March 3, 2021

Best Strategy Redefinition during the Pandemic: CIEE’s story

To keep their operation running smoothly during the move to remote work, CIEE (Center for Business-School Integration) centered their strategy on conversational AI. As they organized the temporary closure of three in-person call centers, their 600+ customer support agents welcomed a new coworker: Aivo’s conversational bot.

For their 15-day solution implementation action plan, CIEE was recognized in the Aivo Awards category for Best Strategy Redefinition during the Pandemic. To find out more about this successful experience, Aivo’s CRO, Everton Alves, spoke with Bruno Melo, CIEE’s Central Operations Supervisor. Here are the main takeaways from the chat.

Speed and efficiency: 15 days for a new action plan 

CIEE is a traditional organization in Brazil in terms of customer service. What's the impact of the customer experience on your work?

Before, in-person support was scattered across the country and there was just one center that provided support exclusively to the city of São Paulo. In the last few years, we decided to create an operations center with a single phone number to support all of Brazil in order to be closer to our audience, students and businesses alike.

I've worked in CX for more than 16 years, but I think the main lesson came in 2020 with the pandemic. I never moved a project as fast as this one: we changed the voice channel to chat (which we didn’t even have) in 15 days. You supported us and it was a “two-person” job between CIEE and Aivo. Maintaining the quality of service was very interesting. It really was a success story.

Related article: CIEE automates their customer service in 15 days with excellent outcomes

How was it changing during the pandemic and why are digital support channels important at this time?

We had the chat project to implement in the long term. It shouldn’t have been so quick. But then the pandemic came in March and we had to speed it up, first by looking after employee safety and then guaranteeing the continuity of customer service. How did we do it? We sent all our employees to work from home and maintain service quality. Aivo was fundamental in the chatbot implementation process and later in providing the service license to everyone. When we first moved, the equipment that would work with the voice part still wasn't working in remote home offices, and support the first week was 100% chat, but phones were up and running by the second week.

To a large extent, it was because of Aivo’s support in the project’s overall design. You broke that paradigm of the bot being just a “yes” or “no” support robot. We built humanized support with the FAQs that we already had, and Aivo helped us accomplish it in record time.

We realized everyone’s concerns and saw that the search for new internship vacancies came to a halt in March and April because everybody was really worried about staying at home. Later, as the business processes also stabilized, we started to grow again and now it’s safer to search for a new opportunity.

Related article: Simple management and fast implementation: key when choosing customer service solutions

During this time of uncertainty, I think about how important it was to add empathy to that support, so that even digitally, the humanized experience would still be respected.

That’s a really big challenge. Thinking as a customer, it really bothers me when I go to any self-service “yes” or “no” bot. You don’t feel appreciated. The idea was to replicate our in-person or phone support experience through the bot, always speaking naturally. At CIEE, we care a lot about being welcoming to or customers and we want a human face for our support, which is why we understood that the bot should follow that same format with a fluid, unscripted conversation.

The biggest job wasn't implementing the bot, but actually knowing which questions still weren't being answered once it was implemented. That’s why we have an app dedicated to detecting the main questions, seeing if the way of answering is correct, and if the customer likes it - to get that fluidity, even when interacting with the bot. People want to be supported well. Today we have almost 90% retention with interactions in the chat and the bot itself, and only 10% need a transfer to a human agent.

We were looking for a humanized bot, and Aivo was the only one where we could visualize how fluid that chat was going to be. It wasn’t support from a robot with a “yes” or “no” box: “are you a student?”, “yes”, then you go to the next one, like a support flow. You made that conversational issue very clear, and that was really important because our vision isn't to be robotic or create a machine. Just the opposite, we want to humanize support and do it on a much bigger scale. Today, phone support is available from Monday to Friday, but the bot works every day, at all hours. Students are supported at any time; they don’t have to limit themselves to the support center’s schedule.

Do you know about our standout customers of 2020?

Check the complete list of Aivo Awards and learn the story behind their conversational bots. If you want to implement our technology into your customer service strategy, schedule a call with one of our representatives.


Are you looking for new ways to improve your CX?

Our customer service solutions powered by conversational AI can help you deliver an efficient, 24/7 experience  to your customers. Get in touch with one of our specialists to further discuss how they can help your business.