Mother's Day

IVA – The Mother of all AI Customer Service Solutions

May 8, 2019

The average mother only has 17 minutes of “me time” during a day. Whether working full-time in an office or working full-time as a homemaker, time is a luxury for parents who are constantly at the beck-and-call of their children. And when you factor in the hassles involved when contacting a business, that 17 minutes can quickly dwindle to nothing.

As a working mom of infant twin boys, I am constantly multitasking. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I rely on websites and mobile apps to get things done. From shopping to buying groceries to paying bills, I prefer ‘running my errands’ online, mostly after the kids are asleep. A few weeks back I had a question about the bill I received from my insurance. After exhausting all the online channels, I realized that I needed to pick up the phone and talk to someone about it.

First shock – The member service line was only open during business hours. I set a reminder and called the insurance company as I started my morning commute. Second shock – they did not have a ‘speak to an agent’ option in the menu and wouldn’t understand me even when I said different variations of ‘human’, ‘agent’ and ‘service representative’. Third shock – Finally, after frantically pressing 0, I was put on the call queue with a hold time of 29 minutes. My call was obviously very important to them. Fourth shock – After listening to the soothing hold music, I finally got connected to a friendly agent. However by this time I had reached work and couldn’t continue talking to her. I had to restart the entire process again the next morning.”

So how can companies respect the time of busy people, like mothers, who don’t have the luxury of spending all day waiting on hold or shuffling through menu trees? We conducted a survey to see the preferences of moms when interacting with a business. We also gathered real-life stories of the best and worst customer experiences that moms have received. The mothers who answered have at least one child under the age of 18, and had an average of two children.

Survey Results

Self-service is the way to go

A major takeaway from this survey was that moms are very comfortable using self-service options for all tasks and in almost every single industry. In particular, placing an order and checking on its status were the tasks that moms feel most comfortable using self-service for, and retail was the industry that moms feel the most comfortable using self-service in.

In fact, 90% of mothers prefer self-service over speaking with a human for household and family administration tasks, like paying bills, contacting customer service providers, and scheduling appointments.

Self - Service

Speed is important, but a knowledgeable agent is the top priority

Dealing with a knowledgeable agent was the most important factor for moms when contacting a business, closely followed by efficiency and then speed. So speed matters for moms, but what’s more important is that their issue can be resolved on the first try, preventing more effort and time from being wasted. One mom even said, I would rather wait 10 minutes on hold to get someone who can solve my problem, than a 2 minute wait with someone who can’t solve it. I feel like it’s wasted time if there isn’t a solution at the end. And the ultimate pain is being passed on to multiple people who can’t help!!

 

And the biggest turnoff when contacting a business? A long wait time. To provide solutions that meet both these needs, companies must consider a system that can be scaled to prevent wait times, but have the technology that is advanced enough to understand on a human level to accurately solve issues.

Sometimes, talking to a human is necessary

Especially with medical and insurance issues, a majority of the respondents agreed that there are certain complicated issues that require a live agent’s assistant. But with long wait times still being the number one turnoff for contacting businesses, and the frustration and time wasted from being transferred to multiple agents, it is still important for businesses to have technology in place that can accurately direct callers, as well as collect preliminary information in a timely manner. This allows for agent value to increase because they will only need to deal with the complicated task at hand, instead of performing repetitive and simple tasks, like collecting information, that can be done with automation.

 

Intelligent Virtual Assistants: A mom’s best friend

So how can businesses respect mothers and their very limited and often unpredictable time? Leveraging features that provide omnichannel self-service allows for busy people, like moms, to contact businesses whenever and wherever they want. But self-service should not be about  making your customers waste their time shuffling through menu trees and repeating themselves, it should be about making customers interact with business in a conversational manner. This is only possible by implementing a solution that can understand not only what a customer is saying, but the intent behind what they are saying, regardless of the language, accent or background noise.

Our Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) do just that. By leveraging the best of conversational AI technologies like Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) and Natural Language Processing (NLP), combined with Interactions patented human assisted understanding when needed, IVAs deliver the kind of efficiency and accuracy that moms deserve. IVAs behave like the best customer service agent: they are always trained, they always know the answer, and they are always in the best mood! Whether it is completely solving an issue or directing them to a knowledgeable agent who can, IVAs save time, effort, and energy for customers. Not to mention, context is maintained throughout the entire interaction, even if you have to pick up the conversation at a later time because you need to tend to your children or you’ve just arrived at work.

“Time. As Moms we don’t have enough of it in the day to get all that we need to get done. As a full-time working Mom, I try to utilize online tools as much as possible to resolve issues, schedule appointments, make payments and more. But sometimes I have a more complicated issue that I want to speak to someone about–and I need to get it done in the 5 spare minutes I have between meetings (don’t tell my boss!). For example, I do a lot of online shopping. From replacing missing ballet shoes, to finding special clothes for theme days at school, and buying birthday presents last minute. Most of the time, my merchandise arrives on time and I can track it using apps and emails. Recently, however, I ordered something for a holiday celebration at my daughter’s school. I bought a dress, it arrived on time, but it was damaged and I didn’t have much time to get a replacement. I called customer service and waited on hold for 5 minutes. I was finally greeted by a very friendly agent and explained my issue. She responded that their systems were down, so they could not access any orders to help me at the moment. She told me to call back in an hour or two when someone would be happy to help me then. But I didn’t have time to call back later that day. I had time NOW and wanted to get things taken care of. It was so frustrating to me. I had not only wasted time but also was losing time to rectify my situation.”

Thank you, Moms

For all they do despite their lack of personal time, we here at Interactions give a big “thank you” to all the mothers in our lives. Our IVAs promise to deliver results that make their life a little easier, and gives back a gift of “me time” that is so valuable to busy moms everywhere.

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