Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA) for Call Centers

Call centers and call center software providers that are seeking to improve customer experience, cut costs and/or optimize their technology would be remiss in not considering an AI-powered intelligent virtual agent (IVA) like those provided by Plum Voice. IVAs combined with an easy to use programmable-AI provides users a modern, and secure way to conduct business by combining artificial intelligence (AI) with natural language processing (NLP) solutions.

In this article, learn exactly what a virtual agent is and how it can improve your call center. Through business and software development use case examples below, learn how making the switch to AI virtual agent software has provided numerous positive changes for call centers in regards to a company’s bottom line, customer satisfaction level and immediate ROI. 

What Is A Virtual Agent?

An intelligent virtual agent (IVA) is an artificial intelligence (AI) system that is programmed to interact with people in a natural, and conversational way. It is designed to understand language and respond to questions, provide customer service, and automate tasks. The most basic explanation of an IVA is that it’s taking a traditional phone interaction and automating it.

However, today’s virtual agent isn’t going to make you share sensitive information out loud, or require you to repeat yourself over and over. This is because programmable-AI allows virtual agents to better interpret a caller’s intent and direct them to the best next logical action.. IVAs are used in a variety of applications such as chatbots, customer service, personal assistants, and virtual assistants. They are programmed to understand human language, recognize patterns and make decisions, and respond in a way that is natural and conversational.

In addition to its core technology, IVAs have the ability to integrate with databases, CRMs and other API systems. This makes their capabilities limitless, expanding the various ways call centers and call center providers can utilize them to improve their operations.

Benefits Of Automated Call Center IVA Software

Any task that requires numbers, text or speech (TTS) can potentially be automated using IVAs. From payments, customer notifications and customer reminders – there are a wealth of ways to utilize these AI voice agents. Account inquiries, answering common questions and gathering customer feedback are other common ways IVAs are used to streamline operations and improve the customer experience.

Enhanced Payment Efficiency

In the banking and financial industry, customers are empowered with the ability to make payments or activate new debit or credit cards on their own.

Major Financial Services Company (MFSC), for example, employed IVA technology to achieve a 90% automation rate. This meant that less than 10% of calls were being handled by live agents, improving their capacity to handle more complicated calls with ease. This was achieved in a few ways, including automating the handling of frequently asked questions and redirecting calls to the best agent for that particular caller. Aside from the cost savings that resulted from this change, MFSC enjoyed higher customer satisfaction scores.

Voice AI

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. In addition, the company didn’t use interactive voice response (IVR) to its fullest potential. This meant that agents handled many routine calls that could have been automated, which drove up costs.

Increased Customer Satisfaction in Healthcare

Secure payments are also a frequent pain point for medical or hospital call centers. With IVA in the call center, hospitals can now automate customer follow-ups, reduce readmissions, provide instructions for provided medicine, set-up prescription refills and more. With a secure

Employee Management with IVA Call Center Software

If you’re a call center provider or use a call center in the utilities industry, onboarding and account termination are now easy to manage and automate with programmable-AI virtual agents. This allows teams to focus on more specific and sales oriented calls which may require a more detailed conversation.

Automated Virtual Agent for Customer Service

When call centers are provided with a solution which makes it more efficient, customers benefit by having an overall better experience. For example, It means companies can provide answers about their customers insurance policy quickly, or it allows them to pay a credit card bill without getting put on hold or sent down an endless phone tree.

Convenience, reliability and flexibility are critical to good customer service, something payment services provider EML knows well. By using IVR for account inquiries, they were able to achieve an 85% call containment rate. This is because they started to automate balance inquiries, the top type of call their customer service representatives received. 

Case Study-EML-Prepaid

EML began using Plum Voice technology back in 2004 when the company was operating under the Store Financial Services brand. Now operating as EML, with an expanded global footprint across North America, Europe, and Australia, the company offers a broad portfolio of payment services and payment card programs to process payouts, gifts, incentives, rewards, and supplier payments.

Customer Alerts with IVA Software

IVAs give users the ability to provide a deeper and more customized level of automated communication with customers. This includes customer reminders or customer alerts to pay their bill, or to let customers know that their prescription has been refilled automatically and is ready to be picked up.

IVAs via a Secure Platform


PCI compliance was one of the top reasons EML selected Plum Voice IVR (interactive voice response) virtual agents – because customers care about security, too. A secure IVA platform also takes a great deal of the compliance burden away from the call center and call center providers. For financial transactions, call centers and providers will want a solution that’s PCI-DSS compliant; medical entities also will need to consider a HIPAA-friendly product such as Plum Fuse or Plum DEV.

Research and analytics company Second To None caters to Fortune 500 clients who have high expectations when it comes to security. Because they were able to build on Plum Voice’s PCI- and HIPAA-compliant platform, they could confidently execute surveys and notifications. This gave them the competitive edge when seeking new clientele. 

The problem for Second To None began with a client request. The customer wanted to utilize telephone surveys, but Second To None lacked the ability to provide that technology at the time. This led to a round of research that, according to Chris Krosnowski, Second To None’s CTO, winnowed the choice down to Plum Voice and one other company. Plum won out based on competitive pricing and because it was faster to implement. Many of Second To None’s clients operate in the retail and healthcare industries, so Plum’s PCI and HIPAA compliant platform also proved critical for clients in those respective industries.

IVAs Increase Customer Feedback Scores

While most of our IVA benefits so far have been about the customer experience itself, collecting data on that experience can be extremely beneficial for company advancements and sales teams to utilize for the customer journey. IVAs can be utilized to provide immediate feedback regarding customer concerns. This lets companies follow up with unhappy customers faster, and has been proven to improve overall customer retention rates.

Erie Insurance is one of our favorite examples of maximizing voice technology to measure and improve customer satisfaction rates. Taking the manual feedback process to an automated one empowered them to save on postage costs and boost participation rates, which immediately jumped 7% once web-based feedback was implemented. The Fortune 500 company leveled the playing field by adding a phone option for those not as comfortable with using online surveys. 

Case Study-Erie Insurance-Surveys

Erie’s claims division uses customer surveys to obtain feedback on the company’s service. This originated as a manual process that involved sending surveys to customers via the post. According to Barbara Lincoln, Erie’s Director of Business Integration and Claims, they received back 4,900 responses per year, on average. Between the cost of postage, paper, and labor to get these surveys out into the world and back, the ends didn’t justify the means. Even with completed surveys, the manual process lacked an efficient way to analyze and share the data they received. This meant feedback remained primarily anecdotal and under-utilized.

Employee Notifications and Alerts With IVAS

While proactive communication can be a customer service perk, in certain situations it can literally be a lifesaver. Consider how much we rely on electricity, wireless internet and water. If any one of those utilities were to go out in your neighborhood, the provider no doubt gets inundated with calls. This type of communication also can be utilized internally with employees.

In a unique application of this capability, Aerospace Engineering Company (AEC) utilizes IVAs to allow employees to provide their status during emergency situations. With tens of thousands of employees scattered throughout the country, if disaster strikes the impacted employees communicate their status via SMS. The notification feature, in particular, ensures that employees know when they need to use the phone line, a back-up method also powered by IVA technology. 

Plum Voice IVA Technology with Conversational AI

As customer service and security become increasingly important in business, companies and service providers will need to continue to rise to the occasion. Similarly, they must meet this challenge in a way that’s efficient and cost-effective. IVA technology with Plum Voice checks all of these boxes and likely can accomplish even more tasks that are unique to companies call center. 

Contact us to learn how we can put virtual agents to work for your call center.