This trend article is part of the Convoso series, “Outbound Contact Center Trends,” helping you stay current with issues, technologies, best practices, and strategies that impact your business. Our aim is to provide tools and guidance that will improve productivity, efficiency, and ultimately profitability for your sales and lead generation team.
Artificial intelligence (AI) for call centers isn’t new. Yet the growing development of AI call center technology is a trend that will continue to transform the industry.
The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted the industry over the past few years, forcing many call centers to adapt and move to a virtual call center model. But it’s not just the virtual model that’s innovated the industry. The pandemic has actually helped to accelerate the growth of artificial intelligence in call centers. As Calabrio’s Ross Daniels told CMSWire, “To continue to take care of their employees, customers, and brand reputation, contact center leaders turned to AI-based solutions [during the pandemic].”
And, ultimately, the proof of this growth is in the numbers: A recent study projected that the market for AI in call centers will grow to a whopping $3.5 Billion by 2026 as adoption has been accelerated by the pandemic.
For those who have already implemented call center AI solutions, It’s no wonder why so many others are choosing to do the same. In this article, part of our series on 2023 call center trends, we break down:
- Examples of AI call center tech, e.g, IVA (Intelligent Virtual Agents), and machine learning-powered solutions in action
- The benefits of using these AI-based solutions
- Why the future of lead gen will thrive with the increased integration of AI and machine learning
Examples of AI Call Center Technology in Action
Like the algorithms that power predictive dialing, AI call center technology and machine learning often work in the background to expand and enhance outbound capabilities. Many call center software platforms currently offer AI for lead generation, pre-qualifying leads, quality and compliance monitoring, smart call routing, and more. Below are some of the best-known (and best-performing) examples of AI and machine learning being adopted by today’s call centers.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Cloud-based intelligent IVR systems use voice response and analytics to automate call routing. If you have an automated message that you need to communicate, an IVR system can send personalized messages over multiple channels to your leads. You can guide customers and leads through a series of options using a conversational IVR system to minimize the automated feel. You want a system that can scale on demand.
Intelligent Virtual Agent (IVA)
Today’s call center AI can sound incredibly realistic. A good Intelligent Virtual Agent uses machine learning, natural language processing, and advanced speech recognition to carry out smooth conversations that closely mimic human speech. The best IVA solutions offer natural, human-like experiences for customers and prospects.
Intelligent virtual agent technology can also help call centers to strategically manage the cost and efficiency of their workforce. Since the AI can handle multiple interactions at once, call center managers have the flexibility to route the best leads to live agents and to determine how many call center staff are needed.
How Convoso’s IVA is Enhancing Customer Experience
When it comes to engagement effectiveness with prospects and customers for sales and lead gen teams, a top priority is the ability of the virtual agent to mimic the sound of the human voice. You’ll want to test the sound quality of a conversational agent to be sure the voice is realistic.
For example, Toni Martini, Director of Marketing Technology at Admediary tested Convoso’s Intelligent Virtual Agent and says it works well for their AI-driven marketing efforts.
“When we were testing [for AI companies], what stood out to me was the actual maturity of the [Convoso] AI, the way that you are able to really get down to some very fine details. Because there are a lot of other companies who tout that they use AI, and they probably do in some capacity, but yours seems very advanced in what it sounds like and what it can do. It sounds very realistic.”
Answering Machine Detection (AMD)
Every outbound call center manager is probably familiar with the issues answering machines and voicemail can cause. Teams of sales and lead gen agents need to stay in rhythm to consistently have successful conversations—and frequent voicemails are a surefire way to disrupt that. A highly accurate answering machine detection solution can help combat this problem.
The most accurate solutions are trained using machine learning. For instance, Convoso trained its own AMD solution on billions (you read that right: billions, with a b) in order to improve the tool’s ability to more accurately judge whether there is a human or voicemail message on the other end. The results that an AMD solution can produce for agent productivity can be jaw-dropping.
Just ask Jessie Daniels of One Health Direct, an enterprise-scale outbound call center. Before switching to Convoso, voicemails weren’t just getting in the way of success, they were driving higher turnover. “[Agents] were leaving,” Daniels told us. “They were saying, ‘I’m not going to be able to make a living on answering machines all day.’”
After making the switch to Convoso, Daniels’ team saw 70% fewer voicemails—and agent commissions and morale skyrocketed—showcasing the true power of AI and machine learning in the call center.
SMS Bots and AI for Lead Generation
Implementing AI can help optimize your lead generation efforts. While live call center agents focus on converting leads, your software can work to find more valuable prospects. Using the responses given to prequalifying questions, the intelligent virtual agent determines if the lead is a good fit for your campaigns. Likewise, AI-powered SMS bots can hold down entire conversations with potential customers via text, opening up an entire new channel of productivity and potential.
AI-Powered Call Center QA
Balto, a Convoso partner that provides AI-powered real-time guidance for call center agents, surveyed over 1,000 agents to identify the most common reason mistakes are made in call centers. They found that preventable human error was the number-one cause of lost calls and sales. Describing these results, Balto’s Marc Bernstein said, “We don’t usually take [revenue analysis] down to the agent level and say, when your customers are having these conversations with your agents, where [are the opportunities to] increase conversations and revenue there?”
AI-powered QA tools like Balto’s Real-Time Guidance provide a resounding answer to that question. These tools can monitor performance and provide quality assurance for a volume of calls that’s simply impossible for human QA teams to replicate. In the process, call centers can discover opportunities to win back lost revenue that were previously impossible to find.
Benefits of Using AI Call Center Technology
As technologies like those above advance and telemarketing demands change, call center AI software opens numerous possibilities to keep your business thriving. Ultimately, adopting AI and machine learning in your cloud-based contact center gives you another tool to compete in your industry, to increase efficiency, and to stay current with best practices and compliance.
1. Discover and Qualify Leads
Virtual assistants simplify lead generation. Analyzing your CRM data to find qualified leads from existing customers, for instance, is one way AI can help you find new sales opportunities. Since conference attendance and networking events are likely to be reduced as long as there are COVID-19 health risks, AI-driven sales support and lead nurturing are a must-have.
AI for contact centers is a great way to quickly and reliably qualify potential leads. Your platform can take the initiative on outbound calls, helping your team sort through hundreds of prospects to find the people most likely to want your services or products. Through friendly interactions, your virtual agent can ensure that your live agents speak with the most qualified leads. Meanwhile, SMS bots can simultaneously lead text conversations as part of a robust omnichannel approach.
2. Increase Contact Rates and Conversion Rates
Low contact rates are one of the biggest challenges today for call center outbound lead generation and sales teams. By pre-qualifying leads with call center AI, you increase the number of conversations for your live agents. Intelligent virtual agents work to increase contact rates.
Live agents who only speak with qualified leads avoid time wasted on voicemails, hang-ups, and dropped calls. Contact center teams can maximize their time and efforts, getting big results that benefit everyone.
Conversational AI matches great leads with your best agents and offers data that allows these agents to adjust their approach to each prospect. Because agents are speaking to people who are interested in what you offer, conversion rates are more likely to increase.
3. Operate with Compliance Confidence
We talked about the prospect of implementing quality assurance in your contact center above with AI. While tools like dynamic scripting software can improve agent conversations, auditing call interactions using AI guarantees stronger adherence to scripts, regulations, and company standards for more comprehensive compliance control.
“AI in terms of quality control is really going to play a huge role in that regard for better conversations, more compliant conversations, and, just ultimately, increased results in the agent performance,” Nima Hakimi, Convoso CEO and Co-Founder, said in a webinar on The 2.0 Lead Generation Call Center. “For example, there’s an integration we have that will coach and listen to your agents in real-time and let them know if they’re off-script or not, or if they’re using the right rebuttals or not… Are they talking too fast?”
Given the overwhelming move to virtual call centers, using AI for quality monitoring and compliance control is essential for future growth.
“You need to have AI incorporated in one way or another if you want to go remote and grow it and scale it, in full compliance,” Hakimi said.
4. Data Performance Insights for Strategic AI Campaigns
Intelligent analytics reports will give you insights into the successes and problems within each AI-driven campaign. With this information, you can make better strategic decisions based on the how and why of lead and list performance.
Toni Martini, Director of Marketing Technology at Admediary describes how she uses analytics to effectively manage their campaigns.
“The best report for me that I use daily is the Conversational AI report. It breaks out my campaigns the right way and gives me a general overview of how the campaigns are doing. If I’m doing a split test or batch uploads of the data, and I want to see how that data’s performing specifically, I can break it down in that conversation,” she said. “I use the report to see our cost per transfer, transfer rate, how many calls are going out, the voicemails, and things like that – the report shows me exactly what I need. I’m able to filter it down to break the data down by list.”
Once you understand your data, you can implement changes to make your campaigns more effective.
5. Reduce Call Center Costs
According to a global AI survey, 44% of executives in companies that use AI have realized cost reductions. In call centers, AI reduces the amount of time and money you spend on labor costs. With less training and fewer agents required to meet targets, your scaling costs can drop significantly. Adopting AI for your outbound call center can both increase conversion rates and lower cost per acquisition (CPA).
The result? Greater scale that was previously impossible, says Convoso’s CEO and Co-founder, Nima Hakimi.
“Scale without automation doesn’t exist,” Nima Hakimi said. “Sometimes it’s a bit challenging. Technology isn’t always easy. But once it’s implemented and you get the hang of it, you can take things to the next level.”
AI Call Center Software: The Future of Lead Generation
The trend to incorporate the advanced capabilities of AI technology into lead generation outbound call center operations will continue in 2023, as marketing and sales teams look for more ways to stay competitive. With AI for your contact center you can improve costs, productivity, and sales to grow in 2023 and beyond.
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