How to measure cost / savings using Virtual Agents

What is the Virtual Expert conversation?

Recent discussions among customer service budget owners have centered on defining the real cost of solving customer problems using Virtual Agents. Contact Center management teams are seeking the true ROI of deploying a Virtual Assistant for customer support in contact centers.

When comparing the cost of live call center assistance with the virtual assistant it is important to differentiate customer interaction modes as self – solved solution behavior is unique to chat based communication. Customers who speak with live call agents are lead to solutions, while customers who interact with chat based virtual agents find their own solutions.

How does it work?

The Virtual Agents’ chat windows are activated when customers start typing a question. This is called a conversation, or chat. Within this chat (conversation), a number of questions and answers are exchanged until the problem is solved or is escalated to the next channel.

Cost of customer service in different channels
Industry data shows a unit measure: “cost incurred per interaction.

image222-300x183Problem resolution with live agents is the most expensive, ranging from $5 to a whopping $35 per call. This is because live agents are the least scalable and the most expensive element of the modern customer service. With the average time for a call conversation of about 3 – 7 minutes, and with some more complex calls stretching over 10 minutes, the customer interaction cannot be a cheap talk. Surprisingly, email or chat are not much less costly, starting usually from $3, as they also usually require an in-depth live operator intervention. Looking for significantly more effective channels one needs to look into web self service systems.

Virtual Experts’ customer interaction below $0.50

The sweet spot of web self service and Virtual Agents assumes that at least part of customers’ problems can be self solved by them on a company’s site. The first touch-point, and the least expensive, is the enterprise search. It only cost a company $0.01 when a customer types in a question. The problem is that what customers get is a long list of links with search results; then he normally grabs a phone and makes a call. Virtual Agents are far more sophisticated than a search, because it is programmed like virtual call center employee, only it is still computer software. Industry data provides a cost of $1 per interaction, but in fact a single conversation cost starts at $0.30, with even $0.05 with less sophisticated, high volume customer problems. Contemporary agents provide right responses with 95% accuracy, so it needs usually not more then 2 conversations to resolve a problem. So a site with a traffic of 10,000 customers per month, may result in 1,000 questions to customer care, then Virtual Agent’s cost for handling those is $50- $300 per month, while serving those with email will result in $2,500 at least, and phone – $6,000.