Automation and context-aware AI could help call centre staff better service customers
Automation and artificial intelligence would collaborate, rather than replace, the human element in contact centre operations. This was the main theme at CCW 2019 (Customer Contact Week), the world’s largest customer contact event, held in Las Vegas, last month.
One such example is Callminer. In a presentation at the conference titled “Accelerate Speed to CX Intelligence with AI and Automated Interaction Analytics” it partnered with Sitel to talk about how contact centres can bridge the gap between speech and analysable data.
The session looked at how by analysing customer conversations–whether they are over the phone, email, chat or social–businesses can unlock the intelligence needed to attract and retain customers.
Once more, chatbots were broadly discussed. In a “fireside” chat, Gabriele Masili, chief technology officer of Customer Service and Support at Microsoft, told delegates about some of the learnings in the industry.
He said that whether it was a small company looking into chatbots to understand if they’re suitable for their business needs or bigger companies that have already implemented several, the key insights were that organisations should “start small, pilot, iterate, learn early from the errors, and then double down on the good things, invest further on those and throw away the things that just do not work”.
He added that organisations can possibly use some of the savings coming from a successful implementation to reinvest back “into the business to grow digital solutions”.
Avaya used the show to announce a tie up between itself and Afiniti to improve customer experience and contact centre performance through new capabilities applying behavioural pairing AI to outbound campaigns and digital customer notifications.
According to recent research on AI in the contact centre, conducted by Vanson Bourne and sponsored by Avaya, 37 per cent of organisations are challenged to provide an effective yet tailored approach to customer communications, and 34 per cent have difficulty directing customers to the right channel to help them.
The pairing will see Afiniti’s AI-based behavioural pairing solutions integrated in Avaya IX Contact Centre solutions, providing outbound contact centre capabilities that strengthen customer experience and agent productivity.
One of the topics of conversation at the show was on what processes to automate and what should be handled by a human. One common misunderstanding is that automation doesn’t necessarily mean having to implement AI and chatbots, they are simply a means to an end.
Once the answer is clear, managers need to figure out if and how it can be automated by technology, according to Chris Rall at Unymira. He said that a chatbot may indeed be one approach, “but not necessarily the only one”.
Many chatbots can be just a messenger-style box on a website, some have branched out to actually talking to customers, but cover up latency with “umms” and “errs” as well as typing sounds to cover up the fact that there is a computer trying to process what is being said and how to respond.
Telnyx has partnered with conversational AI technology company Replicant.ai to offer a seamless phone support experience that’s transforming the way humans talk to machines.
The immediate back-and-forth flow of human conversation is difficult to recreate using machines. Some providers try to cover up this latency with typing sounds or audible “umms” and “errs” to hide the fact that the machine is taking a long time to respond, but Replicant didn’t want to go that route.
“People notice when you’re trying to cover up latency, and it begins to make the conversation sluggish and leaves callers impatient and asking for an agent,” said Benjamin Gleitzman, Replicant CTO and co-founder.
“It’s very important that we’re genuine and honest with our customers. It’s one of the reasons we focus on latency and engineer our systems to save every millisecond we can. Because we’re able to get latency down to the level we want with Telnyx, we don’t have to bend the truth with our customers like some of our competitors.”