Labor costs are the most expensive line item in anyone’s cost sheet. With organizations spending over $350B on customer service collectively, many are looking to AI and virtual agents to flatten overhead costs. That’s why AI-enabled virtual agents have become such a hot commodity in the customer service market. When businesses implement virtual agents, they can reduce costs while improving the customer experience without adding to headcount.
How do virtual agents lower customer service costs?
Based on your company’s needs and server capacity, the number of virtual agents you could implement is limitless. With this in mind, it is no surprise that implementing conversational AI and intelligent solutions are expected to deliver $1.2T in business value over the next three years. From providing insights about a product, or answering simple requests, AI virtual agents can provide your customers with all the information they need so your service agents can dedicate time to working on complex issues.
Here’s how AI virtual agents lower customer service costs.
They increase your ability to deflect voice volume to other channels
Since the pandemic, call deflection is an increasingly vital money savings tool, improves customer experience, and empowers your agents. High call volume leads to long wait times, which are painful for customers and expensive for brands. The volume of calls presents a big problem for call centers which has only worsened due to staff reduction since the pandemic.
Beyond traditional call deflection, a new wave of deflection is emerging. As a consequence of covid-19, this deflection model aims to divert customers from phone, email, and live chat channels and encourage them to engage with a virtual assistant. It is proving to be highly attractive for businesses as it offers more opportunities for automation.
They increase your average speed to answer
Nobody likes waiting. According to Harris Interactive, 75% of customers believe it takes too long to reach a live agent. Addressing requests through chatbots, live chat, and intelligent virtual agents reduces the number of customers waiting on hold. Chatbots can help businesses save on customer service costs by speeding up response times.
Virtual agents save time. It is designed to collect information that it can pass along to human agents. Digital assistants can resolve up to 80% of routine requests. When you give people an answer on the spot, you are significantly improving the customer experience.
They increase resolution rates, too
Equip your team with a transparent tool that drives quick resolutions your customers want. For every second a company can shorten handling times, over 1 million is saved in annual service. Implementing AI bots also support your agents throughout customer engagement regardless of communication channels. Whether responding to simple requests or understanding the customer’s intent, you can always ensure you provide correct responses.
Using a virtual agent alongside a live chat agent can often bring the best of both worlds together, where the virtual agent responds to routine requests and automates workflows. In contrast, agents can react with emotional intelligence and tackle more complex issues within the engagement. An integrated platform like LiveVox can identify relevant customer information and deliver it to the human agent, who can better support the customer’s different needs.
The virtual agent growth curve is fueled by customer acceptance
The bottom line: AI-powered virtual agents and chatbots satisfy customer preferences AND agent needs while significantly reducing operational costs.
What’s more, a growing number of customers aren’t interested in spending time on the phone. Many want to access help on their own via your website or on the messaging channels their mobile devices have. When looking for support, today’s customers will often tell you they prefer the convenience of self-service options readily available on smartphones, like messaging with chatbots, chatting with Siri and Alexa, or rescheduling a delivery over something like WhatsApp. Customers accept that these options provide so much more efficiency than their legacy voice counterparts, so the case for adopting them kind of makes itself. Especially when you consider that the sophistication of AI virtual agents is on an upward trend.
Implementing an AI-enabled omnichannel platform for customer service is one of the savviest investments to make in 2021. With AI virtual agents and chatbots, you can reduce per-query costs from $5 to $12 with live agents to just $1 on average with virtual agents. In fact, tech behemoth IBM estimated that investing in AI has helped them save $1B in hiring-related and lost productivity costs.
If $1B isn’t enough to convince you, who doesn’t want to free their live agents from routine tasks? Who doesn’t want to allow their team to take their time and not rush important support interactions in the name of delivering better, more thorough customer service?
AI virtual agents aren’t just a huge money saver, they’re a workforce godsend because they also reduce the number of agents required in call centers and whittle employee turnover rates. Did we mention that all of these factors lead to significant cost savings? But more importantly, they help pave the way to exceptional customer outcomes the likes of which are sure to have more happy customers willing to follow.