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Artificial Intelligence, Customer Experience, Virtual Assistant Platform

Virtual Assistants in IVRs: How They Pacify Angry Customers and Improve Customer Satisfaction

Author: Chioma Iwunze

Imagine coming home one day after work and noticing the TV you purchased a few days ago has stopped working. You’d planned to watch a World Cup Finals with your friends who are already bantering at the door. Feeling enraged, you dial the customer support number, but no one answers. The customer service representatives are observing a national holiday. Imagine how frustrated this would make you feel. What impression would you have of the company and its brand?

For decades, artificial intelligence (AI) companies have been training robots to handle, among all other things, customer support. Records show that scientists and technologists have made significant progress in this field. Today, there are robots, chatbots, virtual assistants and AI that can have intelligent interactions with humans.

Offering excellent customer care support is no small feat. Sometimes, customers are irrational, emotional, and even, outrightly rude. It is often tough for call center agents to stay calm and composed. Let’s face it. These well-trained representatives are first and foremost, human. Sometimes, they are too emotionally drained and tired to stay calm enough to pacify angry customers.

And every company knows the impact an irate call center agent can have on a business. The brand will suffer a lot of damage, customers will storm out of the business relationship and the brand will lose its reputation.

The wisest thing to do is to find effective ways to pacify angry customers.  Better still, businesses should choose an alternative that ensures that the customer is pacified long before he or she comes in contact with the call center agent? Imagine a scenario where customers can interface with virtual assistants and IVRs instead of humans.

If at this point you’re wondering what virtual assistants and IVRs are, and how they can be integrated with other call center tools. Don’t worry, let’s see how this works.

A chatbot/virtual assistant is a software that interacts with humans through AI. It can be integrated into websites, mobile apps, phones, and messaging apps.

IVR is an acronym for interactive voice response. It’s the sweet, sonorous voice that tells you to press 1 or 2 or 3 or 9 to get different options. And if you aren’t able to find a solution to your query, the IVR can route you to the best possible human call center agent to address the customer’s complaints.

IVRs and virtual assistants are designed to converse with humans either through text or voice.

The first chatbot was supposed have been invented in 1966 by an MIT professor, Joseph Weizenbaum. Although some experts predicted that virtual assistants would replace humans in due time, the original creator did not believe that theory. He only thought that AI technology would improve human interaction. Joseph Weizenbaum’s invention was called Eliza. However, several people have worked on the technology over the years to make the virtual assistant far more sophisticated today than it was back then.

Many people refer to the Turing test as a benchmark for machine learning. The Turing test was invented by Alan Turing in 1950 to judge the machine’s ability to interact with humans as close to human behavior as possible. Several people have been creating programs to pass the Turing test. It has become a benchmark for any new virtual assistants that come into the market.

If programmed and deployed correctly, AI can effectively field customers’ complaints, solve problems and show empathy and understanding to the customers. A growing body of research has shown that many companies have saved billions of dollars by integrating AI-powered tools into their call centers. 

More Ways in Which Virtual Assistants and IVRs Can Benefit Your Business

AI-powered virtual assistants can dramatically reduce the cost of hiring, training, and managing customer support reps. For instance, one insurance company handled 70% of incoming conversations without any human support. The company significantly reduced its overhead costs because it employed fewer call center agents and reps.  AI-powered support helped to boost customer satisfaction and improve the efficiency and productivity of call center agents. 

How Virtual Assistants and IVRs Pacify Angry Customers 

1. Less Waiting Time

And do you often get angry when customer care lines keep you waiting indefinitely? Well, most people get angry when they can’t reach an agent. IVRs and virtual assistants take the sting out of the process. If correctly deployed, these IVRs can significantly reduce ‘waiting time’ for customers.

A growing body of evidence has shown that IVRs and virtual assistants resolve 70% of customer’s complaints, often without any human input. Companies who deployed IVRs report a sharp rise in customer satisfaction. 

2. 24/7 Support

Imagine calling your hosting company at 3 in the morning and a virtual assistant interacts with you just like a human. Wouldn’t it be helpful? Providing 24/7 support is possible even for small companies by using AI-powered virtual assistants.

IVRs and virtual assistants can work at all hours of the day, seven days a week without breaks. What’s more, virtual assistants don’t have sick days, and they have no need for a vacation. Whenever the customer has a complaint or an inquiry, the IVR will be available to placate them and provide every information they want. 

3. Directing the Call or Conversation to the Relevant Person

When we call large companies, the operator can be unsure where to direct your call. But an AI-powered virtual assistant might ask you a few questions and direct your call to the right person. 

4. Cost-cutting Through Automation

By automating most of their customer service, companies can cut costs by hiring fewer customer service reps. 

5. Instant Support

Customers don’t need to wait in line for the next available customer service representative. A virtual assistant talks to them immediately. Virtual assistants can solve most problems of a customer before being transferred to a human representative.

The world has changed so dramatically that three in four customers now prefer dealing with a virtual agent. AI intelligence is considered one of the most important customer support trends.

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