Calculating Voice Assistant ROI

A 2X ROI in year one? Just a small (and inevitable) shift in customer engagement is all that’s needed.

An AI-powered voice assistant can deliver cost savings and a better customer experience across sales and support. In this article I project the ROI delivered by this emerging technology.

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.

The inability to measure voice assistant ROI is a top barrier to adoption according to a March 2019, Adobe study. It shouldn’t be because calculating it is much the same as with an IVR system.

ROI (return on investment) is a financial metric that measures return relative to the cost to achieve it. Metrics not linked to money cannot be ROI indicators.

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 that produces a human first contact lasting about 3 minutes. That can be from a phone call or responding to a web based inquiry.

The private jet business ranges from small brokers and operators to fleet-level players. The ROI and breakeven numbers will differ in relation to how much it’s used. For a smaller company we’ll assume an agent handles 20 of these calls per day; 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/call = $1.35/call.

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

A SaaS platform, such as Planeviz, 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.

The caveat.

While the voice assistants of the major platforms (Google, Alexa, and eventually Siri) have a stellar future, it’s going to be a while before consumers are routinely using them for sales and support.

To help companies today, Planeviz has combined the AI-powered user experience with the convenience of a traditional dial-in IVR system. This delivers all the benefits of AI without the limitations, cost, and aggravation associated with a traditional IVR system. Of course, Planeviz works with the platform voice assistants too to accommodate early adopters.

The opportunity for companies to reduce cost and radically improve their customer experience is here now. AI-powered voice is one aspect of a complete systems that can deliver that today.