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The cost of not implementing a voice assistant

March 14, 2023

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We first launched a PolyAI voice assistant in April 2021 to answer front-desk calls at the Golden Nugget Las Vegas property. We’ve since taught the assistant to take hotel room reservations over the phone, and expanded across all Golden Nugget properties.

In January this year, one of our properties nominated our PolyAI voice assistant for employee of the month. While it was mentioned in jest, it highlights the value the voice assistant is proving to our contact center.

So two years after our initial deployment, I thought it would be helpful to share the impact the assistant has had on our bottom line.

Cost considerations for conversational assistants

For me, the question isn’t what it cost to implement a voice assistant. The real question is what it would have cost to NOT implement one. Let me explain…

In January, we handled 36,000 calls for one of our properties.

The voice assistant contained around 33% of these, with a 5-minute average call handle time. Within the 12,000 calls contained were 3,000 hotel room reservations made by customers, over the phone and without them needing to speak with an agent.

Cost considerations are two-fold:

1. What is the cost of staffing vs automating?

The voice assistant is at 100% utilization, meaning we only pay for it when it is on a call, and it works 24/7 and never calls out sick or takes a vacation.

In January, it spent 60,000 minutes on calls (12,000 calls x 5 minutes AHT).

If we assume a cost of $0.25 per minute, that’s a total of $9,000.

A very efficient call center may run at about 65% utilization, but under 50% is more typical, especially in smaller contact centers.

This means that a highly efficient call center would require 92,308 minutes (60,000/.65), or 1,538 staffed hours to handle the same 12,000 calls.

If you pay your agents $20/hr all inclusive of taxes and benefits your cost to handle those calls is $30,760.

That’s $21,760 saved each month, or $261,120 saved a year, by using a voice assistant.

2. What is the revenue produced?

The voice assistant isn’t just saving us money, it’s also actively producing revenue.

In January, PolyAI booked about 3,000 reservations for one hotel. At 2 nights per reservation and $100/night rate that’s $600,000 in revenue.

Without the voice assistant, my staff would not have been able to answer all of those calls. If those callers abandoned and went somewhere else (which they do!), I would have potentially missed out on about $600,000 in revenue in just one month. That’s about $7.2m a year!

Conclusion

Of course, not every customer will abandon if they can’t get through to an agent right away. The alternative is waiting on hold for 40+ minutes to book a room and this is not the experience I want for our guests.

Many people look at the cost to implement a voice assistant, but they also need to look at what are they losing if they don’t.

The first step in providing a great customer experience is to answer the phone. We reduced our abandons from 40%+ to 10% and average wait times from 40+ min to under 5 min by adding a voice assistant.

My advice to anybody considering implementing a voice assistant would be to focus on driving a better customer experience. When the experience is right, cost savings and revenue increases will follow.


About the author

Brian Jeppesen is currently the Director of Contact Center Operations at Landry’s corporate office in Houston, Texas. Landry’s is a multinational, diversified restaurant, hospitality, gaming, and entertainment conglomerate. Prior to that Brian served as the Divisional Vice President of Operations for Alorica. Alorica specializes in contact center services, customer service experience, and business process outsourcing. Brian has more than 35 years’ experience in the hospitality, contact center and BPO space.

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