Voice AI, this is not the case as it can handle any spike in call volumes.
Here are some other unique capabilities of conversation Voice AI for debt recovery:
  1. Feeds data to the CRM tool and provides analytics for further action
  2. Persuades customers to pay at the earliest, offering payment plans and options
  3. Helps agent plan post-call follow-up campaigns with Voice AI Agent

These unique capabilities prove indispensable and give the debt collection agency or the NBFCs a big edge over their competitors. 

How a Digital Voice Agent Adds Value to Collections Efforts 

The Digital voice agents are highly effective at B0 & B1 collection buckets with no human assistance. The later bucket requires a bit more contextual conversation and dunning from the collection agent.

The digital voice agent gets a custom design flow to interact with customers at Bucket Zero and Bucket 1 for debt collection. At bucket Zero, the Voice AI gives out a “The last day of payment” reminder, requesting the debtor to maintain the payment amount balance in their account for auto-debit. The Voice AI also assists in converting manual payment to auto-debit. 

At bucket one (1-30 days), the debtors are expected to pay off the due within the grace period so that their CIBIL is not impacted and does not affect their eligibility for future loans. The Voice AI communicates the same to the customer and assists them with on-call payment. The Voice AI can make calls, follow-ups, and take call-back requests concurrently at any time during the week and to which the human agent has limited capacity.

For situations when the customer is refusing to pay or is unable to maintain sufficient balance, the digital voice agent dispositions them accurately and notifies them of a call back from the human agent.

Voice AI Outcomes

It will be interesting to note that the Voice AI agent helps in improving every performance metric.

  • Collection Efficiency Ratio – Higher, overall collections help improve the collection efficiency
  • Age at List (AAL) – faster collections help in keeping the debt age towards the lower side
  • RPC rate (Right Party Contacts) – Voice AI calls and identifies the Right Party Contact so that human agents do not have to waste time. This is a radical improvement, without spending much money and time
  • Percentage of Outbound Calls Resulting in Promise to Pay (PTP) – Voice AI agent calls at the right time and to the right person when they prefer to interact, thus increasing the probability of recovery
  • Profit per account (PPA) – since with Voice AI agent, the costs as much lower, it has a direct impact on this metric

Here is what a debt collection agency or an NBFC can expect from Voice AI agents such as Skit’s Digital Voice Agent. 

  • 49% of the total collection value recovery per campaign 
  • Debt recovery from 78% of delinquent accounts without any human assistance 
  • Lower the cost of collection by 40% by addressing the collection challenges like unreachability, unresponsiveness, callback request, and collection after business hours
  • Achieve 90% of collections in the first 3 days
  • Increase customer coverage by 30% 
  • Speed up the collection campaign TAT by 70%
  • 80% contact-ability rate
  • 84% engagement rate with customers
  • 68% disposition capture rate on CRM allowing your agents to focus on accounts in the B2 bucket onwards for personalized interaction for recovery

The data mentioned above has been taken from project implementations, and will certainly vary for each company. Thus, it is indicative at best, of the results that can be achieved and the potential of the Voice AI agent. 

For any questions on the application, operations, outcomes, and pricing of a voice AI agent in the debt collection space, feel free to contact us – Book A Demo.

For more information on debt collection space and the role of voice AI, please visit the page. 

Voice AI in Financial Securities for Improved CLTV

The global brokerage industry is growing at a CAGR of 4%. The unprecedented growth of the brokerage industry especially in the developing economies, improved financial awareness and digital-friendly services have made customer acquisition easier. However, brokerage firms both traditional and digital-first are facing a hard time with customer activation and retention. This is due to multiple reasons including increasing competition and demand for a seamless customer experience.

To get a positive ROI from customers, financial services companies like brokers/AMCs need to focus on increasing their lifetime value. Compared to banking or insurance, buying a stock or a mutual fund can seem overwhelming and complex, especially for first-time customers. Hence, for financial services companies, it’s not only important to onboard customers smoothly but also proactively support them and resolve their challenges across their lifecycle.

According to a study by Bain & Company, a 5% increase in retention can lead to a rise in profit between 25% to 95%.

Let’s look at a few customer experience strategies and advanced technologies that financial services companies can leverage to reduce customer churn and increase customer lifetime value –

Onboarding customers effectively 

While attracting and converting customers have their own challenges, for companies, their ultimate goal should be to ensure customers get maximum value out of their platform, rather than just stop at customer acquisition. Inability to do that can directly lead to an increase in customer churn. This is why customer onboarding is so critical for any business. Research has shown that onboarding has a positive impact on the customer’s willingness to leverage different products/services.

Through effective customer onboarding, companies should look at making customers comfortable with the platform and aware of all their products/services. This will ensure that customers can take appropriate action without facing any challenges. Again not all customers are the same. Hence, onboarding should be tailored according to different customer segments so that each one is able to reap the maximum benefit. 

Here are few characteristics of a good onboarding program: 

  • It’s fast and simple
  • Easily accessible 
  • Interactive 

If you’re having trouble segmenting users, you can leverage Voice AI. AI Voice bots that are built using sophisticated and advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms can help you in triggering personalized calls to customers intelligently and asking them their past experience with financial services products, whether they’d be interested in getting additional help through a dedicated support agent and if they’d like to book a demo. 

Customer satisfaction boosts CLTV

For companies to increase LTV, it’s very important for them to build long term relationships with customers. In order for companies to achieve this, they need to ensure they provide customers with a great support experience consistently across all channels. A lot of times, the first impression of a company’s support is enough for customers to create a brand perception.

Often times companies pay less focus on users once they’re converted. But for business success, equal importance should be provided to each customer, irrespective of which stage they’re in. 

Customers are more likely to return to your platform when you resolve their queries timely and provide proactive support. 

Collecting Feedback

To gauge customer satisfaction and ensure that improvements are being made to it consistently, companies need to collect feedback. This is critical in understanding the good and bad aspects and working towards improving them.

Traditionally companies have been using text, emails and manual phone calls to collect feedback. While these methods still work, financial services companies can also leverage the power of AI voice bots. With the ability to understand the context and intent and hold human-like conversations, the AI voice bot can collect feedback from customers in a personalized manner and also automatically reschedule calls to ensure the majority of the people are reached. 

For example, a feedback call can be triggered to customers on the successful investment in a mutual fund. 

Customer activation of dormant users 

Even engaged customers can turn into inactive customers. This can be due to multiple reasons. For the financial services industry, it might be because the stock market is performing poorly, or they’ve incurred a huge loss, or because they’ve changed devices. Again, whatever the reason might be, companies should not consider them as lost, and instead, need to apply different strategies to re-activate them.

One effective strategy is to ensure companies need to stay relevant across channels including voice. They need to capture the top of the mind recall for these users so that customers know the platform to select when they’re ready to take an action. 

For example, alongside other communication, running exclusive promotional campaigns for dormant customers are a great way to bring users back to the platform. This can be performed across different channels like emails, SMS, phone and in-app notifications. 

Similar to email campaigns, with advanced technologies like Voice AI, automated outbound call campaigns can be executed within a couple of minutes without any human assistance. Companies no longer need to invest in hiring call centre agents or an external agency for execution. AI Voice bots can automate outbound calls to reactivate dormant accounts and ask customers a set of questions to understand if they are facing any difficulty. According to the information that is collected, financial services companies can take appropriate action to bring the user back. 

Cross Selling and Upselling 

With so many products to offer ( equity, commodity, future & options, currency and mutual funds), an effective way for financial services companies to increase CLTV is through cross-selling and upselling customers. 

While at the outset it might sound straightforward, upselling customers is a complex process and can only be beneficial when executed in the right way. Here are few tips to maximise the results from cross-selling and upselling: 

  • Segmenting users before upselling and cross-selling is very important. Spamming users never helps in increasing conversions.
  • Timing also plays a critical role. Companies need to decide this according to the product a customer subscribes to.
  • The focus should always be on providing additional value to the customers.
  • Engaged and loyal customers are a great fit for upselling and cross-selling 

The ultimate goal for financial services companies should be to closely monitor customers, understand their needs and meet them accordingly at the right time and in the most efficient and scalable manner.

Over to You 

While adding new features and capabilities is important, for financial services companies to grow sustainably they need to shift their focus on improving the customer lifetime value. Measuring will not only help them get a true understanding of what’s bringing customers back to the platform but also what’s impacting the bottom line.

From the strategies covered in the article, it’s clear that CX plays a huge role in customer retention. Hence, companies need to reimagine their customer strategy across different stages in their journey. 

About Skit

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

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

E-Commerce Retention Strategies for 2022: A Mini Guide

The market value of the fast exploding e-commerce industry is expected to grow to USD 16,215 billion by 2027 (Meticulous Research) globally. While the e-commerce companies battle it out for a larger slice of the pie, they also need to maintain a laser-sharp focus on retaining their existing customers. In the new digital economy, they need to constantly innovate with agile business models to promote their products and services in a personalized manner to avoid obsolescence.

Many think that retaining e-commerce customers is straightforward. Unfortunately, providing a great product or a fast shipping experience is not enough for retaining customers. With increasing competition and demand for a seamless customer experience, e-commerce customer retention is becoming increasingly difficult.

But why focus on retention?

Retaining customers not only helps in reducing acquisition costs but also in increasing the customer lifetime value, directly impacting the bottom line. Research shows that a 5% boost in customer retention increases profits by 25% to 95%. While acquiring new customers is also important, building a long-term relationship with an existing customer is 16 times more cost-effective than acquiring one. 

Hence, for consistent growth, it’s critical for e-commerce companies to focus on retention and employ customer-centric strategies that help in bringing back customers to the website/application. Below are a few proven customer-driven tactics that can help e-commerce organizations increase customer retention and improve loyalty –

Personalized customer engagement across different stages

Over 91% of consumers are more likely to shop from brands who recognize, remember, and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations (Forbes). Engagement across the customer funnel is important for both converting users into customers and reactivating existing customers. 

Here are few effective forms of customer engagement –

Effective customer onboarding

While often ignored, an effective onboarding program is the first step you can take towards creating customer loyalty. It helps customers learn about your products/services and the mission of your company. This in turn allows them to choose the right products and gain maximum value from your offerings. 

Promoting Offers/New Launches 

If you want customers to return back and buy from you after their initial purchase, it’s very important to constantly be in touch with them and build a relationship. There are multiple strategies e-commerce companies can use to achieve this, including – 

  • Promoting new product launches and other important announcements through AI voice bots.
  • Triggering promotional outbound calls through AI voice bots for reactivating existing customers. 
  • Notifying customers about price drops and product availability alerts by leveraging AI voice bots. 

Let’s understand this better using an example. Assume a user is looking to purchase a specific product that is currently out of stock. To ensure he/she visits again when the product comes back in stock, e-commerce companies can automatically trigger calls informing the customer about the product availability. Assuming there are hundreds of such customers every day, it’s an ingenious way to bring back potential buyers and increase sales.

Alongside calls, e-commerce companies can also notify users using push notifications, text messages and emails.

Offer excellent & proactive customer support

Customer service directly impacts customer loyalty. Hence, whether companies are active on only one or multiple channels, it’s important to ensure that they provide a delightful and seamless customer experience consistently across all channels. Since over 70% of users prefer to shop using their phone, the most popular channels are call, chat and SMS.

While chat and SMS don’t require a lot of resources to handle, calls are resource-intensive and require hiring and training of call centre agents. However, with limited bandwidth, e-commerce companies struggle in answering customer calls quickly and in providing them first call resolution. The situation worsens during events like festivals, a sale or a big product launch. 

To overcome this challenge, more and more e-commerce companies are adopting Voice AI built using advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms that can not only understand the context and intent but also hold natural human-like conversations. By leveraging the technology, e-commerce companies can handle the majority of the outbound calls especially the ones that are mundane without the need for a human agent. AI voice bots can answer questions like a human and resolve common queries (for example, order status enquiry). When required the AI voice bots can also easily transfer calls to agents with context. 

This allows e-commerce companies to handle mundane calls and surges (during festival season or a sale) while freeing up agent bandwidth. Since the resolution is instant, AI voice bots drastically reduce call waiting times and increase first call resolution. 

Collecting feedback and acting on it

While often undervalued, collecting customer feedback is a very effective way of increasing customer retention. This is because it’s impossible to retain a customer without knowing what they expect from a product or service. 

Hence, irrespective of the company size or the number of customers, e-commerce companies should proactively collect customer feedback and analyze it to improve product experience and service.

Most companies are leveraging emails, text messages, agent calls and push notifications to collect feedback. While these methods are effective to an extent, the number of responses received using these methods are very poor. We’ve all been guilty of ignoring emails and text messages sent to us for feedback. To fix this, e-commerce companies can leverage Voice AI.

AI Voice bots that are powered using Voice AI can intelligently trigger calls at certain milestones (eg. when the product is delivered) to collect feedback from customers in a personalized manner. It can even reschedule calls in case the customer doesn’t pick or when they request for a callback. Collecting feedback at the right time not only makes the customer feel valued but also yields a higher conversion rate compared to other channels.

Irrespective of the channel you’re utilizing, remember to ask customers for additional context with the rating. In order to improve CX, it’s important to understand in depth their challenges and reasons for both poor and good experiences. 

Wrapping it up 

While a few retention strategies might take additional resources and effort to implement, they’ll go a long way in increasing customer lifetime value and ultimately revenue. For faster implementation and in-depth analytics, companies need to leverage the latest technologies (like Voice AI, ML) and tools.

Lastly, to get the maximum out of the above strategies, e-commerce companies need to focus their efforts on the right set of users (that create maximum value for them in the long run).  

About Skit

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

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