Automate the First 45 Seconds of Every Customer Conversation With AI 

Contact centers that deal with 150,000 inbound calls a month can save $500,000 annually by doing so

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Automate the First 45 Seconds of Every Customer Conversation With AI - CX Today News

Last Edited: June 1, 2023

Charlie Mitchell

Consider what agents routinely do once a call routes through to them. 

Sometimes, they start with simple identity and verification (ID&V) questions. Then, they ask the customer why they’re calling. 

According to Pierce Buckley, CEO and Co-Founder of babelforce: “That is an incredible waste of valuable agent time.”  

Instead, he advocates for using natural dialogue in the IVR to run through these ID&V checks and ask the caller; what do you need? 

The system may then feed the customer’s response through to a live agent at the beginning of the conversation – allowing them to immediately get to grips with the matter.

Such an approach saves agents time and the mind-numbing frustration of rattling through the same set of routine questions. 

Yet, it doesn’t only improve agent outcomes. It drives massive business savings too.   

Eye-Opening Cost Savings

By automating ID&V processes and a capturing the customer’s contact reason in the IVR, contact centers can shave 35 to 45 seconds from every contact center conversation – according to babelforce research. 

In an operation that handles 150,000 inbound calls a month, that results in savings of $500,000 annually in avoidable labor costs. 

If the contact center handles more 150,000 calls, the cost reductions will scale upwards. 

What is driving these savings? Well, if every call is shorter, agents can engage in more customer conversations throughout their shift, bringing down staffing requirements.  

Moreover, as agents to get straight to the crux of the issue, they may lead the conversation, exert control, build the customer’s confidence in their call handling capability.  

Of course, this may require additional coaching. Nevertheless, such an approach may whittle handling times down further and improve customer experience.   

An Approach That Also Improves the Pre-Conversation Experience

Traditionally, phoning a contact center is not the nicest process, thanks primarily to long wait times. 

babelforce benchmark data – across eight different industries – shows that more than 50 percent of callers do not route through to an agent within 45 seconds of beginning their contact center journey. 

As they wait, customers input their IVR responses and listen to more music mixed with messages such as: “Your call is important to us…”  

Generally, this is very frustrating for callers, and the cumbersome IVR process does little for the company too – according to Buckley.  

“How useful is it to know that the caller “pressed one for support”? It is not particularly rich information,” he adds.   

An alternative experience where the customer responds to a few questions, as part of a well-designed dialogue is much more engaging. 

As such, businesses often see a drop in abandon rates when they augment their IVR with natural dialogue, which is often the first step into the daunting world of conversational AI.   

Taking the Risk Out of Conversational AI

There are two risks businesses often foresee when considering a conversational AI implementation.  

First, is jeopardizing the customer experience. Second, is dealing with the assumed complexity of such technologies.  

Avoid Jeopardizing the Customer Experience

Many leaders are wary of building the bots that so often frustrate them as consumers. 

As such, taking it slow and steady with conversational AI is the best approach – according to Robin Gareiss, CEO and Principal Analyst at Metrigy 

In a recent report, she wrote: 

“Part of the problem is that many companies (particularly large ones) have tried to boil the ocean, adding too many AI-based applications at once, resulting in failed implementations.”

Yet, a relatively simple use case – like automating the beginning of every call – sets the contact center off on the right foot, scoring a quick win that drives massive savings.  

Removing the Complexity

Service leaders often presume that speech processing is difficult, with every use case involving lots of training on language components. 

However, businesses like babelforce scrape away at much of the complexity.  

The contact center specialist makes it possible for service teams to leverage several ground-breaking AI components. These include speech transcription and natural language understanding (NLU), alongside categorization and decision-making tools. 

In combination, these technologies provide the power to automate the entire first part of a call in just a matter of weeks.  

Add Further Features Over Time to Drive More Value

With a foothold in conversational AI, contact centers can continuously add to the natural dialogue in the IVR to draw even more value from the technology.  

Much of this added value starts with the customer intent data the IVR collects.  

In recognizing a particular intent through NLU, the IVR can ask for more information related to the query, such as a confirmation code, order number, or delivery details.  

In building out these flows and passing more relevant information on to the agent, contact centers can knock even more seconds off every contact. 

Yet, perhaps even more invaluably, the intent data allows the contact center to gain an accurate view of its most pressing demand drivers.  

With this information, the contact center can start to add self-service features to the IVR, combatting transactional queries that account for the highest contact volumes.  

By targeting these queries first, businesses may secure greater value from their conversational AI deployments at a much faster pace.  

Why Work With babelforce?

babelforce has significant experience in supporting contact centers with their natural language IVR deployments, allowing them to automate the first 45 seconds of every customer call.  

Moreover, the contact center specialist makes it possible for businesses to A/B test its innovation, weighing up the old approach against the new AI-driven process.  

In doing so, babelforce’s clients frequently realize a profound uptick in sentiment. As Buckley adds:  

“Most customers enjoy the opportunity to answer a couple of questions, as opposed to enduring the conventional, cumbersome IVR process.”

Such success gives these companies more confidence to delve deeper into the confronting but prosperous world of voice automation. 

babelforce helps contact centers throughout this journey, designing several use cases to add automation, improve inbound processes, and optimize the contact center environment. 

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