Do you remember the last time you called an 800 number and experienced the run around you get when attempting to follow the prompts? Were the menus confusing? Did the speech recognition feature clearly understand your responses? Did you provide the automated system with your account details and had to repeat it again for the customer service representative?
Most of these complaints stem from the traditional interactive voice response (IVR) systems, which have limitations. Combined with modern artificial intelligence (AI) technology, IVRs can work smarter and we have started to see a change in the contact center industry. Newer technology like chatbots, natural language processing and speech analysis are making automation friendlier for the customer while also improving productivity.
Chatbots interact with customers via text in a natural, conversational way. They can be used to answer simple questions or troubleshoot more complex problems. What makes chatbots, unlike tools such as Siri, so exciting is that they learn from previous conversations and use that information to make suggestions about what you might need or want.
Natural Language Processing
Natural language processing, or NLP, is the AI technology that allows computers to understand human speech as we actually speak it. Old IVR technology could only understand simple words and phrases like “operator” or “pay my bill,” while NLP picks up on complex phrases like “I have a strange fee on my bill that I don’t understand” or “I need to change my shipping address.”
Customers no longer have to guess at the exact word or phrase a computer might understand to be routed to the correct department; they just speak like they would to a human.
Speech analysis can be used to understand not just what customers say but what kind of mood they’re in. Modern call center technology can detect when a caller is angry or frustrated so representatives are prepared to respond to those moods. Calls from irate customers can be routed to representatives who are more experienced, or those who have proven success diffusing situations.
AI can also pick up on age, vocabulary and vernacular to route callers to the best possible agent. In the future, it is even expected to analyze personalities, matching callers with agents who communicate in a similar way.
To conclude, artificial intelligence technology will not replace live customer service representatives as the goal is to help make their job easier and efficient. Some questions and issues are too complex, requiring the assistance of a human being. Some customers, particularly older people, are resistant to automated systems and will always prefer a live agent. As technology improves, contact centers will continue to enhance the customer experience by using artificial intelligence.
Fenero is a leading provider of cloud solutions for contact centers. Based in Miami, Florida and headed by CEO Marlon Williams, Fenero helps companies to lower their contact center costs, increase agent productivity and create an exceptional customer experience through its flexible, reliable and scalable cloud contact center solution.