When customers interact with a contact centre, chances are they have a very specific task they want to achieve. That is why correctly understanding a customer is only half the battle, and agents must also be able to act upon their requests quickly and effectively.

While getting it wrong can compound customers’ frustration, getting it right means a chance at converting customers into new “evangelists”.

Virtual agents and automation make it easier for customers to achieve their contact centre tasks seamlessly, provided the customer-facing systems are well integrated into backend systems like CRM, billing, and marketing platforms.

And emerging technology like conversational interactive voice response (IVR) has the potential to further simplify this integration and incorporate even more capabilities.

A new approach to integration

The process starts with speech to text, where the system converts the user’s audio input to a text string, says Dave Flanagan, Director, Digital & Conversational AI — ANZ region at Genesys, a leading provider of cloud customer experience and contact centre solutions. The text is then processed using natural language understanding.

“Once we understand the user’s request, we can automate fulfilment, or we may hand the conversation over to a human agent,” Flanagan explains in a new whitepaper, “How Conversational AI Improves Customer Service”.

The intelligent application of AI and automation will take care of a lot of repetitive and easy-to-handle types of scenarios. And AI can underpin self-serve options for users, so they are correctly routed to where they need to be, or direct them so they are talking to the right agents at the right time.

Contact centre technology like Genesys’s has been buoyed by recent advances in AI and machine learning, using conversational interactive voice response and speech to text to power seamless customer interactions.

In modern contact centres, a customer’s identity can be determined automatically by incoming number recognition, voice recognition, biometrics or speech to text conversion of the stated identity, says Cem Ozguven, author of Human Minded Care: Your Pathway to your Customer’s Heart.

Cem Ozguven, author of “Human Minded Care”

“This reduces customer effort by eliminating the need for customers to listen to multiple IVRs and press numbers to navigate through the phone tree and reach the right agent,”

According to Ozguven, the name of the game for contact organisations today is to “offer customers sufficient options and facilitate their conversion into evangelists”.

However, Genesys’s Flanagan says many companies have spent years building out a long list of self-service capabilities within their Interactive Voice Responses (IVR). The problem is that with each new addition comes further complexity for the customer.

According to Flanagan, “There may be great capabilities buried within your IVR, but you are putting all the effort onto your customer when trying to accomplish what may be a simple task.

“By implementing conversational IVRs, companies can leverage many of those existing capabilities by removing the complexity and providing immediate access, resulting in a much better experience for your customer.”

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