Calculating Voice Assistant ROI

The inability to measure voice assistant ROI is a top barrier to adoption according to a March 2019, Adobe study.

An AI-powered voice assistant can deliver cost savings and a better customer experience across sales and support.

For our purposes, voice ROI is defined as AI-powered conversation; it doesn’t matter how the customer/prospect engages with voice—dial-in telephone or a platform AI service such as Google and Alexa.

Maddening as they are, IVR systems have some advantages over AI-powered voice: the associated business processes and tech are well known and IVRs are a safe technology; you don’t see articles featuring the latests IVR gaff.

AI systems, however, offer a degree of personalization and relevance–and customer experience–that an IVR system can’t match.

ROI (return on investment) is a financial metric that measures return relative to the cost to achieve it.

To keep it simple I’ll ignore human support costs like office space and equipment. Suffice it to say that ROI increases as those costs decrease.

Pricing shown is for illustration only and may not reflect actual pricing. Planeviz is a travel tech company so we will use jet charter for this analysis.

The typical sales inquiry starts with a quote request handled by a person either by phone call or by responding to a web form inquiry. This first contact takes about 3 minutes to process.

Variable Costs
The ROI and breakeven numbers will differ in proportion to how much voice is used. For a smaller company we’ll assume an agent handles 20 of these calls per day and 80 per day at a large one.

US-based jet operators and brokers typically employ US-based sales agents so we’ll use an all-in labor cost of $27 per hour.

That comes to $1.35 per contact. $27/hr divided by 60 minutes = $0.45 per minute; at 3 minutes per call = $1.35/call.

$1.35 * 20 calls per day * 30 days = $810/mo for these phone calls at SmallerCo, and $3240/mo at LargeCo.

Fixed Costs
A hypothetical SaaS platform enables private jet and travel management companies to deploy their voice assistant for $450/mo plus a setup fee of $750 for SmallCo and $1000/mo plus $1500 setup for LargeCo.

The first year cost for this service then is (450*12)+750 = $6150 for SmallCo and (1000*12)+1500 = $13,500 at LargeCo.

For simplicity, let’s assume that all of these phone calls are handled by an AI-powered voice assistant:

SmallCo ROI 158%
$6150 cost/$810 per month saved = ~7.6 months to break even.
$810 saved * 12 = $9720; less $6150 = $3570 net saved in year one.
The first year ROI is $9720/$6150 = 1.58 or 158%. Nice.

With the same call volume, employee costs, and no on-boarding cost, year 2 ROI is 188%.

LargeCo ROI 288%
Using the same math as above:
4.2 months to break even with an ROI of 288%.
$13,500 spent to handle what would have cost $38,880.

Your own ROI and breakeven are even better when cost per call is higher; $5-$6 per call is routine in a customer support context.

Every time a person uses a voice assistant to play a song, check notifications, or asks a GPS app to take them somewhere reinforces the expectation of an interactive voice experience everywhere else. The opportunity for a company to improve ROI while retaining a favorable customer experience is here now.

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