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How Bonfe is using call center voice AI for competitive differentiation

December 5, 2023


At PolyAI VOX 2023, we had the privilege of hosting a panel with industry experts using call center voice AI for a competitive edge. Bryan Delmont, Operations Manager at Bonfe, discussed how AI is driving innovation in the home services sector. Discover the key insights he shared about Bonfe’s strategic use of call center voice AI to disrupt the industry and improve the customer experience.

Striking the balance: Combining call center voice AI and human interaction

In a highly competitive industry like home services, standing out from the competition to drive revenue is essential.

“In our industry, a lot of my competition is leaning towards technology to be the one and only differentiator in their business,” says Bryan. “However, you need to be sure that you’ve got the right mix of technology and human interaction.

“So much technology out there is changing faster than we can implement it. Because of that, we need to move cautiously so we fully understand the benefits of new technology and how it will help our business and our customers.”

Bonfe’s integration of call center voice AI, particularly through their voice assistant ‘Alice,’ showcases their commitment to efficiency.

“AI has become very beneficial in helping us with automating routine tasks,” says Bryan. “By doing that, we’re opening up time for our employees to improve the customer experience over the phone and really being present so that they can improve that experience every day.”

Tackling seasonal challenges head-on

Operating in Minnesota, Bonfe faces extreme weather conditions, leading to unpredictable spikes in service demands.

“Our voice assistant has enabled us to handle the spikes we see in the hot and cold weather by taking over the simple, routine tasks,” says Bryan. “One of the best benefits we’ve seen so far is the voice assistant taking calls immediately, so customers have no wait time.”

And it’s not just customers impacted by seasonality. Without AI, Bonfe had to rely on overtime for customer service representatives.

“In the past, if you’re in a hot or cold spell that will last 2 to 3 weeks, people can only work 60 hours a week so long before they burn out. They start to give out incorrect and inconsistent information,” says Bryan.

“We can see that customers are calling, they’re waiting on hold, they’re hanging up, and they’re calling any of 50 competitors here in town. So, our marketing department is working extremely hard to get the phone to ring, but we’re not able to capitalize on that.”

Overcoming concerns: call center voice AI and personalization

A concern in Bonfe’s call center voice AI adoption process came as a result of poor previous experiences with automated systems.

“Whenever the owner of our company calls for a service, he needs to speak to a human being,” says Bryan. “He loves talking to people. He doesn’t like automated systems at all.”

If Bonfe was going to integrate a voice assistant into its customer service operations, it needed to be on-brand and trustworthy.

“With our industry, people are very personal and private about their homes,” says Bryan. “It’s a very close thing to their hearts. When they call someone for service, they need someone they can trust. They need to have a relationship.”

Bonfe also needed to gain its customers’ confidence.

“Our fear was that if we had an automated system answering the phone, customers would not feel that relationship and that they would hang up immediately,” says Bryan. “But we found in the last month that most of our customers don’t know Alice is an automated system.”

Advice for those looking to create a competitive advantage using call center voice AI

“Determine where your pain points are and then look for a solution,” Bryan advises. “Don’t simply look for AI solutions to problems you may or may not have.

“When GPT first came out, I was using it for anything and everything. I eventually learned that it can be an incredible tool if used to solve specific problems. Once I narrowed down what I needed to accomplish, GPT and other AI solutions became much more valuable to me.”

Looking forward: AI’s role in outbound calls

Looking forward, Bryan outlined Bonfe’s plans for the future with AI.

“We need to make sure our customers are kept up to date throughout the day with when our service techs are going to be getting to their homes.”

“We have an entire staff of people making phone calls to do that. So, our plan is to get Alice set up so that she can start making those calls for us. If customers need to reschedule or change an appointment, she’ll be able to integrate with our CRM and make those changes.”

This strategic move aims to use AI for customer updates, allowing human employees to focus on more complex and empathetic customer interactions.

By embracing technology while preserving the personal touch, Bonfe is not just keeping up with the industry—it’s disrupting it, setting a new standard for efficiency and customer satisfaction.

Thank you so much to Bryan for joining us at PolyAI VOX! You can watch all the talks on-demand now here.

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