AI powered voice bots are helping untangle the increasingly complex web of channels, customers and devices that make up modern-day contact centres. The technology, which can more accurately and efficiently understand customer intent, is delivering a better experience but must come as part of a holistic technology strategy, according to a new Which-50 whitepaper.
As contact centres have evolved – incorporating email, chat and social media with phone calls – so too has the challenge for businesses. Knowing your customer today means understanding a myriad of channels and devices, and using that data in real-time to understand their intent and deliver an outstanding experience.
“They are contact centres – managing contact from customers across channels as varied as email, social media, webchat, SMS, video, in-app messaging and phone,” says Sharon Melamed the founder of Matchboard, an independent marketplace for contact centre and technology-based service solutions.
According to Melamed it is critical to keep customers’ service experience seamless and consistent through a multichannel approach. And, she says, voice calls are making a comeback because advances in voice bots mean they can do just that.
Contemporary Contact Centres
Typically customers calling a contact centre have been asked to navigate an Interactive Voice Response (IVR), a set of menu options used to guide the customer down a set of predefined options. More recently customers have been presented with Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems. Users are presented with a message that says something like: “In a few words, tell us the reason why you are calling. For example, if you are calling for a billing enquiry, just say “billing”.
But improvements in AI and machine learning and acceptance by customers of voice bots like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant have also propelled a new approach to contact centres: natural language understanding.
Using natural language understanding voice bots can understand customers’ intent based on their natural conversations, removing the need for keypad menus or reliance on certain keywords.
The technology is becoming an important tool for organisations to empathise with their customers, according to Dave Flanagan, Director, Digital & Conversational AI – ANZ region at Genesys, a global customer experience and contact centre technology provider.
“To truly understand your customer, you need to not only understand what they are trying to achieve at that moment but also the context of how they got there.
“When we look at this through the lens of a virtual agent, we must ensure the agent can leverage all available data points.”
Flanagan says organisations need to think carefully about their technology strategy for contact centres and urges them to take a holistic approach.
“Choosing the right contact centre technology requires a well-considered strategy. You can’t think of different technologies in isolation — you need them to work in concert to deliver the best possible experience for both customers and staff.”
The right technology means resolving more customer calls with automation, freeing up human agents for more complex queries.
“Leave the machines to deal with monotonous routine inquiries and let humans enjoy using their unique skills of empathy, creativity and thinking outside the box to help each other,” says Matchboard’s Melamed.
“In other words, technology is key to enabling more meaningful, satisfying and challenging work, which humans love.”
This article was produced for Genesys by the Which-50 Digital Intelligence Unit. Membership fees apply.