How an AI-Powered, Managed Virtual Agent Saved ClickFunnels Millions in Support Costs
Founded in 2014, ClickFunnels’ suite of software products helps entrepreneurs easily set up online businesses, with tools to create websites and build sales funnels. As noted on the company’s website, ClickFunnels is “the fastest growing, non-VC-backed, tech startup in the world, growing from $0-$100 million in just 3 years.”
The Search for Intelligent Automation
With such incredible growth, the company’s customer service was having a hard time keeping pace. Mark Bangerter, ClickFunnels’ Director of Customer Support, was in need of a new approach to manage the growing number of support contacts while continuing to deliver high customer satisfaction.
“It’s been amazing to witness hyper-growth, and has brought with it the need to rapidly scale our support operations to keep up.”
In the team’s first attempt to scale, the company implemented a simple automation solution via a support website chatbot that suggested knowledgebase articles relating to customer inquiries. Initial results showed some promise but the solution itself was limited. It could only serve up knowledge base articles and didn’t include any AI/machine learning, so it couldn’t be optimized. The solution also was fragmented — some of the inquiries that came in via the chat interface were handled by the bot while others were handled by human agents.
“We were still needing to hire new support agents at a rapid pace. We knew there was more opportunity to automate, we just needed to find the right strategic partner.”
A Unified Messaging Experience
Mark and his team’s priority was to enable customers to get support and the answers they needed instantly — so that they could return to using the product and running their businesses. To do so, they wanted to consolidate bot and agent interactions into a single, unified digital messaging experience.
“Our primary goal was to increase our automation rate while improving CSAT, and we believed that the best way to do this was to provide a single pane of glass experience for our users. A single messaging channel fully supported by AI and the contact center.”
Partnering with Directly
Working with Directly, Mark and ClickFunnels implemented our Managed Virtual Agent. The Directly solution was integrated with ClickFunnels’ Zendesk helpdesk and tech stack. The intelligent virtual agent analyzes every customer interaction, instantly understands the customer’s intent, and then immediately determines how to best serve the customer.
In most cases, the virtual agent serves up an automated answer to the customer. These automated answers are written by ClickFunnels’ loyal product experts. These specific answers address the most common customer issues, and are served automatically with a high confidence match to the customer question, or “intent.”
The virtual agent also has the ability to serve ClickFunnels knowledgebase articles when there is a high confidence match. When a customer question doesn’t match to an existing intent, the VA immediately escalates the customer inquiry to human support.
When human support is needed, ClickFunnels uses Directly’s Expert Answers solution, which leverages machine learning to route questions to ClickFunnels’ product experts, who then troubleshoot the issues in real time. These product experts and in-house agents can both seamlessly join the same messaging channel to efficiently resolve customer questions.
The results after implementing Directly were dramatic. The virtual agent achieved a containment rate of 55% — i.e. it completely resolved customer issues — within the first month. Total combined automation containment rate, including Directly’s Expert Answers, has reached 80%. Meanwhile, CSAT scores surpassed 90%. And the ROI from the project is estimated to exceed 2 million dollars annually.
Mark and the ClickFunnels team were blown away by the initial results.
“Directly has been an incredible partner, and if anything, significantly underpromised and overdelivered. We were hoping for a 30% automation rate, and we’re now closing in on 60% bot containment and 80% with Directly overall.”
Moving forward, Mark and team are looking forward to further enhancing the customer experience and continuing to train the virtual agent to handle new and evolving customer issues.
With Directly as our partner, we’re no longer concerned about keeping up with hyper-growth. We’re really looking forward to see how far we can take this.