Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) are increasingly being used across teams to unlock hidden efficiency as well as deliver improved customer satisfaction and maintain security so you know your company’s data is safe.
Utilizing artificial intelligence and natural language processing, virtual voice agents converse with customers for a seamless, hands-free experience. This combination of technologies, known as conversational AI, is what already powers so much of what consumers use in their daily lives.
From payments to notifications and reminders, several functionalities can be automated with voice agents to promote more efficiency within an organization. As customers continue to become more sophisticated in their expectations of companies and as more teams continue to work from home, using voice agent technology has become more critical than ever.
The possibilities span multiple industries, including but not limited to financial, medical, insurance, utilities, and tech. From transactional tasks to market research and workforce reporting, the applications are numerous and diverse. Here are some of the top ways to start utilizing your new digital workforce.
Automated Payment Processing
Automated payment processing enables customers to safely complete their transactions over the phone, as opposed to logging into their account online or using a hard-copy statement. It’s more convenient for those who are already growing more accustomed to using voice-activated commands with mobile and smart home devices.
In addition to giving customers the reliability and flexibility they want, businesses can enjoy a higher ROI. Not needing to tend to customers 1:1 for every simple task, agents are free to handle more complex queries, while relying on the virtual agent to handle more common tasks like accessing account information, making changes to their payments, etc. Additionally, companies can integrate virtual voice agent payment applications with their CRM databases to add personalization that delivers improved customer experiences and faster transactions.
Automated payment processing is especially beneficial for the financial and healthcare sectors, which rely heavily on technology that meets the most stringent privacy and security requirements. These include HIPAA, Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliance and SOC 2 Compliance. Such standards ensure data cannot be breached, keeping the customer’s credit card information private (even from the agent) when they are paying a bill.
Ensuring a payment system is compliant within a company or entity can require a significant investment of capital into PCI-compliant infrastructure, as well as agent training. By integrating a payment system with a platform that already meets compliance standards, teams can be made more efficient. Instead of investing employee hours in creating such a system, workforces can be leveraged for other projects.
In healthcare, medical bill payments are the most common type of phone call. In the utility sector, 62% of consumers prefer to make payments without logging into an online system. Automating this transaction creates efficiency across the entire payment process.
Case Study: EML
EML provides clients with a range of payment technology options, revolving around prepaid cards. When the company needed to streamline card balance inquiries, it turned to Plum Voice to automate the process over their voice channel.
Because EML is a global leader in prepaid credit cards and most calls are for balance inquiries, the impact of automating this process was substantial. EML achieved a virtual voice agent containment rate of 85%, reducing call volumes while delivering fast and efficient customer service. By comparison, most companies are fortunate to have a containment rate of 50%.
PCI compliance was one of the top reasons voice automation was adopted in this scenario. Additionally, with the help of customization, EML is now able to offer virtual voice agents in several languages, serving its customers all over the world and further reducing the need for live agents.
Queries and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) by Phone
Customers who pick up the phone to call often simply want information of some sort. When that information is hard to find or simply takes a long time, callers get frustrated. The danger here is that poor customer experiences may motivate customers to switch to a competitor.
Automating the account inquiry involves the use of intelligent virtual voice agents that can process repetitive requests more securely, quickly and efficiently than traditional systems. This enables businesses to quickly connect customers to the information they want.
A hosted virtual voice agent for account inquiries can securely tap into business databases over the phone for account information such as account balances, claims status and patient information. Upgrading legacy virtual voice agents apps that cause frustration can greatly improve the customer experience, reducing average call handle time by efficiently connecting callers to their account information.
In the insurance industry, virtual voice agents enable customers to check the status of their claim or policy information without being put on hold. These tools also can help in the medical sector, enabling patients to find and connect with providers using parameters such as patient phone number, ZIP code and insurance type.
Payment processing applications, balance inquiries and FAQs rely heavily on conversational AI. For the best outcomes, the virtual voice agents platform should be able to understand the customer’s request without them putting forth a great effort to be understood (ie repeating the information or needing to speak loudly). When a virtual voice agents account inquiry or FAQ is handled correctly, live agents are not involved and the efficiency is greatly increased for the call center as a whole.
Case Study: MHPPC
When a patient accesses a virtual voice agent to locate and connect with a healthcare provider, many things need to work together at the same time. Because it’s a large amount of data and because of its highly technical nature, it’s imperative that software testing be efficient as new features are released. This is why a Major Healthcare Payment Processing Company (MHPPC) chose Plum Fuse to simplify virtual voice agents testing.
Going from a code-based legacy system to Plum’s intuitive drag and drop system allowed new deployments and maintenance to occur with ease. In fact, MHPPC was able to onboard in a matter of weeks. For the customer, this means less downtime and frustration with a faulty platform. For teams, this means time and resources that can be put into something else.
Considerable time savings stand as the most significant outcome of MHPPC’s switch to the Fuse platform. This means not having to do constant maintenance, and only updating the application when changes need to be made. Plus, when changes are necessary, like new sets of menus or conditions, Fuse allows the MHPPC team to implement them significantly faster than the old solution.
Voice Self-Service Card Activation
Credit, debit, and prepaid cards all require activation and routine servicing. Virtual voice agents can enable self-service card activations with a modernized conversational dialog, and consumers appreciate the quick and secure experience.
Web interfaces increasingly require onerous authentication processes that deter a high percentage of consumers, while the phone provides a readily available and convenient channel to serve those consumers.
Utilizing live agents to handle routine, easily automated requests is a sure-fire way to waste money. Effective voice self-service offers the solution. Financial services companies using Plum Voice have achieved call containment rates higher than 90% by using virtual voice agents.
Special Industry Considerations
In the financial sector, automated voice applications enable customers to pay bills or activate new cards quickly over the phone. This 24-7 self-service model is convenient for customers who increasingly want to conduct business anytime from anywhere.
Another benefit of virtual voice agents card activation is that an internet connection isn’t needed. This removes the obstacles of internet connectivity issues, lost passwords and difficulty with two-factor authentication. Voice self-service applications designed specifically for card activations ensure that your customers complete transactions in the shortest amount of time possible, giving them the best possible experience.
Utility companies can streamline things like the onboarding and termination of customer accounts, scheduling service, or checking on outages using voice self-service that maximizes customer satisfaction cuts costs. This is critical for a customer base that prefers not to log into websites to manage their utility accounts.
Case Study: MFSC
A Major Financial Services Company (MFSC) provides financial services customer service to end-users across the United States. Using virtual voice agents card activation enabled the company to automate 90% of its calls, improving its overall customer service offerings and delivering better customer experiences.
MFSC created applications using Plum DEV that automated customer integrations and intelligently routed calls to disparate contact centers based on real-time metrics. Prior to Plum, MFSC’s automation vendor handled some customer inquiries well but failed to address the needs of high-value customers using specialized products.
By using virtual voice agents as a central location for receiving incoming calls in the cloud, MFSC was able to own and control the initial customer interaction. As a company that outsourced most of its call center needs, Plum DEV allowed MFSC to create dynamic call routing rules for transferring calls between its multiple call centers. This ensured that calls were transferred to the agents best suited to handle the needs of individual customers.
Modernized Voice Surveys
It’s impossible to know just how good your customer service offerings are if you never ask your customers. Modernized voice surveys allow companies to maximize the value of their customer feedback using an easy drag-and-drop solution that leverages virtual voice agents. Over the phone or on the web, these systems engage customers on their terms, anytime, anywhere and help companies measure, assess and improve their businesses.
With the ability to ascertain a Net Promoter Score (NPS), virtual agents can be triggered automatically, linking information from point-of-sale transactions to customer CRM data. Or, businesses can measure the impact of new product launches, programs, or services to determine how successful they are, what works, and what areas can be improved. This technology also can be used with internal teams, gathering information to optimize employee satisfaction or gauging the performance of live agents.
Medical facilities and practices that deploy automated patient surveys can capture critical feedback about their service and patient satisfaction. Researchers also benefit from IVR software when used to collect data from clinical trial subjects, reducing the frequency of office visits.
Insurance companies use phone surveys not only to evaluate the effectiveness of their customer service but to aid customer retention efforts, too. Surveys let companies gauge customer interest in new products and services, and determine where to improve. Surveys also provide immediate feedback about customer concerns, making it easy to quickly follow up and resolve problems.
In the utility sector, manually inputting and managing data acquired in the field can eat up a lot of time and resources. Whether it’s the risk of losing paperwork or the cost of paying for data entry, keeping track of field data can create headaches. Leveraging survey technology enables workers to collect data and automatically push it to backend systems.
Case Study: Erie Insurance
Erie Insurance uses Plum Voice virtual voice agents surveys to improve customer retention and customer satisfaction, gathering critical information about its customer service and then using that information to drive positive change.
The Erie Insurance claims division needed to upgrade its customer feedback program from a manual process to an automated one. Erie added a voice channel to its customer survey process. The IVR survey provided Erie with actionable data that informed the company about their customers’ claims experiences. This information also provided valuable insight for enhancing customer retention, improving customer service and sales procedures, and better educating customers on their coverage.
Not only has Erie received positive feedback from its customers about the phone survey, but the company gets the actual data from the surveys quickly. Each night the voice application automatically sends that day’s data to the company’s web dashboards.
Voice Agent Mobile Workforce Reporting
Communicating time and task information with mobile employees used to require paper-based manual processes, susceptible to human error and hard to manage. Intelligent virtual voice agents allow businesses to modernize workforce reporting apps for time card and task report solutions and can facilitate other ways for efficiency.
Interactive voice applications — available anytime, anywhere via any phone — have helped many businesses address these issues successfully. Voice self-service gives employees an easy, convenient way to log hours or record time-sensitive events outside the office. Hosted applications running on Plum Voice platforms can comply with electronic verification standards.
Applications easily integrate with your company’s backend databases, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual entry and the potential for fraud. Use your voice channel to maintain an efficient and effective mobile workforce as well as the record-keeping that goes along with it.
Call centers employing WFH teams use intelligent voice agents for forecasting, staffing, scheduling, and performance tracking. They also can reduce non-productive time and can measure its own impact on efficiency, making it easy to justify the cost.
Regardless of the size of a mobile or remote team, a primary objective is for the team to complete the most work at the highest level at the lowest cost. This can happen when there is a reduction of manual work and a shift to an automated WFM approach.
As the WFH approach increases in popularity, it’s even more critical to keep your workforce connected while overcoming the time-consuming, manual work of mobile workforce management. Intelligent voice agents facilitate this and more.
Case Study: Pennsylvania Paper & Supply Company
Pennsylvania Paper (PPS) automated their time and task reporting with the help of Plum Voice, achieving a 1,000% ROI for its operations scaling and efficiency improvements. Using the Plum DEV platform, the company was able to provide a better employee experience, easily scale its business and increase the accuracy of its time and task reporting.
PPS had a legacy IVR system, but it faced two major issues: first, their existing vendor no longer supported the current system. Without a viable vendor and no support, PPS was in need of a new system. The legacy system also went down several times per year, forcing the company to manually process employee information.
PPS built their own application using Plum’s VoiceXML platform. In terms of functionality, the new system was light years beyond their legacy system and, most importantly, it was fully reliable.
Modernized Outbound Notifications & Reminders
Sometimes you don’t want customers to wait to call for important information. When something just can’t wait, sending an automated outbound notification via IVA/IVR or SMS makes all the difference in the world.
The reliability of Plum’s cloud platform ensures that your messages get through, every time, no matter when they’re sent. The speed and effectiveness of proactive messaging keep customers happy and help to prevent issues before they arise.
Connecting communications applications to customer information enables companies to send personalized messages to individuals that contain custom offers or scannable coupons. Personalization also helps to increase engagement with brand messaging and generates improved outcomes.
The medical field uses intelligent voice agents to keep customers up to date regarding upcoming appointments, account or service changes and time-sensitive information with scheduled or ad-hoc outbound notifications. Improved customer engagement reduces the number of no-show appointments.
Utility service disruptions can be costly; not only from a financial perspective but also when it comes to consumer confidence and trust. Intelligent virtual agents can instantly send mass updates to thousands of people simultaneously for fast, efficient notifications to inform customers of service outages and repair progress. For power companies, voice becomes an increasingly critical means of communication because it may be the only functioning communications channel customers can access.
In the financial sector, automated voice outreach can be personalized to maximize impact and utility. For example, send overdraft notifications directly to customers in real-time or send an alert when an account balance drops below a certain amount. Proactively communicate with customers about their account status or potential fraud threats.
Case Study: Aerospace Engineering Company
Aerospace Engineering Company (AEC) uses a survey application on the Plum Insight platform to power the voice channel option for its employee emergency accountability system. The survey app provides reliable communications, granular data, and also functions as a backup for other channels used in this system.
When an incident occurs, the employee accountability app signals to employees in the affected area to check in. For the voice channel, AEC uses a Plum Voice survey application. To check in with the voice channel, employees call an 800-number and select the option for the employee accountability app. The call then gets transferred to Plum’s survey platform. Employees identify themselves with their employee number and then answer three questions.
The voice-based check-in process differs from the email and SMS channels because the former gives us greater granularity as far as the data an employee can provide on their status. AEC’s survey app also functions as a backup for its other channels. Plum’s platform has the capacity to handle calls from all AEC’s 180,000 employees at the same time.