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Virtually Speaking

How Conversational AI Will Fuel Contact Centers in 2020

Posted by Next IT on Feb 18, 2020 10:15:00 AM


Conversational AI is evolving all around us, with more and more companies adopting this smart technology to assist customers.

Contact centers, in particular, are moving toward conversational AI adoption, and it’s all but certain that this intelligence will continue to influence live text and voice chat this year.

What is Conversational AI?

To simplify, conversational AI is artificial intelligence designed to hold a conversation with a person. It’s technology that can understand and naturally respond to everyday chats, from casual banter to more complex inquiries.

For instance, if you engaged with an online chatbot even a few years ago, you might not have expected the intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) to have understood anything beyond specific inquiries about the website’s particular products or services. Certain questions would have paralyzed the interaction — as it was not programmed to handle such abstract, off-the-script queries. Modern-day conversational AI, however, is capable of much more astounding response-ability as many IVAs today possess intent recognition and contextual understanding. 

Whether through text-to-text chat boxes or interactive voice response (IVR) systems, today’s conversational AI solutions are often able to converse seamlessly with large numbers of people — only transferring a user to a human representative if necessary to complete the interaction. This technology can simultaneously perform tasks in a way only humans have traditionally been able to and is now influencing how organizations operate.

Conversational AI & Contact Centers: What’s To Come

Conversational AI is transforming the way your customers (and employees) interact with your business and your brand.  In our previous post, “What 2019 Taught Us About Conversational AI & Enterprise Chatbots,” we discuss how drastically AI adoption has shifted in this past year alone and offered predictions about its continued growth.

For 2020, we see a high probability that conversational AI will affect contact centers, in particular. Here are a few things you might expect to see:

1. More companies will adopt zero-footprint contact centers

By “zero-footprint contact centers,” we mean centers without live agents. With advancements in conversational AI technology and its ability to handle complexity and deliver timely, intelligent support, there is sure to be a shift away from live phone and chat representatives in the not-so-far-off future.

In fact, the transition away from live reps is already happening, with major companies joining the movement. The airline AirAsia, for instance, made a controversial move this past year to shut down its nine voice call centers in lieu of messaging and voice-based artificial intelligence.

The airline’s Chief Customer Happiness Officer Adam Geneave said the decision to front-line their chatbot Ava was “because what we've learned is (that) nobody wants to sit on hold to a voice call center anymore. Life is about messaging.”

AirAsia’s shift demonstrates AI's ability to transform customer service strategies. In this whitepaper, Contact Centers in 2030: A Look in the Future, DMG Consulting predicts a 65 percent probability that live-agent free contact centers will replace 35 percent of existing servicing environments within the next 10 years.

2. Interactive voice response systems will modernize to enable fast, more conversational voice experiences

Some call centers already use an IVR system. Traditional IVRs often “speak” in prerecorded voice responses, understand keypad signal logic (like if you press 8, it knows where to redirect you), and can pull and relay relevant data (like your account information such as credit card balance).

However, IVRs have come a long way over the years and now come in the form of conversational IVR: voice-driven technology that utilizes Natural Language Understanding (NLU) to understand spoken words. Voice-enabled IVAs hold authentic conversations with customers (as opposed to disjointed prerecorded and pressed cues), continuing to evolve and blur the separation between technology and human interaction.

Today’s modern IVRs — like our Alme® Voice solution — help to mitigate live call center interactions, and we believe that AI-enabled intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) will continue to work in tandem to support digital channels.

3. Customers (and even contact center reps) will start to prefer conversational AI 

Intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs) can often be so effective that people prefer them over actual live interactions with CSRs in numerous circumstances. Instead of having to wait for a live agent to research an answer — “Let me check on that for you. Can I put you on a brief hold?”— an IVA can provide an immediate response.

For today's call centers, this is the reality: customers want instant support and resolution, and smart technology delivers just that. It's pertinent for companies to embrace conversational AI — to improve customer experience and satisfaction. Conversational AI creates a more stable and sustainable bridge between businesses and the customers they serve – because conversation builds trust.

In situations where a real person is still needed, contact center employees will be able to work in tandem with an IVA to improve the user experience. Learn more about How AI Can Improve Employee Performance here.

Conversational AI becomes a driving force for businesses by enabling humans and computer systems to interact in real-time. With the ability to elevate customer and employee interactions in magnitude, organizations will make vast strides in top- and bottom-line results. 

In the near future, more and more contact centers will continue to leverage AI to better support their internal agents, providing them with immediate, accurate, and consistent resolution. Companies that don't adopt self-service solutions will likely fall behind the competition.

Think Ahead with More AI Predictions

Keep up with the future of conversational AI by downloading this DMG Consulting whitepaper, Contact Centers in 2030: A Look in the Future, with a series of predictions about what contact centers are going to look like ten years from now.

Download your eBook Now

Topics: Conversational AI