Intelligent Virtual Agent Adoption Across Industries 2020 01
Article Customer Experience Popular 7 min read

Intelligent Virtual Agent Adoption Across Industries (2020)

27 Intelligent Virtual Agent Figures & Statistics

There’s no doubt that 2020 put businesses through the wringer, but one exciting outcome was the widespread adoption of Intelligent Virtual Agents (IVA). Powered by AI, these helpful bots are being placed by more and more companies at the frontline of their customer service.

Why the sudden adoption? Total necessity. Customer service calls increased by 20%, according to one study, and at one point, hold times grew by an incredible 34%. Another study found that the average company saw the percentage of their calls scored as “difficult” more than double, from the standard 10% to 20%. Contact centers across the globe were slammed, and it was either automate or bust. The smartest ones opted for the former—coupled with AI.

The reason AI is key here is that this is the tech that separates the old-generation chatbots from 2020’s sleek IVAs. Powered by AI technology, today’s IVAs can read, understand and respond in natural human language, can interpret multiple customer intents, and can even handle complex process automation with ease.

In this article, we’ll check out how various industries have responded to and adopted IVAs since the start of the covid-19 outbreak. Let’s take a look.

>> Learn all about IVAs here.

IVA Adoption Across the Globe

Today’s IVAs are now taking over conversational services for customer service teams across the world, with no sign of slowing down.

  • The global IVA market held a value of $3.44 billion USD in 2019. This figure is projected to reach $44.3 billion by 2027, representing a CAGR of 37.7%.
  • The global IVA market is expected to grow by 70% in 2022 alone.
  • It’s predicted that by 2022, IVAs could help cut global business expenses by over $8 billion per year.
  • According to Gartner, 70% of professional, desk, managerial or administrative workers will interact with IVA technology on a daily basis by 2022.

IVA Adoption in Healthcare

Without the help of AI, the average patient was spending around 30 minutes searching for their desired information on a healthcare site, while the average nurse was spending an hour a day attempting to connect patients with the correct doctor. Healthcare service providers have thus turned to IVAs to help them deal with the demands of this crisis.

  • In April 2020, the WHO launched its WHO Health Alert platform on Facebook Messenger, to increase the reach of its instant and accurate information on covid-19.
  • IBM’s Watson Assistant, which was offered to governments, healthcare organisations and research institutes for a 90-day trial during the pandemic, saw a 40% increase in traffic from February to April 2020.
  • The Colombian government customized Watson into “Cory,” an IVA trained to answer 40 unique questions related to covid-19. Cory can now answer a total of 220 questions on topics that range from international travel guidance, virus prevention tactics, and government policies. The IVA assists with 11,000 interactions each month.
  • Across the pond in Singapore, Doctor Covid is an IVA designed by SingHealth and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research to improve the communication with 3,000 patients in community care facilities.

IVA Adoption in the Travel Industry

The travel industry had a challenging year, to say the least. As countries shut their doors to international travelers to help stop the spread of the pandemic, support centers the world over were flooded with trip refund requests, angry and concerned queries from stranded passengers, and the like. Luckily, IVAs swooped in to help these inundated companies cope.

  • FlightHub and JustFly met the influx of travel refund requests with IVAs that could process most requests without agent input -- handling up to 200 refunds per hour.
  • 60% of airline and airport employees expect investment in automation and deployment of AI to rise.
  • An IVA called AirChat combines AI and machine learning to deliver personalized messages to travelers, and is being used to serve stranded passengers in need of key flight information. This IVA assisted with an increased communication channel volume of more than 500%.
  • AirAsia’s IVA, AVA, handled up to 10 times the normal number of queries -- up to 500,000 per day in April 2020. Together with Air Asia’s social media channels, AVA processed an incredible 40 million travel inquiries between January and August 2020.
  • WestJet’s Juliet helped the airline handle a 1,671% increase in ticket volume on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp during the early weeks of the pandemic outbreak. During that period, Juliet fully resolved 87% of the tickets she processed.
  • Iberia airline’s IVA, iBot, handled 45,000 requests per day during the pandemic. In March 2020, it handled an incredible 450,000 messages, representing an increase of 300% from February levels, and successfully resolved 72% of the inquiries it received. What’s more, the bot handled a further 250,000 messages across other platforms in March, with a success rate of 88%.

IVA Adoption in eCommerce

Covid has launched the eCommerce industry fast into the future. Now that branded IVAs are taking over as shopping assistants, customers —who have been doing their shopping online more than ever throughout the pandemic by necessity — can get their retail requests processed more effectively, and faster than ever with the help of IVAs.

  • The number of customers using self-service tools while shopping online increased by 86% from March to May 2020.
  • Pre-covid, retail sales from chatbots and IVAs was forecasted to reach $112 billion USD. Post-covid, this figure looks likely to grow “multifold”.
  • By 2023, it’s projected that the value of IVA eCommerce transactions will reach $112 billion.

IVA Adoption in the Financial and Banking Industry

There is more hesitancy towards adoption of IVAs in the financial and banking industry, due to concerns about privacy of sensitive information. That said, even this apprehensive industry began plugging into the powers of the IVA, to help them handle the overload of questions from concerned customers surrounding pandemic-related changes to loans and grants. As we move into 2021, most financial institutions have launched or are piloting chatbots or IVAs in some capacity.

  • One study found that as many as 33% of European and American customers trust IVAs to handle simple financial tasks.
  • Over two-thirds of the world’s top financial firms have a chatbot or IVA on their app, and slightly fewer deploy them on their websites.
  • During lockdown in India, the use of chatbots and IVAs doubled in the banking and financial sector.
  • India’s Fincare Small Finance Bank replaced its menu-driven service with a multilingual IVA that could handle customer inquiries in English, Hindi, and Hinglish, and process them with secure and accurate responses. The number of customers who used the self service thus multiplied by 2.5x.
  • One bank in Argentina closed the doors to its physical office when covid struck. This bank still managed to handle its 2.7 million clients —coupled with the overwhelming number of inquiries these clients were making to its support team with the help of its IVA Gala, which is now assisting 90% of the bank’s self-service inquiries.
  • It’s predicted that, when it comes to IVA-driven customer communication, IVA integration in mobile banking apps will be the leading channel, accounting for 79% of successful interactions in 2023.

IVA Adoption in the Insurance Industry

The insurance industry, with its mounds of data and complexities, is one that stands to massively benefit from IVAs. Yet, with legacy systems and longstanding (often messy) processes, it’s one that has been slower to adopt the new technology. Once these hurdles are overcome, though, IVAs are set to be massive disruptors in this space.

  • It’s predicted that by 2026, AI in insurance will rise to a value of $36 billion USD. Chatbots will make up 40% of this market, working mostly within customer service roles.
  • Over 40% of insurers surveyed worldwide by Cognizant have implemented some sort of IVA or chatbot technology. Of these, Europe had the highest volume of basic maturity chatbots.
  • AI technology, including IVAs, will lead to cost savings of nearly $1.3 billion by 2023, across motor, life, property, and health insurance. This is a huge increase from the $300 million the industry was worth in 2019.

Running the numbers, it’s clear that IVAs are here to stay, and will only become more prominent in just about every industry you can think of as we climb our way through the new decade. Customer service teams in healthcare, travel, eCommerce, finance and banking, and insurance, will welcome the help of IVAs as they come on board to take on the tedious, repetitive inquiries — particularly in times of crisis, as we have been in the thick of throughout the past year.

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