February 4, 2021
It took less than a year for pharmaceutical companies to develop Covid-19 vaccines. That’s near miraculous. But vaccines are no good if they’re not efficiently distributed and administered, which is exactly what’s happening in the United States. Only a tiny fraction of the country’s 330 million residents have so far been jabbed (as they say across the pond), but it’s not for lack of supply. Communication is garbled. Logistical snafus abound. Millions of doses are even missing. All of which has people deeply and understandably concerned. Consequently, government and healthcare call centers are being inundated by information seekers and their already over-worked agents taxed to the max.
Fortunately, we live in the age of IVAs — Intelligent Virtual Agents. Are they as smart as humans? Not yet. But they’re excellent at answering frequently asked questions and fulfilling simple requests (which comprise the majority of call center traffic) so their human counterparts are freed up to deal with more complex issues – and maybe grab an occasional snack.
In the beginning, IVAs were rudimentary “chatbots” that relied on early speech recognition technology to provide low-level reactive assistance. But they’ve come a long way since then. As Kleid Gjataj, principal consultant at Mindsight, an IT Services provider specializing in contact centers, recently said, “IVA capabilities have gotten so sophisticated that consumers can often get what they need without ever talking to a human agent.” Workflow automation enables the IVA to retrieve information from relevant sources and provide the answer using human sounding speech technology. Sometimes this speech technology is indistinguishable from a human agent. Increasingly organizations are adopting IVAs because they are a fraction of the cost of human agents and can often perform the same tasks just as well.
Besides disseminating accurate information to constituents and patients, IVAs have also made vaccine access more equitable by allowing callers to schedule vaccinations by phone — a boon to those without internet access. They’re specially trained to deal with vaccination-related issues, too, so specific questions get specific responses rather than general ones that merely spark more questions.
And because a caller’s contact information is collected during the initial IVA interaction, human agents are no longer needed to schedule first appointments or second vaccinations, which are automated and personalized. This hybrid system — which creates a single source of data collection, information dissemination and program handling metrics — is more efficient and significantly less expensive.
Among the growing number of companies that provide IVA services, Mindsight partner Xaqt has lately sharpened its focus on vaccination communication, establishing and managing contact centers that can handle 30% more calls with the same number of agents and respond to requests in real time. One of its clients, the Kansas City Public Health Department, quickly deployed Xaqt’s IVAs (using existing phone lines) to help juggle pandemic-related call center traffic — with measurable results.
“IVAs are so much easier — and faster — to train and deploy than traditional contact centers are,” says Kleid Gjataj, Principal Consultant at Mindsight. “They can provide healthcare and government entities the required workforce and technology to handle all the vaccination communications in a timely manner across multiple communication channels. No need to hire, train and retain employees. No need to sign long term contracts or deploy a contact center platform. Xaqt’s Vaccination Solution is a true turnkey solution.”
Mindsight, a Chicago IT services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We have one of the largest expert-level engineering teams delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from cloud to infrastructure, collaboration to contact center. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.
Contact us at GoMindsight.com.
About the Expert
Kleid Gjataj is a Principal Consultant at Mindsight, an IT Solutions and Consulting firm located in the Chicago area. With nearly 15 years of experience in both domestic and international consulting, Kleid has helped contact centers of all sizes to bridge the gap between business and technology. His extensive experience with IVR, ACD, screen pop, omnichannel, speech analytics, quality management, outbound dialer, and custom applications is grounded in understanding the critical value of the customer journey. Kleid earned his degree in Network and Communications Management and continues to focus on how contact center optimization helps businesses meet goals, increase efficiencies, and reduce costs.
“I Need Help Now!”: The Rise in Rapid Response Virtual Agents