There’s no question that digital employees (intelligent chatbots) require investment and buy-in from your whole business. However, the question they do so frequently beg, is how much of a return the offer (and related to that - how soon that return can be expected). How ever far down the track you are or aren’t with implementing a digital employee into your business, we’ve outlined some key types of return on investment you can expect, which can be used to gather support from the leadership within your business. And we’ve separated these into two streams.
Business process efficiencies & cost savings
Money talks. From our experience, one of the most popular types of ROI is streamlining a business, as it either frees up capital for other projects or for returning dividends to shareholders. There are two main examples of investment returns we’ve noticed in this area.
Reduced call centre volumes
Digital employees have the innate ability to work at scale. While this most commonly plays out with customer-facing teams, there are many other examples too - such as internal IT help desks (yes they can help their human employee counterparts too). This is why we often think of AI as being a human assistant.
One of our partners worked with a client to initially help answer frequently asked questions. After some digging, it was found that approximately 80% of their call volume came from approximately a dozen queries. After the digital employee was ‘hired’ and put to work, the business saw a 50% reduction in calls to the call centre.
One of our clients saw the potential to make significant savings through their call centre too. They estimated that they can save one million dollars with every minute in which their average call time within call centre is reduced.
This types of returns shouldn’t be overlooked, especially when you consider the relatively low cost of placing a digital employee into a company’s operations. This type of return should also be embraced by employees because it means they can focus on more valuable tasks that digital employees simply can’t replicate.
Increasing the lifespan of assets
One reason why we refer to intelligent chatbots as digital employees is that they can complete tasks that extend far beyond conversations. When they have access to the right data and are properly trained, they can help with complex tasks such as driving predictive maintenance programmes.
They can be upskilled to analyse workloads and identify patterns in breakages, monitor trends, recommend the ideal servicing frequency to maximise asset reliability, reduce regular servicing costs, and minimise part replacements. On the most part, they’ll still need humans to carry out the repairs and maintenance, but it's clear that significant value can be achieved.
A major telecommunications company carried out a study where they found a predictive maintenance programme would provide them with a 545% ROI. One example was a predictive maintenance programme for air compressors. The outcome of the programme’s suggested $472 a year maintenance bill resulted in a four-year product life extension, delaying the hefty $32,900 price tag to replace the compressors.
Greater experience and engagement
Companies who keep the customer at the centre of their thinking typically perform better than those who don’t. Watermark have been conducting customer experience (CX) research for some time now. They noticed that businesses who champion CX performed 45 points higher than the S&P 500 Index. Digital employees are one such way to improve your customers’ experience. So what returns might your business expect from a customer point of view?
Facilitating and accelerating customer acquisition.
If you can speed up your ability to create collateral and respond to new business proposals, then you can either increase the number of proposals you make every year (loading your pipeline with more potential clients), or you can operate with a leaner sales team.
A digital employee can do this because, when it is equipped with the right tools, it can produce well-designed, personalised, automated collateral. With the right direction and access to the appropriate data, the digital employee can analyse and be trained to create a relevant and engaging proposal. These can be automated into draft emails for your review before sending. With enough investment, there’s no reason why it couldn’t create personalised videos as well.
1-800 Flowers worked with IBM to help drive its online shopping experience. This was facilitated through a digital employee, which had considerable success. 70% of customers who ordered through the digital employee were new customers. This proves that while you might already have well-established sales channels, there could be other channels out there that a new type of buyer is waiting to use… and with their credit card at the waiting.
Conversations that drive customer retention
People’s expectations of businesses are greater now than they’ve ever been. As a society, we’ve moved from ‘wants’ to ‘needs’ to ‘need it nows’. Due to employment costs, it’s nearly impossible for people to address the required immediacy consumers demand. Digital employees, however, can respond to people in their sleep. Actually they don’t need to sleep, they can respond around the clock.
The return on your investment that a digital employee-enabled fast response rate is greater customer retention. Hubspot conducted research and found that 82% of people felt it was important for a company to respond to any marketing or sales questions within 30 minutes. Companies who fail in this area face unsatisfied (or worse churned) customers, which contributes to the $62 billion dollars of lost customer revenue in the United States (according to New Voice Media).
For companies who are fortunate enough to have a comprehensive data set, digital employees can analyse their data (through machine learning) and potentially identify customers who are likely to churn. They can then be equipped to test and find ways to address the situation and retain the customer.
The team at Customer Radar, who excel in helping businesses champion the voice of the customer, reviewed its 2018 operations. They found that 75% of a businesses customers are loyal and will return, which means a quarter of a businesses' revenue is at risk. Bain and Company reported that within the financial services industry, a 5% increase in customer retention will lead to a 25% in revenue. A 5% lift in retention doesn't seem like much, but it can spread a very long way.
New customer insights
This final ROI of a digital employee that we're covering in this piece has come as a result of being on the front line of a business. With digital employees having hundreds or thousands of conversations a week, they generate significant data that can be mined for all sorts of behavioural insights. Due to lack of process, human constraints, and older technology environments, these kinds of insights are typically too hard to realise through traditional channels.
Key to uncovering these insights is working closely with data scientists, which may not be good news for you as they are in short supply. This is where partnering with software businesses can be a smart option.
Did any of these types of ROI grab your attention?
Now you’ve seen how your business might benefit from a digital employee, now is a good time to consider what you should and shouldn’t do when ‘hiring’ digital employee into your business.