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Debunking The Myths of AI VoiceBots (for the phone channel)

Margarita Yepes

With so many companies today looking to add AI Voice to their communication tool belt with prospects and customers, let’s address some of the common myths about using VoiceBots in the call channel.

Myth: VoiceBots are not conversational

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) was introduced as the first generation of VoiceBots. It has been around for years, and is still commonly used in large call centers. IVRs collect information over the phone and navigate the customer through a long menu of options to help them find the right answer or connect them to the right department. 

The VoiceBot of today -powered by conversational AI - eliminates the touchtone, dumbed down interaction that happens with IVRs. Instead, it leverages advanced speech recognition and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to interpret whatever the customer says over the phone, -including the “ums” and “yups” that characterize natural human conversations, and respond accurately. 

The reason why traditional IVR technology is not conversational is because the scope is so wide, that when it asks someone “How can I help you?, it becomes hard to tune the NLU engine for each unique scenario. When companies use it for Marketing and Sales calls, the VoiceBot is directing the conversation, i.e. asking you “Hi John, thank you for attending ACME’s keynote. I noticed you registered for tomorrow’s workshop, will you be attending?”. By narrowing the focus of the conversation, companies can actually use VoiceBots to have a two-way, highly personalized conversation with their customers.

Myth: VoiceBots are only for Call Centers

While VoiceBots are becoming a sought after resource for any existing Contact Center, replacing the obsolete IVR and automating support conversations over the phone, Sales and Marketing are the areas where AI VoiceBots are making a real difference. Marketers are using conversational VoiceBots to increase personalization and engagement, while Sales teams are using them to interact with prospects and close more deals.

VoiceBots can be easily integrated into a CRM or marketing/sales automation system like HubSpot or Outreach, enabling Marketers and Sales reps to leverage Voice as a channel, in the same workflows as email, chatbot and social media. Any prospect or customer action such as filling out a form in an ad, interacting with a website, registering for an event, etc. can automatically trigger a VoiceBot call. The VoiceBot leverages information from the CRM to have a personalized conversation, capture additional contact information, answer common questions or book meetings in the sales reps’ calendars.

Myth: VoiceBots are the same as Robocalls

A robocall is one uniform audio recording sent to thousands of recipients at the same time to deliver a message or sway you to buy. Whether it’s a “government agency” asking for money or donation, or a straightforward telemarketing call, robocalls have become an increasingly alarming issue in the past few years for its invasive and scamming techniques.

VoiceBots are all-to-often mislabeled as robocalls, although the technology behind it is quite different. As I explained earlier, a VoiceBot is an AI and Natural Language Understanding (NLU) based channel. It has the capability to identify a person’s intent over the phone, and generate an appropriate response and/or further ask questions to continue the interaction, in a human-like way.

Unlike robocalls, VoiceBot calls are made to individuals who have previously interacted with a company’s website, content, events, etc., are currently in a company’s sales pipeline, or are customers. The conversation is personalized to the contact called by using the contact’s data stored in your system (CRM/Marketing automation software) like Name, Company Name, Location, Stage in the pipeline, etc. Along with personalization, VoiceBots are trained based on data inputted (FAQs, industry-specific terms, etc.) or patterns identified from previous conversations to improve the performance of subsequent calls.  

To avoid any potential abuse or mistrust from the contacts being called, VoiceBots are backed by a security framework that ensures the conversations and data are secure and remain private. Tools like Caller ID, call recordings, contact identification, scrubbing against DNC lists, time restrictions based on location, etc. allow companies to protect their customers when using VoiceBots over the phone. 

Myth: Customers don’t want to talk to VoiceBots

Most people assume that customers would always prefer human contact over talking to a VoiceBot. The truth, however, is that it’s not always so clear cut. As technology evolves, the ways people interact with it also change. Think about how internet searches have become easier. It wasn’t long ago that an internet search had to be very specific and would often yield poor, unrelated results. Now, it seems like search engines, such as Google, can almost read your mind and know exactly what you are looking for. Engines understand context and the intent of your search. 

AI-powered bots have also evolved. Early on, text was the only way to interact with an assistant app (typing in a phrase to trigger a response). Now, Voice has taken over. 74 % of consumers are using voice assistants to turn on the lights, cook an egg to perfection, and research and buy products and services. 

This is why many businesses are already using VoiceBots to engage with their prospects and customers. We see it daily with our own customers. People engage in  conversations with the VoiceBot and answer the VoiceBot’s questions as if they were talking with a human. However while AI Voice technology continues to evolve, the best experiences will come from a mix of voice automation and human interaction. 

Far from being a myth, AI VoiceBots for conversations are a reality, and organizations need to be ready. In today’s digital-first landscape, automation via VoiceBots is a huge step forward, helping facilitate seamless, multi-faceted interactions that delight customers and brands alike.

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