Chatmantics wanted to build virtual assistants that would spare its clients the significant time and costs involved in acquiring new customers and supporting them post-acquisition.
The company used IBM Voice Agent with Watson and IBM Watson Assistant in the IBM Cloud™ to develop text and voice assistants that interact with users on social media, the internet, SMS, email and voice.
250,000inbound calls handled per month across Chatmantics’ client base
48-72 hoursto onboard new clients, enabling rapid transformation in contact center performance
60%-70%reduction in cost of customer acquisition for most clients
Business challenge story
Cutting the cost of customer acquisition
Gaining customers can be costly for any business. Turning leads into deals is a time-consuming process, and customer service teams are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of calls they need to handle in order to convert just a few into solid business opportunities.
Many times, a seemingly hot lead will be impossible for even the best salesperson to convert, because the customer simply doesn’t fit the profile of the product. But this isn’t always obvious right away. Salespeople waste valuable minutes on each call asking basic questions to confirm whether the customer qualifies. Those minutes can add up to hundreds of hours of lost productivity, demoralizing sales teams and driving up the cost per acquisition.
To cut costs and drive efficiency, many businesses are investigating the possibility of using artificial intelligence to create virtual assistants that can help to triage incoming calls and streamline customer acquisition. However, until now, the technology has largely remained out of reach for all but the largest enterprises.
Enter Chatmantics. The company was founded in 2018 to aid companies in user and customer acquisition by developing virtual assistants that work across a range of communication channels, including voice, email, SMS, online chat and social media.
Keith Scales, Chatmantics’ founder, elaborates: “We knew there was a huge potential for virtual assistants in customer acquisition. Initially, we tested a social media messaging assistant that could automatically qualify sales opportunities, and proved that it could dramatically boost the quality of leads.
“However, as we talked to clients, we realized that their real pain-point was in the contact center, where their teams were inefficient in qualifying and identifying true sales opportunities. We saw huge potential for a virtual assistant that could handle inbound calls, deal with routine requests, and pass on more complex issues to human agents – so that’s what we set out to develop.”
Finding a voice
Chatmantics decided to use IBM Voice Agent with Watson as the main platform for its virtual assistant solution. The solution integrates directly into clients’ existing contact center systems, using natural language processing to understand inbound enquiries from customers, and communicate with them via voice or SMS.
Keith Scales explains: “We looked at a range of solutions from different vendors, but most products focused on just one medium – social media, for example – rather than providing a holistic solution across all channels. IBM was the exception, because Voice Agent with Watson offered the whole package, and the documentation and support was very good, so we could see exactly how to build what we needed for our platform and clients.”
He adds: “We wanted to be able to onboard new customers quickly and scale seamlessly, so the speed and ease with which the IBM Cloud enables us to provision and deploy new virtual assistants was another significant advantage.”
IBM provided continued support to the Chatmantics team throughout the development of the solution, and is keen to help the business grow. During the early stages of the project an IBM AI specialist worked closely with Chatmantics’ developers and data scientist to discuss the roadmap and advise the team on how to get the most out of the IBM Watson solutions.
Keith Scales comments: “It’s great to know that if we have questions or something doesn’t go to plan, we always have a point of contact to reach out to. It almost feels like a concierge service – we know that IBM is truly engaged in the success of our company, which is rare from a cloud vendor. As a result, our speed to market was impressive. We developed our platform in only three months. Without IBM’s support, it could have taken a year and a half.”
When companies approach Chatmantics, the initial task is to identify the biggest challenges at the organization’s contact center. The most likely issue is that they are receiving too many inbound calls and need to scale up operations rapidly while keeping a lean team. Chatmantics works with the company to define which types of conversations can be managed automatically by a virtual assistant, and when a customer should be transferred to a human agent.
Keith Scales explains: “By understanding our clients’ contact center workflow, we can build assistants to suit their unique needs. For example, we ask our clients what they need to know about their inbound callers, so we can design our assistants to gather that specific data before the caller starts speaking with a human agent. Once we map out the workflow, we can get clients up and running with our platform very quickly – between 48 and 72 hours.”
Based on its initial engagements and experience with clients, Chatmantics has now built three applications based on IBM Voice Agent with Watson in the IBM Cloud, which aim to help companies maximize the efficiency of specific processes within their contact centers.
Chatmantics Scheduler is a virtual assistant that contacts a user to ask for a convenient time for a call-back, uses natural language processing to understand the response, and automatically initiates the call at the time agreed. The engaging conversational tone and interactivity of the virtual assistant helps customers buy into the process, and boosts conversion rates.
Chatmantics Qualifier gathers initial information that enables contact centers to categorize callers according to the kind of service they may require. For example, if a user is enquiring about car insurance, Qualifier may ask them how many cars they have, whether they have a garage, and whether they have made any recent claims. Based on the answers to these questions, the assistant can then transfer the user to the most appropriate human agent. This application is particularly useful for small contact centers: by automating these basic questions, they can process a greater volume of calls without hiring additional agents.
Chatmantics Assist helps companies engage with existing customers. The application assimilates information banks such as a company’s Frequently Asked Questions section and stores the information in a database such as IBM Cloudant® or IBM Db2® on Cloud. Consulting this database enables Assist to answer simple questions from customers, saving time that they might previously have spent waiting on hold for a human agent to become available.
Saving time and money
While the new Chatmantics solutions have not yet been launched publicly, the company’s existing clients have been using them for several months. Across all clients, the platform is currently handling more than 250,000 inbound calls per month, and it has already reduced the cost of customer acquisition dramatically.
Keith Scales comments: “We have one client that was spending $30,000 per day on inbound calls for customer acquisition, with a cost-per-acquisition of over $500. “On the first day that they started using IBM Voice Agent with Watson to triage incoming calls, their acquisition costs dropped almost immediately by 60 to 70 percent.”
The solution works because it enables human agents to spend more time talking to hot prospects and closing deals, rather than spending hours gathering basic information from customers who may not qualify for the products they are selling.
Keith Scales acknowledges IBM’s role in helping to get the Scheduler, Qualifier and Assist products to market: “It’s difficult to overstate the importance of the IBM Watson tools to our product development process. They allow us to keep a lean team, which is vital for any startup, and they give us the insight we need to constantly improve our designs.”
For example, by working with IBM Watson™ Studio, Chatmantics’ data scientist can undertake deep-dive analytics on the technical performance of the virtual assistants, quickly identify choke-points in conversations where customers don’t progress, and experiment to discover more effective conversation-flows.
“Watson Studio empowers one data scientist to do the same amount of analysis as five or ten people with traditional tools,” says Keith Scales. “That’s a huge advantage when you’re just launching your first product and you need to keep your team as tight as possible until you can get to market.”
With its platform set to launch publicly in January 2019, Chatmantics already has a long waiting list of companies eager to get on board.
Keith Scales concludes: “It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication for Chatmantics to get to the point where we’re ready to go public with our virtual assistants, and IBM has played an important role in helping us reach that milestone. We’re excited to see what lies ahead for Chatmantics in the years to come, and we look forward to continued growth, supported by IBM Watson solutions in the IBM Cloud.”
Chatmantics is a conversational automation platform that provides Assisted AI solutions to contact centers to effectively reduce the costs of customer acquisition and other customer interactions via Voice, SMS, email and social media channels.