How to optimize costs at your company using a voicebot? An interview with Tomasz Marek

Agnieszka Wiącek

In the interview we will talk about what a voicebot is, where it is used and how it allows you to optimize costs and time, and take care of the morale of employees in companies from various industries. Gain first-hand knowledge from someone who works with our clients on a daily basis. 

Tomasz, you work at Apifonica, a company that creates virtual voice assistants, popularly called voicebots. So maybe let’s start with what voicebots are – how would you briefly answer this question?

In short, voicebot is a voice-based robot, equivalent to a consultant with whom customers can talk while settling their matters. Although it is a machine and not a human, you can talk with it just like with a living person, in natural language – you don’t need to know any special commands. This makes communication much easier – regardless of the words you use to express your question or request, the voicebot will understand you without any problems.

And where are such machines used?

In all industries where the company contacts the customer. So almost everywhere! Voicebots work both ways – a customer can call them to settle their matter, but they can also call the customer to provide them with information from the company or ask a question on its behalf.

Our voicebots work for many sectors. Among other things, they complement customer service by answering frequently asked questions and dealing with standard people’s issues – their advantage is that they answer the phone immediately and work around the clock, which is often impossible for a traditional call center, especially during periods when there are more incoming calls than usual.

There are a lot of applications of voicebots – virtual voice assistants can, among other things, conduct initial recruitment interviews in mass recruitment, process an order in an e-store, make an appointment with a doctor, recover debts, optimize an advertising campaign, call the customer base with a special offer from the company, conduct a satisfaction survey and... much more.

It’s worth mentioning that voicebots do not replace people, but take over repetitive and tedious tasks, leaving them more space for creativity, and sometimes implementing what would be impossible for humans due to limited time and the number of service team members.

What are the most important benefits for companies?

As I already mentioned, employees are relieved of the most tedious and repetitive tasks. Who wouldn’t lose their zest if they had to call 1,000 customers, repeating the same information or answering the same question throughout their entire shift? If we have a voicebot, employees simply feel better because they don’t have to do such things. A customer service consultant can focus on interesting issues to solve, a recruiter – on building relationships with candidates, and an advertising specialist – on creative ideas. Such satisfied employees will stay in the company longer and will be more involved in their work.

Relieving employees’ workload translates, of course, into another effect – huge time savings. The company is able to achieve more in a shorter period of time, which is sometimes a critical factor for the success of a particular project. For example, in mass recruitment, you need to employ a certain number of candidates at a specific time – even the mere existence of the entire company may depend on it, for example in the tourism industry. Voicebot allows you to complete such recruitment on time.

And since time is money, the optimization of costs in the company is also worth mentioning. Using a voicebot is, of course, much cheaper than engaging people to do the same work. Let’s start with the fact that the voicebot processes about 5,000 conversations per minute!

So let’s talk about cost cutting optimization using a voicebot, because this is a key factor determining whether the use of this solution is profitable for companies.

Yes it’s true! Let’s look at a simple example – a voicebot in mass recruitment. One of our clients – a delivery company – calculated that processing just 625 CVs using our voicebot translated into saving 145 hours of work. And there are recruitment processes where several thousand CVs come in! Another client – the biggest Polish holiday booking portal – saved 1.5 months of a recruiter’s hard work by processing 1,800 CVs in the high season with a voicebot. And every hour is saved money. Such cost optimization is impressive!

I will mention one more example of cost optimization in the case of a language school, which employed a voicebot to support just one of its advertising campaigns promoting language learning. Voicebot called people who left their contact details on Facebook – what was important was that it replied to them immediately after leaving the lead, which increased the chances of the campaign being successful. The voicebot called 7,866 leads and automatically filtered out as many as 2,500 so-called junk ones, i.e. when someone did not answer the phone despite repeated attempts, or left fictitious data. Effect? We managed to save 291 hours of consultant work and as much as about 5,5 K euro in terms of the budget. A voicebot is therefore a great solution for optimizing mass advertising campaigns.

Is cost cutting optimization using a voicebot only a temporary support or an entire operational strategy?

Definitely you can optimize costs strategically! With a voicebot on board, you can adjust the permanent size of the team to your actual needs. There is also no need to employ additional people when the number of incoming calls is increased – in an ecommerce store it is, for example, the pre-Christmas period, and in the tourism industry it is the pre-summer period. In this case, you just need to plan an appropriate increase in the voicebot’s bandwidth.

There are many ways to optimize costs in a company with the help of a voicebot. Let me give you an example of our client – a recruitment agency. The agency was struggling with an increasing number of incoming applications from candidates, especially during periods when new temporary workers were needed to supplement the seasonal demand of companies from various industries. The use of a voicebot allowed the CV selection process to be scaled, and the call response rate was as high as 80%.

It is worth adding that a voicebot also allows companies to increase innovation in the long run – employees who are not burdened with repetitive tasks are more engaged and motivated to focus on creativity.

And how do customers who call the company react to the voicebot – do they want to deal with it?

Most of them are fine with it – what matters is that the problem will be resolved. And it can be easily solved thanks to the two most important features of the voicebot – the fact that it actually understands what a human says, regardless of the words used, and the fact that it perfectly knows the cases it solves and continues to learn with each case.

These are usually standard matters in which human participation is not necessary – as our data shows, 80% of conversations conducted by a voicebot end with handling the problem from A to Z, while only 15% are redirected to a consultant.

But a voicebot does more than just handle matters – its task is often to provide information or ask a few questions, as in the case of recruitment or satisfaction surveys. In such cases, there is absolutely no problem with completing such a process, and it is even more orderly, because the voicebot provides everyone with identical information without any distortions.

So let’s talk about specifics – how long does implementation take and how much does it cost?

We basically have two types of voicebots. Pre-trained ones support the most popular business processes, such as delivery, recruitment, remarketing, lead qualification and appointment booking. These already have ready-made scenarios that only need to be slightly adjusted to the company’s needs, mainly in terms of language – that’s why implementation usually takes from 3 to 5 days. Such voicebots are billed in the form of a monthly subscription. The exact price depends on the type of process that the voicebot supports, and each of them has specific functionality and bandwidth – i.e. the maximum number of contacts handled, also adjusted to the purpose of the machine.

We can also create a custom voicebot that will handle a more complex business process – in such a case, we write a personalized scenario for it, precisely tailored to the given process. The implementation of such a voicebot takes up to several weeks – it involves a fixed monthly price (we have subscriptions for both smaller companies and corporations) supplemented with the costs of implementation and selected additional services.

Let’s sum up – what should a company that wants to automate its costs and operations using a voicebot remember about?

I think this question can be answered from both a benefit and cost perspective.

First, the company should consider what most important needs will be met by employing a voicebot. Maybe it will help relieve people who are overloaded with work today and may even be thinking about leaving? Maybe it will enable a process that is critical for the company to be completed on time or simply faster? Or perhaps it will allow you to optimize your company’s costs in the long run, making some activity finally profitable? Such business analysis is essential – I am happy to support companies when we talk about automation.

The second thing to pay attention to is the optimization of the costs of the solution itself – it must be selected so that it is economically optimal, adapted to the size of the company and the degree of development of the process – I also help my clients with this.

Finally, you should consider adapting the voicebot scenario to the specifics and business requirements of a given organization so that its implementation goes smoothly and the company actually benefits from it. So that it does not become just a cost-generating toy, but actual support in cost optimization in the company. At Apifonica we also care about this.

Thank you for the conversation and inspiring explanation of the topic of voicebots. I wish you lots of success!

Agnieszka Wiącek talked to Tomasz Marek.

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