Digital channels and virtual agents are already taking a substantial share of customer communications in various sectors today. However, each application area and is different and customer acceptance can vary as well.
In Brazil, I have found that general acceptance is rapidly increasing. And while customers may still be somewhat reluctant when it comes to conversations about outstanding receivables, I am convinced that digital approaches will play a major role in collection in the future. They are likely to keep costs down, increase conversion rates and free up resources to concentrate on resolving the more challenging cases. Thus, it is essential to create and test new technologies today.
When it comes to using virtual agents, we must be aware that communication is never a one-way street. There is always an originator and a recipient. It is therefore important to ensure quality on both ends. We are already seeing good results with a technology that is much more advanced than the basic computer-generated voice assistance. All dialog blocks are recorded with real actors, which creates greater closeness to consumers and increases confidence. The system even allows for the inclusion of dialect traits or specific regional expressions.
However, as mentioned earlier, the more natural tone of the virtual agents is just one side of the coin. Smart speech recognition using acoustic, linguistic and semantic models is the other important, but still frequently underestimated aspect. Algorithms must not only be capable of responding to certain words, but to the tone of voice, accents, and sounds, so as to detect customer feelings and respond to them in a more differentiated way.
Yet even today, most advanced approaches based on the latest developments in Natural Language Processing will not be the universal remedy for all challenges faced in debtor communications. A hybrid strategy with a human agent ready in the background to jump in if the issue deviates from the standard process path is likely to achieve the highest success rates in debt recovery. Especially if it is integrated with further advanced technologies such as an omnichannel approach.
Since we introduced virtual agents within the AFS subsidiary Intervalor, we have been using them with growing success and have perceived increasing acceptance among consumers. The high quality of the agents ensure accelerated and uncomplicated processes and at the same time help our staff to concentrate on more complex cases requiring additional consultancy.
More information on our debt collection services is available here.