Success Story

Building Virgin Media’s conversational selling machine

Virgin Media case study cover

Between 2016 and 2021, Virgin Media UK built a lean conversational selling machine with one goal — optimising digital sales-assisted conversions for the business. This Conversational Sales case study takes you on the journey the team has been on, automating and personalising conversations and delivering continuous customer experience improvements.

The journey in numbers

1M+

conversations per year

20%

incremental sales through messaging

0-100

bots created

42%

conversion rates

86%

CSAT

29%

reduction in CPA

1 in 5

sales are conversational

And that’s not all. Along with providing the lowest cost per acquisition (CPA) across the entire business with higher agent efficiency and automation, Virgin Media UK’s digital conversations are 25% more cost effective than analogue conversations. Plus, they have been able to retain CSAT and improve it to an average of 86% across all sales journeys for human-led conversations — and 74% for bot-led conversations.

It’s not just about effectiveness and customer satisfaction, either. As the stats above show, Virgin Media UK has made conversational selling pay off for their bottom line. For example, their out-of-hours bots assist with sales conversations to ensure no sales are lost when contact centres are closed, adding 10% incremental sales.


Let us take you on our journey to conversational selling success…

1. How it all started

conversation routing example

On 4th May 2016, the sales team launched web chat to support its digital operations. 100% of customer journeys were human agent-driven (on and offshore) and quickly achieved 1 in 7 sales made online.

The first bot went live on Black Friday 2018, marking another milestone for the team, and the start of an accelerated innovation path where each step provided a clear business case for the next move.

The pivot to Web Messaging came in Spring 2019. Learning from the experience of other brands in the LivePerson community, the team spent time operationalising and optimising asynchronous messaging. Once operations were sound, automation really began to scale — delivering 1 in 5 sales made online.

2. Finding the balance

LivePerson's conversational ai tools

The sales team puts laser focus on achieving the right balance between the agent’s ability to close and convert sales, CSAT, and automation. The Macro changes in 2020 fast-tracked our move to automation.

In the process of optimisation, the team uses LivePerson’s suite of tools as part of the Conversational Cloud platform — Intent Manager, Performance Optimizer, Conversation Assist, etc. — to help identify opportunities to make incremental improvements.

Getting that balance right means Virgin Media achieves the highest possible sales conversions across campaigns (up to 42%) while maintaining a strong CSAT score (86 points) and agent efficiency (concurrency, agent and Conversation Assist).

Automating parts of the sales conversation delivers clear efficiencies and frees up Virgin Media’s agents for the highest value and more emotive parts of the conversations. Automating more of the conversation may deliver more efficiency, but would see diminishing returns on value-based metrics, such as customer experience and sales conversion.

Today, Virgin Media UK has the following optimum level of automation, performance, efficiency, revenue, and CX metrics.

1M+

conversations per year

20%

incremental sales through messaging

86%

CSAT growth

29%

reduction in CPA

conversational selling with bot identifying intent at beginning

3. Catering to a mobile-first society

65% of Virgin Media’s customers engage on mobile devices. Since the launch of live chat in 2016, consumer behaviour and expectation has changed dramatically. While synchronous messaging is a tool that remains important (CSAT remains at 86% average), the team identified that in certain situations, consumers prefer true asynchronicity and, therefore, are better served in true messaging channels like WhatsApp.

General intents see the highest asynchronous conversation uptake. Conversations can take up to 45 minutes in mobile and are always served by both bot and human agents, getting the balance right. By shifting these conversations to WhatsApp, Virgin Media is achieving an average increase of 4 percentage points over the high conversion rates achieved in Web Messaging.

“We’ve set out to be more mobile, more personal, and intentional in how our customers connect with us. And the result is that customers convert at a higher rate, and are happiest with their experience in the mobile channel.”

~ Simon Perrin, Virgin Media Head of Sales

How bots and humans work together in conversational selling

Automation is a great tool to handle the functional elements of the conversation. The 100+ bots built by Virgin Media’s team are experts in their field — accurate, fast, and effective. They are managed by bot designers and conversational experts, continuously growing, tweaking, and improving the experience.

Virgin Media never leaves customers hanging — bots start every conversation and identify the customer’s intent. They route the conversation to the right agent (bot or human), at the right time. Virgin Media’s agents bring emotional intelligence and instinct to every conversation and are experts in closing the deal with their customers.

The synergy created between the two types of experts in this team is what makes them greater than the sum of its parts.

In early 2022, Virgin Media added a new tool to support agents — Conversation Assist — addressing particular pain points, such as:

  • Discovery Bot: captures accurate customer product requirements
  • T’s and C’s Bot: Relays terms and conditions of a sale
  • VMP Bot: Gauges a customer’s insurance needs relating to mobile device purchase

Within weeks, agents adopted the tool and successfully reduced handling time by 13.5% while growing sales further.

“Bots are designed for accuracy and speed; humans are masters of empathy and instinct — neither can replace the other. Together they generate synergy that ultimately drives unmatched business outcomes, CSAT, and agent job satisfaction.”

~ Chris Huggins, Virgin Media Senior Conversational Manager

15k+

bot recommendations / month

5 min

productivity savings / conversation

13.5%

reduction in agent handling time


Feeding the conversational selling machine

The machine is well-oiled with 35% more efficiency overall in agents and optimal balance between revenue and CSAT. 1 in 5 digital sales is already supported by LivePerson’s messaging and automation. Now the team is looking at the next level of growth and how to use the machine to drive incremental value.

Expansion to Conversational Care

Connecting the sales and care operations seamlessly has already led to a much better customer experience across the lifecycle — and with that, higher retention, re-engagement, and cross/upsell opportunities for Virgin Media in addition to the significant savings forecast through the move to conversational. This is where the team is putting its focus.