CXO Bytes

Voice, the next major technological frontier for contact centers


While browsing through a banking or insurance app, you might have come across a message – Hi, I am your virtual assistant! How can I help you today? And chances are you get your answers to basic queries without having to interact with a human face at the other end.


Welcome to the world of voice-activated technology, a domain that is growing by leaps and bounds due to its potential of transforming customer experience for modern businesses.


Despite being a late entrant to the party, India has now become the second quickest nation to adopt voice-activated technology, as per Google. About 76% of users are familiar with speech and voice recognition technology. Resultantly, on Google Assistant, Hindi is the second-most commonly used language, a fact that underscores the impact Indian regional languages are set to make on voice AI implementation. Due to large-scale smartphone and internet penetration, the country is slated to become a big market for voice technology, as per Mobile Marketing Association (MMA) and digital agency Isobar’s joint report.


From the customer experience perspective, the evolution of NLP-driven voice AI is already changing the dynamics of brand and consumer interactions. In modern business, voice technology has emerged as an essential part of the way customers interact with brands, especially in a contact center. For example, a contact center uses state-of-the-art voice technology with interactive voice responses (IVR) to better understand their callers and to improve the customer support experience.


As per Gartner’s AI and ML Development Strategies Study, by 2023, 80% of consumer apps in the future will be developed with a “voice-first” philosophy. Banks are already revamping their digital strategy and embracing virtual conversation-led banking to deepen customer engagement and differentiate services. Chatbots will save up to $11 billion annually by 2023 for the banking, healthcare, and retail sectors. About 70% of consumers will replace their visits to shops or banks with voice assistants over the next three years, as per Capgemini.


Conversational artificial intelligence is all set to revolutionize the way business functions and combines NLP with machine learning. The NLP processes flow into a constant feedback loop with machine learning processes to continuously improve the AI algorithms. Within the contact center environment, the voice AI technology has emerged as an enabler on 3 different parameters:


Virtual Agents – The principal components of conversational AI allow it to process, understand, and generate responses naturally. Automating a call center by using a virtual agent is a classic example of how voice indeed is the final frontier. A virtual agent is an online bot, often called a chatbot that uses AI and machine learning to have intelligent and informed conversations with customers. Deploying such solutions for routine queries such as balance inquiry in a banking setup reduces the call burden on human agents who can be more gainfully deployed to respond to complex queries with greater efficiency. Further, it also helps in decongesting the contact centers and reduces waiting time, leading to greater customer delight.


Back-end voice analytics – Voice AI is of great use at the backend for the contact centers. In this era of constant customer engagement, humongous volumes of conversational data keep flowing in from chats, voice calls, social media interactions, etc. It is humanly impossible to analyze all of that data and generate actionable insights from it. That’s where voice AI steps in and ensures 100% analytics of the data. Thus, businesses get to know the holistic customer sentiment and strategically move forward accordingly. If there is something that the customers are liking more then it can be expanded in scope. Vice versa, irritants can be identified and eliminated through agent training.


Real-time conversation inputs – AI can not only act as a human-like virtual agent but also as a tool that enables agents to get a better understanding of live calls. It listens to every word said, every non-verbal cue such as a sigh, a sarcastic laugh, or silence. It can identify excitement and interest or anger on the basis of voice energy and tone. Accordingly, AI can make recommendations during live calls to suggest alternative responses, upselling or cross-selling opportunities, and so on. All these factors not only enhance the customer experience but can also lead to better revenue generation opportunities.


Today, voice technology has brought computer-based assistance into the realm of all call centers around the globe. New speech technology abilities have now given cost-effective ways to record all calls and the data to be automatically analyzed.


So, be among the early birds and embrace this trend!

(The author is Mr. Raghavendra M, VP-Sales & Customer Success, Mihup, and the views expressed in this article are his own)

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